Helmet Laws and Liability: How Do They Affect?
If you are considering filing a lawsuit after a motorcycle crash, you will need to know how helmet laws affect motorcycle injury cases. Helmet laws differ from state to state. Many states require motorcycle riders to wear a helmet while riding.
If you are injured when not wearing a helmet, you might not be able to collect as much in compensation. A motorcycle accident lawyer can tell you more about how protective gear and liability are intertwined in your area.
Motorcycle Helmet Laws in Your Area
Helmet laws are left up to the individual states, so laws can vary widely depending on where you live. In Florida, for example, Florida Statutes § 316.211 says that “a person may not operate or ride upon a motorcycle unless the person is properly wearing protective headgear.”
The one exception to this rule is if you are at least 21 years old and have at least $10,000 worth of medical insurance. Then, and only then, are you legally allowed to ride a motorcycle without a helmet in Florida? Your state’s helmet laws can have a huge impact on injury cases. Your state’s helmet laws can have a huge impact on injury cases. A motorcycle accident attorney can review your case and explain the laws where you live.
Why Is Helmet Usage Mandatory?
There is a clear link between motorcycle helmet usage and safety. States often make helmet usage mandatory for the same reason that they mandate seatbelt usage for car occupants: to prevent severe injuries and suffering. For example, the risk of head injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries, increases when motorcycle riders do not wear helmets. Helmet Laws and Motorcycle Injury Liability
By requiring motorcyclists to wear a helmet, the law is placing some of the responsibility for maintaining your safety on your shoulders. If a rider does not take that responsibility seriously, they could be held partially liable for their own injuries.
Consider this example:
- A car speeds through an intersection and hits a motorcycle.
- The motorcyclist was not wearing a helmet.
- The motorcyclist suffered several injuries in the collision, including head trauma, a broken leg, damage to the bike, medical bills, and loss of income.
In this example, the car’s driver caused—and is therefore liable for—the accident because they behaved negligently (they were speeding). Cars often cause motorcycle accidents, so this is not an unusual situation. The motorcyclist has every right to take legal action against the driver because:
- The driver owed it to the motorcyclist to behave carefully and not speed.
- The driver failed to protect the motorcyclist.
- The motorcyclist was injured as a direct result of the driver’s carelessness.
However, in the scenario outlined above, the motorcyclist suffered a head injury while not wearing a helmet. A court might find that the motorcyclist would not have been injured so badly if they had obeyed the helmet law, and so they must share liability for their injuries.
Protective gear and liability are closely linked. How motorcycle helmet laws affect motorcycle injury cases could have profound consequences for the motorcyclist’s ultimate settlement.
Helmet Usage, Liability, and Your Compensation for Injury Case
If a court decides that the motorcyclist contributed to their injuries by not wearing a helmet, what does that mean in practical terms? In brief, the more liability a motorcyclist bears, the less compensation they can get.
For instance, in the example described above, the motorcyclist sustained various losses and injuries in the crash. Suppose that these losses total $100,000. The biker’s eligibility for compensation changes based on how much liability they bear. This is called modified comparative negligence, and it works like this:
- If a motorcyclist bears no liability at all for the accident, they could potentially recover the total amount they have lost (in this example, $100,000).
- If a motorcyclist is 20 percent liable for the accident, their compensation is reduced by 20 percent ($20,000). This means that they can recover a maximum of $80,000 from the driver who hit them.
- If a motorcyclist is 40 percent liable for the accident, the maximum amount they could recover is $60,000 (100,000 minus 40,000 equals 60,000).
Some states place an upper limit on how much fault a plaintiff can bear while still recovering compensation. Using Florida as an example, per Florida Statutes § 768.81(6), this limit is set at 50 percent. Once a party is declared 51 percent liable for an accident, they are barred from receiving any compensation at all.
You don’t have to handle your motorcycle accident claim alone, though. You can hire a motorcycle accident lawyer to investigate your case and find evidence showing you were not at fault. With sufficient time to build a strong case file, your lawyer could help you fight for every penny you deserve. They can also deal with the liable parties and their insurance companies so that you do not have to.
We Can Take Your Motorcycle Accident Case
Our personal injury lawyers can explain more about how helmet laws affect motorcycle injury cases during a free consultation. We can tell you all you need to know about protective gear and liability, as well as your legal options. Call the Law Offices of Wolf & Pravato at (954) 633-8270.