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The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. Your trusted legal advisors since 1976

Top Three Insurance Company Defenses in Motorcycle Crash Claims


For the most part, motorcycle riders have no protection against oncoming cars. So, motorcycle-on-vehicle collisions are twenty-eight times deadlier than vehicle-on-vehicle collisions. The truly scary thing about that statistic is that it is significantly lower now than it was a few years ago when the fatality rate used to be even higher.

To obtain compensation for these serious injuries, a Tampa motorcycle accident attorney works hard to build a case and plug these facts into the appropriate legal theory.

But these efforts, as substantial as they are, are not enough. An attorney must also be ready to refute some common insurance company defenses in these cases. Since the damages in these claims are usually high, insurance company lawyers do whatever they can to reduce or deny compensation.

Contributory Negligence

Comparative fault is perhaps the most common defense in all vehicle collision cases. This legal loophole shifts blame for the accident from the tortfeasor (negligent driver) to the victim.

The motorcycle prejudice, an informal bias, often comes into play in these situations. This prejudice is not as strong as it once was, but it is still prevalent. Many jurors believe that motorcycle riders are reckless thugs. So, they are ready to blame the biker for the accident, at least in part. They just need an excuse to do so.

Contributory negligence provides that excuse. If both parties were partially at fault, the jury must apportion liability between them on a percentage basis. The judge then divides damages accordingly. Florida is a pure comparative fault state. Even if the victim was 99 percent responsible for the wreck, the victim still receives a proportionate share of damages.

Tampa personal injury attorneys can beat the contributory negligence by arguing that the victim’s negligence did not substantially contribute to the crash.

Last Clear Chance

Many motorcycle collisions involve left turns against traffic and other right-of-way issues. In such claims, insurance company lawyers frequently bring up the last clear chance rule.

The duty of care requires operators to obey the rules of the road and avoid crashes if possible. The last clear chance defense focuses on this second element. Assume David Driver is making a left turn against traffic. He does not see Randy Rider approaching, and David turns directly into Randy’s path.

If Randy had a reasonable chance to avoid the wreck, perhaps by changing lanes suddenly, Randy may be legally responsible for the wreck, even though he had the right-of-way.

The defense only applies if the victim had the last clear chance, and not just any possible chance. Even experienced riders have a hard time performing emergency maneuvers, especially if traffic, environmental, or other conditions are less than ideal. So, the defense usually does not apply in these situations.

Motorcycle Helmet Defense

In Florida, riders over 21 need not wear helmets as long as they meet certain insurance requirements. So, the motorcycle helmet defense frequently comes up. The insurance company argues that the victim’s failure to wear a helmet caused or contributed to the victim’s injuries. So, the tortfeasor is not legally responsible for these particular damages.

This defense only applies if the insurance company calls a doctor to the stand who testifies that a failure to wear a helmet proximately caused the victim’s injuries. A Tampa personal injury attorney may cross-examine this witness and otherwise challenge this evidence. We have successfully done son in past cases.

Contact Respected Lawyers

Motorcycle riders are extremely vulnerable to serious injury. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Tampa, contact The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. You have a limited amount of time to act.


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