How Do Helmet Laws Impact Fault in a Motorcycle Accident?
Posted on Sunday, March 20th, 2022 at 9:59 pm
As a motorcyclist, you’re at significant risk of severe injuries in an accident. Motorcycles don’t offer the same stability and safety features as cars and trucks. During a collision, riders can be ejected from their seats. Without an adequate helmet, traumatic brain injury and even death could occur.
You might wonder what would happen if you weren’t wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. It’s not only dangerous and puts your life at risk, but it’s also potentially damaging to your insurance claim. While pursuing compensation from the person responsible for an accident, investigations could uncover evidence that doesn’t work in your favor. Not wearing a helmet could result in much less money than you need to compensate you for your medical bills and other expenses.
Helmet Laws for Motorcyclists in Texas
Motorcyclists under 21 years old must always wear a helmet while riding. If you’re 21 years of age or older and meet the helmet exemption, you don’t have to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle. The helmet exemptions include:
- Successful completion of an approved motorcycle training course; and
- Carry proof of medical insurance to cover injuries suffered in an accident.
Despite state law, you should always wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle, no matter what. Although you might think you have enough experience to avoid a collision, it’s nearly impossible to predict what other people on the road will do. You could cross paths with a reckless driver and have no way to prevent an accident. Without a helmet, you’re at risk of life-threatening injuries to your head and brain.
Your best option is to wear a helmet approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT). Look for a DOT sticker on the helmet or box and the manufacturer’s label. You should also only purchase your helmet from a trusted seller. Some companies supply fakes that don’t offer adequate protection to riders.
Not Wearing a Helmet Could Affect Your Compensation
Putting on your helmet every time you take your motorcycle on the road could improve your chance of a favorable outcome if you get hurt in a crash and pursue legal action. Unfortunately, not wearing a helmet could reduce your financial award in an insurance claim or lawsuit.
During an insurance claim, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will investigate the accident and gather any evidence they can use against you. If they discover you didn’t wear a helmet and sustained a traumatic brain injury, they could argue you share responsibility for the injury because you didn’t take the necessary safety precautions.
Additionally, during a lawsuit, the attorney representing the negligent motorist responsible for the crash could determine you share fault because you didn’t wear a helmet to protect yourself. Texas has a proportionate responsibility statute that allows a jury to reduce the plaintiff’s compensation by their percentage of fault. If the jury believes your actions contributed to your injury, they could diminish the monetary value of your case.
For example, let’s say someone else became distracted at the wheel and ran a red light, colliding with your motorcycle. You landed on the pavement during ejection and sustained a serious brain injury. However, you weren’t wearing a helmet. The jury might assign the other motorist with 80 percent of the fault but decide you’re 20 percent at fault. If you suffered $100,000 in losses, you could only receive up to $80,000 in compensation.
The evidence against you could show that your injury wouldn’t have been as serious if you had worn your helmet. Instead of recovering the total $100,000 you need to cover your losses, you receive much less. You will end up with out-of-pocket expenses you might have avoided if you wore your helmet while riding your motorcycle.
The impact of not wearing a helmet is even worse if you’re under 21. Since state law requires riders under 21 years old to wear a helmet, you risk severe head injuries and a traffic citation. On top of paying for your costly medical care, you might also have to pay an expensive fine for the traffic violation.
Portner Bond, PLLC has over 70 years of combined experience handling motorcycle accident cases. We have the knowledge and skills to hold the at-fault party liable and seek the best possible outcome in your case. We believe in representing injured clients against negligent individuals and companies in Texas. You can depend on our legal team to fight for you when you hire us.
If you sustained an injury in a motorcycle accident due to someone else’s negligence, do not hesitate to contact Portner Bond, PLLC. We’re available 24/7 to speak with you, so you can reach us whenever you need us. Call (409) 838-4444 or contact us online today for a free consultation.