Motorcycle accidents tend to result in more severe injuries than regular car accidents. This is because motorcyclists have less protection from the extreme forces of a traffic collision than those in passenger cars, trucks, or SUVs. One way motorcyclists can protect themselves and substantially reduce their risk of serious or fatal injuries is by simply wearing a proper helmet.
However, not all bikers choose to wear a helmet. It’s their right to make this choice. Nonetheless, not wearing a helmet may affect your accident claim. Below we discuss no-helmet motorcycle accident claims and what you need to know about this issue going forward.
Motorcycle Helmets Not Required Under Certain Conditions
Florida does not have a universal helmet law that requires all bikers to wear a helmet. Instead Florida’s helmet law states that any rider who is 21 years of age or older can ride without a helmet as long as they carry at least $10,000 in medical insurance coverage.
Medical Consequences of Not Wearing Helmets
Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) make it clear how important helmets are:
- Helmets saved 1,859 lives in one recent year
- If all motorcyclists were wearing helmets during that year, another 802 people’s lives could have been saved
- Helmets reduce the risk of fatality by 37 percent
- Helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 69 percent
According to data from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, more than 50 percent of statewide motorcycle traffic fatalities in a recent year involved motorcycle riders or passengers who wore non-compliant motorcycle helmets or no helmet at all.
So, while wearing a helmet likely will not prevent you from being in an accident, it may help save your life if you are in one.
Legal Consequences of Not Wearing Helmets
In some motorcycle accident cases, parties who may be on the hook for paying compensation to injured victims use the “helmet defense” to reduce their perceived liability. The helmet defense argues that a motorcyclist’s accident-related injuries may not have occurred or been as severe if they had been wearing a motorcycle helmet before the crash.
In other words, the helmet defense is an attempt to blame a motorcycle rider’s choice to forego a helmet for their injuries. However, the court’s decision in Rex Utilities v. Gaddy held that defendants must demonstrate that a motorcyclist’s failure to wear a helmet directly caused their accident-related injuries. This is still the approach Florida courts use today. This means that simple safety statistics about helmet use are not enough to hold helmetless motorcycle riders liable for their own injuries. After all, simply wearing a helmet likely wouldn’t have prevented the accident from occurring. Only if the defendant can show that you wouldn’t have been injured if you were wearing a helmet will they be successful in raising this legal argument.
The helmet defense can potentially limit your financial recovery, so it is important that you know how to combat it. Working with a seasoned Florida motorcycle lawyer will give you your best shot at fighting against this legal argument and recovering fair compensation for the injuries you suffered.
If you were injured in a motorcycle crash in Florida while riding without a helmet, the personal injury lawyers of Fine, Farkash & Parlapiano P.A. can help you work through the complexities of your case and pursue the compensation you deserve. We have more than 100 years of combined legal experience we will put to use on your claim. Contact us today for a free consultation to learn more about how we can advocate for your best possible outcome.
In 1980, Jack J. Fine founded the law firm now known as Fine, Farkash & Parlapiano, P.A. With more than 100 years of combined legal experience, we are a well-respected personal injury law firm providing individualized service to people and families across Gainesville who have been harmed due to the negligence of others.