Riding a motorcycle can be dangerous at times – a fact that won’t come as a surprise to most of us. Automobile drivers are often distracted when they’re behind the wheel, and the practice of “look twice – save a life” while sharing the road with motorcycles isn’t obeyed by everyone. When accidents occur, and a motorcyclist loses their life from the negligence of another driver, a high standard must be proven before that driver is found guilty of committing vehicular manslaughter in Florida. Because of this high standard, irresponsible drivers who harm other drivers and motorcyclists on the road don’t always face criminal charges.
A grieving mother in Polk County, Florida, has been vocal about the need for the “Vulnerable Road User Act” to be passed by the Florida Legislature. Tragically, her son was killed while riding his motorcycle. She’s been working with State Senator Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, to get this measure passed into law. Recently, the motorcycle rights organization Abate of Florida, Inc. has also been vocal about the need for a Vulnerable Road User Act.
What is Florida’s Proposed Vulnerable Road User Act?
The Vulnerable Road User Act aims to protect those on the road who are more vulnerable than those driving larger vehicles. Specifically, the act would protect:
- Scooter riders;
- Roadside workers;
- First responders;
- People in wheelchairs.
Too many accidents occur from drivers not paying attention to the road. When that negligence results in a collision with a vulnerable user like a motorcyclist, many times, the driver receives only a careless driving ticket. Unless the driver was under the influence or broke the law by fleeing the scene of the accident that resulted in injuries, penalties are often no more than a fine.
For a judge to be able to find a driver guilty of vehicular homicide, prosecutors must prove that the individual was driving recklessly. The standard for determining reckless driving in a manner that shows a willful disregard for the safety of others on the road is high, and often, difficult to prove.
What are the Consequences if this Bill is Approved?
If the Vulnerable Road User Act is passed, judges will have more flexibility on penalties that can be given to offending drivers. Rather than a single fine, judges would be able to mandate jail time, house arrest, higher fines, and license suspensions in cases that involve moving violations.
One state that many look to as an example for successfully passing a Vulnerable Road User Act is Oregon. Oregon implemented this concept in conjunction with Oregon’s Careless Driving law in 2017. With physical injuries or death resulting from the accident, enhanced penalties can be imposed. Oregon joins four other states that have passed this law: Delaware, Vermont, Hawaii, and Washington.
Motorcycle groups, mothers who have lost children, and other advocates continue to push for this act to become law in Florida. While the Vulnerable Road User Act hasn’t passed in Florida yet, it’s seen as a step in the right direction for enhanced legal protection for motorcyclists.
Contact a St. Petersburg Motorcycle Accident Attorney After a Collision
When cars and motorcycles crash, the biker often suffers life-threatening injuries because of the lack of safety features inherent in the design of a motorcycle. This can be devastating to a family. If you or a loved one has suffered from a motorcycle accident, contact the motorcycle attorney in St. Petersburg known for sticking up for accident victims. You should not get stuck paying for medical bills, physical therapy, damages to your vehicle, and lost wages because of someone else’s carelessness.
Attorney Frank P. Marsalisi of Marsalisi Law works diligently with his clients to claim compensation and the most favorable outcome possible after being hurt in a traffic incident. With a high rate of success and the honor of being one of the National Trial Lawyers’ Top 40 Attorneys Under 40 – you can trust Frank to provide personal attention to your case and keep you updated throughout the process.
Your first consultation is free, and if Frank takes your case, you won’t be charged a single dollar until he wins. Call (727) 800-5052 or complete our contact form for a free consultation.
Marsalisi Law is Where Law Gets Personal