Florida Motorcycle Helmet Laws
Bill Allen | May 18, 2021 | Florida Law
Many states have universal helmet laws for motorcyclists. Florida laws require that all riders wear an approved motorcycle helmet. However, there is an exception to that law.
Florida Motorcycle Helmet Laws
Florida Statute §316.211 states that no one may ride or operate a motorcycle unless they wear protective headgear. The helmet must comply with Federal Motorcycle Vehicle Safety Standard 218. In addition, riders must wear eye protection.
The law does not apply to individuals riding in an enclosed cab. It also does not apply to riders 16 years of age who are operating a motorcycle of less than 50 cc or that will not exceed a speed of 30 mph on level ground.
Individuals under the age of 16 years cannot ride a moped unless they wear a helmet that complies with FMV Safety Standard 218.
Are There Exceptions to Florida’s Motorcycle Helmet Law?
Yes, there is an exception for riders 21 years of age and older.
If a rider is 21 or older, they may choose not to wear a motorcycle helmet. However, the person must be covered by an insurance policy that provides a minimum of $10,000 in medical benefits. The exception went into effect on July 1, 2000.
Riders must have proof of insurance if they are stopped by a police officer, such as an insurance card or a copy of the declaration page. The insurance card or policy must show that the policy is current and from a recognized health insurance provider.
Limited motorcycle medical coverage would also be acceptable. However, PIP (Personal Injury Protection) insurance would not be acceptable. PIP coverage does not apply to motorcycle operators or passengers in Florida.
Motorcycle Accident Statistics for Florida and the United States
Riding a motorcycle can be very enjoyable. However, it can also be dangerous. According to the NHTSA, motorcyclists were 29 times more likely to die in a motor vehicle accident than passenger vehicle occupants. In 2019, 5,014 motorcyclists died in crashes nationwide.
In Florida, 550 riders died in motorcycle crashes statewide in 2019. An additional 7,719 motorcyclists sustained injuries in motorcycle accidents.
While riders cannot control road conditions, weather conditions, or the conduct of other drivers, they can take steps to protect themselves from injuries and life-threatening conditions in the event of a motorcycle crash.
Wearing motorcycle helmets is just one of the ways a rider can protect themselves from catastrophic injury.
Do Motorcycle Helmets Save Lives?
According to studies, when you choose the correct motorcycle helmet, it can reduce your risk of a severe injury or death. The Centers for Disease Control report that motorcycle helmets saved 1,859 lives in 2016. If all riders had been wearing helmets, an additional 802 lives could have been saved.
Motorcycle helmets can reduce the risk of death from a motorcycle crash by thirty-seven percent. They can reduce the risk of a head injury by sixty-nine percent.
A head injury can result in traumatic brain damage or death. If the person lives, they could experience cognitive, physical, and emotional impairments because of the brain injury.
Some individuals may incur lifelong medical expenses and personal care costs because of a brain injury. Brain damage could result in the loss of income and benefits. A rider may never return to work after a traumatic brain injury.
Therefore, it is always in a rider’s best interest to wear a motorcycle helmet each time they ride. Even if the person is exempt from wearing a helmet under Florida’s motorcycle helmet laws, it is wise to wear the helmet to reduce the risk of injuries because of a motorcycle crash.
Can I Recover Compensation for a Motorcycle Accident in Florida if I am Not Wearing a Helmet?
It depends. If you are over 21 years of age and have the required insurance, you are not breaking the law by riding without a motorcycle helmet. However, if you sustain a brain injury in a crash, an insurance company or defense team may argue that you were negligent in not wearing a helmet. They may argue that your brain injury would not have been as severe if you were wearing a helmet.
Under Florida’s pure comparative fault laws, a person who is partially at fault for the cause of their injury can have their compensation reduced. The reduction is equal to the person’s percentage of fault for their injuries.
Since studies indicate wearing a helmet reduces injuries and saves lives, the matter could be complicated. It would be up to a jury to decide whether you were acting negligently by not wearing a helmet. After a motorcycle accident, the best thing you can do is to contact an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer to discuss your case — regardless of whether you were wearing a helmet or not.