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Many people enjoy riding motorcycles, but motorcycle riders should be aware of the inherent dangers. Motorcycles offer little to no protection in the event of an accident; this lack of protection is compounded by the size and weight of other vehicles on the road. Motorcyclists should stay aware of the risks associated with riding a motorcycle and follow Florida motorcycle laws, such as wearing a helmet; doing so could help them avoid catastrophic injuries in a crash and even save their lives.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a motorcycle accident in Florida, you should contact one of the experienced motorcycle accident injury attorneys at Zinda Law Group by calling (800) 863-5312 as soon as possible after the accident. If we are not able to win your case, you will not owe us anything.
motorcycle helmet laws in florida
Most states require all motorcyclists to wear helmets. However, Florida does not, following its decision in 2000 to eliminate its mandatory requirement that all motorcycle riders wear helmets. Instead, Florida law now grants motorcyclists over the age of 21 the freedom to decide whether they wish to wear a helmet or not.
Nevertheless, if you are over 21 and if you choose not to wear a helmet, you must have at least $10,000 in medical insurance coverage in case you suffer any injuries caused by an accident while riding the motorcycle. If you do not have this level of coverage, you are still required under Florida law to wear a helmet, regardless of age; meanwhile, all motorcycle riders under the age of 21 are required by law to wear a helmet, regardless of their level of insurance coverage. Finally, even if you meet the requirements and choose not to wear a helmet, all motorcyclists are still required by law to wear some form of protective eyewear while driving a motorcycle.
results of florida optional motorcycle helmet law
According to a report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), helmet use “dropped substantially” after the state chose to make helmet usage voluntary for motorcyclists over the age of 21 if they have at least $10,000 in medical insurance coverage. This is not a good indicator, for motorcyclist fatalities increased by almost double the national rate between the 1997-1999 period before the law change and 2001-2003 following the law change.
In Florida, motorcyclist fatalities increased by approximately 81 percent between these two periods, compared to an increase of about 48 percent nationally. Meanwhile, the number of non-fatal serious injuries also increased by about 32 percent in the first year following Florida’s easing of helmet requirements.
The increase in serious injuries was even more dramatic, with a 40 percent increase in the number of injured motorcyclists who were treated in hospitals as well as an 82 percent increase in hospital admissions for head injuries. More troubling is the fact that, even though usage of motorcycle helmets remains mandatory for riders under age 21, helmet usage also declined significantly among riders under age 21; thus, fatalities in this age group nearly tripled during the three years following the law change.
BENEFITS OF WEARING A HELMET
Wearing a motorcycle helmet provides many benefits, both to individual riders and society as a whole. When motorcyclists responsibly wear their helmets, their families are more often spared from suffering the emotional costs of losing loved ones, and Florida and the United States are spared the economic costs caused by motorcycle riders who choose not to wear a helmet while riding. Indeed, economically, the CDC estimates that the United States could save more than $1 billion in economic costs per year if all motorcycle riders wore helmets.
Motorcyclist Fatalities Based on Helmet Usage
In 2016, over 5,000 motorcyclists were killed in accidents, and 88,000 were injured in 2015. In 2016 alone, The CDC estimates that helmets saved more than 1,800 lives, while 800 more lives may have been saved if the riders had been wearing helmets at the time of their fatal accidents. According to the CDC, wearing a helmet reduces the risk of death in a motorcycle accident by 37%, and the risk of head injuries by 69%.
The CDC also notes that the only proven way to ensure more motorcyclists will wear their helmets is for states to maintain or put into place universal helmet laws requiring all motorcycle riders to wear a helmet at all times while riding. Indeed, in five states that previously had either a partial requirement for helmet usage or no requirement at all, there was a dramatic increase in helmet usage in the year after each state enacted a universal health law, with each state’s reported usage increasing at least 39 percent and as much as 70 percent, with all five states reporting helmet usage between 80 to 99 percent following the passage of their universal law. Meanwhile, in six states which repealed their universal helmet laws, helmet usage dropped from a rate of 97-100 percent in five of those states and 82 percent in the sixth, to a range of 52 percent to 66 percent in those six states following their universal helmet law’s repeal.
Motorcycle Helmet Usage in Florida
In Florida, slightly over half of motorcycle riders, or about 53 percent, reportedly wear helmets following the state’s decision to make wearing a helmet optional for riders over the age of 21. In 2016 in Florida, half of all motorcyclists killed in accidents were not wearing helmets.
You may have the legal right to not wear a helmet under Florida motorcycle laws if you are old enough and have the required coverage, but hitting the roads without one can put you at serious risk of injury in the event of an accident. Head injuries, even if not fatal, can result in serious, long term issues such as brain damage. Choosing not to wear a helmet can also have financial repercussions as well as medical; while the Florida law does require motorcyclists to have at least $10,000 in medical coverage in the event of an accident, many victims may find their medical bills exceed this amount and often have to cover the remaining costs out of pocket.
how does a motorcycle helmet work?
A variety of helmets are available to motorcyclists, which provide varying levels of protection. No matter the style or design, helmets help protect the head in three key ways:
1. It provides a cushion to help absorb the shock from an impact, which in turn helps prevent the brain from impacting the skull.
2. A helmet helps to disperse the shock of an impact evenly across the skull, so that the pressure of impact is not concentrated in one small area but instead is defused, helping to limit the trauma of impact.
3. The helmet also serves as a shield against objects that may puncture the skull during a collision event, such as shards of metal shrapnel from a vehicle.
WILL NOT WEARING A HELMET AFFECT MY CLAIM?
If you choose not to wear a helmet, even if you meet the legal requirements, it could negatively impact your claim. The insurer may try to claim that you failed to take a precaution that may have prevented your injury from occurring. However, if your accident was caused by the negligent action of another, you should still be able to pursue a claim against the at-fault party, but you should contact a motorcycle accident injury lawyer as soon as possible after your accident.
Florida is a comparative fault state, and even if you did not wear a helmet, you may be able to file a claim against the at-fault driver if they were at least partially responsible for the accident. A motorcycle accident lawyer in Florida will be able to help you determine who was at-fault and who may be liable after an accident. Your lawyer will help you prove that if the other party had not acted negligently, the accident would not have occurred.
If you were not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, hiring an experienced motorcycle accident attorney will be especially critical to pursuing any compensation you may be entitled to, as the other party’s lawyer or their insurance company with its team of lawyers will work diligently to use your choice to forego helmet protection in their efforts to drastically reduce the compensation you receive or avoid paying you any compensation at all, if possible. Fortunately, the skilled team at Zinda Law Group is ready to help you protect your legal rights; they will work hard to pursue the maximum compensation you may be entitled to, whether you were wearing a helmet or not at the time of the accident.
CONTACT a florida motorcycle accident lawyer near you TODAY
The aftermath of a motorcycle accident can be chaotic and confusing. With the increased risk of serious injuries or even death from motorcycle accidents, you may be facing expensive medical bills from the cost of treating your injuries, or even funeral costs incurred for a lost loved one. Fortunately, the skilled team at Zinda Law Group can help you focus on recovering from your injuries or the loss of a loved one in a motorcycle accident, while your lawyer handles your case for you.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a motorcycle accident, you should contact one of the experienced Florida motorcycle accident lawyers from Zinda Law Group. Our attorneys have years of experience helping other motorcycle accident victims pursue the maximum compensation they may be entitled to after an accident. Your lawyer will use this experience and their understanding of Florida laws to help you seek compensation for your injuries and damages.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.