Do You Have to Wear a Motorcycle Helmet in Gainesville, FL?
Bill Allen | August 11, 2021 | Florida Law
Motorcycle riders are particularly vulnerable on the road. When they’re involved in motorcycle accidents, they often suffer serious injuries. The death rate for motorcycle accidents is 29 times greater than the death rate for car accidents.
Even if you survive a motorcycle accident, your injuries could be severe enough to permanently impact your quality of life. For example, you could sustain head trauma that leaves you with long-term cognition, memory, and emotional problems.
There are many basic steps you can take to limit your chances of severe injury in a motorcycle accident. One is to wear your helmet at all times. However, you may wonder whether Florida law requires you to wear a motorcycle helmet. This overview will cover what you need to know.
Florida’s Motorcycle Helmet Laws: Essential Information
Whether or not you need to wear a motorcycle helmet in Florida depends on various factors. Anyone under 21 must wear a helmet and eye protection when riding a motorcycle, including passengers.
Your helmet must conform to the standards established by Federal Motorcycle Vehicle Safety Standard 218. A helmet that complies with these standards will have a US DOT sticker.
You don’t need to wear a helmet if you’re 16 years of age or older and riding as a passenger in the enclosed cab of a motorcycle. You also don’t need to wear a helmet if you’re on a “motorcycle” that doesn’t go faster than 30 miles per hour.
Additionally, you’re not legally required to wear a helmet if you’re over the age of 21 and you have an insurance policy offering at least $10,000 in coverage for motorcycle accident damages. This exception is relatively unique when compared to the motorcycle helmet laws in many other states.
That said, whether you’re legally required to wear a motorcycle helmet in Florida is just one issue. Whether you should wear a helmet whenever you’re on a motorcycle is a separate matter.
Why You Should Always Wear a Helmet on a Motorcycle in Gainesville, FL
Wearing a helmet could save your life in a motorcycle accident. It could also influence how much compensation you receive if you’re injured in a motorcycle accident. Your own insurance coverage offers may not be sufficient to cover your losses. If your injuries are severe enough, you might be able to file a claim to collect additional compensation from a negligent party’s insurance.
Florida has a pure contributory negligence rule. On the one hand, that means an injured motorcycle accident victim can still pursue compensation even if their negligence played a role in their accident and losses. On the other hand, the rule reduces the victim’s damages by their percentage of fault for the crash.
For example, suppose you had $50,000 in damages after your motorcycle accident. However, a jury finds that you are 30% at fault for your injuries due to not wearing a helmet. In this case, you could only recover $35,000 (70%).
Insurance companies look for reasons to minimize their liability for accident claims. If you weren’t wearing a helmet before your accident, an insurer could argue you contributed to your injuries. Don’t put yourself at risk in any way. Whenever you’re on a motorcycle in Florida (or anywhere else), keep your helmet on.
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