Helmets Protect Motorcyclists: Wear It

The Tampa Bay Times covered a story involving a 40-year-old woman that was killed due to a terrible motorcycle accident. When the motorcycle she was riding on was involved in a three-vehicle collision at Bearss Avenue and Zambito Road, Dawn Nichols was ejected from the motorcycle driven by Jeffrey Nicholas, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said.

Jeffrey Nicholas suffered “incapacitating injuries” in the crash, authorities said.

Neither of the Nichols’ was wearing a helmet and according to investigators, the crash happened after a 2004 Lexus driven by Kirk Francis attempted to turn onto Zambito from Bearss. His car entered the path of 2011 Toyota Corolla driven by Miguel Montaldo and was struck on the passenger side.

Both cars spun after impact and the motorcycle struck the side of the Toyota and Montaldo suffered minor injuries [1].

Florida’s Helmet Rule

In Florida, a rider needs to be at least 21 years of age and have at least $10,000 worth of medical coverage insurance to be able to operate or drive a motorcycle without a helmet.

Since July 1, 2000, Adults riders are exempt provided that they have insurance for motorcycle accident injuries with the above price tag. Before this date, Florida had a helmet law that required all riders to wear safety helmets.

The State of Florida accounts for 9% of all motorcycle rider deaths in the United States. Coinciding with the helmet law change, the number of Florida’s motorcycle registrations increased substantially. Due to this, Andreas Muller, a PhD, wrote an article in the Journal of American Public Health describing a study conducted in which measured the monthly time series of motorcycle occupant deaths from January 1994 to December 2001. The interrupted time series analysis estimated a 48.6% increase in motorcycle occupant deaths the year after the law changed. The impact estimate reduces to 38.2% and 21.3% when trends in travel miles and motorcycle registrations were controlled. Furthermore, the finding suggested that the law’s age exemption should be concerning. Andreas Muller further contended that exempting adult motorcycle riders from wearing motorcycle helmets is counterproductive for motorcyclists’ health and unnecessarily increases insurance and medical care expenses [2].

Unfortunately, states that do not have an “all riders” law for helmets show an increase in accidents. Nearly 100% of motorcyclists riding in states with helmet laws were wearing them and in states without the laws, helmet use was about 50%.

As more motorcyclists have taken to the road other the last few years, rider fatalities have grown even more rapidly especially compared to cars. In 2012, over 4,900 motorcyclists died on the roads, that is 15 percent of the total highway fatalities and an increase of 33% [3].

Local Statistics

Some will debate the statistics confirmed by studies like the one mentioned because they believe that since there was a rise in registrations, common sense will show that there will also be a rise in deaths due to the increased amount of riders on the road. However, just as the studied proved earlier, when adjusting for a rise in registrations, there is still a significant percentage of deaths.

The vast majority of riders escape harm. In Pinellas, Pasco, Hillsborough and Hernando counties, a quarter-million people have motorcycle endorsements on their licenses, meaning they’ve passed a training course. Still, in 2012, in that four-county area, 1,680 motorcycle crashes resulted in 1,564 injuries and 78 deaths, according to the state.

Young men account for most of those. But Chanyoung Lee, a researcher at the University of South Florida’s Center for urban Transportation Research, found that as baby boomers retire and take up motorcycling as a hobby, more older riders are dying.

Continually, between 2005 and 2007, bikers 55 to 64 accounted for 10.3% of Florida motorcycle deaths. Between 2009 and 2011, that number was 16.6%. For bikers ages 45 to 54, the percentage rose from 17.8% to 19.9%.

Florida is emerging as a national poster child for helmet laws because motorcyclists’ deaths have increased after the state repealed its law [4].

Dolman Law Group

We are advocates of wearing a motorcycle helmet at all times when riding; however here in Florida, that is not always the case. Many motorcyclists mistakenly believe that their car insurance will cover them in the case of an accident while riding their motorcycle, but this is false. Additionally, motorcyclists are not required to have PIP coverage because it is not regulated as part of Florida Statute unless the vehicle has 4-wheels.  Some policies may PIP if the motorcyclist elects to and there may also be Medical Payments coverage (a different add-on to your auto insurance policy).

However, if you are injured while riding your motorcycle, you are still entitled to compensation for your medical bills, damage to your bike, lost wages, and even pain and suffering, just as other motorists. If your accident was caused by negligence on the part of another driver, it is important to file a personal injury claim against the other driver’s insurance company immediately.

An attorney with experience handling motorcycle injury claims will be able to maximize the amount of your compensation through thorough investigation and negotiation. In addition to attorneys who have been highly successful negotiating with insurance companies in motorcycle accident claims, the Dolman Law Group also has trained experts who are able to read and interpret police reports; solicit statements from witnesses; analyze medical records; research accident scenes; and complete a thorough investigation into the other driver’s driving record and history. They have the resources to litigate personally on behalf of motorcycle accident victims and the zeal to proceed to trial if necessary to assure that their client is treated fairly by an insurance company. Call us today at (727) 451-6900 for a free consultation.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765



[1] http://www.tbo.com/news/traffic/bearss-lanes-closed-after-fatal-crash-near-dale-mabry-20151108/
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1448295/
[3] http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2011/06/state-by-state-guide-to-motorcycle-helmet-laws/index.htm
[4] http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/accidents/advocates-for-motorcycle-helmet-laws-say-rising-florida-deaths-prove-need/2175820

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