While Florida does have a motorcycle helmet law, the law’s exceptions make it virtually unenforceable. As a result, motorcyclists in Fort Walton Beach, FL, can choose to violate the helmet law with a very low risk of receiving a citation.
Florida’s lax helmet law has led to a drastic drop in helmet use. According to one study, Florida’s helmet use dropped from 99% while Florida had a universal helmet law to 53% after Florida adopted its current law.
At Brannon & Brannon, our Fort Walton Beach motorcycle lawyers are ready to discuss your case. Contact our law office or call us at (850) 863-5297 to schedule your free consultation.
How Brannon & Brannon Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help After an Accident in Fort Walton Beach, FL
Brannon & Brannon Personal Injury Attorneys was established in 1990 to provide legal representation to local accident victims.
Our Fort Walton Beach motorcycle accident lawyers have over 60 years of combined experience, and during that time, they have collected millions of dollars in compensation.
Each client of Brannon & Brannon Personal Injury Attorneys receives:
- A free case evaluation to explain your right to fair injury compensation
- Access to your lawyer so that you always know the status of your case
- Trial lawyers with over 75 trials and thousands of settlements under their belts
Motorcycles provide you with almost no protection in the event of an accident. Contact Brannon & Brannon Personal Injury Attorneys in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, for a free consultation to learn about the injury compensation you can pursue after you suffer a serious motorcycle injury.
How Often Do Unhelmeted Riders Have Motorcycle Accidents?
According to the 2021 Florida Crash Facts report, 4,156 helmeted and 3,540 unhelmeted riders had motorcycle crashes that year. These numbers translate to 54% of riders in accidents wearing helmets and match the surveys conducted immediately after Florida changed its law.
If you dig deeper into the Crash Facts report, the risk of not wearing a helmet becomes apparent. Just over 10.7% of unhelmeted riders walked away from their crashes without injury, but over 13.5% of helmeted riders suffered no injuries in their accidents.
Looking at the other end of the scale, about 7.5% of unhelmeted riders died from their motorcycle crash injuries. By contrast, about 6.8% of helmeted motorcyclists suffered fatal crash injuries.
Florida Motorcycle Helmet Requirements
Florida has special requirements for motorcyclists due to the high degree of risk they face. Motorcyclists need a special motorcycle license and are not covered by Florida’s no-fault insurance system. Additionally, motorcyclists wear different protective gear from people in passenger vehicles.
Helmet laws in Florida require riders to wear:
- Eye protection
- A U.S. Department of Transportation-approved helmet
The law provides no exceptions to the eye protection requirement, but it does provide an important exception to the helmet requirement. Riders over 21 years old do not need to wear a helmet if they have health insurance that provides at least $10,000 in benefits. This ensures that a rider can receive medical care if they suffer a head injury in a crash.
This exception creates two classes of motorcycle riders:
Riders Who Must Always Wear a Helmet
The exception to Florida’s helmet law does not apply to riders 21 and younger. These riders must always wear a helmet. But enforcement of the law as it applies to these riders is difficult.
From afar, a police officer cannot usually tell a motorcyclist’s age. As a result, helmet laws often only get enforced amid obvious violations. For example, if a rider takes a child passenger without a helmet on a ride, a police officer could stop and cite the rider.
Riders Who Can Choose Not To Wear a Helmet
Riders over 21 do not need to wear a helmet if they have a certain amount of health insurance as described above. But once again, from afar, there’s no way for a police officer to know whether a motorcyclist has health insurance. Many people do not even carry their insurance cards with them.
Police officers may see enforcement of the helmet law for riders over 21 as not worth the time. As a result, they often avoid enforcing it. According to the 2022 Florida citation report, the Fort Walton Beach Police Department issued zero citations for a failure to wear a motorcycle helmet.
Liability for Head Injuries While Riding Without a Helmet
In addition to the risk of a citation and head injury, you also risk your right to injury compensation when you ride without a helmet. Florida uses pure comparative negligence when multiple people share liability for an accident. If you ride helmetless, you could bear a share of the blame for your head injuries.
Suppose that a jury allocates 20% of the blame to you for riding without a helmet. A judge will reduce any jury verdict to cover only 80% of your losses.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Fort Walton Beach Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
A head injury after a motorcycle accident can cause permanent brain damage or worse. Contact Brannon & Brannon Personal Injury Attorneys for a free consultation to discuss the head injuries you or a loved one experienced in a motorcycle accident. Our Fort Walton Beach motorcycle accident attorneys are here to assist throughout the entire process.