Motorcycle Helmet Laws and Recovery for Injuries
How a Helmet Can Affect the Size of Your Accident Settlement
A helmet can be the only thing standing in the way of a motorcycle crash victim and death. In a study done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 37% of motorcycle fatalities could have been avoided had the rider worn a helmet. Despite this statistic, only 19 states and D.C. have laws requiring motorcyclists to wear a helmet. California is one of these states, and if you are injured in a motorcycle crash and you weren’t wearing a helmet at the time, this can negatively impact your claim for compensation.
An accident injury attorney will explain that the size of your accident settlement is contingent on damages and liability. The higher your damages, the greater amount of financial compensation you need. However, the amount you get also depends on the liability of each party involved. In states with shared fault rules, you may still have a case for compensation, but your settlement will still be impacted by your decision not to wear a helmet.
California’s Pure Comparative Negligence Law
California courts follow the doctrine of pure comparative negligence when awarding victims of traffic accidents. Pure comparative negligence refers to determining relative liability of defendants and victims in personal injury cases. Using this doctrine, each party is assigned a percentage of fault for the accident, and the amount they pay is a direct reflection of their percentage of fault.
For example, a motorcycle injury claim might be worth $10,000. If the motorcycle rider was found to be 10% at fault for the accident, then they are liable for $1,000 worth of damages while the other party is 90% at fault and therefore liable for $9,000 worth of the damages resulting from the accident.
Due to these regulations surrounding the recovery of damages in accidents, the lawyer offering legal advice for motorcycle accidents will ask if you were wearing a helmet. While California has a helmet law, this will not completely nullify your case for compensation. See below to see how it can be affected.
Head Or Neck Injury While Wearing A Helmet
If the collision injured either your head or neck despite the fact that you were wearing a helmet at the time, then the courts will almost definitely find that you should be compensated for your bodily injuries. By wearing protective headgear, you took steps to protect yourself in the event of an accident. If you sustain a head or neck injury despite this effort to protect yourself, then it can serve as a testament to how devastating your accident was. Your attorney can present your helmet as evidence that you were not being negligent.
Head Or Neck Injury in a State Without a Helmet Law
If you sustained a head or neck injury when you weren’t wearing a helmet, your personal injury attorney likely has a tough battle for compensation on their hands, even if the accident occurred in a state without laws surrounding helmets.
The defense attorney fighting you in your case will do anything to show that you were being negligent, and the fact you went without a helmet will be Exhibit One. The helmet could have protected you from your head and neck injuries, and they could even try to elaborate that your refusal to wear a helmet is an indicator that you don’t value safety, and therefore, didn’t drive safely, either.
Even if your state does not have a helmet law, your insurance agency is still likely to raise your insurance rates due to this act of negligence.
Head Or Neck Injury in a State With a Helmet Law
If your accident occurs in a state like California that has a helmet law and you injure your head or neck, recovering compensation for your injuries will be an uphill battle. The fact that you broke your state’s helmet law serves to show your comparative negligence.
However, Accident Lawyers Firm has an extensive list of consultants with knowledge in motorcycle accident injuries, and they can examine the evidence from the scene to see how much your helmet could have really protected you. It’s possible that your injuries could have happened regardless.
Even if you weren’t wearing a helmet in a state with a helmet law, you can still be entitled to compensation under pure comparative negligence. You were involved in an accident nonetheless, and that means that someone else is likely at least partially responsible.
Helmets and Other Protective Gear
There are four central components of the motorcycle helmet that haven’t changed for decades. They are the hard outer shell, impact-absorbing liner, padded comfort layer, and chin strap to keep the helmet on your head.
The Motorcycle Legal Foundation has a beginner’s guide for choosing a helmet that will protect you. They list the anatomy of a protective helmet and how to get one that fits your head correctly.
You can find a helmet with lighter materials to minimize strain on your neck muscles, Bluetooth features to minimize distracted driving, and extra padding for comfort.
You can also buy other protective gear such as heavy-duty leather gloves to protect your hands. They also make jackets that can sustain a considerable amount of friction and reflect headlights to increase visibility. You can also buy motorcycle-friendly pants to help protect your body from roadburn in the event of a crash.