A recent study by the Journal of American Medical Association was conducted on motorcycle accidents with and without helmets. The study concluded that riders wearing helmets are less likely to suffer head injuries in an accident but end up with more injuries to other parts of their bodies.
Researchers concluded this may be because helmet wearing riders are more likely to survive high impact crashes versus those that do not wear helmets (fatality rates were not factored into the study).
Motorcycle Studies and Helmets
Data was collected from 2007 through 2010 from 86,000 motorcycle related accidents. Research confirmed that motorcyclists not wearing helmets were more than half as likely to end up with head injuries versus those that were wearing helmets. Riders wearing helmets were also less likely to die in an accident.
Researchers also believe that increased injuries to other parts of the body might be because riders wearing helmets may ride at higher speeds and feel more secure versus those that do not. In my experiences, I don’t believe this to be true.
One fact that was mentioned in the article and which I agree with, is that policymakers need to consider the long term financial impact of those involved in accidents not wearing helmets. Fact is, while I personally believe riders should be free to do as they wish, as a bankruptcy attorney I can tell you more than fifty percent of personal filings are because of medical bills.
This was confirmed in a Harvard Study in 2010 which concluded that 62% of personal bankruptcy filings were due to outstanding medical bills. Of those that file bankruptcy, 78% have medical bills listed on their creditor’s list.
Motorcycle Helmets- Yes or No?
There is a fine line to cross when it comes to infringing on our rights not only as bikers, but also as citizens. Regardless, the issue of healthcare cannot be overlooked or ignored.
In Florida, if you do not have health insurance, you have to wear a helmet, but the fact is, that is a secondary offense that has no bite. There are no “points” assessed to your license so it does not affect your insurance rates or your driver’s license. Add to that the minimal auto insurance policy required in Florida is $10,000 PIP (personal injury protection) and property damage, but BI (bodily injury) is not required.
There is nothing more difficult than having to explain to a client that while I understand they have suffered substantial damages whether physical, psychological, even financial, the most I can recover is $10,000 minus medical bills and attorney’s fees. Lawsuits are rare (Florida is a bankruptcy haven) because a homeowner’s primary residence is protected and regardless, a bankruptcy would eliminate the debt obligation.
The fact is, policymakers should create a trust fund for bikers involved in accidents where if it is at no fault of their own, a percentage of the fine from the traffic ticket that was issued to the at-fault party is disbursed to motorcycle accident victim(s) after undergoing a thorough application process.
That may help reduce the amount of bankruptcies including reducing the ever increasing costs of health insurance. I will also advocate much stricter laws on accidents especially for those involved in motorcycle accidents.
Please, be safe and watch out for motorcycles!