In Florida, there is no law requiring that motorcyclists wear helmets if you are over the age of 21 and have insurance that meets certain minimum requirements.1 However, there are still legal reasons why it is beneficial to wear a helmet when riding.
If you are injured in an accident and you are not wearing a helmet, proving your case and recovering the funds to which you are entitled can become more difficult. The simple fact that you were not wearing your helmet opens up a wide range of arguments for the defendant to make as to why they owe you less money or even no money at all.
If you were involved in a motorcycle accident and you were not wearing a helmet, it doesn’t mean you cannot recover for your injuries, it simply means that your Florida accident attorney will need to offer more proof about your injuries than might have otherwise been necessary in order to show you would have suffered the same injuries even if you had been wearing a helmet.
The Law in Florida
In many instances, the determination of liability for causing a motorcycle accident is clear cut and not disputed. In these situations, the at-fault party is responsible for both property damage and bodily injury damages. However, things can get more complicated and the injured party’s damages may increase because of something they did do or something they failed to do, like wearing a helmet.
Florida is a pure comparative fault state,2 meaning the law will still allow you to recover for your injuries, even if your failure to wear a helmet contributed to your injures.
Imagine an accident occurs and a car hits a motorcyclist. The car is 100% at fault for causing the accident, the motorcyclist suffers severe injuries to his head with recovery valued at $100,000 and the motorcyclist was not wearing a helmet.
In this scenario, the amount of damages the motorcyclist is awarded may be reduced by the percentage of his injury that was caused by his failure to wear a helmet. If the driver of the car can show that a helmet would have prevented 40% of the motorcyclist’s injuries, the damage award will be reduced by that amount. In that scenario, the motorcyclist is only entitled to $60,000 of the $100,000 award. This is why it is important to have an experienced attorney on your side to argue to what effect the lack of helmet had on your injuries.
The analysis would change if the motorcyclist did not suffer any head injuries, but instead broke an arm and a leg. In this scenario, the issue of the helmet is irrelevant and the injured motorcyclist would be entitled to recover all of the funds the jury awarded.
What would happen if the motorcyclist is deemed to be 80% at fault? In most states, he would not be allowed to recover because his fault is deemed to be greater than 50%. In Florida, however, and in other pure comparative negligence states, he would still be entitled to collect for the 20% of damages caused by the at-fault driver.
Cases involving some negligence or failure on the part of the injured party can be much more complicated than other accidents. Given how much damage awards can fluctuate based on the scenario, it is best to discuss your case with a Florida motorcycle accident personal injury attorney. An experienced attorney can ensure that the damages are assessed properly and you recover all that you are entitled to.
Florida has a law requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets in contrast to what is a misconception. The fact is that Florida has a broad exemption to wearing a helmet. Riders over 21 who carry a minimum of $10,000.00 in medical coverage are exempt. Also riders of small motorcycles, over the age of 16, with engines of 50CC or less, two brake horsepower or less and a top speed of less than 30 MPH are also exempt. If a person receives a traumatic brain injury while riding without a helmet the chances of medical bills exceeding $10,000.00 are almost a certain bet. Personal Injury protection (PIP) carried by drivers of other motor vehicles is not available to motorcycle riders. Even if the motorcyclist has PIP for their car, it cannot be used for bike injuries. This leaves the injured biker no other option but to sue the driver of the car or truck that was involved.
Contact a Clearwater Motorcycle Accident Attorney Today for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle accident, contact a Clearwater motorcycle accident lawyer right away. Florida law allows victims to recover compensation for injuries and other losses that they may experience as a result of a collision. A lawyer familiar with litigating Florida motorcycle cases can often help victims recover substantially more compensation than they would be able to retain on their own, so it is highly advisable for anyone injured in an auto accident to discuss their options with an experienced lawyer. Call the Dolman Law Group for help today.