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I Was in a Motorcycle Accident in Another State. What Do I Do Next?
Rallies. Runs. Tours. Call it what you want, but if you own a motorcycle that can do the job, driving cross-country is almost a right of passage. The best way to truly experience the great country we live in is to drive from one end to the other: seeing the United States to really appreciate what we have. And on a motorcycle? Nothing but freedom with nothing between you and the road. Some states are great for motorcycles and some not quite so, but it’s all beautiful and it’s all America.
Luckily for Florida residents, we have undeniably one of the best states in the union for motorcycle jockeys. The beautiful landscape, clement weather, and flat stretches of highway are a motorcyclist’s dream. Whether it’s touring the coast on A1A or heading out to Daytona Beach in the Spring for Bike Week, Florida is made for motorcycles.
However, operating a motorcycle in Florida is different than in the rest of the country, not just counting our advantageous climate. The rules for license and insurance are different here compared to most other states, as well as the safety rules. These rules can then differ greatly when traveling on two wheels to other states.
The best thing a motorcyclist can have in their address book when going across state lines is a qualified motorcycle accident attorney. The law offices of Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd have nearly 40 years of experience serving the Treasure Coast and plenty of resources to bring to your case. Whether you’re tussling with an insurance company or dealing with another driver in court, we have your back. Call (866) 460-1990 or contact us online to schedule your free appointment now.
Motorcycle Laws in Florida Compared to Other States
Florida has specific rules and regulations regarding motorcycles that many other states don’t have. Given that Florida is also pretty unique about the insurance required for motorists in four-wheeled vehicles, it stands to reason that rules for motorcycle ownership differ greatly from other states in the union. However, within those rules and regulations comes a lot of freedom that many other states do not enjoy. It pays to know what you can and can’t do in the state.
- License — A regular driver’s license by itself won’t cut it for a motorcycle. You must have a Class E specialized license and a “motorcycle endorsement,” which requires specialized training. While it’s possible to get the specialized license without a regular driver’s license, both are required if you get pulled over.
- Insurance — Automobile drivers need insurance that covers property damage as well as Personal Injury Protection. This means even if you get hurt in an accident you’re responsible for, insurance will cover you for the other driver’s vehicle repairs and your own injury costs. However, motorcyclists in Florida technically do not need insurance at all. It’s highly recommended, of course, but it’s not legally necessary. Know that your car insurance won’t cover you nor will your PIP coverage, however. And while you don’t need insurance unless you get in an accident, heavy fines can be levied against motorcyclists involved in accidents who can’t pay for damages, so getting some coverage is a good idea.
- Helmets — While most states require helmets, you can get around this rule in Florida. Because of a technicality, riders who get $10,000 in medical insurance benefits over the age of 21 at one point do not need to wear a helmet. The state’s prior universal helmet law was struck down during a 2000 court case, but worth noting is that there has been an 81% rise in motorcycle facilities since the repeal. There’s also some grey era as to whether or not the failure to wear a helmet could be grounds for contributory negligence in an accident that leaves you injured.
- What makes a bike street legal — As long as you stick to private roads, you can pretty much do what you want on whatever you ride. However, if you’re intending to go on public roads, your motorcycle must meet certain requirements. Footrests are required for drivers and passengers, and raised handlebars — sometimes known as “ape hangers” — are prohibited. Along with working stop lamps and signals, motorcycles must have daytime running lights.
Riding Outside The Sunshine State
Along with Florida, Montana and Washington do not require insurance for motorcyclists. Three states — Iowa, Illinois, and New Hampshire — have no helmet law, and most states have something similar to Florida’s “over 21 insured” regulation. Fourteen states, mostly in the South, require helmets for everyone on the bike. If you’re riding through a universal helmet state like California or Georgia, you must have a helmet regardless of what you can get away with in Florida.
Basically, it’s a good idea to brush up on each state’s laws and requirements before you take a road trip. Like Florida, many states have different rules and regulations as to what makes a street-legal bike. Every place requires proper lighting, such as turn signals and a headlight, as well as a stop lamp powered by a forward battery. All of them must be equipment that’s approved by the Department of Transportation.
Insurance May Not Be Necessary Out-of-State (But It’s a Good Idea)
Except for going helmet-free, Florida riders don’t need special insurance coverage when riding either in-state or out. However, since you will be liable for any damage you cause should you get in an accident, insurance isn’t a bad idea. This includes property damage and bodily injuries to other people or damage to your bike due to the accident.
An astounding 80 percent of all accidents involving motorcycles result in serious injury or death. This is compared to automobiles, where only 20 percent of accidents result in serious injury or death.
What to Do When You’ve Been in an Accident Out-of-State
When you’ve been involved in a collision out-of-state, you have two main priorities: reporting the accident to the police, and seeking medical attention. Call 911 immediately after the accident, and request emergency medical transport for anyone hurt, including yourself.
While waiting for police to respond, take photos of the accident wreckage, nearby landmarks, and your own injuries. Get the contact information for any witnesses. This documentation can help you later prove fault in an accident claim.
Make sure to receive a full medical evaluation no matter how hurt or not hurt you feel. You may have latent injuries, and a full diagnosis performed soon after the crash means that any injuries can be connected to the accident date. If you are seriously hurt, request medical transport and try not to move until EMTs arrive.
Seeking a Third-Party Claim in Another State
Filing an accident claim in another state can mean being familiar with their own insurance rules.
All other states in the Southeast aside from Florida have a fault-based insurance system. This means that you must prove that another driver or some other third party was responsible for your wreck in order to claim your damages. If you have a personal bodily injury (MedPay) endorsement on your motorcycle insurance policy, it should carry with you out-of-state, but know that your typical Florida PIP coverage only applies when you are in a passenger vehicle — i.e. not on a two-wheeled motorcycle.
Proving fault can be difficult, which is why you may need an experienced attorney. A Florida motorcycle accident lawyer can help you pursue a claim across any state border, and in many situations, they are prepared to take legal action in the state where the accident occurred. They can also refer you to an attorney qualified to practice in court in the state where the crash happened while coordinating with them on your case.
When out of state, it is important to act fast and to save as much documentation as possible. Getting copies of paperwork from your treating physician is a headache even if the hospital is down the road, and it’s doubly so when that hospital is out of state. Valuable evidence may also disappear once the wreckage is cleared, so try to think ahead and bring as much back with you as you can once you have received the needed medical treatment.
Call Us When You Have an Accident Out-of-State Before You Call Insurance
Before you call any insurance company, give the offices of Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd a call because you will likely benefit from the services of a motorcycle accident attorney. We can assist you with documenting your injuries, calculating damages, and pursuing the maximum amount of compensation from all applicable liability insurers.
Whether it’s with the courts or the insurance companies, we’ll help you get the compensation you need to get back on your feet and on the road. Catastrophic injuries caused by motorcycle accidents are more likely to cause life-changing injuries and you don’t need to fight with a stubborn insurance company at this time. We’ve got your back. Contact us today for a free phone consultation at (866) 460-1990 or contact us online.
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