According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motorcycle ownership is at an all-time high. As more motorcyclists have taken to the road, rider fatalities have grown even more rapidly, especially compared to cars. This has spurred nearly all states to implement some form of helmet law.
California is one of 19 states that has instituted a universal helmet law requiring all riders to wear helmets. The purpose of helmet laws is to try to limit the severity of injuries resulting from a crash. Non-helmeted riders have a substantially greater risk of traumatic brain injury or wrongful death than helmeted riders. Since California is a comparative negligence state, a rider’s decision not to wear a helmet could greatly reduce the amount of compensation he or she will receive for injuries incurred in a motorcycle accident.
How Does Not Wearing A Helmet and Comparative Negligence Apply to Motorcycle Accidents Cases in California?
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statics show that for every 100 riders killed while not wearing a helmet, 37 would have survived had they been wearing one. Similarly, for every 100 non-helmeted motorcyclists who sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in a crash, 67 would have avoided this devastating injury had they worn a helmet. For a defense attorney representing an insurance company, these overwhelming statistics are proof that a rider who chose not to wear a helmet is at least partially to blame for his or her own death or TBI. That is when comparative negligence becomes relevant in a motorcycle accident case. Compensation to a motorcycle accident victim will be reduced by the percentage a jury determines the rider is to blame for his or her own injuries.
For a rider who is injured in a crash but doesn’t incur any neck or head injuries, it is irrelevant whether or not he or she was wearing a helmet. A rider who is wearing a helmet and sustains neck or back injuries has a solid claim for damages. In California, because of it’s helmet laws, a rider who is not wearing a helmet is automatically deemed to be comparatively negligent for his or her own death or TBI. That means unless it can be shown that even if the rider had been wearing a helmet at the time of the crash he or she would still have died or incurred neck and head injuries, recovery for wrongful death or TBI damages would be very difficult to ascertain.
Although compensation may be reduced because a rider was not wearing a helmet, the at-fault driver may still be liable for damages related to other injuries. It is important for motorcycle accident victims to seek the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss their legal options.
Contact an Experienced Long Beach Motorcycle Accident Attorney to Assist with Your Claim
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