The Florida Motorcycle Helmet Law
Do I Have to Wear a Motorcycle Helmet in Florida?
Is it Illegal to Ride to a Motorcycle without a Helmet in Florida?
The short answer to this question is sometimes yes and sometimes no. There are certain situations where a rider is legally required to wear a helmet, and other situations where the rider doesn’t have to wear a helmet.
The Florida Helmet Law, Florida Statutes section 316.211, states that as long as you are over 21 years of age you can ride a motorcycle without a helmet if you have at least $10,000 of insurance which covers your own medical injuries if you are injured riding a motorcycle.
But whether or not you wear a motorcycle helmet can have a big impact on your life and recovery in the event of a motorcycle accident.
Not wearing a helmet drastically increases your chances of injury in a motorcycle accident. It also can damage your ability to receive full compensation when you’re injured by another party.
Keep reading to learn more about the history of Florida’s Motorcycle Helmet law.
A History of Rebellion: Why There is No Helmet Law in Florida for Adult Riders over 21
The Florida Helmet Law is a Florida statue passed by the Florida legislature in 2000. It governs when a motorcycle or moped rider must wear a helmet.
- The helmet law exempts riders over 21 years of age who have a minimum of $10,000 of medical benefits coverage for their own injuries.
- The law was signed on July 1, 2000 by Governor Jeb Bush. Before then, Florida required all riders to wear a helmet regardless of their age.
Why Isn’t there a Helmet Law in Florida?
Like most states, Florida required all riders to wear helmets at one time. In 1967, the Federal government passed laws that tied federal highway funding to whether or not a state had a universal motorcycle helmet law. The states had to have such a law to get the federal funds. Because of that pressure, almost every state had a universal helmet law, meaning all riders, regardless of age or other factors, had to wear a helmet. In 1975, after pressure from the states, congress repealed the law tying funds to helmet laws. Many states then got rid of their universal helmet laws. The same process was repeated in the early 1990s. The ISTEA law pegged grants to states based on whether they had a universal helmet law, in effect compelling them to enact strict helmet laws. But then the ISTEA was later repealed in 1995.
In 2021, 47 states have a mandatory helmet law of some kind. Of those, about 20 have a universal law, meaning all riders have to wear a helmet. The other states, including Florida, have helmet laws that only require riders who are under a certain age or don’t meet other requirements to wear a helmet.
Part of the progression in Florida toward eliminating the universal helmet law came from the courts. There were cases where the Florida Supreme Court deemed universal motorcycle helmet laws unconstitutional. In 1995, in Florida v. Raynal, the Court found parts of the helmet law that required Department of Transportation approval of helmets to be unconstitutional because it was vague. Again, in 1996, the Court found that the entirety of the universal helmet law was unconstitutional in Florida v. Landry.
Should I Wear a Motorcycle Helmet in Florida?
This is a personal decision, but before you make the decision make sure you have all the necessary facts. It may be a lot of fun to ride without a helmet, but by doing so you are putting yourself at a much higher risk of injury, including severe injury and death.
The head and bodily protection a helmet provides in the event of accident is indisputable. All the studies show that deaths and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) increase dramatically when a rider is not wearing a helmet.
Whether or not you wear a helmet can also have a big impact on your motorcycle accident claim. If you’re not wearing a helmet, the other party can argue that you were partially negligent and responsible for your injuries.
Florida Motorcycle and Scooter Helmet Accident Statistics
Wearing a helmet is key to motorcycle and scooter safety. The CDC has found that helmets reduce the risk of death by 37% and the risk of head injury by 69%. In the years immediately preceding the law change in 2000, Florida averaged 170 motorcycle deaths per year. After the law, that number immediately rose to 311.
Florida had 8,895 motorcycle crashes in 2019. Of those, 550 resulted in death for the motorcycle rider. There were also 2,072 incapacitating injuries. The number of motorcycle accidents and fatalities has increased significantly since the helmet law of 2000. One study found an increase in fatalities of 48.6% due to the repeal of the universal helmet requirement. However, this period of time also coincided with increased motorcycle registrations in Florida. The study controlled for those increased registrations and the total number of motorcycle miles driven in the state and still found at least a 21.3% increase in motorcycle fatalities attributed to the repeal of the universal helmet law.
Insurance Requirements to “Ride Free”, and the Penalties When You Don’t
Florida has various motorcycle insurance requirements, including having $10,000 of medical payments insurance should you choose not to wear a helmet.
If you don’t wear a helmet and are under 21 years old, the traffic penalty is $35.
If you don’t wear a helmet and don’t have the required insurance, you will also be cited and fined for a traffic penalty, which is usually $35.
How Wearing a Helmet in a Motorcycle Accident Benefits Your Personal Injury Claim
Wearing a helmet is always going to help you if you’re injured in a motorcycle accident and you have to make a claim. That’s because an injury claim is governed by the law of comparative negligence. Comparative negligence law says that the negligence or fault of all the involved parties to the accident is taken into consideration when determining who owes whom and how much.
So, even if the other person hit you from behind and was totally at fault in causing the wreck, they may argue that you weren’t wearing a helmet and that some of your injuries were because you were negligent in not wearing a helmet. Their argument will have more weight behind it if you suffered a head injury, one where wearing a helmet would have lessened the amount of injury.
In addition, the studies clearly show that wearing a helmet will protect you, especially when it comes to head and neck injuries. So, you will be safer if you wear a helmet.
Numerous Florida motorcycle accident laws, Florida scooter laws, and even Florida car accident laws may impact your claim. Again, that’s because the law of comparative negligence means that all the actions of the involved parties have to be considered. Some may be driving cars or mopeds or be pedestrians.
Not wearing a helmet could prevent you from receiving full compensation in the event you need to make an accident claim. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get any compensation if you’re injured when not wearing a helmet. It just means your claim may be more difficult to receive full compensation for your injuries.
For example, consider a case where there are multiple at-fault parties. One driver was speeding, and the other driver ran a stop light. They collided and the speeding driver was injured. Here, the rule of comparative negligence would apply. The speeding driver might be found to be 20% at fault for the accident. If so, he may only recover 80% of the cost of his injuries and damages from the person who ran the red light.
Another example of comparative negligence would be a wreck where it is determined that not wearing a helmet led to more serious injuries. Here, the rider might be found 30% negligent in not wearing a helmet. If so, her compensation would be reduced to 70% of her damages and costs.
Motorcycle Helmet Tips from The Kem Law Firm
As a Florida motorcycle accident attorney I want to provide some tips to help protect you in the event of an accident.
- If you choose not to wear a helmet and are in an accident, make sure to seek medical attention immediately. If you are hit in the head at all you will need to have immediate treatment and diagnostic tests done to determine whether you have suffered a traumatic brain injury or concussion.
- Even if you are wearing a helmet, if you experience any trauma to your head or neck you should go to the emergency room for a proper diagnosis and treatment. Our job as your lawyer is much more difficult if we don’t have diagnostic images made immediately after your injury to help prove your case.
- Don’t talk to the other party’s insurance company. Leave that to us. They will only try to trap you into saying something that could hurt your case.
Have You Been Seriously Injured by another Party in a Florida Motorcycle Accident?
Then you’re probably wondering how much your claim is worth. You may have even checked out some online accident settlement calculators. The important thing to know is that all cases have particular facts that can’t easily be analyzed by one of those calculators. Your best bet is to contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney and discuss your case with them.
As an expert Gainesville motorcycle lawyer with experience achieving large settlements for my clients, here’s how I can help you:
- I offer a free consultation so I can learn about your motorcycle accident, your injuries and all of your concerns about what to do next. This is my first opportunity to see if we would be a good fit and whether I can represent you in your case. But it’s also your chance to get to know me better and decide whether you want to retain my services. Either way, the consultation is free, and I provide you with useful information to help you decide what you want to do next.
- If you hire me and my law firm, we handle all the annoying and time-consuming details of communicating with insurance companies, getting medical records from doctors, determining how much to demand for your compensation and much more. We always keep you fully informed of what is going on in your case, and aside from getting you to sign various documents, strive for you to have almost nothing to do except for getting medical treatment and focusing on your recovery.
- Show the insurance companies and the defendant that we’re serious about getting you full compensation for your injuries. This means we will be very detail oriented and professional in presenting your case to the insurance companies. It also means advising you on possible pitfalls that can affect your case so you can avoid them.
We’re sorry to hear that you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, but now is the time to start taking back control and moving towards a recovery. We would be happy to give you specific advice for your case and offer our services in a free case evaluation.