Many people prefer to ride their bicycles without a helmet. This is due to many reasons, including convenience, not believing it’s necessary, or even wanting to look “cool”. Whatever the case may be, going bike riding without a helmet can not only cause injuries to be worse, but it may affect your claim if you are involved in an accident.
Here are a few things you should keep in mind:
Statistics and Laws
Although there are no specific federal traffic laws when it comes to cyclists wearing helmets, you may be subject to state statutes or other local rules. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an average of 700 cyclists die annually due to bicycle accidents. Bicycle accidents account for almost two percent of all traffic deaths.
Depending on the state you are in, bicycle helmet laws may vary. Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia currently hold state bicycle helmet laws. Some of these laws include the obligation of minor riders to wear helmets while riding their bikes.
In Florida, a bicycle rider or passenger who is under 16 years of age must wear a bicycle helmet properly fitted, fastened securely upon the passenger’s head by a strap and that meets the federal safety standard for bicycle helmets, as defined by the Code of Federal Regulations (16 C.F.R. Part 1203). The term passenger includes a child riding in a trailer or semi-trailer attached to a bicycle.
Type of Collision
The most important factor when it comes to your bicycle accident is the type of injuries you suffered. For example, if your injuries did not impact your head or neck, then wearing a helmet will not make much of a difference for your claim.
On the other hand, injuries impacting the head and neck will affect your claim if you failed to wear a helmet. Wearing a helmet is seen as a safety precaution and a preventative measure. This is especially true when discussing collision in a state with specific bicycle helmet laws. A violation of such regulations could bar a claim in certain states; however, here in Florida, a jury can just reduce your recovery based on the amount of fault you may have for your injuries.
Who’s at fault? This is one of the most critical factors when handling your claim. It is important to determine whether the collision was caused by the vehicle driver’s negligence, your negligence, or a mix of both.
Comparative negligence may also be addressed. This means that an individual’s own behavior or actions contributed to the damages will be assessed. “Comparative” refers to the degree of this contribution to the relevant injuries.
If it is determined by a judge or jury that your failure to wear a helmet contributed to your injuries, it can impact the verdict of your case by:
- Reducing compensation to a lower amount than stated; OR
- Finding that you are one hundred percent liable for the collision and receiving zero compensation
As matters of failing to wear a helmet while riding your bike can be complicated, it is best to contact an experienced bicycle accident attorney. Marsalisi Law is here to help you with your bicycle accident claim. Call us today at 727-800-5052 for a free case review. Remember, Marsalisi Law is Where Law Gets Personal.