Wearing a Helmet Protects More Than Your Head
Even the safest drivers are not immune to the errors of others on the road. This sentiment is especially true for motorcyclists. While the size of motorcycles is praised for the speed, agility, and gas mileage, the small size also severely decreases safety. This is because they can quickly slip into the blind zone of other drivers and they offer less of a buffer between drivers and the elements in the event of a motorcycle accident. It is for this reason that wearing a helmet is very important. Even the safest motorcyclists are at risk of being overlooked and collided with, and wearing a helmet can be the difference between a few “battle scars” and brain damage or death. The benefits of wearing a helmet extend far beyond the time of the accident itself and may allow you to collect more money from the careless driver.
If you are in an accident, the most common legal allegation is that of negligence. Negligence involves establishing the following elements:
- A duty
- A breach of that duty
- A causal link between the breach and the damages
Drivers have a duty to act as a reasonable person and to follow all safety and traffic rules and regulations that relate to driving. This includes all the tedious rules taught in driver’s education about following and braking distances, mirror checks, and speed limits. Most drivers do not follow all of the safety rules and, in fact, many people are so comfortable driving around 4,000-pound steel boxes that they are often multi-tasking while driving. Such dangerous actions constitute a breach of a driver’s duty. As such, when an accident occurs, the person who directly caused the accident is often found negligent.
Once negligence is established, another difficult task is to determine what damages resulted and which of those damages were caused by the breach of duty. A simplified test is: Would the result have happened if the person who caused the accident didn’t cause the accident? For a motorcyclist who is hit by a driver, the damage to their bike, the scrapes, and brakes, and pain are all a direct cause of the incident and clearly would not have happened if the driver had not crashed into them. These cost of repairing these damages and restoring the motorcyclist can thus be assigned to the negligent driver.
Sometimes, however, an accident is not so black and white. Each party in any incident has some duty to the other and, more often than not, multiple parties have breached one duty or another to some extent and consequently, the cause of the resulting injuries cannot be attributed to just one person. As such, it is seldom fair to force one person to take on responsibility for the damages.
Florida has adopted “Pure Comparative Negligence” laws,1 meaning that courts will evenly distribute the award based on the amount each party’s negligence caused the damage. For example, if two parties cross the center line at the same time, all things equal, then they would be 50% at fault each and share the costs involved in the accident because they were equally negligent. Or if a person pulls into traffic, but fails to see an approaching car that is exceeding the speed limit, the person pulling out may be more liable for causing the accident, but the other driver’s speed may have resulted in increased damage and injury, and therefore have to take on the responsibility for the excessive injuries. The goal of comparative negligence laws is to encourage all people to act safe and more accurately assign financial responsibility when accidents happen.
Back to Helmets
If you are in an accident and are not wearing a helmet, the defendant will likely push for the imposition of a comparative fault for the resulting damages. Although Florida does not require all motorcyclists to wear a helmet by law,2 many times the court will find that a failure to wear a helmet, like the speeder, increase the damages beyond what they would have otherwise been. To the extent they are able to prove that any injury was a direct cause of your failure to wear a helmet rather than their negligence, you risk lowering the value of your case. As such, it is always advisable to wear a helmet as injuries to the head of often very expensive. You do not want to be stuck holding the bill because of someone else imprudence on the road.
Call Today to Discuss your Case with our Skilled Clearwater Motorcycle Accident Attorneys
As noted above, the complexities of motorcycle accidents are great and many times, you are dealing with sophisticated insurance adjusters who are far more experienced in those complexities. The experienced Clearwater motorcycle accident attorneys at Dolman Law Group can help you fight back against any arguments for comparative negligence and work to get you the best possible result. Call for a free consultation today.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765