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Florida’s Motorcycle Helmet Laws

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Posted on March 25, 2024

Motorcycle helmets are important pieces of safety equipment that can mean the difference between life and death in a motorcycle accident. A helmet may be all that stands between you and a severe traumatic brain injury in a motorcycle crash. Whether you are legally required to wear a motorcycle helmet in Florida depends on your age and insurance coverage.

When Are Motorcycle Helmets Required in Florida?

Florida has what is known as a partial motorcycle helmet law. It is not a universal law since it does not require all motorcycle riders to wear helmets without exception. Instead, it chooses who legally must wear a helmet and who may opt out of wearing one based on certain qualifications.

Florida Statutes Section 316.211 states:

  • Equipment for motorcycle and moped riders.—
  • A person may not operate or ride upon a motorcycle unless the person is properly wearing protective headgear securely fastened upon his or her head which complies with Federal Motorcycle Vehicle Safety Standard 218 promulgated by the United States Department of Transportation.
  • A person may not operate a motorcycle unless the person is wearing an eye-protective device over his or her eyes of a type approved by the department.

Safety Standard No. 218 establishes minimum performance requirements for helmets designed for use by motorcyclists. These standards ensure that a helmet is equipped to adequately protect a wearer’s head, skull and brain in a motorcycle accident.

Helmet Exemptions for Florida Motorcyclists

Florida’s motorcycle helmet law comes with a few exceptions. The main helmet exemption applies to motorcycle riders who are over 21 years of age and who are covered by insurance policies offering at least $10,000 in medical benefits for injuries that occur while operating or riding a motorcycle. If a motorcycle rider meets the age minimum and can show proof of adequate insurance, he or she will not face penalties for not wearing a helmet.

Another exemption applies to individuals riding within an enclosed cab on a motorcycle. Finally, if an individual is at least 16 years old and is on a motorcycle powered by “a motor with a displacement of 50 cubic centimeters or less or is rated not in excess of 2 brake horsepower and which is not capable of propelling such motorcycle at a speed greater than 30 miles per hour on level ground,” he or she is also exempt from the helmet rule.

Why You Should Always Wear a Motorcycle Helmet

Even if you are exempt from having to wear a motorcycle helmet under Florida law, you should do so for your personal health and safety. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motorcycle helmets saved an estimated 1,872 lives in a single year. Motorcycle helmets are estimated to be 37 percent effective for riders and 41 percent effective for passengers in preventing deaths. They also reduce the risk of a head or brain injury by 69 percent.

How Could Not Wearing a Helmet Affect Your Motorcycle Accident Claim?

In most cases, you can still recover financial compensation for a motorcycle accident even if you were not wearing a helmet in Florida. Since your failure to wear a helmet did not cause the accident, the person or party at fault for causing the crash can still be held liable (financially responsible) for your injuries and losses.

If you were legally required to wear a helmet by law but were not wearing one at the time of your accident, however, this may reduce the financial compensation you receive. An insurance company may argue that you contributed to a head, brain, skull, or facial injury through a failure to obey Florida’s helmet law. This could diminish your financial recovery by a percentage equivalent to your amount of fault for an injury.

To learn more about Florida’s motorcycle helmet laws and how they may affect your motorcycle accident case, contact a Tampa motorcycle accident lawyer at Vanguard Attorneys online to request a free consultation.