Motorcycle accidents often lead to severe injuries or potentially fatal outcomes, with head traumas being particularly prevalent. Helmets are crucial safety equipment for motorcyclists, but not everyone wears them. If you’re involved in a motorcycle accident and suffer a head injury while not wearing a helmet, you may wonder if you can still sue for damages. The laws surrounding motorcycle accidents and personal injury claims can be complex and vary by state, so it’s essential to understand the legal perspectives and options available to you.

The Role of Helmets in Motorcycle Safety

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclists are 27 times more likely to die in crashes than passenger cars. This is why wearing a motorcycle helmet is critical for safety.

Helmets Save Lives

One of the main reasons to wear a helmet is that it can save your life in an accident. Studies suggest that helmets can reduce the risk of death by up to 37%. This is because helmets are designed to absorb and dissipate impact energy, reducing the forces transferred to your head and neck during a crash. Moreover, helmets protect your face from abrasions, lacerations, and other injuries resulting from a crash.

Helmets Can Reduce the Risk of Brain Injury

Apart from saving lives, helmets can also reduce the severity of brain injury. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can have long-lasting consequences, including cognitive, physical, and emotional impairments. A helmet can reduce the risk of TBI by up to 69%. This is because helmets reduce the acceleration of the brain within the skull during an impact, thereby reducing the likelihood of brain injury.

Helmets Are Required by Law

In California, all motorcyclists are required by law to wear a helmet. This law is in place to protect motorcyclists from severe injuries and fatalities. The helmet law in California has significantly reduced the number of motorcycle fatalities and injuries statewide. Not only is wearing a helmet a legal requirement, but it is also a socially responsible choice.

Helmets Can Enhance Rider Confidence

Another benefit of wearing a helmet is enhancing your confidence as a rider. Knowing that you’re taking steps to protect yourself can give you peace of mind and help you focus on the road ahead. Moreover, helmets can reduce wind noise and shield you from the elements, making the ride more pleasant and comfortable.

Wearing a helmet is essential for motorcycle safety. Not only can it save your life, but it can also reduce the severity of injuries and enhance rider confidence.

The Effect of Not Wearing a Helmet on Personal Injury Claims

If you’re a motorcycle accident victim, the compensation you receive can be affected by the helmet you had or didn’t have on while riding.

In Los Angeles, wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle is mandatory. If you don’t wear a helmet and are injured in a motorcycle accident, it will likely affect your personal injury claim. Personal injury claims are meant to compensate you for your losses (medical bills, lost wages, pain, and suffering) caused by the other party’s negligence. However, if you failed to wear a helmet, the defendant or their insurance company can use this fact to argue that you contributed to your injury and, thus, reduce your compensation or even deny it altogether.

Suppose you sustained head injuries in a motorcycle accident and didn’t wear a helmet. In that case, the defendant can have their attorney argue that you wouldn’t have suffered head injuries if you had worn your helmet. This can also lead to the defense arguing that you contributed to the severity of your injuries, thus affecting your compensation. However, if you can prove that the accident would have still happened even if you wore a helmet, the defendant may be held responsible for your injuries.

If you did suffer a head injury in a motorcycle accident that wasn’t your fault but weren’t wearing a helmet, consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer immediately. If they can help, the lawyer will gather crucial evidence to build a strong case. They’ll be able to show the accident would still have happened even if you had worn a helmet. It can’t be stressed enough: act right away. Don’t wait to call a personal injury lawyer experienced in handling motorcycle accident claims. The sooner they can start the process, the stronger your case will be.

Can You Even Sue If You Weren’t Wearing a Helmet in California?

Yes, in California you can sue after a motorcycle accident even if you were not wearing a helmet when the accident occurred. However, your lawsuit’s success will depend on the circumstances of the accident, the extent of the injuries you suffered, and the actions of the other party involved in the accident.

In California, a legal defense known as contributory negligence can be used against you if you ride without a helmet and suffer head injuries in a crash. A contributory negligence clause works to evaluate both parties’ contributions in the accident and divides liability accordingly. In this case, you’ll have a partial defense, meaning that while you can still sue for damages, juries may reduce the compensation awarded for contributory negligence.

Another legal perspective worth examining is comparative negligence. The comparative negligence standard looks at the extent to which each party is responsible for an accident. According to this standard, any injured party, regardless of whether you were wearing a helmet, can still recover damages from the accident if the other party is more at fault. In California, you can be considered over 50% at fault for your accident and still file a claim.

Statistically, juries in Los Angeles County and throughout California tend to be more conservative when awarding damages when contributory negligence is involved. Still, you can recover compensation for any injuries sustained, even if you weren’t wearing a helmet during the accident.

It’s important to note that not all injuries sustained in motorcycle accidents involve head injuries. A helmet would be irrelevant if, for example, you suffered a broken leg due to your motorcycle accident. In cases like this, even if you weren’t wearing a helmet, you can still file a case to recover damages sustained from your injuries.

If your case goes to court, you need an experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer by your side. Remember that your recovery may be reduced due to comparative negligence laws, but that doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to compensation for your damages.

Case Studies: Successful Lawsuits Despite Not Wearing a Helmet

You may believe that motorcycle accident victims who did not wear a helmet have zero chance of winning compensation during a personal injury lawsuit. This is not always true.

Case 1: A motorcyclist in Los Angeles in his thirties was hit by a car while riding. The motorcyclist was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. The collision caused him to fall off his motorcycle and suffer severe head injuries. However, the court didn’t dismiss his case due to his not wearing a helmet. Instead, he and his personal injury lawyer proved that the accident was solely due to the other driver’s negligence and showed that his head injuries were not the fault of his not wearing a helmet. He won compensation for his medical bills, lost wages, and the pain and suffering the accident caused.

Case 2: A middle-aged man got into a motorcycle accident while not wearing a helmet. Like the previous case, he and his legal team successfully proved that his head injuries were not caused by his not wearing a helmet while riding. They showed that the accident happened solely because the defendant ran a red light, hit his motorcycle, and caused him to fall. He won compensation, including damages for the pain and suffering he experienced following the crash.

Case 3: In this case, a woman in her fifties was hit by a car while driving her motorcycle. She was not wearing a helmet and suffered head trauma and other serious injuries. Even so, she still won her lawsuit against the car’s driver because they failed to yield the right of way. Her attorney argued that her injuries were a direct consequence of the driver disobeying  traffic laws and not a result of her neglecting to wear a helmet.

Although not wearing a helmet places motorcyclists at a greater risk of suffering severe injuries, it doesn’t mean they have no chance of winning a personal injury lawsuit. If you or a loved one were seriously injured in a motorcycle accident while not wearing a helmet, consult with an experienced motorcycle injury lawyer right away.

Long Term Consequences of Head Injuries from Motorcycle Accidents

The consequences of a motorcycle accident head injury can be significant since they are almost always serious. Head injuries sustained during a motorcycle accident can have long-term and potentially life-changing repercussions. Brain damage is the most common consequence of head injuries resulting from motorcycle accidents. Symptoms may not appear initially, but they can develop over time, causing long-term effects such as chronic headaches, constant dizzy spells, and seizures, to name a few.

A concussion is one of the primary types of brain trauma that can result from a motorcycle accident. A concussion can often happen when your head hits the pavement or another object or is repeatedly shaken in the impact. It can usually only show up days or weeks after the accident. Therefore, watching out for symptoms such as vomiting, headache, dizziness, and confusion is essential. Even if you feel fine, seeking medical attention immediately after a motorcycle accident is critical to ensure you don’t have any hidden injuries. 

Head injuries from motorcycle accidents can also lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a severe mental disorder that can cause survivors to experience anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. PTSD affects not only the victims but their loved ones too, as they may have to deal with extreme mood swings and significant changes in behavior.

While these long-term consequences can be overwhelming, it’s important to remember that they’re not the only issues one can face after a motorcycle accident. Steep medical bills, lost wages, and sometimes even loss of employment can lead to major financial difficulties. One of the best ways to avoid these devastating scenarios is by wearing protective gear and following traffic rules.

How Insurance Companies View Helmet Use in Injury Claims

So, how do insurance companies view helmet use or non-use when it comes to injury claims? First, it’s essential to understand that California law requires all motorcycle riders to wear helmets. If you got into an accident and were not wearing a helmet, your insurance company will do everything they can to deny your claim or make a lowball offer.

Insurance companies view helmet use as a positive factor in injury claims. For example, if you were wearing a helmet during the accident the insurance company is more likely to connect any head or brain injury to the accident and not a lack of protection. This means you’re more likely to receive compensation for your injuries if you were wearing a helmet.

Nonetheless, insurance companies may still try to argue that your injuries would have been less severe if you were wearing a different type of helmet. For example, if you wore a novelty helmet instead of a full-face helmet, the insurance company may argue that it provided insufficient protection. Working with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney who can help you build a strong case is crucial in any of these situations.

It’s also worth noting that helmet use isn’t the only factor insurance companies consider when evaluating injury claims. They’ll also look at factors like the speed of the collision, the type of motorcycle you were riding, and your driving record. If you were speeding or riding recklessly during the accident, this could easily impact your claim.

Can Someone Be Legally Held Responsible if They Were Not Wearing a Helmet at the Time of Their Accident?

The law in California does not allow someone to be held responsible for not wearing a helmet if they are involved in a motorcycle accident. However, if it is proven the accident occurred due to the rider’s own negligence or carelessness, then they may be held liable. Furthermore, not wearing a helmet may affect the rider’s compensation after the accident.

If riders sustain injuries from not wearing helmets, they can still file a legal claim. However, if there is proof that the rider’s negligence or carelessness caused the accident, they may be awarded little to no compensation.

Absolutely. Helmet use can affect the outcome of a legal claim. In California, the comparative negligence rule is followed, in which the compensation amount can be reduced based on the rider’s own negligence in causing the accident. If the rider wasn’t wearing a helmet during the accident and evidence shows that it would have reduced the level of injury, then the compensation amount can be reduced.

What Should I Do If I Was Injured In a Motorcycle Accident While Wearing a Helmet?

If you’re involved in a motorcycle accident while wearing a helmet, you should immediately seek medical attention. Document the accident scene, and record anyone who saw it and their contact information if you’re physically able to do so. Also, immediately contact a motorcycle accident attorney in Los Angeles to know your legal rights and pursue the claim.

I Got Into an Accident With a Motorcyclist and Was Injured. Does it Matter Whether They Were Wearing a Helmet or Not?

If you were injured in an accident with a motorcycle rider, whether as a driver, pedestrian or bicycle rider, it doesn’t matter if  the motorcyclist was wearing a helmet or not. If they injured you while riding recklessly or negligently, you can pursue a claim for compensation for any injuries they caused.

Protecting Your Rights After a Motorcycle Accident

You may still have a case for compensation if you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident even if you weren’t wearing a helmet. But these claims are complex, and having an experienced personal injury attorney is essential. The Dominguez Firm has over 35 years of experience representing victims of motorcycle accidents and a 96%* success rate in recovering compensation for our clients. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, contact The Dominguez Firm at (800) 818-1818 for a free consultation. We’ll help you understand your legal options and fight for the compensation you deserve. 

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— Ashley Magana

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— Janet Salazar

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