Friday, December 30, 2016
If You’re Injured in a Florida Accident, Are you Liable for not Wearing a Motorcycle Helmet?
For those who ride with the wind, especially the warm winds of Florida weather, sometimes you need to feel the breeze in your hair. And if you meet certain conditions, under Florida law, you can, since motorcycle helmets are not always required.
Florida Motorcycle Equipment Law
Florida Law1 permits a person over the age of 21 to operate or ride a motorcycle without a helmet if he or she carries at least $10,000 in personal injury insurance to cover injuries that may occur as the result of a crash. In fact, the majority of states grant riders over a certain age the same choice, but according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA),2 in those states with mandatory helmet laws, nearly 100 percent of riders comply with the law, but in states without mandatory helmet laws, only 50 percent of riders chose to wear a helmet. This begs the question, if you suffer a severe head injury that could have been prevented or mitigated had you been wearing a helmet, how should courts determine liability after a motorcycle crash?
Injuries Resulting from Motorcycle Accidents
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports2 that traumatic brain injury contributes to approximately one-third of all injury-related deaths in the United States. Unfortunately, failure to wear an approved motorcycle helmet can contribute to the following life threatening injuries:
-Coup-Contrecoup, when the force of impact causes the brain to move within the skull;
-Tearing of the brain’s nerve tissue;
-Neck and spinal injuries, which may cause paralysis.
Brain injuries can be difficult to treat and leave you with life threatening injuries or permanent disabilities; however, can you be liable for your own medical expenses if you were operating your motorcycle safely at the time of the accident?
Florida Injury Mitigation Laws
Florida itself is a “comparative fault state,” meaning that even if you are the injured party, you may be held partially “at fault” for causing your own injures. Even though Florida law no longer requires riders to wear a helmet, this will not insulate you from liability. For example, a Florida jury can find that by not wearing a helmet, you were responsible for 40 percent of your injuries. This would cause a reduction in the total value of your case by 40 percent. Often such legal determinations require expert medical testimony, which can drastically increase the cost of litigation.
Contact a Qualified Florida Motorcycle Attorney to Discuss your Legal Options
Avid motorcyclists often make calculated choices not to wear a motorcycle helmet, as some believe it may increase the chance of spinal injuries. However, if you have suffered head trauma in a motorcycle accident, either the defendant or your insurance company may argue that you must bear a substantial portion of your medical expenses and damages. The Dolman Law Group is your go-to motorcycle accident firm in Clearwater, Florida. With experience handling catastrophic injuries, they understand the medical complexities necessary to advocate on behalf of your rights as a rider. Call 727-451-6900 today for a no-risk consultation.