Motorcycles, dirt bikes, mopeds, four-wheelers, and bicycles are some of the most common vehicles where riders typically wear helmets to protect themselves in case of an accident. While wearing a helmet can go a long way to help protect you, it is not legally required for most adult riders on any of these vehicles. Miami motorcycle injury lawyer Prosper Shaked of Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys PA explains how helmet laws work in Florida and how wearing a helmet or not can affect your injury case if you are hurt in an auto accident.
Which Vehicles Require Helmets in Florida?
If you are a child under 16, you must wear a helmet on bikes and motorcycles. These rules work to help protect both riders and others on the road. The cutoff age is different for different vehicles, and many adults can legally avoid wearing helmets altogether if they want.
Bike helmets are only required for riders under the age of 16. This helmet must be properly fastened and secured, meaning that you cannot wear a helmet that doesn’t have straps nor can you wear a helmet unfastened. The helmet must also meet safety testing standards from a national organization to meet Florida’s requirements under § 316.2065(d), Fla. Stat. Adults and minors over 16 are not required to wear a helmet on a bicycle.
Motorcycle riders must wear a helmet if they are under 16 as well, but the age cutoff where you can legally leave the helmet at home is 21 instead of 16. To legally be allowed to not wear a helmet on a motorcycle, you must meet other requirements as well.
Motorcycle riders must wear a helmet unless they are over 21 and have $10,000 in medical benefits as part of their insurance. Drivers in Florida must typically carry $10,000 worth of personal injury protection (PIP) coverage as part of their insurance requirements, but PIP coverage is not available for motorcycles. Instead, motorcycle riders and passengers must carry separate medical coverage for $10,000 to be allowed to ride without a helmet. If your healthcare coverage will cover $10,000 from a motorcycle accident, that is usually sufficient to cover you. This rule comes under § 316.211(3)(b), Fla. Stat.
Regardless of whether or not you meet the standards to ride a motorcycle without a helmet, you must still wear eye protection under § 316.211(2). If your vehicle has an enclosed cab, this eye protection is unnecessary.
Mopeds are the last vehicle with helmet requirements in Florida. Any rider under 16 must wear an approved helmet, similar to the rules for a bicycle. Although mopeds can reach the same speeds as many motorcycles, and both can be ridden on the highway, there is no increased insurance requirement for adults riding a moped without a helmet, and the age limit is 16 instead of 21.
Vehicles that Do Not Require a Helmet in FL
Other vehicles are not governed under the Florida motor vehicle code. That means that there is no state-wide requirement to wear a helmet on four-wheelers/ATVs, dirt bikes, and other motorized vehicles. The core reason that there is no requirement is that these vehicles should not be driven on the street. Since they will be ridden on private property, the State of Florida leaves safety decisions up to the rider instead of requiring helmets.
In addition, the motorcycle helmet law only applies to motorcycles with an engine larger than 50cc. If you have a minibike or a small dirt bike, it likely does not require a helmet, but you should check whether it is legal to ride these bikes on the street. If a dirt bike is larger than this, it may qualify as a motorcycle, and you will need to meet all safety and registration requirements to ride it on the road.
Although there is no statewide helmet requirement for these vehicles, local ordinances or community rules may require you to wear a helmet.
Suing for an Accident if You Weren’t Wearing a Helmet
Although the law does not always require you to wear a helmet, you most definitely should wear a helmet. Riding at highway speeds without a helmet, or even riding your bike in the neighborhood, can lead to traumatic brain injury if you are in a motorcycle accident or a bicycle accident.
Striking your head against the pavement or another vehicle can cause skull fractures and serious injury to your brain. Strong blows to the head often cause concussions or more serious trauma to the brain that can lead to speech problems, cognitive problems, loss of sensation or movement in your extremities, mood and personality changes, memory problems, or even wrongful death.
In the event that you were injured in an accident while you were not wearing a helmet, the defendant may be able to use your lack of a helmet as evidence that you were partly responsible for your injuries. Although this will not block your claim, it will reduce the damages you can receive, especially if the jury finds that the lack of a helmet was a major contributing factor to your injuries.
Miami Motorcycle Injury Lawyer Offering Free Consultations
If you or a loved one was injured in a motorcycle accident, bike accident, or any other motor vehicle accident, call Prosper Shaked today to schedule a free consultation. Our phone number is (305) 694-2676.