Frequently Asked Questions - Does Not Wearing a Helmet Affect Motorcycle Accident Claims?
Motorcycle crash helmets are the equivalent of a seat belt. In order to protect yourself as much as possible while riding a motorcycle, you should always wear your crash helmet, just like you should always wear your seatbelt while riding in a vehicle. It is the best way to ensure you are doing everything you can to try to diminish any serious head or brain injuries if you are involved in a motorcycle accident. While crash helmets do not always prevent serious injuries, they can definitely help. If you are involved in a motorcycle accident and you are not wearing a crash helmet, chances of you sustaining a head injury or possibly death if high. There is never a good excuse for not wearing a crash helmet while riding a motorcycle.
The motorcycle was first invented by Gottlieb Daimler who built it to ride around fields and have fun with, not for transportation purposes. In 1935, T.E. Lawrence, more popularly known as Lawrence of Arabia, was riding a motorcycle on a rainy day in England when he was thrown over the handlebars and slammed his head on the road. A few days later, he died from his head injuries. His physician, Hugh Cairns, began research into head injuries and fatalities and published his first report in 1941 which was published in the British Medical Journal titled “Head Injuries in Motorcyclists – the Importance of the Crash Helmet”. During this time frame, motorcycles had increasingly become a popular mode of transportation, especially among younger men and teenagers, and Harley Davidson began building high speed motorcycles to keep up with the growing trend. As more motorcycles were manufactured, more people were dying from head injuries. Dr. Cairns continued to research his crash helmet theories and after the British Army had several motorcycle related deaths, the Army issued an order for each motorcycle rider to wear a cork shelled helmet. In 1953, the motorcycle had been perfected for speed which is the motorcycle we know today and in 1954, the Bell 500 helmet was developed by Roy Richter. Throughout the years, the crash helmet has undergone several changes and upgrades to the point where today, we even have crash helmets with GPS and Bluetooth technology embedded in the helmets.
Most states have a motorcycle crash helmet law which prohibits riding a motorcycle without wearing a crash helmet. In the State of Florida however, the law states that if you are over the age of 21 years old, you do not have to wear a crash helmet while operating a motorcycle as long as you are covered by an acceptable insurance policy. If you are under 21 years old, you must wear a crash helmet, no matter the level of insurance coverage you may have. While it is the law that anyone over 21 years old need not wear a crash helmet, it would be pretty reckless not to. Crash helmets have been proven time and time again that they can reduce the level of brain or head injuries and have even saved lives in some instances and your life is something that you should never gamble with.
If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident while not wearing a crash helmet, you could quite easily sustain a head or brain injury. In the State of Florida, being that it is not mandatory for anyone over the age of 21 years old, this does not affect any claims you bring about to a third party or the at fault party who caused the accident very much. If you are under the age of 21 years old and were not wearing a helmet, the insurance company could deny your claim based on the fact that you were breaking the traffic laws. While this usually is not the case and the insurance company could still make a settlement offer for your injuries, you should always keep this in mind that your case could be denied if you are under 21 years old and not wearing your crash helmet.
If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident and your claim has been denied because of no helmet, the best type of action you can take is to hire an experienced personal injury attorney who can fight your case on your behalf. If you hire a personal injury attorney immediately after your accident, your attorney will discuss with you how best to proceed with your claim and what your rights and benefits are under Florida law. In order to obtain any type of personal injury settlement in the State of Florida, you must have sustained some type of permanent injury. The only way to prove a permanent injury is by treating with a licensed physician. After a motorcycle accident, especially if you were not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, you should always present to the emergency room to rule out any internal damage or brain trauma. If the emergency physician notes any type of trauma, you could be admitted for emergency surgery or referred to a specialist.
In order to bring a personal injury claim against an insurance company, you should treat with a physician as much as needed until you reach maximum medical improvement. Meaning your doctor decides that your injuries have been treated as much as possible given your circumstances and you are in their opinion, in the best health you are ever going to be post-accident. After a motorcycle accident, you will more than likely have permanent injuries that will last the rest of your life and you will still feel pain every so often. Your settlement with the insurance company is to compensate you for all your damages and future medical needs. If the insurance company has denied your claim due to not wearing a crash helmet, your attorney will discuss with you the possibility of filing a lawsuit against the insurance company. If a lawsuit is filed, the insurance company will assign an attorney to defend their interest in the matter and if you end up taking your case to trial, it will be heard in front of a jury and it will be up to them to determine if you should be awarded a settlement based on all of the evidence presented to them.