Almost every state has a law in place which requires motorcycle operators to wear helmets. California has a universal helmet law which requires anyone driving or riding as a passenger on a motorcycle to wear a helmet that meets regulations set by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. If you get into a motorcycle accident in any state with a similar helmet law, and you are wearing a helmet, it could affect your case against the other driver.
Helmet laws are present in most states because of the significant impact they have on a motorcyclist’s safety. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration reports that, for every 100 motorcyclists killed in crash while not wearing a helmet, approximately 37 would have survived if they had been wearing a helmet. This number does not include the non-fatal injuries prevented by helmet use. The only states that do not have any helmet laws are Illinois and Iowa.
Whether you were wearing a helmet at the time of your motorcycle accident could have a large impact on your personal injury claim, depending on what kind of damages you are trying to recover. First of all, if you did not sustain injury to your neck or head in your accident, whether or not you were wearing a helmet is irrelevant, even in states with a helmet law. However, if you were wearing a helmet it could help your claim, because it shows you are a responsible rider.
If you were wearing a helmet and suffered injury to the head or neck, the fact that you were wearing a helmet is relevant and helpful to your claim. Because you were wearing a helmet and still received injury, your injuries were not caused by your own carelessness. It also shows how serious the injuries could have been had you not been wearing a helmet, as well as how dangerous the other driver’s conduct was.
If you received injury to your head and neck while not wearing a helmet, while in a state with a helmet law, it would be very difficult to recover damages for your head or neck injury. Because the state has a helmet law, your actions automatically qualify as comparative negligence. Comparative negligence is when the injured party was careless to the extent that it also makes them responsible for the accident, and it warrants a reduction in compensation. Though you may not be able to recover damages for your head and neck injury, you still could recover damages for other injuries or losses.
Even if a motorcyclist was not wearing a helmet and suffered injury to the head or neck in state without a helmet law, they could have a hard time recovering damages for their injury because of comparative negligence. Even without the helmet law, insurance adjusters can easily gather enough documentation that proves how much helmets can reduce head and neck injuries.
Motorcyclists in this situation have the option of trying to prove that their injury would have been as serious even if they were wearing a helmet. However, this can be very difficult and requires the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer.