Wearing a motorcycle helmet is a critical element of motorcyclist safety. All riders should wear them for their own safety, whether the law requires it or not. However, a rider may choose not to wear a helmet for many different reasons. If a helmetless rider gets into an accident and suffers an injury to the head, face, brain, or neck, it is possible that the lack of a helmet could prevent the victim from pursuing a claim – even if another driver caused the crash. Here is a breakdown of related laws:
Florida Motorcycle Helmet Laws
In states with universal helmet laws for motorcyclists, breaking the law by not wearing one could hurt the motorcyclist’s ability to pursue a claim. The defendant could use the fact that the motorcyclist broke the law as grounds for a negligence per se claim, or negligence without needing further proof beyond the broken law. Florida does have a universal helmet law, but some exceptions exist.
Currently, Florida Statutes Section 316.211 states that all motorcycle operators and passengers must wear protective headgear while riding. The headgear must comply with Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations, under the stipulations of Federal Motorcycle Vehicle Safety Standard 218. All motorcyclists in Florida that do not qualify as exceptions must wear DOT-approved helmets that fit them properly.
The main exception to Florida’s motorcycle helmet law is if the rider is over 21 years of age and has medical liability coverage of at least $10,000. These riders do not lawfully have to wear helmets. Someone riding in an enclosed cab also does not need to wear a helmet. If the motorcycle cannot exceed two brake horsepower or 30 miles per hour and the rider is at least 16, he or she is also exempt from the helmet law in Florida.
It is also important to note that while this information may be true at the time this article was published that laws do frequently change. If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident, it is critical that you speak to an attorney at Harrell and Harrell to understand the current law and its impact on your specific case.
Motorcycle Helmets and the Question of Negligence
You can file a personal injury claim after a motorcycle accident whether or not you were wearing a helmet. However, if you were not wearing one and the law required you to do so, the defendant could use this as a defense to combat your claim to damages. During your case, the defendant may argue that had you obeyed the law and been wearing a helmet, your injuries would not have occurred or been as severe. This could lead to the courts assigning a percentage of fault to you.
If you were within your rights by not wearing a helmet, the defendant generally cannot use this as a defense against you. Since you did not break a law, you were not negligent in your decision to go without a helmet. If the courts do assign you a percentage of fault for not wearing a helmet, you could still receive partial compensation. Florida’s comparative fault law does not bar victims from recovery for contributing to their injuries.
Not Sure If You Have a Case? Contact Our Motorcycle Accident Attorneys
Harrell and Harrell, P.A.’s founders have practiced law since 1974. We have decades of experience handling simple to complex motorcycle accident claims in Florida. During one of our free consultations, our attorneys can review the details of your recent motorcycle accident, determine whether you have a case, and help you minimize your comparative fault. Contact us for a free consultation about your case today in Jacksonville.