Statistics prove that motorcycles are more dangerous than cars—yet thousands of people still use them for exhilarating joyrides or everyday transportation. The numbers are sobering, but taking appropriate safety measures can protect motorcycle drivers and riders. For example, motorcyclists are 27 times more likely to be killed in an accident than a driver in a car, but wearing a helmet will reduce the motorcyclist’s risk of death by 37 percent.
Despite these statistics, Florida does not have a law requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets. So long as they are 21 years of age and carry $10,000 of medical coverage in their insurance policy, each motorcyclist has the option to make this decision on their own, without legal repercussions.
That being said, choosing not to wear a helmet could impact the outcome of your personal injury lawsuit if you are injured in an accident. Let’s review these impacts and what you should do if you are in an accident regardless of whether you were wearing a helmet.
Florida’s Comparative Negligence Rules
As a no-fault state, Florida aims to reduce the number of personal injury accidents in courts. Regardless of the severity of injuries sustained in an accident, each driver will place a claim with their own car insurance company after an accident. This statute was enacted to try and limit lawsuits filed to be only in cases of severe injury or death.
This law however, does not apply to motorcyclists and they can pursue the responsible party for injuries sustained in an accident without having to use any PIP coverage or file a claim under their own policy. However, there’s more to consider if you are a motorcyclist involved in an accident and you were not wearing a helmet.
Florida follows the pure comparative negligence doctrine in determining liability. Pure Comparative Negligence allows for insurance companies and ultimately juries to assess fault against multiple parties at a percentage they deem appropriate based on the facts. For example, if a jury felt both parties contributed to the accident they could assess liability against either party anywhere between 1% to 100%. This means that any settlement you could receive would be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you.
This also applies to safety measures taken by either party that could have prevented or lessened their injuries. That means that during the case, the defendant can work to prove that your injuries would not have been as severe if you were wearing a helmet. This can end up in a ruling that you contributed partially to your own injuries by choosing not to wear a helmet, thus potentially lowering your overall settlement.
Because such laws are not clear cut, you should consult a personal injury attorney before deciding whether to pursue a lawsuit. A skilled attorney can present a case for you regardless of whether you were wearing a helmet. The attorney that you choose will also have a significant impact on how much comparative negligence is assigned to you, if any, which might lower your settlement.
Why Every Motorcycle Accident Is a Unique Case
You cannot compare your motorcycle accident to someone else’s to determine if you should pursue a personal injury case. That’s because each case is different. That is why it is imperative to promptly hire a Florida Personal Injury attorney to assess the accident details and your injuries to get ahead of any arguments that might be presented against you.
When to Consult a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
You should contact an attorney immediately following a motorcycle accident, regardless of whether you were wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. It’s very important that you seek legal counsel as early as possible.
Hiring a motorcycle accident lawyer can help in a variety of ways:
- Protect you from saying the wrong thing to the insurance company or at-fault party in the personal injury case.
- Document the accident as fully as possible while the details are still fresh in your mind.
- Begin gathering evidence for your case so that nothing gets overlooked as time passes between the accident and your lawsuit.
- Manage deadlines for filing the lawsuit and ensuring proper filings and documentation is submitted to the courts within the given timeframes.
- Safeguard your right to a court case if settlement negotiations fail to progress.
A motorcycle accident lawyer plays a very important role in ensuring that someone else’s negligence does not lead to your financial hardships or long-term suffering. The legal team at Goldman & Daszkal knows the importance of helping you get back to life as normal following a car accident. We’ll take care of preparing your case and representing you in court so that you can focus on your health and well-being.
Contact us to start the process of filing a personal injury lawsuit after a motorcycle accident.