Many people are surprised to learn there is no age restriction for motorcycle passengers in Florida. Children of any age can ride on the back of a motorcycle. However, it’s best to avoid taking children on motorcycles until they’re old enough to reach foot pegs, hold tightly onto the rider, and follow instructions. It’s also important to be aware of other motorcycle safety laws in the Sunshine State, even if you’re an experienced rider.
How Common are Motorcycle Accidents?
The following statistics from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) illustrate just how common motorcycle accidents are in Florida:
- In one recent year, there were 8,649 motorcycle accidents.
- In those crashes, 621 people died, a 12.5 percent increase from the year before.
- Of the fatalities, 37 were motorcycle passengers.
- Over 7,350 people suffered injuries. Nearly 2,000 people sustained incapacitating injuries.
- Over 610 of the injured were passengers.
- The number of passengers who suffered incapacitating injuries spiked 24 percent in just one year.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents?
The most common causes of motorcycle accidents in Florida include:
- Distracted driving
- Texting while driving
- Driving under the influence
- Driver fatigue
- Driving too fast for conditions
- Following too closely
- Failure to check blind spots
- Failure to yield the right of way
- Running red lights or stop signs
- Improper turning or merging
- Driver inexperience
- Defective car parts
- Poorly maintained car parts
- Dangerous road conditions
Why is It Important to Wear a Helmet When Riding?
Florida law requires all individuals to wear protective helmets while riding a motorcycle. However, motorcyclists 21 and older may ride without helmets if they carry proof of at least $10,000 in medical insurance coverage. Motorcyclists 16 and older can also ride without helmets if they operate motorcycles with engines that are 50 cubic centimeters (cc) or smaller. Unless you meet the criteria for one of these exceptions, one good reason to wear a motorcycle helmet in Florida is to avoid breaking the law.
Another reason to wear a motorcycle helmet is to protect yourself. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS):
- Motorcycle helmets saved more than 25,000 lives over a recent 15-year period.
- Helmets are 37 percent effective in protecting riders from fatal injuries.
- Protective helmets also reduce the risk of head injury by 69 percent.
- Unhelmeted motorcycle riders are three times more likely to sustain traumatic brain injuries in a crash than helmeted riders.
- Some motorcyclists claim that helmets increase the risk of neck injury, reduce peripheral vision, and hinder their hearing. Still, numerous studies have shown no credible evidence to support these theories.
Important Laws Governing Motorcyclists in Florida
Following the law is critical to protect your right to compensation if a motorcycle accident occurs. Here are some key laws to know:
- Florida’s motorcycle license law – Florida requires you to have a motorcycle license or endorsement to operate any two- or three-wheel motorcycle with an engine 50 cc or larger within the state. Only those 16 and older can apply for motorcycle licenses or endorsements.
- Florida’s eye protection law – All motorcycle riders in Florida must wear eye protection unless they are riding within enclosed cabs or on motorcycles with engines of 50 cc or smaller.
- Florida’s lane-splitting law – Florida motorcyclists may not overtake and pass other vehicles, except for other motorcycles, within a single lane or ride between lanes of traffic. This practice is called lane splitting and is against the law.
- Florida’s motorcycle passenger law – You are prohibited from riding your motorcycle with a passenger unless your bike has an appropriate seat and passenger footrests.
What Should I Do After Being Involved in a Motorcycle Accident With My Child?
If you get hurt in a motorcycle accident while riding with your child as a passenger, take the following steps to protect yourself, your child, and your legal rights:
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible, including counseling. A motorcycle accident is a traumatic event for anyone, especially a child.
- Follow your doctor’s care plan. Attend follow-up appointments and take your medications as prescribed. If you don’t, you could face challenges from the insurance company when filing your motorcycle accident claim.
- Gather evidence from the crash. Photos and videos of the crash scene and witness statements can help tell the story of how the accident happened.
- Keep copies of your medical bills, healthcare records, and any documents that show your financial losses, such as pay stubs. These records will help a motorcycle accident attorney place a value on your case.
- Watch what you say to the other driver and insurance adjusters. You want to avoid saying anything that could jeopardize your access to maximum compensation.
- Avoid posting updates or photos on social media while your case is pending. Investigators may scour your social media accounts to look for discrepancies they can use to question your credibility.
- Contact a knowledgeable motorcycle accident lawyer for help. Paying for serious injuries from a motorcycle crash can quickly place families in financial distress. An experienced attorney can develop an efficient legal strategy and build a solid case for you and your child.
What is the Deadline for Filing a Motorcycle Accident Claim in Florida?
You generally have four years from the date of a motorcycle accident to file a personal injury claim against another driver or liable party. However, the time limit looks a little different for minors.
If a minor gets hurt in an accident and has grounds for an injury claim, they have seven years from the date of their injury to file a claim. However, it’s best to get an experienced attorney to work on the case immediately, while the evidence is still fresh.
Contact a Florida Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
You don’t deserve the stress and hassle of settling a motorcycle accident claim. Let Phillips | Tadros, P.A. take the burden off your shoulders. We’ll push for the compensation you deserve while you recover from your injuries and take care of your family. Contact us today for a free consultation.