The effectiveness of helmets and helmet laws has been debated almost as long as riders have climbed onto motorcycles.
Under Florida law, riders over the age of 21 who carry at least $10,000 in medical insurance coverage are not required to wear a helmet, according to the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles. While about half of states have such a partial helmet law, Florida and Michigan are the only states to require medical coverage. South Carolina is the only other state in the Southeast where a helmet is not required for all riders. Only Illinois and Iowa permit all motorcyclists to ride without a helmet.
At Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, our motorcycle accident attorneys are committed to fighting for the rights of riders and families throughout Southwest Florida, including Fort Myers, Lehigh Acres, Cape Coral, Naples and Port Charlotte.
Florida repealed its helmet law in 2000. In the 30-months after repeal, the number of riders under 21 who were killed (despite, still being legally required to wear a helmet) nearly tripled, from 35 to 101, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hospitalizations increased by 40 percent, and the cost of treating associated head injuries more than doubled, to $44 million.
Only 1 in 4 riders hospitalized had medical bills of less than $10,000, the amount of insurance required to ride helmetless. Meanwhile, helmet use in Florida dropped from 99 percent to 53 percent in the year after repeal.
Head injuries and chest injuries remain the most common type of fatal injuries resulting from motorcycle collisions in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Riders who do not wear a helmet most often report their rationale as fear of neck injuries or no expectation of being involved in a collision. However, according to the Hurt Report, a seminal study of motorcycle collisions completed in 1981 in Los Angeles, use of a helmet is the single critical factor in the prevention or reduction of head injury. Helmeted riders and passengers had significantly fewer and less serious head and neck injuries.
Additionally, the Hurt Report found no meaningful reduction in traffic sounds, pre-crash visual field, loss of attention or other accident causation related to helmet use. Nor was there any discernable increase in the risk of lower head or neck injuries as a result of helmet use.
Helmet Use and Florida Motorcycle Accidents
Still, whether a rider chooses to wear a helmet is a matter of personal preference in Florida and should not be a factor in whether a rider can pursue damages from an at-fault driver.
In fact, even in cases where a rider is found to be partially at fault in a collision, Florida’s comparative fault laws still permit plaintiffs to seek recovery from at-fault drivers who are at least partially responsible.
At Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, we have built a reputation as advocates for the riding community for more than four decades. Riders dealing with serious injuries require serious legal representation. The long-term impact of a traumatic brain injury many not be known for months or even years after a collision.
Riders trust us because of our reputation for results. Although results are never guaranteed, we have the legal, medical and financial resources to secure a settlement of jury verdict capable of providing the medical care and rehabilitative services often determinative in recovery.
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