The Sunshine State has the perfect weather and long stretches of roadway perfect for motorcycle riding. Because of the year-round conditions, motorcycles are a common sight on Florida highways and streets. Under Florida law, cyclists over the age of 21 are not required to wear a helmet as long as their insurance policy has a minimum of $10,000 in medical coverage for accident-related injuries. What happens if a motorcyclist, without a helmet, suffers severe injuries that result in medical expenses in excess of their insurance coverage?
Florida’s motorcycle insurance laws are complicated and they add to the confusion when a rider is injured in an accident. If another driver was at fault, a motorcyclist is permitted to file a personal injury lawsuit. This is true whether the cyclist was wearing a helmet or not. However, if the rider suffered a head injury, their compensation might be reduced if they were not wearing a helmet. When a rider is injured in a crash, they need an experienced Ft. Lauderdale motorcycle accident injury attorney fighting for their rights.
The lawyers at South Florida Law, PLLC understand the hurdles that motorcycle riders face. Proving liability in a motorcycle accident is especially challenging. If you are or a loved one was hurt in a motorcycle crash, call (954) 932-7877 to review your options.
Florida’s No-Fault Insurance Laws and Motorcycle Accidents
Under Florida’s “no-fault” auto insurance laws, vehicle owners are required to carry a $10,000 minimum in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. If you are in a car crash, no matter who was at fault, you are required to file a claim against your insurance provider. Only in cases of severe injuries is someone permitted to file a personal injury lawsuit.
However, this requirement does not extend to motorcyclists. In fact, you are not required to have insurance to register your motorcycle, though there are penalties if you are in an accident and do not have liability insurance coverage. PIP coverage is not required when someone has a motorcycle. However, because the no-fault insurance laws do not apply to motorcyclists, they do not have to meet an injury threshold to file a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent driver. Nonetheless, if you are involved in an accident and were not wearing a helmet, there could be issues. Our Miami personal injury attorneys are familiar with the problems riders face.
Motorcycle Accidents Without Helmets and Florida’s Comparative Negligence Rule
Florida courts apply a pure comparative negligence rule in personal injury cases, including claims arising from motorcycle accidents. Under this rule, the compensation a jury or judge awards a plaintiff will be reduced by their percentage of fault. For example, if a motorcyclist was weaving between traffic and was struck by someone who was texting, a jury might find the motorcyclist to be 40 percent to blame. Therefore, an award of $100,000 would be reduced to $60,000.
Head Injuries Sustained in a Motorcycle Accident
if a motorcyclist who was riding without a helmet suffered a head injury, their failure to wear the appropriate safety equipment could be deemed to have contributed to the severity of their injuries. A defense attorney or insurance company will argue that a helmet would have decreased the damage the plaintiff suffered. A Florida motorcycle accident attorney must not only prove that another party was liable, but they must also counter any arguments that their client contributed to their injuries.
Other Injuries Sustained in a Motorcycle Accident
Not every motorcycle accident results in a head injury. If a rider was in an accident and they did not sustain a head injury, then it is likely wearing a helmet would not have reduced the severity of their injuries. If that is the case, then not wearing the appropriate safety gear should not impact a motorcyclist’s financial compensation. However, this does not mean that the defendant will not try to shift the blame to the motorcyclist.
Other Factors in a Motorcycle Crash
The type of injuries a motorcyclist suffered is only one factor that could reduce their potential compensation. For instance, the rider’s conduct could have contributed to the accident in some other way. Some motorcyclists will speed, land split, or otherwise operate their bikes recklessly. Unfortunately, motorcycle riders have a reputation for being reckless – a reputation defense attorney and insurance companies will use against them. Our experienced Hallandale personal injury attorneys know many of the tactics a defense will present to invoke the comparative negligence rule.
Proving Damages in a Florida Motorcycle Accident
Other factors will impact a plaintiff’s potential compensation, including the severity of their injuries, the policy limits of the at-fault party’s insurance coverage, and the strength of the evidence presented.
Our skilled and seasoned Florida motorcycle accident attorneys will not overlook any small detail and make sure all possible damages are considered. By gathering evidence, such as photographs, videos, witness testimony, police reports, medical records, and expert opinions, our office will work to substantiate the maximum monetary compensation possible. This includes presenting evidence that failing to wear a helmet did not contribute to your injuries.
Contact Our Florida Motorcycle Accident Attorney to Understand Your Rights
The elements that make riding a motorcycle exhilarating also make it dangerous. When a motorcyclist is in an accident, they rarely walk away without an injury. When another party is responsible, they should be held financially liable. Our Hollywood personal injury lawyers understand the hurdles a motorcyclist faces, including the prejudice they suffer if they choose to ride without a helmet. Contact South Florida Law, PLLC if you have been injured in a crash, with or without a helmet. Call (954) 932-7877 to set up a free consultation.