How Can a Motorcycle Helmet Affect Your Motorcycle Accident Case?

Whether to wear a helmet is a touchy subject among motorcycle riders, especially among those who value the greater sense of freedom they experience on their bike compared to driving a car. After all, few things match the feeling of the wind in your face as you ride.

At the same time, whether you were wearing a helmet at the time of a collision can significantly affect a motorcycle accident claim. And if you were not, you will need the help of an experienced motorcycle accident attorney.

If you have questions about your rights and potential compensation after a motorcycle accident, a knowledgeable attorney can help. What you need to know about how motorcycle helmets and state helmet laws can affect an injury claim follows.

An experienced motorcycle accident lawyer can protect your interests and act as your champion throughout the legal battle.

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Motorcycle Helmet Laws Across the United States

How Can a Motorcycle Helmet Affect Your Motorcycle Accident Case

While specific laws vary across the country, most states have some sort of helmet requirement for motorcycle riders or passengers.

Some states require all riders and passengers to wear helmets at all times, while others only require them for riders or passengers below a certain age (usually 18 or 21). The consequences for failing to follow state helmet laws typically include fines, points on your driver’s license, or increased insurance premiums.

Motorcycle Helmet Safety Standards in the United States

All motorcycle helmets sold in the United States must meet certain safety standards. In most states, helmets must meet standards set by the U.S. Department of Transportation. To give yourself the best possible protection when riding, look for a helmet with a sticker showing it meets Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218.

Do Motorcycle Helmets Make a Difference in Accidents?

Studies indicate that motorcycle helmets save many lives. A study from Syracuse University found that roughly 37 percent of U.S. motorcycle accident deaths each year involve head injuries.

That same study also showed that over ten years, states with motorcycle helmet laws had a 33 percent lower rate of head-injury-related deaths compared to states without helmet laws.

So, do motorcycle helmets save lives?

Yes, they do, but whether you were wearing one at the time of an accident should not prevent you from getting the money you need afterward.

Unfortunately, many insurance companies view failing to wear a helmet as a form of negligence and may use that fact to deny your claim or reduce your compensation.

If this happens to you, a skilled motorcycle accident lawyer can help you push back and pursue a claim that fairly compensates you for your injuries.

How Motorcycle Helmets Affect Fault in an Insurance Claim

One of the fundamental legal issues in motorcycle accident claims is fault. What you need to know is that an insurance company will try not to pay a claim if they think they can prove that you caused or contributed to your injuries in a collision.

So, how do motorcycle helmets figure into this equation? From an insurance company’s perspective, not wearing a helmet is potentially a violation of state traffic laws (depending on the state) and an unnecessary risk.

From their point of view, your failure to wear a helmet is evidence that you contributed to your own injuries, meaning they should not have to pay for your medical bills and other losses from the crash.

The bottom line: If you were not wearing a helmet during a motorcycle collision, the insurance companies will most likely deny your claim or try to reduce your compensation. However, a capable motorcycle accident lawyer can defend you against an insurer’s unfair assumptions and fight on your behalf for fair compensation.

Not Wearing a Helmet Does Not Mean You Caused Your Injuries

An insurance company might argue you contributed to your injuries by not wearing a helmet, but that does not make them right. The issue of who caused the crash is separate from your choice to wear a helmet.

If an insurer denies your claim or tries to shift blame for the collision to you, contact an attorney right away. They can gather evidence to support your claim and handle negotiations with the insurance companies while you tend to your injuries.

How to Protect Your Rights After a Motorcycle Accident

If you recently sustained injuries in a motorcycle crash, taking proactive steps to safeguard your rights is your top priority. Here’s a guide to help you stay on top of things:

Keep All Medical Appointments

Your health comes first, so see a doctor and follow their advice. Go to all your appointments, even if you start feeling better. Your medical records are key pieces of evidence that show the impact of the accident on your life.

Write Down Everything

As soon as you can, start a diary. Write down how you feel, the troubles you face every day because of your injuries, and how they affect your daily life. This record can help when you need to remember details later on.

Hold Onto Evidence

Keep anything that has to do with the accident. This includes photos, clothes you wore, your helmet, and any broken parts from your motorcycle. Furthermore, don’t fix your bike yet — it’s an essential piece of evidence.

Stay Quiet on Social Media

You might want to share your story with friends online, but it’s best to stay quiet about the accident. Insurance companies can use what you post against you, even seemingly harmless photos or “I’m okay” comments.

Contact a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

A lawyer with experience in motorcycle accident cases can tell you about your rights and what you should do next. They can also deal with the insurance companies and see that they treat you fairly.

Don’t Talk Settlements Without Advice

If an insurance company offers you money, don’t agree to anything without first talking to your lawyer. They can help you understand whether the deal is fair and covers the true value of your case.

Remember, these steps can help protect your rights after a motorcycle accident. It’s about looking out for your best interests, both now and in the future.

Essential Evidence in Motorcycle Accident Cases

helmet on the road after motorcycle accident

The proper evidence can make all the difference in a motorcycle accident claim.

So, what do you need?

These are some must-have types of evidence for your case:

Police Reports

The police report from the accident can help show what happened, the vehicles and drivers involved, and (in some cases) who the officer thinks caused the collision.

Helmet and Gear

Your helmet and gear can tell a lot about the crash. Keep them in the same condition as right after the accident.

Photos and Videos

Snapshots of the accident scene, your injuries, and any damage to your bike or gear can help you tell your story.

Witness Statements

People who saw the accident can give statements about what they saw. Their words can support your claim, especially if they don’t have a stake in your case’s outcome.

Medical Records

Medical records help link your injuries to the accident. They show what injuries you received, the treatment you needed, and how the whole experience affected your health.

Repair Estimates

Estimates for fixing your bike can show how bad the damage was. They help prove the crash’s impact and the costs you incurred because of it.

Traffic Camera or Dash Cam Footage

If any traffic or dashboard cameras recorded the collision, they can provide real-time evidence of the crash.

Your Testimony

What you experienced and felt during and after the accident matters, too. Your story is your personal view of the accident and its effects on your life.

Collecting all this evidence gives you a strong foundation for your motorcycle accident claim. It can help paint a clear picture of what happened and point to the truth about who should pay for your injuries.

Potentially Liable Parties in a Motorcycle Accident Case

Identifying who caused your injuries is a vital aspect of any motorcycle accident claim. However, depending on how the collision occurred, multiple parties may bear the blame or share liability for the crash.

Let’s look at the parties who may bear the responsibility for your motorcycle accident injuries:

  • Other Drivers: If another driver who hit you was speeding, not paying attention, or breaking traffic laws, they could owe you compensation for your injuries and losses.
  • Motorcycle and Helmet Manufacturers: Sometimes, the fault might lie with the motorcycle or helmet makers. If your motorcycle had a manufacturing or design defect or didn’t work properly, or if your helmet did not perform properly, these companies might be liable.
  • Government Entities: Road conditions play a significant role in motorcycle safety. If your accident happened because of a pothole, a missing sign, or uncleared road debris, a government body might be responsible for not keeping the roads safe.
  • Employers of Other Drivers: If a driver working for a business hits while they’re on the job, their employer might share the blame for the crash.
  • Bar or Restaurant Owners: So-called “dram shop laws” allow you to hold bars, liquor stores, and other alcohol vendors liable if they over-served a driver who subsequently hit you or served an underage driver who caused the accident that harmed you.

Each of these parties could have played a role in an accident. By examining all the angles, you and your lawyer can work to hold everyone who contributed to your injuries accountable for their negligence and pursue compensation from them.

Frequently Asked Questions About Motorcycle Accident Claims

Motorcycle accidents are complex issues in personal injury law, so we put together a list of the most common questions we receive about these cases and their answers:

How Much Does a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Cost?

Most motorcycle accident lawyers work on a contingency basis. In plain English, that means they don’t collect any fees unless they recover compensation for you.

This fee arrangement allows everyone to afford high-quality legal representation, even if they have few financial resources, because there are no upfront fee payments required.

How Long Do I Have to File a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit?

Every state has its own laws regarding how long you have to file a lawsuit after an accident. While you must file a lawsuit within two years of the accident in most states, some states give you three or four years, while the deadline in other states is only one year.

Furthermore, the timeline can vary depending on who you wish to sue. For example, most states require you to file a notice of intent to file a claim within six months if you want to sue a government agency. The bottom line is to speak with an attorney as soon as possible after an accident to avoid any issues with the filing deadline in your state.

How Much Is a Motorcycle Accident Claim Worth?

The amount you can recover through a motorcycle accident claim depends on your injuries, financial losses, and other factors.

While every claim differs, an experienced and dedicated personal injury attorney can help you pursue compensation for a wide range of losses related to the accident, including:

  • Past and future medical expenses (doctor’s appointments, surgeries, lab work, X-rays and other diagnostic imaging tests, prescription drugs, etc.)
  • Lost earnings and reduced future earnings due to an injury or disability
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress (anxiety, insomnia, PTSD, etc.)
  • The cost to repair or replace any damaged personal property

How Long Does a Motorcycle Accident Case Take?

Tatiana Boohoff - Attorney for Motorcycle Accident
Tatiana Boohoff, Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

The amount of time it takes for a motorcycle accident case to conclude depends on several factors, such as:

  • The available evidence
  • The duration of your physical recovery period
  • The severity of your injuries
  • The insurance company’s willingness to agree to a fair settlement
  • How much compensation you ask for
  • The skill and experience of your attorney
  • Whether the case goes to trial

In general, it takes several weeks or months before a motorcycle accident case ends. If your case goes to trial, it could take more than a year to conclude. The right legal team can make this process faster and much easier.

December 14, 2023
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