Having had the privilege of representing Bikers (and going to trial for many of them) who were seriously injured while riding their motorcycles, there are a couple of things that all motorists need to be reminded about. First, motorcycles are not as easy to see as larger vehicles and second, injuries involving them, are always extremely serious, and include brain damages due to head injuries, death, paralysis and amputations. A minor case involves severe road burns and/or scarring. I once got a call from an Alabama man whose beautiful young daughter lost a leg while on the back of her friend’s motorcycle. She had promised to stay off his bike when she was allowed to come to Daytona…Because of the severity of injuries, most cases settle with little legal effort for the “policy limits.” This means the at fault driver had so little insurance it was not even a fight to get. Bikers ought to consider getting Uninsured Motorists coverage for as large a limit as possible if they continue to ride.
There are two major accident types which cause these injuries:
- Drivers who make a sudden left turn into and across the path of the Biker, and
- drivers who rear end the bikers. Rarely do you hear of a biker who turned into the path of an oncoming vehicle. My biker friends are sober “as a Judge” when going for a ride, have gone to motorcycle school and leave plenty of room to maneuver when on the road.
In my experience, the biggest challenge to getting a fair trial for a Biker is during Jury selection. In my opinion jurors are still of the opinion that Bikers are devil may care, reckless and thrill seekers, even willing to take life and limb risks to ride their bikes. People who own motorcycles are usually knocked off by the defense using their peremptory challenges. To prejudiced or ignorant jurors hearing a motorcycle injury case, it makes no difference that the bikers are on the way to work at 7:00 in the morning, or run over from behind by a drunk driver.
We live in a part of Florida where Bike week is celebrated twice a year, once in March and one in October. The number of Bikers who plan annual trips to attend Daytona is well over 100,000. They spend hundreds of millions of dollars locally and deserve our respect. Many are professional doctors, lawyers, accountants, and own and operate successful businesses out of state. It galls me to see ads by attorneys who patronize bikers and advertise proudly picture their motorcycles as a means to say “We are Bikers too. Hire us.” They remind me of the Kodiak bears in Alaska trying to snare salmon during the annual salmon runs.