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Will failure to wear a helmet limit my motorcycle crash recovery?

Anyone who rides motorcycles regularly knows how fun – and how dangerous – it can be. There’s no greater way of enjoying the Florida sunshine than to cruise down the highway on your bike. But oftentimes, cars don’t see motorcyclists or don’t give them enough room, and devastating accidents occur. If this happens to you, and you weren’t wearing a helmet, what effect will that have on your ability to sue the negligent driver to pay for your medical expenses and damage to your bike?

Negligence laws in Florida

Like in every state, in Florida if someone acts in a reckless or negligent manner, and you suffer injuries as a result, you have the right to bring a lawsuit against them to recover the costs of your medical expenses and property damage. However, Florida also follows a legal doctrine called comparative negligence.

Under comparative negligence, the court will first break down the responsibility for the accident into percentages, and decide what percentage of the blame each party has. Then, if you win the lawsuit, the court will subtract an amount of money proportional to your percentage of responsibility from your overall recovery.

For example, if the court holds that you were 30% at fault and the other driver was 70% at fault, and you win your lawsuit, you will be able to recover 70% of the total amount that you normally would be entitled to.

Not wearing a helmet

Florida has a large exception to its mandatory helmet law. It´s not against the law to ride a motorcycle without a helmet as long as you are an adult and have adequate insurance.

However, when it comes to comparative negligence, it´s possible that not wearing a helmet could hurt your chances of winning a full recovery for your injuries. This is because the other party will have the chance to argue that your injuries wouldn´t have been as severe if you had been wearing a helmet.

If the court decides that your failure to wear a helmet contributed to your injuries, and thus that you were partially at fault for your own injuries, they could reduce the amount of your recovery accordingly.

Even if it’s not illegal to drive without one, it’s always a good idea to wear a motorcycle helmet when out riding. Not only can it keep you safe from catastrophic injuries, but it can also help your chances of receiving a full recovery in the event that a negligent driver hits you.