Mile for mile, motorcyclists and their passengers are 27 times more likely to be killed in an accident than those in traditional motor vehicles.
Motorcycles are less stable.
That makes it harder for other drivers to see and offer very little protection in the event of a crash.
Not only are motorcycle helmets considered an essential piece of personal protective equipment for motorcyclists.
However, they also prevent severe injuries and save thousands of lives every year.
One of the first factors the insurance company will try to discern after a motorcycle helmet is whether or not you were wearing a helmet when the accident occurred.
Motorcycle helmet use, or a lack thereof, is critical in motorcycle accident claims and suits.
This is something many motorcyclists don’t think about.
In Georgia, there is a universal law requiring all riders to wear a helmet at all times.
If you’re not wearing a motorcycle helmet when your accident occurs, you can expect the other party or insurance company to try to use that against you to assign fault/liability for the accident to you.
In the article below, we will look at how not wearing a motorcycle helmet could affect your claim.
How Does Helmet Usage Affect My Motorcycle Accident Injury Claim?
Just like any other accident, all motorcycle accident claims hinge on the concept of negligence.
The party found negligent or at fault for the crash is responsible for paying for the damages.
The insurance companies or the courts will look at all the factors involved in the case.
This will help them determine liability for the accident.
They will ask questions like:
- Was speed a factor in the accident?
- Did a driver make a turn without looking for oncoming traffic?
- Was a driver driving distracted?
- Were drugs or alcohol a factor in the accident?
- Were any citations issued at the scene?
The next thing they ask is whether or not you were wearing a helmet.
And they’ll make sure it meets national safety standards. Wearing a vanity helmet is as good as wearing no helmet at all.
Like speeding, not wearing a helmet breaches your duty of care to others on the road and can likewise be evident of fault or negligence, legally speaking.
Once all the facts are reviewed, the insurance company will assign each party a portion of the liability.
For example, if the driver was driving distracted and crashed into you on his cell phone and weren’t wearing a helmet, the insurance company may say the driver is 75 percent at fault for your injuries, and you are 25 percent at fault.
This can be very frustrating, especially when you know the other driver was the one who was entirely at fault.
Why should you get less money if you were involved in an accident that was someone else’s fault?
As frustrating as it may be, the insurance companies will argue that you might not have suffered any injuries if you were wearing a helmet, or your injuries wouldn’t have been as bad as they were.
That’s why they will consider you at least partly liable for your injuries.
What If I Didn’t Have A Head Injury?
If you’re in an accident without a helmet and you don’t suffer head or neck injuries, the fact that you weren’t wearing a helmet shouldn’t have an impact on liability.
So if you sustained severe injuries that the insurance company can not link to helmet use, like a leg or back injury, the fact that you didn’t have a helmet on would not have made a difference.
Technically, helmet use is technically irrelevant in this case.
But just because it’s obvious the helmet wouldn’t have prevented your specific injuries doesn’t mean the attorneys of the negligent driver or the insurance company won’t try to use it against you.
You will have to present medical evidence that supports your case and shows that helmet usage had no bearing on your injuries.
Recovering Compensation From the Other Driver
It does not matter how you feel about motorcycle helmets.
You should know that riding without a helmet could impact your ability to pursue a personal injury claim successfully.
Georgia is a comparative negligence state, but it’s comparative negligence with a catch.
In Georgia, the number of damages a victim can recover in a personal injury claim is reduced based on the degree to which the victim’s negligence contributed to the injury.
However, the catch is that the plaintiff may only be eligible for compensation if they are 49% or less responsible for damages claimed.
If the courts find the plaintiff 50% or more at fault, they will lose the right to recovery.
Even when the accident is undoubtedly the fault of another motorist, if the case can be made that your failure to wear a helmet played a significant role in the severity of your injuries, your compensation may be drastically reduced.
It’s difficult to argue that failing to wear a helmet contributed to road rash or a broken arm/leg, but that doesn’t mean they won’t try to make that argument.
If you suffered a head injury or TBI, you can be sure the insurance company will do all they can to shift a large portion of comparative negligence onto you.
What Kind of Evidence Can Fight Against Helmet Usage Arguments?
To fight against helmet usage arguments, you will need substantial evidence.
You must prove that not wearing a helmet during your accident did not affect your injuries’ seriousness.
Two critical pieces of evidence that will help you prove this are your medical records and testimony from a medical expert.
You also need to enlist in the help of a motorcycle accident attorney in Georgia for help compiling and presenting evidence.
Your attorney will gather your records, locate local medical experts with experience in the legal claims process, and provide legal testimonies.
If the expert states that your injuries’ severity would not have changed even if you wore a helmet, it will significantly bolster your claim.