If you ride, you have as much an obligation to know about motorcycle laws in Florida as you do when you’re behind the wheel of a car, truck or SUV. These laws are in effect to help ensure your safety, as well as all others who are sharing the road with you.
But these laws may be able to help you as well if you’re ever injured in an accident caused by another driver’s negligence. The attorneys with The Eberst Law Firm have helped motorcycle accident victims obtain a substantial amount of compensation, and we may be able to do the same for you. Get in touch with us online or give us a call at 888-CALL-JON for a free case review.
Here’s a brief overview of some of the more important aspects of Florida’s motorcycle laws, and information on why you should get the help of an experienced attorney if you’re hurt in an accident.
What are Florida’s Motorcycle Laws?
As you might expect, there are a lot of laws that govern the use of motorcycles on Florida roads. They cover areas such as insurance, wearing a helmet, turning on your headlights, and many, many others. These are just a few of the laws you’ll need to familiarize yourself with if you want to ride a motorcycle in our state.
What Kind of Insurance is a Motorcyclist Required to Carry?
Motorcycle riders in Florida have two main considerations to think about when it comes to insurance. The first involves whether or not you choose to wear a helmet, and the other involves the type of liability coverage you have to carry.
In order to be able to ride without a helmet, you have to be over the age of 21 and you have to carry at least $10,000 in medical insurance. If you do wear a helmet, then this amount of coverage is optional. If you don’t, then it will be mandatory.
All motorcyclists, regardless of whether or not they wear a helmet, have to carry liability coverage. The amounts you must have break down as follows:
- $10,000 for property damage and bodily injury
- $20,000 in total bodily injury coverage
- $30,000 in single incident liability
If you want to ride a motorcycle in Florida, you must have these minimums.
What is a Motorcycle Endorsement?
Your driver’s license has to show that you have the specialized training needed in order to safely ride a motorcycle. This is known as a motorcycle endorsement. If you only want to obtain a so-called “motorcycle only” license, you have to be at least 16 years old and show you have the same amount of knowledge it takes to obtain a typical driver’s license. You must also complete a basic course on safe motorcycle operation.
Are There Headlight Laws?
Yes. In Florida, the law states that motorcycle riders must keep their headlight on, regardless of the time of day it may be. But this could also be important to your case if you’re involved in an accident. Failing to use your headlight won’t necessarily be proof that you were negligent. However, if an investigation shows that this played a role in the accident, then you could be found at least partially negligent. This could have a major impact on the amount of compensation you may be able to obtain.
Lane Splitting and Full Lane Usage Laws
In Florida, motorcyclists are expected to follow the same rules as other motorists. You have to obey all traffic signals, and you can’t weave in and out of traffic. You can, however, share a lane with another rider if necessary. Also, other drivers have to give you the full use of a lane.
What you definitely can’t do, however, is to perform a maneuver known as “lane splitting.” You can’t try to move around other vehicles in order to avoid a traffic jam. The main reason is that you could easily cause an accident because drivers won’t expect you to be coming. Others on the road already have a hard enough time seeing motorcycles. Lane splitting only increases the chances of a collision.
Motorcycle Helmet Laws in Florida
Florida law gives most motorcycle riders a choice when it comes to wearing a helmet – as long as they are 21 years or older. As you learned earlier, all riders younger than 21 have to wear one. If you’re 21 or older, then you have to carry at least $10,000 worth of medical insurance if you choose to ride without one.
As you’ll learn in the next section, your choice when it comes to wearing or not wearing a helmet could have a profound impact on your case if you suffer an injury in an accident.
Is Not Wearing a Helmet Considered Negligence?
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of clarity in this area. One court ruled that an insurance company could use the failure of a motorist to wear a seatbelt as evidence in a personal injury case, because it has been proven that seat belts can save a person’s life in the event of a wreck. But seatbelts come standard in vehicles – helmets don’t.
Civil negligence laws typically dictate that someone in the wrong has to pay for whatever injuries they cause a victim to suffer – even if the victim’s injuries could have been lessened if they had taken certain precautions.
However, these laws also accept the fact that all people have a duty to others to be careful and reasonable. In the case of a motorcycle accident, this could be interpreted to mean that a motorcyclist has a duty to wear a helmet – even if they’re not legally required to do so.
So, the best course of action you can take is simply to wear a helmet when riding. That could have a major effect on your ability to obtain compensation if you get hurt in an accident.