Are Motorcyclists Required to Wear a Helmet in Florida?

1016169_speed_of_motorcycle.jpgAccording to Chapter 316.211 of the 2011 Florida Statutes, a person may not operate or ride upon a motorcycle as a passenger unless the person is properly wearing protective headgear securely fastened upon his or her head. In spite of that, a person over 21 years of age may operate or ride upon a motorcycle as a passenger without wearing a helmet 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 have a car with automobile insurance, does this mean that you are covered for any injuries or damages occurring from an accident involving your motorcycle? The short answer is, “No.” In the State of Florida, your motorcycle is not covered under the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) portion of your automobile insurance policy. If you are a motorcycle owner and you want to be covered by your automobile insurance, you will have to purchase additional medical benefits through your insurance company. If you are 21 years of age or older and you want to ride your motorcycle without a helmet, then you will need to purchase at a minimum, an additional $10,000 in medical benefits through your insurance company or through another insurance company.
Common sense dictates, however, that even if you are at least 21 years of age and have the requisite insurance coverage, you should still wear your helmet when operating a motorcycle in order to prevent serious head injury or even death. According to the most recent study conducted by the Florida Department of Highway Safety, every year, in the State of Florida, there are approximately 400 motorcyclists killed, 26 motorcycle passengers killed, 8,000 motorcyclists injured, 800 motorcycle passengers injured, and 9,000 motorcycle crashes!
Because of this, it would be prudent to include, in addition to the minimum insurance coverage required, uninsured/underinsured motorists (UM) coverage to your insurance policy. Although your PIP won’t kick in if you are injured in a motorcycle accident, your UM will! Also, if you’re involved in an accident with someone who is uninsured or underinsured, and you don’t have UM coverage on your insurance policy, you will be responsible for all of your expenses! Adding UM coverage to your insurance policy could be the difference between being personally responsible for all of your medical expenses or potentially having them completely covered! After all, isn’t that the reason you purchase insurance anyway?
If you are a motorcycle owner and you are over the age of 21 and don’t have at least an additional $10,000 in medical benefits through your insurance company as well as UM coverage, you should call your insurance company today and ask them to add it on. If you are not sure if you have enough insurance coverage, you can call a South Florida motorcycle accident attorney and ask them for a free evaluation of your insurance policy. Go out and drive with peace of mind, but please remember to be safe and wear a helmet!