If you ride a motorcycle in and around Tampa, FL, you should take all necessary steps to keep yourself safe. When motorcyclists are involved in accidents, they are 27 times more likely to die than drivers and passengers of cars and trucks.

One common-sense way to guard against injury is to wear your helmet whenever riding a motorcycle. However, you may wonder whether you’re legally required to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle in Tampa.

Florida law establishes several requirements pertaining to the use of safety gear when riding a motorcycle.

Wearing a Motorcycle Helmet in Tampa, FL

You typically must wear a helmet when on a motorcycle in Florida — regardless of whether you’re operating the motorcycle or you’re simply a passenger.

Not all helmets meet the criteria established under Florida law. Motorcycle helmets must comply with the Federal Motorcycle Vehicle Safety Standard 218. To confirm whether a motorcycle helmet is compliant, check for a United States Department of Transportation (or US DOT) sticker. 

You and your passengers must also wear DOT-approved eye protection. Again, check for the DOT sticker or similar indicator on a piece of safety gear or its packaging to determine if it meets the necessary criteria.

Exceptions to Florida’s Motorcycle Helmet Law

Florida’s motorcycle safety laws are somewhat unique when compared to those of many other states. For example, a person riding in the enclosed cab of a motorcycle doesn’t need to wear protective headgear. Likewise, a rider over the age of 21 doesn’t have to wear a helmet if they have insurance coverage of $10,000 or more.

However, research indicates that wearing a helmet can protect riders against death or serious injury in an accident. 

You might also need to seek compensation for medical bills and other losses resulting from a Tampa motorcycle accident. You can do so by filing a claim or lawsuit against the insurance of a negligent party who caused your injuries. Whether or not you were wearing a helmet at the time of the accident can influence the value of your claim.

Motorcycle Accidents in Tampa: What You Must Know About Comparative Negligence

Florida is a pure comparative negligence state. That means a victim may recover compensation after an accident even if they contributed to the event. However, a court or insurance company can reduce this compensation to account for the victim’s share of fault.

For example, suppose you’re seeking $10,000 in compensation after an accident, but a jury determines that you are 20% at fault for your injuries for not wearing a helmet. In this case, the maximum amount of money you could recover would be $8,000 (80%).

Insurers often seek to minimize the amount of money they pay to claimants. If an insurer learns you weren’t wearing a helmet when your accident occurred, they may accuse you of failing to mitigate your damages. This could limit how much you may collect for your injuries.

The main reason to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle in Florida is to protect yourself. However, you should be aware that wearing a helmet and eye protection can protect your right to full compensation after an accident. Accordingly, you should wear your helmet and eye protection at all times.