Helmet Laws and Motorcycle Accident Claims
UPDATED: June 19, 2018
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In a motorcycle accident claim, the limitations on damages for failure to wear a helmet will vary depending on several factors, such as the state’s motorcycle helmet laws, the type of injury, and the fault of the injured party. If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, consult an experienced attorney with questions about how your state's motorcycle helmet laws affect an injury claim.
How Neglecting to Wear a Helmet Affects Motorcycle Injury Claims
There are a number of scenarios involving helmet laws and head injuries to consider when estimating motorcycle accident damages. The following take into account the type of injury and the state law on motorcycle helmets:
- No Head Injury: If you did not sustain head or neck injuries, then whether or not you wore a helmet would not be relevant to your injury claim. However, the act of wearing the helmet may show that you are a responsible motorcyclist, which could be favorable to you in the eyes of the party deciding fault. State law does not alter this scenario.
- Helmet and Head Injury: Your motorcycle injury claim is better supported if you were wearing a helmet and suffered a head or neck injury. Wearing a helmet reduces the chance that you will be considered comparatively negligent, or partially at fault, for the severity of your injuries. Insurance companies and opposing attorneys can still argue you contributed to your injuries, but the fact that you wore a helmet makes it harder to prove you were partially at fault. State law does not alter this scenario.
- No Helmet Law, No Helmet, Head Injury: If at the time of the accident you were not wearing a helmet and you sustained head and neck injuries, it may be difficult to recover damages. The argument will be that your failure to wear a helmet contributed to the severity of your head and neck injuries. In legal terms, you may be found to be contributorily negligent, which essentially means that you are partially responsible for the type of injuries that you sustained.
- Helmet Law, No Helmet, Head Injury: If you were not wearing a helmet in violation of your state's motorcycle helmet law, then it is very difficult to receive compensation for head or neck injuries because, by law, your negligence contributed to the injuries. You may still file a motorcycle accident claim for other injuries, but should not expect to receive payment for head and neck injuries.
If your negligence contributed to your injuries, the only way to collect compensation is to prove that you would have sustained the same injury if you had been wearing a helmet. This is often very difficult to prove since insurance adjusters have an enormous amount of information supporting the claim that helmets can significantly reduce injuries in the event of an accident.
Getting Help from a Motorcycle Accident Attorney
While you may be able to prove that your injuries would be the same had you worn a helmet, this is a difficult burden to overcome and often requires an experienced motorcycle accident attorney. A lawyer will have access to experts that have studied the effects of helmets in accident cases and have testified in court to this issue. With the assistance of an experienced attorney, you are more likely to receive a higher award than if you tried to negotiate with the insurance company on your own.