Motorcycle helmets are personal protective equipment that helps motorists prevent severe head injuries during accidents. Therefore, helmet use, or a lack thereof, could be considered key in assigning liability during motorcycle accident claims and cases. Failure to wear a helmet can give the at-fault party a loophole to assign partial liability to the injured motorist, reducing the compensation due for damages sustained.
Although it is illegal to ride a motorcycle without a helmet in California, you are still entitled to compensation in a motorcycle accident injury claim even if you were injured while not wearing a helmet. However, you may need to prove that your sustained injuries would have occurred regardless of whether you were wearing a helmet. If you are involved in a motorcycle accident without a helmet, consider partnering with experienced personal injury lawyers at Younglove Law Group to help discuss and solve your case.
California’s Laws on Motorcycle Accident Claims
If you were injured in a California motorcycle accident, you have 2 years from the date of the incident to file a claim for your injuries. In the case of a death, the 2 year time limitation starts from the date of the death. After the deadline elapses, the at-fault party or their insurer will have no legal obligation to pay compensation for damages. If you were involved in a California motorcycle crash, consider partnering with a personal injury lawyer from Younglove Law Group to help you properly file a motorcycle accident claim for maximum compensation.
Motorcycle accident claims presented in California courts are evaluated using the doctrine of pure comparative negligence. This doctrine means a defendant in a motorcycle crash is responsible for compensating the plaintiff proportionally to their share of liability in causing the plaintiff’s injuries.
For example, in a motorcycle injury claim in which the victim has 5% liability for the accident while the other party has 95% liability, the other party will be responsible for paying the plaintiff for 95% of their damages. However, a motorcycle rider who was not wearing a helmet would likely be considered to have breached their duty of care to other road users and be assigned a higher percentage of liability for their own injuries, reducing their compensation. Despite California’s helmet law, you are still entitled to compensation regardless of whether you were wearing a helmet. An experienced motorcycle accident lawyer can help you get the full compensation you deserve.
California Helmet Laws
California Vehicle Code Division 12 makes it unlawful to operate and ride a motorcycle where the driver and passengers lack helmets. The law claims that a safety helmet offers an additional safety benefit for motorists while on the road.
Motorcyclists and their passengers are also required to wear safety helmets that fulfill the standards of the Department of Transport mentioned in section 27802. The DOT-certified helmet should meet the following requirements:
- Full face coverage and thick interior liner to withstand external force.
- Chin straps fitted at the helmet shell to provide a firm grip on the head.
- Three pounds minimum weight.
- No protrusion outside the two-tenth inch from the shell.
A DOT standard helmet will have a DOT sticker on the surface, which you should maintain as evidence in case of an accident. Wearing a DOT-certified helmet will help with your claim, as it proves you took an extra step to protect yourself from the accident. California law requires motorists to abide by these regulations because DOT standard helmets are heavy duty and reduce the risk of brain damage during accidents by 69%.
Not Wearing a Safety Helmet Can Contribute to or Cause Accidents
There are instances when not wearing a helmet can contribute to or even cause an accident. When the motorcyclist’s and passenger’s heads are exposed, it is likely to intensify injuries experienced in any accident in which trauma is sustained to either of their heads.
Additionally, motorcyclists can experience injuries to their eyes, face, and ears from being hit by flying objects like sticks, rocks, and road debris while riding. Distraction and sight problems driving during winter or rainy seasons can also cause motorcyclists to experience physical injuries from collisions or accidents with other road users. In these instances, motorcyclists may receive reduced compensation for their injury claims or their claims may be completely denied for failing to wear a helmet.
Impact of Wearing Helmets on Compensation for Motorcycle Accident Claims
The victims of motorcycle accidents are entitled to compensation for the damages experienced as a result of the accident. You are entitled to compensation for motorcycle damages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, disability, loss of income, and wrongful death. Although the failure to wear a helmet may not change liability for the accident, it could affect the compensation you receive for your damages.
Motorcycle accidents can cause various injuries to a motorcyclist’s body, including injuries to the head, neck, arms, and legs. Head and neck injuries can be severe, as they can result in permanent disability and adverse mental outcomes that cause lifelong pain and loss of income. If you wore a helmet during the accident and experienced head and neck injuries, you should receive full compensation if you were not responsible for causing the accident.
However, if you were not wearing a helmet, you can be considered partially at-fault, which may lower your compensation amount due to evidence of comparative negligence. The defendant will likely present the claim that wearing a helmet would have resulted in less severe injuries. However, you can fight the claim by presenting expert witness testimony and medical records proving that your injuries were possible regardless of wearing a helmet.
On the other hand, if you experience injuries on other parts of the body, such as arms and legs, your failure to wear a helmet likely does not impact liability. In that event, you would therefore be entitled to full compensation for your injuries.
Contact the Experienced California Personal Injury Lawyers at Younglove Law Group Today
Although it is illegal to ride a motorcycle without a helmet, you are still entitled to compensation for the injuries you sustain during a motorcycle accident, even considering comparative negligence on your part. In case of a head or neck injury, you can reduce the amount of comparative negligence assigned to you by providing expert witness testimony that you would have experienced the injuries regardless of wearing a helmet. However, for injuries to other parts of the body, the helmet becomes irrelevant to the causation portion of your claim; hence, you are entitled to full compensation unless your failure to wear a helmet contributed to the cause of the accident.
Suppose you or a loved one is the victim of a motorcycle accident and needs to assert a motorcycle injury claim against the at-fault party, consider partnering with the experts at Younglove Law Group instead of self-representing. We have a professional team of lawyers equipped to provide legal counsel and handle negotiations and court proceedings regarding your motorcycle accident claims. Our knowledgeable personal injury lawyers will ensure you receive the appropriate compensation you deserve from the at-fault party whether or not you had a helmet during the accident. Call us at (949) 691-3660 or fill out our contact form online today.