If you own a motorcycle, you know the freedom of the open road and the escape your bike can provide. You also likely know that with this freedom comes the responsibility to drive safely, obey traffic laws, reduce your risk of injuries, and obtain insurance on your bike.

However, motorcycle helmets are not the perfect protection, and you can still sustain head injuries with a motorcycle helmet. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), proper helmet use can save over $1 billion in economic costs if all motorcyclists wore helmets, as they reduce the risk of death by 37 percent and the risk of head injury by 69 percent.

Motorcyclists should always don a helmet when riding their bikes and make any of their passengers do the same. Head injuries can still occur when a helmet is worn, but they are generally less severe and less likely to take your life. You cannot prevent an accident or control the actions of drivers around you. Still, you can help protect yourself and your fellow passengers if an accident does happen.

But what happens if you suffer injuries in a motorcycle accident when not wearing a helmet? Can you still receive compensation for your injuries? Since helmet use provides no guarantee that you won’t sustain injuries in an accident, you can still recover compensation if you weren’t wearing one.

The best way to ensure you maximize your compensation is to hire a motorcycle accident attorney to represent you. Insurance companies often assume that motorcyclists are reckless, whether they wear a helmet or not, which can make it challenging to get the compensation you deserve. The right lawyer will fight for your rights following a crash and injuries. 

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Florida Motorcycle Laws

Laws regarding motorcycle helmet use vary from state to state, although a handful of states do not have helmet laws. Some require helmets for all riders and passengers, while other states go by age, insurance, or riding experience.

For example, many states allow riders over the age of 18 or 21 to legally forgo helmets. Others require helmets if the rider has not had a few years of experience as a licensed driver. In both Texas and Florida, if motorcyclists can prove they have private medical insurance, they do not always have to wear a helmet.

Florida doesn’t have a universal helmet law in place. Rather, its laws are a bit more complex. For example, under Florida Statute §316.211, no one in the state can ride or operate a motorcycle unless they wear protective headgear, with different exceptions. In addition, their helmet must comply with Federal Motorcycle Vehicle Safety Standard 218. Those on motorcycles must also wear eye protection.

However, this law doesn’t apply to individuals:

  • Riding in an enclosed cab
  • 16 years of age who are operating a motorcycle of fewer than 50 ccs or that won’t exceed a speed of 30 mph

Individuals younger than 16 cannot ride a moped unless they wear a helmet that complies with FMV Safety Standard 218. 

Exceptions to the Helmet Law

Florida’s motorcycle helmet law has an exception for riders 21 years of age and older. As of July 1, 2000, riders in this age group may decide not to wear a motorcycle helmet if they have coverage by an insurance policy with a minimum of $10,000 in medical benefits.

They must carry proof of insurance if a law enforcement officer stops them, such as an insurance card or a copy of the declaration page. It must show that the policy is current and from a recognized health insurance provider.

Limited motorcycle medical coverage is also legally acceptable, but PIP (Personal Injury Protection) insurance isn’t adequate. This is because PIP coverage doesn’t apply to Florida motorcycle operators or passengers.

Motorcycle Accident Statistics: Do Helmets Make a Difference?

Statistics show that motorcyclists have a higher chance of survival and less severe injuries if they wear helmets. For example, in a recent year in Florida, 280 helmeted motorcycle riders lost their lives, accounting for 47 percent of the total motorcyclist fatalities, compared to the 303 unhelmeted motorcyclists who died, accounting for 51 percent of the total deaths.

Furthermore, 57 percent of motorcyclist deaths were in states that don’t have universal helmet laws. In contrast, only nine percent of deaths were in states with universal helmet laws.

Estimates indicate that helmets are 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle rider fatalities and 41 percent for motorcycle passengers. This means that for every 100 unhelmeted motorcycle riders killed in accidents, 37 of them might have lived if all 100 had been wearing helmets at the time of their crashes.

According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA), motorcycles have an estimated fatality rate of 28 times that of passenger vehicles. In addition, motorcycles account for approximately 14 percent of all traffic fatalities in the United States. Motorcyclists who wear helmets are much less likely to suffer severe injuries or die if an accident occurs. We might save nearly 1,000 lives in our nation each year if all motorcyclists wore helmets every time they were on their bikes. 

How Helmets Help in a Motorcycle Crash

If worn correctly, helmets provide a solid barrier between the motorcyclist’s head and other objects, such as vehicles and the road. In addition, they protect the face, and the eyes, help reduce wind noise and decrease fatigue. Without full face protection, victims in accidents can still sustain chipped teeth, facial scarring, cuts, abrasions, and other severe injuries.

Helmets, especially those made from sub-par materials, can and do crack or fail. Those wearing them can still suffer severe injury or death. In some accidents, wearing a helmet makes no difference as the motorcyclist suffers severe or fatal injuries to another area of the body besides the head. 

Will Helmets Save You From a Head injury?

Helmets have saved countless lives over many decades. They aren’t perfect and can’t always protect you from a head injury. Still, they are proven to reduce the incidence and severity of all types of head injuries. Anyone facing a head injury should seek the help of a qualified Florida motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible.

Whether getting on a motorcycle, riding your bike, or participating in another sport, wearing a helmet is always a wise decision. You can’t control accidents or other people’s decisions. Still, you can take every step to protect yourself if something unexpected happens.

Wearing a helmet doesn’t guarantee you won’t suffer a head injury, just like wearing a seat belt in a motor vehicle won’t keep you safe from any injuries. However, both sporting a helmet and using a seat belt substantially decrease the chances that you will suffer a severe or fatal injury.

If you or someone you love received a head injury in an accident, talk to Florida motorcycle accident lawyers as soon as possible. You might be entitled to compensation for your injuries.

What Causes Head Injuries?

Head injuries are one of the most severe types of injuries anyone can sustain. They can cause lifelong impacts and even death.

There are two categories of head injuries: open and closed. An open head injury occurs when the skull is damaged and breached, allowing something to injure the brain tissues. A closed head injury doesn’t involve anything getting through the skull. Instead, it happens due to severe force and impact. By wearing a helmet, you have increased protection from both types of injuries. 

Head Injuries You Can Sustain While Wearing a Motorcycle Helmet

A head injury can impact the brain, skull, or scalp. They can range from a bump or a scrape to a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) that leads to death.

You can still sustain head injuries with a motorcycle helmet, including:

  • A diffuse axonal injury (sheer injury) which damages brain cells, impairs function, and can lead to a severe traumatic brain injury or even death.
  • Skull fracture
  • Brain swelling
  • A concussion
  • Bleeding in the brain, also known as a brain hemorrhage
  • A hematoma on the skull or the brain

How Helmets Help

The brain is protected from damage by the skull. The skull cushions the brain in the event that there is severe force, such as the head hitting the ground after a fall or another object colliding with the head. The skull also helps protect the brain from penetrating injuries, but the skull can only do so much.

Helmets give the brain even more protection. They add another layer to help cushion it from impacts, absorb shock, and keep any objects from piercing the skull and entering the brain tissue.

While helmets provide no guarantee of preventing brain injuries, they can decrease the risk of structural brain injuries by as much as 85 percent. Helmets also reduce the danger of severe physical injuries to the head, including a skull fracture and other structural damages often associated with brain injuries.

Head injuries can be severe and come with hundreds of thousands of dollars or more in damages. But, no matter if you were or weren’t wearing a helmet at the time of your accident, hire an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer to review your claim

Motorcycle Safety Gear Decreases the Risks

Even the best and most experienced motorcyclists are at risk of being involved in a crash while on the road. Riding a motorcycle has many inherent risks. However, riders can decrease these risks when using proper safety gear, which can significantly reduce the chances of injury and death. In addition to helmets, motorcyclists can also protect themselves with protective jackets, suits, pants, boots, gloves, and eye protection.

You can be an avid and experienced motorcyclist, but unfortunately, you still can’t control the variables around you on the road. For instance, road and weather conditions, distracted drivers, and drunk drivers will always raise the risk of injury. Safety gear can protect you against some of these risks and is well worth your money. A Florida motorcycle accident lawyer can help protect your interests if you get into an accident.

Motorcyclists’ Vulnerability

Although they travel on the same roads, motorcycles are much different from other passenger vehicles. With only two wheels, they have fewer contact points with the road, creating a greater risk of accidents. Riders and passengers don’t have as much protection as others. Wearing a helmet and other protective gear is always wise. Still, they lack the protection of seat belts, airbags, crumple zones, and other safety features in passenger vehicles.

When an accident occurs, they are more likely to suffer injuries. Those injuries are typically more severe than the ones suffered by other motorists and passengers.

In addition to various head injuries, common injuries in motorcycle accidents include:

Even minor injuries can be costly and inconvenient. Those injured in a motorcycle accident may need extensive medical care and rehabilitation to return to normal function. They might miss work and lose income. Medical bills only add to their financial concerns during this difficult time. You can seek monetary compensation for your injuries if you’ve suffered an injury in a motorcycle accident. You can find out by reaching out to a knowledgeable Florida motorcycle accident attorney.

Can You Still Receive Compensation if You Weren’t Wearing a Helmet?

Statute of limitations wrongful death in Florida Lawyer
Motorcycle Accident Lawyer, Steven A. Bagen

Even if you weren’t wearing a helmet at the time of your injury accident, you can still receive compensation for your damages. If you recently suffered an injury in a motorcycle accident, seek legal help whether you wore a helmet or not.

A lack of helmet use doesn’t excuse another party’s negligence toward you. You can still hold them responsible for their actions that injured you.

While not wearing a helmet can sometimes make recovering full compensation slightly more complex, a well-versed Florida motorcycle accident lawyer will know how to handle your case to maximize your compensation. The sooner you contact one, the more they can help you.