There has been a recent news buzz regarding the Insurance Research Counsel’s (IRC) release of findings last month of a nationwide study that showed that 23%, (nearly one in four!), of motor vehicle drivers on the road today in Florida are driving illegally without the required insurance; a number that is projected to increase due declining economic conditions. Florida actually ranks number 5 in the country for having the highest percentage of non-insured drivers.
As an accident attorney that has handled many serious motorcycle accident cases over the last 37 years in Florida, including Daytona Beach, I see another dangerous consequence of the increase in uninsured drivers and the economic situation. In 2002, Florida repealed its Universal Helmet Law for motorcycles. Since its repeal, the only protection legally required to ride a motorcycle in Florida is a helmet with a face shield if a person is under 21 years of age, or $10,000 of medical payment insurance, to cover the cost of their injuries, and some type of eye protection if they are over 21 and choose to “ride free”, or without a helmet. In short, if you ride a motorcycle without a helmet and are over 21 years of age, all you need is a pair of glasses and $10,000 of medical payment coverage. I have not seen any official studies that have shown the percentage of motorcycle riders that ride free with the required insurance. I do know from my experience that if a rider is seriously injured in an accident, (with or without a helmet), even if they had the $10,000 required insurance, this money was used up just in the emergency room.
A "lucky" motorcycle accident victim is one that is fortunate enough to be hit by a fully insured vehicle driver. An average hospital bill for a motorcycle crash victim can be $25,000 to $50,000, and goes up with the seriousness of the injuries. For a rider not wearing a helmet that survives a serious accident with severe head trauma, the bill could be in the millions!
What the IRC’s study does not give statistics for is the numbers of drivers on the road in Florida that only carry the minimum required insurance ($10,000 of property damage, and $10,000 of PIP). In my experience this percentage is around 30% of drivers in Florida. So, 30% of vehicle drivers will be able to pay for some of the motorcyclist’s cycle repairs, but nothing to repair the victim’s body or head. On top of this there is another 20% of drivers that are underinsured and carry only $10,000 worth of Bodily Injury Liability insurance.
If a motorcyclist riding with or without a helmet and without adequate insurance, has the unfortunate experience of being hit by the one in four drivers on the road without any insurance or the other approximately 50% of drivers that are underinsured, who will pay for the medical bills, and any loss of income?
Motorcyclists, now more than ever, it is very important for you to carry full insurance coverage, with Uninsured Motorist coverage being of vital importance. Uninsured Motorist coverage will not only cover your outstanding medical bills but loss of income as well. The odds are not on your side; protect yourself! You will have a much better ride knowing that you are protected in the event of a bonehead move by someone driving a car or truck.
Here is more information that you may find helpful regarding motorcycle accidents.