Florida’s Helmet Law and the Risk of Serious Injury
Feeling the wind in your hair and freedom of not having the confines of a car surrounding you are some of the things that draw many people to buy and ride motorcycles. Florida also has the added attraction of weather that allows riding year round, which likely accounts for the high number of registered motorcycles in the state – over 550,000, a number only eclipsed by California. While motorcycles certainly offer openness that cannot readily be replicated in a car, that same lack of restriction puts riders at higher risk for serious injury in the event of a motorcycle accident. A study conducted by a researcher at the University of South Florida’s Department of Transportation found that truck and car drivers were more at fault in crashes involving multiple vehicles due to distracted driving and not aware of a motorcycle’s lower profile. This means liability for the accident and any injuries is more often borne by the car driver and not the motorcycle rider. Holding these responsible parties accountable is certainly important to fully recovering from the accident and preventing future collisions. One factor to consider, however, is the fact that Florida does not require all riders to wear helmets. When determining liability in a personal injury trial, a rider not wearing a helmet will be used by the defense to argue this fact should mitigate the amount of damages paid. A look at how safe it is ride without a helmet and Florida’s helmet law for motorcycle riders will follow below.
Is Riding Without a Helmet a Good Idea?
The nature of a motorcycle automatically increases the risk of injury to any rider due to the lack of a metal enclosure, having only two wheels, and it being smaller and lighter than a car. Most motorcycle riders understand these inherent risks and assume them in exchange for the enjoyment received when riding. Results are mixed on whether helmets can prevent a fatality, but there is research to back up claims that wearing one does reduce the severity of injuries. Nineteen states currently require all riders to wear helmets, and just three have no law related to helmet use. While Florida ultimately leaves the decision up to the rider in most cases, if you are in accident, here are some steps that will help you gather evidence to use in a personal injury lawsuit:
- write down everything you can remember as soon after the accident as possible;
- keep a log of all injuries and pain;
- take photos of the accident scene; and
- try to locate witnesses.
Florida’s Helmet Law
Florida law permits all riders over the age of 21 to ride without a helmet, provided they have an insurance policy that includes $10,000 in medical benefits if they sustain injuries in a crash while riding on or operating a motorcycle. Further, while Florida law also allows individuals as young as 16 to get a motorcycle license, from the age of 16-21 they must wear a helmet at all times or face a fine for nonmoving traffic violation.
Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer
Proving negligence in any road accident is detailed and complex process that is best handled by an lawyer experienced with these types of cases. The Miami law firm of Pita Weber Del Prado offers representation in wide variety of personal injury cases, and they will work to get the compensation you deserve. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.