Does Florida have a helmet law for motorcyclists?
Yes, but it is not as far-reaching as the "universal" motorcycle helmet laws that many states have passed.
Florida's motorcycle helmet law is codified at section 316.211 of the Florida Statutes, and it states that "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 safety guidelines.
It sounds like a pretty broad law, but there are a few twists. The biggest one is this: "a person over 21 years of age may operate or ride upon a motorcycle without wearing protective headgear securely fastened upon his or her head if such person is covered by an insurance policy providing for at least $10,000 in medical benefits for injuries incurred as a result of a crash while operating or riding on a motorcycle."
So, if you're over 21 and you've got a minimum of $10,000 in appropriate insurance coverage, you are not required to wear a helmet in Florida.
But what if you get into a motorcycle accident while you're violating Florida's helmet law, whether as the operator of a motorcycle or as a passenger? Will you still be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who caused the accident, and get compensation for head injuries? Especially if the other side can show that your head injuries were caused by -- or were at least exacerbated by -- your failure to wear a helmet, you do run the risk of having any court award reduced (and perhaps eliminated altogether).
That's because Florida follows a "comparative fault" rule when an injured person files a lawsuit but is also partially responsible for their injuries. (For more information, check out our article on Florida Car Accident Laws.)
by: David Goguen, J.D.