Frequently Asked Questions
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How can I find motorcycle safety courses in my area?
Florida is one of many states that requires a basic riding safety course in order to obtain a motorcycle license.
However, these courses can be taken for any number of reasons, from learning how to become a safer rider to saving money on your motorcycle insurance.
If you're looking for a motorcycle riding course, they're available through the Florida Rider Training Program (FRTP) offered by the
Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
How Florida Motorcyclists Improve Their Skills
Many studies show that riders who complete official training courses have lower injury and fatality rates than other bikers. Safe riding courses offer a number of advantages to motorcyclists of all skill levels, including adapting to new technologies on upgraded bikes and mastering steering and braking techniques that can save a rider’s life.
Motorcycle riders may learn and improve their riding skills through:
- Required courses. Any person who operates a bike with an engine size greater than 50cc must pass a basic skills test to get a motorcycle license in Florida. New riders of two- or three-wheeled motorcycles must pass the FRTP-authorized Basic RiderCourse (BRC) or Basic RiderCourse updated (BRCu) before a motorcycle endorsement can be issued.
- Improvement courses. If it's been a while since your Basic skills test, you're considering carrying passengers on your bike, or you're looking to ride in new environments, there are additional courses available through the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF). These classes range from beginner to experienced riding, and offer on-cycle sessions to practice riding and crash avoidance in a controlled environment.
- On-the-road experience. Every ride gives you more practice controlling your bike. Before each one, you should perform a few emergency stops and check the steering in your driveway to be sure you're in control. If you want to practice the skills you learned in a recent course, make some time to visit an empty parking lot or deserted road before taking to the streets.
We're dedicated to providing motorcyclists the assistance and information they need to stay safe on Florida roads. Use our website to learn more about your rights and responsibilities as a motorcyclist, or fill out the form on this page today to schedule your free case evaluation with one of our injury attorneys.
What equipment do I need to ride my motorcycle legally in Florida?
Under Florida law, motorcycle riders may need various kinds of equipment depending on the rider’s age, type of bike, and limits of his or her insurance.
For instance, Florida has an optional helmet law for insured riders over 21. Generally speaking, a biker over 21 who is covered by an insurance policy providing for at least $10,000 in medical benefits for crash injuries isn't required to wear a helmet.
However, since head injuries are the most common cause of motorcyclist deaths, we recommend all riders wear helmets as part of their regular motorcycle safety gear for every ride.
Motorcycle Safety Equipment Required by Law in Florida
Equipment laws usually apply only to standard motorcycles. Motorcycles with 2 brake horsepower or less, bikes with motors with a displacement of 50cc or less, or any motorcycle incapable of traveling more than 30 mph on level road are generally exempt from some of these statutes.
For all other motorcycles, Florida regulations require the following necessary equipment:
- Eye protection. Riders cannot operate motorcycles unless they are wearing eye-protective devices, such as goggles, approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT).
- Helmets for riders under 16. Children under 16 are prohibited from operating mopeds or riding on motorcycles unless wearing securely-fastened protective headgear approved by the DOT.
- Lights and mirrors. Motorcyclists are required to have and use working headlights, tail lights, reflectors, turn signals, and left and right side rear-view mirrors.
- Passenger equipment. If a motorcyclist is carrying a passenger, the bike must be designed for this purpose by providing the passenger with his or her own seat and his or her own footrest.
- License plates. Just as drivers do, a motorcyclist is required to have a state-issued license plate to legally ride on the roads. If a motorcycle is registered to a person under 21, state law requires the license plate to be a different color and design than the standard plates.
If you're not wearing proper protection, or don't have safety gear installed on your bike, you could be pulled over and ticketed for a traffic infraction. Use our website to learn more about your rights and responsibilities as a motorcyclist, or fill out the form on this page today to schedule your free case evaluation with one of our injury attorneys.
How can I tell if my motorcycle crash was caused by a defective part?
While the majority of motorcycle accidents involve a collision between a biker and a car, many motorcyclists are injured each year as a result of defective bike parts. When improper installation or poor quality products can cause a motorcyclist to veer off of the road, lose traction, or strike another road user, he or she may be able to pursue a claim against the manufacturer.
Who's Liable When Motorcycle Defects Cause a Crash?
Defective motorcycle parts may be the cause of accidents with other vehicles as well as no-contact crashes, and often happen without warning. Although motorcyclists aren't at fault for these accidents, they're responsible for proving that a manufacturer was negligent, which can be difficult for someone recovering from a severe injury.
Motorcycle accidents due to defective parts are complex, and often involve:
- Manufacturer defects. A legal claim may be brought against the manufacturer of the bike itself or the maker of any aftermarket or replacement parts installed on the bike that were used according to manufacturer instructions. These are called product liability claims, and can include steering mechanisms, brake lines, transmissions, fuel systems, or even the overall design of the bike itself. A manufacturer can also be liable if the company failed to adequately warn riders about the potential for danger.
- Maintenance errors. In some cases, a repair shop may be to blame for installing the wrong item or failing to adequately complete maintenance. Malfunctioning brakes, throttles, tires, mirrors, or any other part of the machine can all increase the chances of an accident and compromise safety in the event of a crash.
- Lost evidence. Product liability claims rely on a thorough investigation of accident scene and the damaged motorcycle. Unfortunately, evidence at the scene is often lost during roadway cleanup, and more is lost to the elements with each passing day. In addition, riders who are eager to get back on the road may begin repairs on their bikes immediately, destroying even more vital evidence in the case.
There are many parties that may be held liable in your product liability claim, including the distributor of a faulty part and the dealership that sold the bike.
If someone else’s negligence resulted in your suffering, we can help you collect the compensation you deserve. Simply fill out the form on this page today to schedule your free case evaluation with one of our experienced injury attorneys.
Can I get compensation if I was forced to lay down my motorcycle?
Some crashes occur for reasons other than one driver striking another. Many injuries happen due to “near miss” situations, such as a motorcyclist taking evasive action to avoid a crash. In these kinds of no-contact crashes, bikers may have trouble collecting compensation from an at fault driver.
Injury Liability After “Laying Down” a Bike
"Laying down" a motorcycle is a desperate maneuver used only as a last resort. It may allow the rider to avoid impact with an object, but it almost always results in injury to him or her. And since the rider wasn't actually struck by another driver, it can affect liability in his injury case.
In order to get compensation, a rider who lays down a bike has to prove that:
- An accident was unavoidable. Bikers usually only lay down a bike if there's no other option. A recreation of the scene of the crash can be used to show that the biker was paced in an impossible position, such as either being struck by an oncoming car or steering the bike off of the road.
- The other party was negligent. Just because a biker is injured doesn't necessarily mean a driver is to blame. The rider must show that he or she was acting responsibly and was forced to lay down the bike because of another party’s actions. A driver who was texting and drifted into the motorcyclist’s path or a municipality that allowed bushes to obstruct the view on a steep curve could be held liable for negligence.
- The other party was primarily at fault. A motorcyclist can be found partially at fault for an accident and still recover compensation. However, the other party must have a larger portion of blame than the biker, and the biker’s recovery will be reduced in proportion to the amount of fault he or she shares for the crash.
These kinds of accidents typically involve long and frustrating recoveries, significant medical expenses, and an inability to earn a living. If someone else’s negligence resulted in your suffering, we can help you collect the compensation you deserve. Simply fill out the form on this page today to schedule your free case evaluation with one of our experienced injury attorneys.
When can my child ride on a motorcycle with me in Florida?
While Florida has strict laws regulating when and where children can ride in cars, there are no minimum age requirements for when children may ride as motorcycle passengers.
However, there are still some restrictions on passengers to ensure that both the operator and passengers are riding safely.
Florida Motorcycle Laws for Children and Passengers
Many parents who ride motorcycles regularly impress the importance of safe riding onto their children, while others may be unaware of the level of risk when riding with a minor. Operators have been charged with traffic violations, or offenses such as endangering a minor, depending on the manner in which they were riding.
Florida laws and safe riding practices suggest the following guidelines for riders with passengers:
- Helmet use. Florida motorcycle helmet law allows riders over 21 the option of not wearing a helmet as long as the he or she carries at least $10,000 in medical insurance. But if a passenger is under 21, he or she is required to wear a helmet at all times.
- Type of motorcycle. Florida laws prohibit carrying a passenger on motorcycles that don't have a dedicated passenger seat and passenger footrests. The seat must be able to hold both the operator and passenger without changing the operator’s normal riding position. If the passenger’s feet cannot reach the foot pegs, this can compromise the balance of the bike, and the operator may have difficulty claiming compensation after an accident.
- Safety precautions. Children should wear the same protective gear that is recommended for bike operators, including helmets and eyewear. The bike should be properly balanced and adjusted to carry passengers, and the rider should know how to adjust his or her handling technique to compensate for the added weight. If your child is riding in a carrier that has been secured to the back seat of the bike, make sure that it has been installed according to the manufacturer’s directions and has been properly tested before your child’s first ride.
If you were involved in a motorcycle accident while riding with a minor, Johnson & Gilbert, P.A. can give you the guidance you need while you recover from your injuries. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page today to schedule your free case evaluation.
How long do I have to file my motorcycle injury claim in Florida?
It depends on whether you're seeking payment through an insurance company or filing a Florida injury lawsuit for your motorcycle crash.
Since Florida is a no-fault insurance state, most injury victims will only be eligible for compensation through their insurance policies. This system allows victims to get payment for injuries and property damage without the need to file a lawsuit.
While the time for reporting an accident varies from policy to policy, it's a good idea to report an accident as soon as possible. Many insurers have 24-hour accident claim phone lines or allow online reporting to begin claims processing to begin immediately.
If the accident resulted in permanent injury, disability, or scarring or disfigurement, Florida accident victims are allowed to step outside of the no-fault system and file an injury lawsuit.
However, there are still limits on how long a victim can wait before making a claim.
Statute of Limitations on Florida Motorcycle Injury Cases
Each state imposes different deadlines for the filing of a lawsuit, called the statute of limitations. After this time limit has run out, a court can refuse to hear the case, and the victim won't have a chance to be heard, no matter how compelling the case or how serious his injuries are.
In Florida, the statute of limitations for car accident cases depends on whether a victim sustained:
- Injuries. Any driver, passenger, motorcycle rider, bicyclist, or pedestrian is required to file a lawsuit within four years of the date of the accident to be eligible for compensation. This deadline applies to compensation for injury costs as well as damage to vehicles or personal property.
- Death. If a driver, passenger, motorcycle rider, bicyclist, or pedestrian was killed as a result of the accident, his or her family members have two years to bring a wrongful death case against the at-fault party. The two years may start on the date of the accident or the date of the person’s death.
While you may have several years to file an accident case in court, evidence in the case is lost with each passing day after the crash. For this reason, it's best to speak to an experienced Florida motorcycle accident attorney about your options as soon as possible. Fill out the quick contact form on this page to tell us your story for a confidential consultation.
What types of motorcycle maneuvers should I know to help avoid a collision?
Bikers have specific risks and vulnerabilities on the road, and they need to know how to react when something goes wrong. Incredibly, some riders avoid learning difficult maneuvers because they hope they'll never have to use them—making them woefully unprepared when they need an untested skill to avoid an accident.
Motorcycle Maneuvers All Bikers Should Know
It's far better to practice difficult motorcycle riding skills in a safe environment than to rely on luck to avoid a crash. Even experienced riders may need to brush up on safety skills every few months, especially if they've bought new bikes or plan to add another rider. Most bike safety maneuvers can be practiced in an empty parking lot, and are done in a matter of minutes.
Motorcycle riders should practice the following skills:
- Slow speed riding. Coasting down an empty road is far easier than moving at a walking pace on a motorcycle. Nevertheless, bikers must ride at slow speeds in parking lots, on city streets, and any time they start moving from a stop. Slow riding depends on using the rear brake only (keeping the front wheel stable) and keeping the throttle constant level.
- Sharp right turn. The ability to turn right without swerving into the lane of opposing traffic can save a biker from a head-on motorcycle collision, but very few riders master the tight right turn. In order to turn sharply so the bike stays in the right lane at all times, keep the throttle smooth off the stop and aim for a 90-degree angle with your head up. Keep your speed low, as gunning the motor will push the bike to the outside of the turn and into oncoming cars. Only increase speed when the turn is complete.
- High-speed braking. Performing an emergency stop can prevent anything from a rear-end accident to falling over a guardrail. Simply pick a stopping point ahead of you, accelerate in a straight line, and apply both brakes simultaneously along with the clutch to stop as quickly as possible. The goal is to stop safely, hit your mark, and avoid locking up the rear wheel. Make sure to keep the motorcycle straight and upright to get the maximum of road impact on the tires.
- Controlled reflexes. An overcorrection to a traffic problem can often cause an accident. Small corrections are vital when controlling a motorcycle, as extreme braking can throw a rider from the seat or cause the bike to lay down. Practice staying on guard and noticing your surroundings: scan as far ahead as possible for hazards and quiz yourself on the colors of the cars around you. Practice what-if scenarios, such as how you would react if the car ahead of you braked suddenly.
Do you know someone who needs a refresher course on motorcycle maneuvers? Please share this article on Facebook to remind your friends to stay safe on each and every ride.
Will an airbag jacket or vest keep me safe while motorcycling?
A federal government report found that fatal traffic injuries are 35 times more likely for motorcyclists than for enclosed vehicle occupants. And the primary reason?
Lack of armor.
Well, not literally armor, but relative layers of protection. An occupant of a car, truck, or SUV is restrained by seatbelts and shoulder harnesses. He’s cushioned by airbags to remain in place if a collision occurs. And he's protected by a hard shell of metal and plastic to prevent the worst forces of a car crash from reaching him.
Apparel for the Well-Protected Motorcyclist
Since you can’t protect yourself in a metal cage when riding your motorcycle, you have to rely on other forms of protection. This means you have to wear the right gear. Maximum protection for a ride means putting on these articles of clothing:
- A helmet approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation. A full-face helmet offers maximum protection.
- Goggles or other eye protection, unless your helmet has built-in protection for your vision.
- Durable clothing, such as a leather jacket and leather pants, can help protect you from road rash if you’re thrown from the bike, and can help reduce the sting from road debris. Denim and everyday street clothing isn’t good enough.
- Gloves and boots crafted of leather or protective man-made fibers. Gloves not only protect your body, they also allow better grip on the handlebars. Similarly, sturdy boots help you maintain your position on the foot pegs while riding and protect you from burns.
Now Available: Airbag Jackets for Motorcyclists
Airbag jackets and vests are a recent development in motorcycle safety technology. This inflatable gear slips on like a conventional jacket, but will suddenly inflate with a burst of CO2 through its air bladders after a collision to provide additional protection for the rider who is thrown from his bike. Inflation with most models happens within milliseconds.
Statistics indicate that forward momentum in a crash is reduced by roughly 60 percent for the rider in an airbag vest or jacket, and head trauma is reduced by approximately 80 percent. Riders have tested this gear on different surfaces, and suffered a few bruises upon impact instead of broken bones, abrasions, or head and neck trauma.
Reports from riders indicate that most jackets are weather resistant and durable, lasting up to two years or longer if not involved in an accident. Replacement CO2 canisters cost $20-$40, depending on the model. Newer models emphasize protection for the spine and may deploy without requiring a tether attachment to the motorcycle.
At press time, there are two drawbacks that might keep a rider from investing in an airbag vest:
- More comprehensive testing. Although inflatable motorcycle vests and jackets have been around since the late 1990s, there hasn't been expansive scientific testing. Only a few major corporations, such as Honda, have tested this gear with progressive results.
- Slow adoption means the items are still quite expensive. Consumers in Europe and Japan have embraced the jackets more than U.S. riders. But as the rider population ages, the demand for inflatable gear may grow, reducing the cost. Current prices range between $350 and $700.
One More Layer of Protection
No matter how much safety equipment you invest in, you could still become a victim of a motorcycle collision caused by a negligent car or truck driver. We hope that never happens—but, just in case, it’s best to be prepared. Take the time to enter our contact number into your phone right now, just in case you need to call us in an emergency: (800) 556-8890 toll-free.
Are three-wheeled motorcycles safer than two-wheeled machines?
The latest data from The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicates that motorcycle death rates in 2014 were 27 times higher than car accident fatality rates—27 times higher. This rate is not only astounding but extremely alarming. Despite these risks, motorcycle sales are continuing to increase. However, as a result of the dangers associated with motorcycle collisions, the popularity of three-wheel motorcycles, also referred to as trikes, may keep riders safer.
Comparing Three-Wheel and Two-Wheel Motorcycles
The primary disadvantages of motorcycles focus on three main factors: stability, protection, and control. Therefore, manufacturers are trying to increase motorcycle safety by altering designs to cater to the correction of these disadvantages, including promoting the stability and comfort of riding a three-wheeled motorcycle.
Many motorcycle purists refuse to acknowledge that trikes are real motorcycles. However, according to Florida statutes, wheels alone don't define a motorcycle.
Here are three main factors to consider when evaluating trikes and traditional motorcycles:
- Increased equilibrium. The addition of a third wheel allows for a more balanced distribution of weight. Rather than having the weight of the bike and passengers (which can exceed 1,000 pounds) distributed onto two points, the weight is triangulated and distributed onto three points. This equal appropriation of weight not only decreases the amount of effort the driver has to exert to keep the bike upright, but also increases the traction and equilibrium that the tires have on the road as he turns corners, brakes, and accelerates.
- Increased stability. Riders on trikes don't have to lean into curves to prevent tipping, as the third wheel holds the bike steady throughout a curve. This stability is also present at stoplights. In addition to decreasing rollover injuries, a trike's design takes the pressure off the rider’s knees and muscles, as he no longer has to steady the bike with his body.
- Increased peace of mind. Trikes are more rigid, and turn more like a car than a bike. A bike relies on counter-steering and a calculated lean to negotiate the perfect turn. Some three-wheel models have lower seats to allow the rider to maintain control at slower speeds. These factors contribute to the belief that trikes are safer.
However, according to a 2012 article in the New York Times, although trike riders applaud the stability and comfort of these machines, many remain nostalgic for the lean of a two-wheeled bike.
Are Trikes Safer Than Two-Wheeled Motorcycles?
The question of whether trikes are safer than motorcycles is somewhat subjective, because regardless of the above advantages, some of the dangerous disadvantages remain the same. For instance, trikes are still open-air vehicles and provide little to no protection for riders who are thrown from their seats, especially if they're riding without helmets. And while trikes may have a broader perspective of the road, that doesn't mean other motorists see them as easily as they do cars and trucks.
Stay Informed About Motorcycle Safety
After helping hundreds of accident victims build strong foundations for their injury claims, we've learned that just about anything can cause a collision. This is why we like to take the initiative to educate our clients before an accident occurs.
The best way to protect yourself and your family from a motorcycle or trike catastrophe is by staying well-informed. Like and follow us on Facebook for periodic safety updates and resource notifications to ensure you have the facts and guidance you need to stay safe.
What are the differences between motorcycles, motor scooters, and mopeds, and what are the laws for each?
Riders of all ages love to take to the scenic Florida roads on two- and three-wheeled machines and feel the open air. However, in order to truly appreciate the ride, operators of these vehicles must obey the laws for their particular machines. Otherwise, they risk not only injury but also fines and potential liability charges.
Florida Laws for Motorized Two- and Three-Wheeled Vehicles
To understand how Florida laws pertain to motorcycles, mopeds, and motor scooters, it's important to first know how these vehicles are classified. Each state has specific definitions, categorizations, and laws governing these vehicles.
Our state separates these types of vehicles into four distinct categories, with licensing and safety regulations for each.
- Motorcycles. A motorcycle is defined as any two- or three-wheeled vehicle that contains a saddle or seat and has an engine with a displacement magnitude—which is the amount of air and fuel the cylinders can suck in at once to create power—of more than 50 cubic centimeters (ccs). This definition excludes tractors and mopeds. Motorcycles are required by state law to be registered and have a title before riding on state roadways.
- Motor scooters/mini-motorcycles. A motor scooter, or mini-motorcycle, is defined as any type of two- or three-wheeled vehicle containing a saddle or seat that has an engine with a displacement magnitude up to 50 ccs. Florida laws don't specifically define motor scooters as a separate classification from motorcycles, even though their power and displacement magnitudes can vary. Therefore, registration and licensing regulations for motor scooters are the same as for motorcycles—the operator must have a valid driver’s license, and if the vehicle’s engine exceeds a displacement of 50 ccs, the operator must also have a motorcycle endorsement on his license.
- Mopeds. The term moped is derived from the combining of the words “motor” and “pedal.” Therefore, a moped is defined as any vehicle with no more than three wheels and pedals that can be used to propel the vehicle by human power. Mopeds have seats or saddles, and are designed with a motor that cannot propel the vehicle faster than 30 mph. If an internal combustion engine is used, the displacement may not exceed 50 ccs. Although a title isn't necessary, mopeds must be registered if an operator wants to ride them on state roadways.
- Motorized scooters. A motorized scooter—not to be confused with a motor scooter—is categorized as any vehicle without a saddle or seat, designed to travel on no more than three wheels, and that cannot propel itself more than 30 mph on level ground. This machine might be a child's electric standing scooter or a mobility-assistance vehicle. Motorized scooters don't require titles or registration, but are also not permitted on state roadways or sidewalks.
Florida helmet laws are based on the age of the operator, as well as the speed and power of the vehicle.
- Motorcyclists 21 and older are permitted to ride without a helmet only when carrying proof of insurance coverage. The required coverage amount is a minimum of $10,000 to pay for treatment of injuries that may result from a collision. Motorcycle riders, including passengers, under 21 are required to wear protective headgear that passes The Federal Department of Transportation helmet standards. Furthermore, all motorcycle riders, regardless of age, are required to wear protective eye gear to avoid injury and promote clear vision.
- Moped and scooter riders under 16 must wear a helmet. Riders over 16 who hold regular or “motorcycle only” operators' licenses aren't obligated to wear helmets as long as:
- Their vehicle cannot exceed a speed of more than 30 mph
- The vehicle does not have a displacement of more than 50 ccs.
For more up-to-date material on motor scooter, moped, and motorcycle safety, rider tips, laws, and other resources, browse our extensive collection of informative articles. For additional support, contact our office directly to schedule your free case review. If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle or traffic collision, we can help you build a strong injury case to secure injury compensation. Call at 386-673-4412 to get started.