I recently read an article published by ABC News which presented some interesting legal issues. According to the article, a motorcyclist was following a car on January 31, 2018, on Highway 87 in Santa Rosa County. The car’s occupant apparently flicked a lit cigarette out the window, and unfortunately, the cigarette went down the back of the motorcyclist’s shirt. His shirt caught fire and he received third-degree burns on over 25% of his body. He eventually ended up in the University of South Alabama Burn Unit and was hospitalized for quite some time.
Obviously, he had significant medical bills, permanent scarring, and intense pain. I am sure that the driver who flicked the cigarette out of the window is clueless as to what eventually happened, and of course, the motorcyclist would likely have no way of knowing the occupants of that car. The question is, what, if any, compensation could the motorcyclist receive for his injuries if the identity of the driver of the car cannot be determined through an investigation.
The likely answer would be to explore uninsured motorist coverage throughout the motorcyclist’s household. Specifically, according to Florida law, even though this was not technically a car accident, it was automobile related and the provisions of Florida’s uninsured motorist law applies. Quite frankly, most motorcycles do not have underinsured motorist coverage since they are inherently dangerous and the premiums are expensive. It would be worth a look, but I would not hold any hope in that regard. However, there might be automobiles within the injured party’s household that could have this coverage and might apply. A lawyer would have to obtain all policies of resident relatives within the injured party’s household and see if there is any stacking uninsured motorist coverage. If so, then those coverages could be utilized to not only pay the motorcyclist’s medical bills, but also compensate him for general damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of capacity to enjoy his life. Presuming the motorcyclist lived with his parents, there could be a significant amount of underinsured motorist coverage that would not be obvious to the average layperson. After having practiced personal injury law in Northwest Florida for almost 40 years, I can attest to the fact that I have used uninsured motorist coverage on numerous occasions where there looked to be no coverage at all. If you have any questions regarding injuries from a car wreck, you may call our Pensacola/Milton offices at (850) 462-3434, our Crestview office at (850) 682-3000, or our Fort Walton/Navarre offices at (850) 244-7191. We now have five locations in Pensacola, Milton, Crestview, Mary Esther, and Navarre. You can visit us on the web at www.grossandschuster.com.
Read more on this news report at WEARTV.com.