What If You Get into a Motorcycle Accident but Weren’t Wearing a Helmet?
Motorcycle accidents are incredibly dangerous. Riders are often severely injured and left with mountains of medical bills. To make matters worse, many injured motorcycle riders have to leave their jobs or take extended time off from work while they recover, so they have no income to cover the costs of treatment and recovery. Motorcycle riders injured in such accidents can file personal injury lawsuits against the other drivers who may be responsible for causing the wreck. However, whether or not certain safety precautions were taken, like wearing a helmet, may play a significant role in the case’s outcome.
If you get into a motorcycle accident but were not wearing a helmet, any damages you win may be reduced. In some states, it could even be possible that your lack of a helmet prevents you from recovering any damages at all. To make matters more complicated, injured motorcycle riders who failed to wear a helmet could be cited for their behavior, as helmets are often legally required. Without a helmet, your injuries are likely to be very severe, and your medical bills will probably be very high. Losing out on any damages because of a failure to wear a helmet could be a serious problem.
When you file a personal injury lawsuit after a motorcycle accident, you must prove that the defendant is responsible for your injuries. However, you might also have to prove that you did not contribute to your injuries if you want to recover the full extent of your damages. Our Boston motorcycle accidents attorneys can help. Call (617) 925-6407 to arrange a free, confidential legal consultation with our team at the Law Office of John J. Sheehan.
Legal Consequences of Not Wearing a Helmet in a Motorcycle Accident
The way your lack of a helmet might impact your case will depend on the laws of your state. States may follow different legal doctrines regarding a plaintiff’s negligence in a personal injury suit. These doctrines include contributory and comparative negligence. It is important to consult with an attorney about your case to determine what kind of law your state follows.
Many states adhere to a rule of either comparative negligence or contributory negligence. Under either rule, a defendant can argue that the plaintiff’s actions contributed to the overall negligence of the accident. Depending on what state you are in and what rule applies in your case, you could have your damages reduced or be completely barred from recovering anything.
You could also be cited for failure to wear a motorcycle helmet. The citation itself is a minor offense often listed under a state motor vehicle code rather than its criminal code. However, evidence of the citation could be used to argue that your failure to wear a helmet is the true cause of your injuries. The citation could be used as a tool to shift blame for the accident from the defendant back to you.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, if you do not wear a motorcycle helmet, your injuries are likely to be far worse than they otherwise would have been. Common injuries in motorcycle accidents are head injuries. These injuries could range from minor concussions to severe brain trauma. By wearing a helmet, you reduce the risks of particularly serious injuries while also eliminating any possibility for your own negligence to affect the case.
For help with your motorcycle accident case, call our Cambridge motorcycle accident attorneys. We can work to protect you even if you were not wearing a helmet during the accident.
Comparative and Contributory Negligence in Motorcycle Accident Cases
Depending on where your motorcycle accident occurred, your failure to wear a helmet might be used against you when determining what kind of damages you can recover. When a rider does not wear a helmet, their injuries could be made worse. A defendant could argue that damages should be reduced because the plaintiff’s actions made their injuries more severe than they would have been if they wore a helmet.
States that adhere to contributory negligence rules may completely bar a plaintiff from recovering any damages if they are the least bit negligent. Negligence is often assigned to parties based on a percentage. Under the doctrine of contributory negligence, if a plaintiff was even 1% negligent, such as by not wearing a helmet, they recover nothing. This rule has been criticized for being overly harsh and has fallen out of favor. Most states today tend to follow some variation of the comparative negligence rule.
Comparative negligence involves analyzing the negligence of both parties when determining fault and damages. Some states follow a rule of pure comparative negligence. Under this rule, plaintiffs can still recover damage no matter how negligent they may have been. For example, if your failure to wear a helmet makes you 80% negligent for your injuries, you can still recover 20% of your damages.
Modified comparative negligence is somewhat similar as a negligent plaintiff may still recover damages. However, if a plaintiff is more than 50% responsible for their injuries, they are barred from recovery. If your lack of a helmet contributed significantly to your injuries, you might be in trouble. Our Massachusetts motorcycle accident lawyers can help you recover damages while defending you against claims of contributory or comparative negligence.
Common Motorcycle Injuries and How Helmets Make a Difference
Motorcycle accidents are notorious for their severe injuries. Many riders are left with lifelong injuries and disabilities that require expensive treatments. Some of the most common and serious injuries are traumatic head injuries. A motorcycle rider could be left with a concussion or something far more serious. Many riders have been left comatose or with significant brain damage after failing to wear helmets.
The worse your injuries are, the greater your costs of recovery will be. If you do not wear a helmet, there is a chance a damages award will not cover these significant costs after a lawsuit. Not only will failing to wear a helmet make your medical costs greater, but it will also make it less likely for you to have those high costs covered. Call our Massachusetts motorcycle accident lawyers for help.
Call Our Massachusetts Motorcycle Accident Attorneys Today
Our Wakefield motorcycle accident lawyers can help you get as much compensation for your injuries as possible. Call (617) 925-6407 to schedule a confidential legal consultation at the Law Office of John J. Sheehan.