Motorcycle riders face a choice when they get on their bikes of whether to wear a helmet. Motorcycle helmet requirements vary from state to state, and some states require all motorcyclists to wear helmets at all times, though not every motorcycle rider complies. Other states leave it up to the adult rider.
For example, under Florida law, if motorcyclists are over 21, it is their personal choice. Of course, helmet use on a bike enhances safety, but it does not guarantee it. Nonetheless, your choice can affect your ability to receive full financial compensation for your injuries if the insurance company gets its way. Therefore, you need an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer to represent you as you seek full financial compensation for your injuries.
If You Wear a Helmet, Use the Right One
If you opt to use a motorcycle helmet, you should choose one that meets federal standards and has a certification from the Department of Transportation. The government does not approve individual motorcycle helmets. Instead, manufacturers self-certify that their helmets meet DOT specifications.
The government will examine and audit helmets to ensure they meet DOT requirements. Often, the government will investigate in response to complaints.
If you opt to wear a helmet, you should choose function over appearance. Some helmets have designs to look stylish, but they will do little to protect you in the event of an accident. Consider the size and shape of your head when choosing a helmet.
Motorcycle helmets should be at least one inch thick and have a stiff inner liner. They will also have sturdy chin straps and solid inner rivets. Unsafe helmets are usually lighter – they may weigh less than a pound. A lighter helmet will not withstand impact as a more sturdy one will. Helmets should not have any ornaments attached because they can injure your head on impact.
Fewer people are using motorcycle helmets these days as states change their laws to loosen requirements. A motorcycle accident attorney will come into play if you have suffered an injury in an accident when you were not wearing a helmet. Do not think financial compensation is out of reach if you suffered an injury in an accident when not wearing a helmet.
Motorcycle Helmets Are Never 100 Percent Effective in an Accident
While motorcycle helmets may lessen the chances of severe head injury, they are certainly not 100 percent effective in every single case. It is wrong for the insurance company to conclude that you might have avoided all injuries had you been wearing a helmet.
Chances are that you still will have suffered an injury in some way, perhaps even as severely as you might have been had you been wearing a helmet. Many people suffer the same injuries as they might have had they been wearing a helmet.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motorcycle helmets are 37 percent effective in preventing death among riders and 41 percent effective for passengers. Helmets do reduce the risk of head injury by about 69 percent, but there are numerous other serious injuries to riders.
Motorcycle riders can still suffer neck and facial injuries when wearing helmets. Accordingly, while helmets may help lessen the risk of some injuries, they simply do not prevent all motorcycle accident injuries. Therefore, the insurance company cannot reasonably attribute all your injuries to the lack of a helmet.
Lack of a Helmet Does Not Excuse Negligent Drivers
Even in cases where motorcyclists have died when not wearing a helmet, experts have not concluded that the biker might have survived if they were wearing a helmet. Thus, if the insurance company is trying to blame you or your loved one, they likely cannot establish the direct causal relationship between not wearing a helmet and the injury. The insurance company should not reduce compensation just because there is a chance that a helmet might have prevented an injury.
Florida Law Does Not Require Motorcycle Helmets to Be Worn By Adults
Further, motorcycle helmets are not even necessary for most riders in Florida. If you were not wearing a helmet at the time of your accident, you were not doing anything the law prohibits.
Florida used to have a mandatory helmet law for motorcyclists, but the state repealed the law in July 2020. Now, only motorcyclists under 21 years of age must wear a helmet while operating a motorcycle. Motorcyclists above that age are not required to wear helmets as long as they have $10,000 in personal injury protection.
The Insurance Company Will Still Try to Blame You
In many cases, when the insurance company tries to blame you for the motorcycle accident, you should have been doing something illegal at the time of the crash, such as speeding. When you do not wear a motorcycle helmet in Florida, you are simply exercising the right afforded to you under state law and not violating any statute.
Blaming motorcycle accident injuries on the lack of a helmet is a slippery slope for insurance companies. If they are allowed to get away with this conduct, they can try to blame injuries on a lack of other safety equipment that is not mandatory by law. Numerous pieces of safety equipment are optional for riders. For example, an insurance company can try to reduce your financial recovery if you did not have specialized gloves or pants.
The Insurance Company Is out to Save Money in Any Way It Can
Thus, there is a question of whether the insurance company can even reduce your settlement at all if you were not wearing a helmet. They will when you file a claim. Insurance companies will use any tactic possible to try to reduce the amount they need to pay you.
Their adjusters will go over the accident with a fine-tooth comb to discover every fact they can use to blame you. Insurance companies already try to take advantage of the perception that motorcyclists are riskier than the average person when adopting a “blame the biker” approach.
Insurers May Challenge You on the Causation of Your Injury
If you suffered an injury in a motorcycle accident that was someone else’s fault, the question is not whether you will receive financial compensation. The laws of negligence dictate that you are in a position to get a settlement check or jury award when someone was to blame for the crash.
However, there is another principle in the test for negligence that may also come into play. The fourth element of the negligence test is whether the driver was the proximate cause of your injury. The causation test asks whether you would not have suffered an injury had it not been for the other party’s actions. This is where the insurance company tries to look for an intervening cause of your injuries, such as a third party or even you.
The Insurance Company Does Not Get to Make a Unilateral Decision
Therefore, you need to have an attorney on your side when filing a motorcycle accident claim or lawsuit. The insurance company does not get to present and decide on its own version of the facts in your case. A motorcycle accident settlement is when you and the insurance company agree to exchange a sum of money in exchange for your legal right to financial compensation.
Your attorney will tell your own side of the story, and they will push back when the insurance company is trying to unreasonably and unfairly blame you for the accident when you were simply exercising your own legal rights under the law. You do not have to accept whatever offer the insurance company makes when you have a legal right to financial compensation. You have the right to reject an inadequate settlement offer and counteroffer your own figure.
If the Other Driver Bears Some Blame, You Will Get Some Money
Even if the insurance company is successful in reducing your financial compensation, they cannot deny you financial compensation entirely if you were not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. Under Florida law, you have the legal right to some financial compensation, so long as the driver bears even part of the blame for the accident. However, the insurance company tries to point the finger at you because they can use that fact to pay you less.
You May Need to Take Your Motorcycle Accident Case to Court
If the insurance company does not make you a fair and reasonable settlement offer, your attorney may advise you to take your case to civil court. Then, a jury will decide how much you should receive in financial compensation. However, you run the risk that a jury may award you nothing if you cannot prove that another driver was to blame for your accident injuries.
Nonetheless, a jury is an objective and unbiased entity that does not have the same motivations as the insurance company regarding your case. A jury consists of ordinary people performing their civic duty, as opposed to the insurance company, which is out to make a profit. They will look at the facts as they are, without any financial motive in your case.
Always Hire an Attorney After a Motorcycle Accident Injury
You must always hire an attorney after you or a loved one has suffered an injury in a motorcycle accident. If someone else was to blame for the accident, you can receive a significant amount of financial compensation. However, a penny-pinching and self-interested insurance company is standing between you and the money that you need in the wake of the accident.
An attorney will help your case in numerous ways. First, they will advise you of your legal rights and help you determine the best possible way to get financial compensation. Then, they will investigate what happened in the accident, gathering the evidence you need to prove that someone else was responsible for what happened to you.
In a motorcycle accident case, you are only in a position for compensation if you can demonstrate fault. You are not in the position to investigate your own accident, nor do you have the experience to interview witnesses and obtain other physical evidence. Even if you had this physical evidence, you might not use it to prove that the other driver was at fault on your own.
Even if proving fault is not a significant issue in your case, getting enough money to pay your damages always is. The insurance company will use every tool at its disposal to try to pay you less. As you can see from the above discussion, blaming you is one trick that they will attempt.
There Is Too Much Possible Money at Stake to Leave Stones Unturned
Even if the insurance company does not try to point the finger at you, it will underestimate the amount that you are due. You will always receive below-value settlement offers. It will be up to you to know that you are being offered less than you deserve and to stand up for yourself. You will do that through your attorney, who is responsible for communicating with the insurance company.
Motorcycle accident settlements can easily reach into the six figures due to the severity of your injuries. Therefore, the stakes are high. There is too much money on the line to leave anything to chance. Every dollar in your motorcycle accident settlement represents something that you have lost. If you do not get everything that you deserve, you are letting the insurance company profit at your expense.
An attorney is your safeguard in the process when the insurance company is trying to skew things in its favor. When the facts and the law are on your side, you can prevail when you stand up for yourself and your rights. The best way to do this is by hiring an attorney who can help with your motorcycle accident case.