A motorcycle helmet is a personal protective equipment that helps prevent motorcyclists from suffering severe head injuries when they are involved in an accident. Helmet use, or lack thereof, may be key in assigning liability with motorcycle accident cases and claims. A motorcyclist choosing not to wear a helmet could give the responsible party a way to assign partial liability to the injured motorcyclist, which could reduce the amount of compensation for damages sustained.
Riding a motorcycle in California without a helmet is illegal, but you are still entitled to receive compensation for a motorcycle accident injury claim if you were injured and not wearing a helmet. It may be necessary for you to prove that the injuries you sustained would have occurred whether you were wearing a helmet or not. If you are involved in a motorcycle crash and you were not wearing a helmet, an experienced Elk Grove motorcycle accident lawyer at Triumph Law is available to discuss the details of your case.
Laws on California’s Motorcycle Accident Claims
If you suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident in California, you are given two years to file a claim from the date of the accident to seek compensation for your injuries. If the accident caused a death, the two-year time limit begins from the date of the death. Once the deadline has passed, the insurer or the at-fault party no longer has a legal obligation to compensate you for your damages through a personal injury lawsuit.
California courts use the tort principle of pure comparative negligence to evaluate motorcycle accident claims in Elk Grove, California. This principle states that the defendant in a motorcycle accident is proportionately liable for compensating the victim’s injuries. The injured party is responsible for their level of liability in the accident.
For instance, in a motorcycle injury claim where the victim has 10% liability for the crash while the other party has 90% liability, the other party is responsible for compensating the plaintiff for 90% of their damages. However, if the motorcyclist was not wearing a helmet, it is likely that they would be considered to have breached their duty of care to other users on the road and would be assigned a higher liability percentage for their own injuries, reducing the compensation they would receive. Motorcyclists are still entitled to receive compensation even if they choose to not wear a helmet.
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California Helmet Laws
According to California Vehicle Code Division 12, it is unlawful to operate a motorcycle when the driver and passenger lack approved safety helmets. The law states that a safety helmet provides additional safety benefits for motorcyclists while on the road and further states that safety helmets must fulfill the Department of Transportation (DOT) standards. The DOT-certified helmets must meet the following requirements:
- Thick interior liner that can withstand external force with full face coverage
- Chin straps fitted at the helmet’s shell which provide a tight grip on the head
- Minimum weight of 3 pounds
- Any protrusion from the helmet shell must be required for operation and not exceed 0.20 inch
DOT-certified helmets will be fitted with a DOT sticker on the helmet surface, which should remain intact as evidence in case of a motorcycle crash. Wearing a DOT-certified helmet can assist you with your claim because it is proof that you took the extra step to protect yourself from harm in an accident. California law requires motorcyclists to obey these regulations since DOT-certified helmets reduce the risk of injury victims suffering brain damage by 69%.
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Not Wearing a Safety Helmet Can Cause or Contribute to Accidents
There are times when a motorcyclist is not wearing a helmet that contributes to or causes an accident. When not wearing a helmet, the motorcyclist’s and passenger’s heads are fully exposed, which can intensify the injuries sustained in any crash where there is trauma to either of their heads. Motorcyclists can experience injuries to their ears, face, and eyes from being struck by flying objects, such as road debris, rocks, and sticks, while they are riding.
Safety helmets are made to protect a rider’s head but also help prevent vision problems from the elements. Sight problems and distractions can occur when driving in rainy seasons or during winter, and they can cause motorcyclists to suffer physical injuries from accidents or collisions with other drivers. In these situations, a motorcyclist may receive a reduced compensation amount for their injury claim or the claim may be denied completely for failing to wear a safety helmet.
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Impact of Helmet Usage on Compensation for Motorcycle Claims
The victim of a motorcycle crash is entitled to receive compensation for any damages they experience due to the accident. The failure to wear a safety helmet could change liability for the crash and affect the compensation awarded to you for your damages. However, you are entitled to be compensated for lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and much more.
Motorcycle crashes tend to create severe injuries to the motorcyclist, including injuries to the neck, head, legs, and arms. Such injuries can result in adverse mental outcomes and permanent disability that cause loss of income and lifelong pain. If you were wearing a helmet during the crash and still experienced neck and head injuries, you should be entitled to receive full compensation if the accident was not your responsibility.
However, you can be considered partially liable if you were not wearing a safety helmet, lowering the compensation you could receive due to evidence of comparative negligence. The attorney for the defendant will likely claim that wearing a helmet could have prevented you from suffering severe injuries. Your attorney can fight this claim using expert witness testimony about wearing a helmet.
Contact a Dedicated Personal Injury Attorney at Triumph Law Today
Though operating a motorcycle without a proper safety helmet is illegal, you are still entitled to receive compensation. A knowledgeable motorcycle accident attorney can help you receive the highest compensation possible. Contact the dedicated personal injury attorneys at Triumph Law using our online contact form today.