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Helmet Laws: Do They Affect Liability?

— June 6, 2022

In order for you to be able to fight the allegations that not wearing a helmet caused your injuries, you will need to provide a substantial amount of evidence.

Motorcycle accidents are still an ongoing issue. They usually happen because of the driver’s negligence, such as speeding or unsafe lane changes. With so many accidents happening, a motorcycle accident attorney is required for you to get safely to the bottom of a lawsuit. A good lawyer can make a difference and get you the compensation that you need.

So, how do helmet laws affect your liability in case of a motorcycle accident?

What Does the Law Refer to?

If you weren’t the cause of the accident, leaving the fault to another driver’s negligence, you can still be partially guilty for the said collision. This means that you share some of the responsibility with the defendant. 

Since not all the states adopted a Helmet Law, the use of the “eye protection law” might be needed. What this means is that “both passenger and driver must make use of goggles, glasses, or a transparent windshield.”

Is the Helmet Safe?

The opinion for this one is very well dispersed. As many studies show, the helmet increases the driver’s safety significantly, lowering the risk of a tragedy by about fifty percent, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

That being said, not wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle could affect your and other drivers’ lives hard, as it increases the rate of accidents.

Man on motorcycle; image by Sourav Mishra from
Man on motorcycle; image by Sourav Mishra from

The Comparative Fault States

In some states, there is such a thing as a comparative fault, which means that the guilt is divided between the parties. In the case of a motorcycle accident, this means that not wearing a helmet will make you half guilty because you must be in charge of your own safety. Therefore, you must share the liability with the defendant.

How Does the Usage of the Helmet Affect the Claims? 

In the majority of cases, motorcycle accidents were judged as being negligence. If you happen to be involved in a collision of this nature, you will have to prove your innocence. 

There are several factors that insurance companies and courts will take into consideration when determining your liability. These factors are speed, distractions, drugs, alcohol, etc. The last thing they will consider is wearing a helmet. If the rider was wearing a helmet, they will make sure that it meets all the necessary safety standards.

Let’s say that you were involved in a collision where the other driver was speeding and driving distracted, but you were not wearing a helmet. Due to the comparative negligence law, you are guilty of not ensuring your safety while riding the motorcycle. In this situation, this will get you about a quarter of the guilt, while the other driver will support the rest.

Can You Quarrel the Arguments of Wearing a Helmet?

In order for you to be able to fight the allegations that not wearing a helmet caused your injuries, you will need to provide a substantial amount of evidence. This includes but is not limited to medical records or witness testimony from a medical perspective. If a medical expert confirms that not wearing a helmet was not the cause of the injury, you just gained another liability point.

According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, there were more than 3,000 motorcycle accidents recorded in the past year, from which 145 were fatal. We can safely say that a big part of these collisions could have been avoided with the usage of a helmet. 

However, there are still a lot of motorcycle collisions left that are caused by the negligent actions of certain drivers. At the same time, there are cases where drivers are acting a bit too daring when encountering motorcyclists.

Is Helmet Law Still Applicable If There Are No Injuries?

There are some cases when not wearing a helmet is not that relevant, such as leg or back injuries, or simply no head or neck injuries at all. In these cases, not wearing a helmet does not affect one’s liability since it couldn’t have altered the outcome. 

However, the “inability to wear a helmet” defense may not be applicable. In this case, you need to provide medical proof that supports your affirmation and states that the outcome wouldn’t have been any different by wearing a helmet.

The Bottom Line

It is recommended to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle in order to ensure your safety. Although not wearing it doesn’t always affect your liability, that doesn’t mean this is always the case. Keep in mind that, in court, the fault can be split between the parties – so, try to be as precautious as possible and drive safely.

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