Motorcycle accidents can be devastating, especially if you’re not wearing the appropriate safety gear. All motorcycle safety gear is crucial, but none more so than the helmet.
If you were injured in an accident due to another driver’s negligence, do you still have a right to file a lawsuit even if you weren’t wearing a helmet?
Know the law in your state
The first step in answering this question is to understand the laws in your state or the state where you were injured. Each state has its own rules, and these rules cover more than just whether or not you can sue. They also cover helmet regulations and insurance issues.
In New York, for example, helmets are required by law. If you fail to wear a helmet and get into an accident, even if you aren’t at fault, your legal situation can get tricky and may depend on whether or not you suffered head trauma.
In Texas, the law does not require helmets under certain conditions, and not wearing one does not in any way preclude your right to sue. However, it’s likely you will get as much out of the settlement if you were not wearing your helmet, even if the other party was at fault.
The best thing to do is consult with a skilled lawyer in the state where you wish to bring a suit, such as an expert on healthcare law like Howard Fensterman if you’re in New York. They can offer the most specialized advice based on the particulars of your case.
Know your injuries
The next step in understanding whether or not you can bring a lawsuit is to think about your injuries. If your injuries don’t include any head trauma, then the issue of wearing a helmet is basically irrelevant. In this case, there is really no reason to hesitate.
However, if you did suffer head injuries, and particularly if your head injuries were your primary injury, then the helmet issue will become a serious question. Many states have something called “comparative negligence”, which means that the police on the scene (and later the courts) can assign partial blame to both parties.
If the other driver was entirely to blame for the accident itself, and you were wearing your helmet, then they would be considered 100 percent liable for your injuries. If, however, they were entirely to blame for the accident but you were not wearing protection, then you might be considered 20 percent to 40 percent responsible for your own injuries.
Keep in mind that if your state requires you to wear a helmet, you will be considered even more at fault. If you win the lawsuit, your compensation may be reduced by whatever percentage you are found liable. However, you can always get compensation for all injuries not related to your helmet.
Know how to be safe
If you are ever in an accident when you’re not wearing a helmet, be prepared for another serious consequence: insurance issues. Your insurance company may consider you “reckless” and hike your insurance premiums significantly.
This will particularly be an issue if your state law requires you to wear a helmet. If the law required helmets and you failed to wear one, you may even have trouble getting your own insurance company to make any payments at all.
All in all, wearing a helmet is always the smart move when you’re riding a motorcycle. With the amazing number of high-quality, state-of-the-art HJC helmets and other head protection available to motorcyclists these days, there’s really no reason not to wear a helmet.
If you aren’t wearing a helmet and get in an accident caused by someone else, there are many factors to consider. In most cases, you can sue and can recover at least some compensation. But the smartest thing to do is never get on your bike without good head protection.