Last month, we explained how helmets guard against injuries in a motorcycle crash. But, if you happen not to be wearing a helmet when you’re involved in an accident, can that hurt your personal injury claim? Our Panama City motorcycle accident attorney details how not wearing a helmet can hurt you in more ways than one.
According to §316.211 of Florida's Motor Vehicle statutes, an individual cannot drive or ride on a motorcycle unless they are wearing “protective headgear”—unless that person is over 21 and has an insurance policy providing at least $10,000 in personal injury protection.
This means that, at least by law, you should always be wearing a helmet while riding unless you have the proper insurance policy. So, what happens when you don’t wear a helmet and get into an accident with a motor vehicle? Besides the potential to lead to catastrophic injuries, it can complicate your claim significantly.
Whether or not wearing a helmet will affect your personal injury claim, should you be involved in a motorcycle accident, depends largely on where your injuries occur. If a car crashes into you and you sustain a back injury or break a leg, the presence of a helmet should not make a difference as it would not have prevented such an injury anyway.
However, if you sustain a head or brain injury while not wearing a helmet, the driver who hit you may claim that you were partially at fault for the accident. This is because accident liability in Florida is subject to “comparative negligence,” meaning that more than one party can be held accountable for injuries and property damage sustained in a crash. This can result in you losing a percentage of the compensation you would have been entitled to otherwise.
For example, say a motorist hits you while they were making a left turn and failed to see you passing through the intersection. The driver undeniably made a mistake that they should be held accountable for. However, if you weren’t wearing a helmet and suffered a head injury such as a concussion or traumatic brain injury as result, you may be held 30% responsible for your injuries because you didn’t take extra precautions. Therefore, you will receive 30% less compensation than you would have if you had been wearing a helmet.
If you do find yourself pitted against a driver who is trying to claim you were partially at fault for your injuries because you weren’t wearing a helmet, you need a lawyer at your side. An experienced Florida motorcycle accident lawyer at The Pittman Firm, P.A. can build you a case that proves that the motorist who hit you was negligent and use it to stand up to their insurance company’s legal team on your behalf. Motorists often forget to watch out for motorcyclists on the road and can cause severe injuries if they hit a rider. Despite your lack of a helmet, there is a good chance that you may have been injured regardless due to the driver’s reckless actions, therefore placing them largely or entirely at fault.
If you have been injured by a motorists’ negligence, no matter what the cause, it shouldn’t be up to you to bear the burden of your injuries alone. Our Panama City motorcycle accident attorney can help you get the compensation you need to pay for your medical expenses, lost wages from missed work, pain and suffering, and more.