Florida Motorcycle Laws
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of John H. (Jack) Hickey with Hickey Law Firm.
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of John H. (Jack) Hickey, a Medical Malpractice attorney based in Florida.
Every state has slightly different laws regarding what safety rules motorcyclists do or do not need to follow, as well as the policies that apply in the event of a motorcycle accident claim. Florida is unique in that while it does have certain helmet laws, there are some exceptions as to who has to wear them and when.
Florida motorcycle and helmet laws include the following:
- Every motorcyclist under the age of 21 must wear a helmet.
- Riders over the age of 21 may only ride without a helmet if they can prove they have more than $10,000 medical insurance in the event of a crash.
- Daytime headlights must be used.
- Handlebars cannot be higher than the rider’s shoulders when the rider is seated.
- Motorcyclists are not allowed to pass other motorists using the same lame.
- Motorcyclists are allowed to ride two abreast (i.e. two riders in the same lane) and motorists must give them a full lane of space.
- Motorcycles must have working turn signals and a rearview mirror.
These are by no means the only laws that apply to motorcyclists in the state of Florida, but they do represent some of the most important. Riders who do not live in Florida but are visiting or riding through are also required to abide by these laws. It’s important to note that even if you were not following one or more of these rules at the time of an accident, you may still be eligible for compensation, but your risk of severe injury or even death increase significantly.
Florida is a pure comparative negligence state.
Florida is a pure comparative negligence state when it comes to personal injury cases, which means that even if a motorcyclist was partially at fault for the accident, they may be able to pursue compensation for their damages in an amount equal to the percentage for which they were not at fault. That said, the jury typically decides the percentage of bias each party has after an accident, and an inherent bias against motorcyclists has been noted in some juries.
A biased jury is more likely to assign the heftier blame to the motorcyclist. This could be due to the impression of recklessness in regard to speeding and other traffic violations that some riders give off, and while not an excuse, is important to keep in mind in the litigation process. Riders can mitigate the risk of jury bias by following traffic rules and wearing a helmet at all times. That said, wearing a helmet should not deter fair compensation; this is where an experienced motorcycle accident attorney can help defend against unjust impressions that could negatively impact your claim.
If you are involved in a motorcycle accident in Florida, consider the following steps:
- Seek emergency medical attention right away. This step is particularly important even if you don’t feel extremely injured. Some injuries may not be felt until days or weeks after the accident and can worsen with time. Toughing it out may be tempting, but doing so could actually have a negative impact on your case, allowing the other side to argue that you couldn’t have been that hurt if you were able to wait to seek care. This also ensures an official record documenting when and how the injury occurred exists for later reference.
- Collect evidence from the scene of the accident. Evidence that may exist at the scene of the accident includes pictures of the motorcycle, any vehicles involved, and damaged property. Noting weather conditions at the time of the accident and collecting the contact information of any witnesses to the crash may also help in recreating the accident at a later time to help pursue compensation for your claim.
- Talk to a motorcycle accident attorney in the state. Talking to an attorney after a motorcycle accident is critical; not only do the laws that govern motorcyclists vary from those of standard motorists, but the jury bias many motorcyclists face could make the claim extremely challenging without someone who knows how to combat it. If hiring an attorney seems financially out of the question, it may help to note that most motorcycle accident attorneys offer free consultations to potential clients and work on a contingency fee basis, which means you only pay if they win your case.
To learn more about Florida motorcycle laws or for help filing a claim, reach out to a motorcycle accident attorney.