If you were in a motorcycle crash without a helmet on, you might have questions about how not wearing a helmet may affect a motorcycle accident claim. Georgia law (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-315) requires everyone driving or riding a motorcycle to wear compliant headgear, regardless of the person’s age. Also, the individual must wear compliant eye protection unless the motorcycle has a windshield.
If you got hurt in a motorcycle accident when not wearing a helmet, this could affect the compensation you ultimately receive in your case. However, a lawyer can help you fight for the maximum compensation available.
How Negligence Affects Compensation in an Accident
Most personal injury claims have their legal basis in negligence. So, you could bring an injury claim against a driver whose negligence caused your accident. However, your compensation could be reduced if you contributed to the accident or the extent of your injuries.
Let’s say that the driver was speeding when they hit you and caused your crash. You suffered a moderate traumatic brain injury (TBI), as you weren’t wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. The driver may be assigned most of the fault (90%) while you are assigned 10% of the fault for the extent of your injuries. The amount of fault assessed against you could reduce the amount of money damages you could recover.
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When Not Wearing a Motorcycle Helmet Caused or Contributed to the Accident
Sometimes, not wearing a helmet can create the conditions that lead to an accident. For example:
- In addition to protecting against a head injury, wearing a helmet can prevent the motorcycle rider from getting hit by flying objects that could cause an accident. The face shield of a motorcycle helmet protects riders from getting struck in the eyes or face by road debris, rocks, bugs, litter, leaves, sticks, and the surprising variety of things that can be found flying through the air when riding at high speed on a motorcycle on the highway.
- Wearing a helmet could prevent the rider from being distracted and affected by winter weather, such as falling snow.
- Other adverse weather conditions, like rain or hail, could create a dangerous environment in which the motorcyclist cannot see or avoid a collision.
An insurer or jury might find that the failure to wear a proper helmet was negligent, leaving the motorcycle driver at fault or partially at fault.
When Not Wearing a Helmet Might Affect the Severity of Your Injuries
If your injuries from a motorcycle crash include head trauma, the defendant will likely argue that your head injuries would have been less severe if you had worn a helmet. In turn, the insurer or jury could reduce the amount of your money damages by the percentage of fault assessed for not wearing a helmet.
On the other hand, if your injuries were limited to other parts of your body (not your head or face), the reduction of damages might fall flat. You might successfully argue that wearing or not wearing a helmet would not have made a difference, for example, if your only injury was a broken leg.
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How Vanity Helmets Can Impact Motorcycle Accident Claims
Georgia law requires the use of compliant motorcycle helmets, approved by the commissioner of public safety. Some people wear non-compliant helmets when riding motorcycles, also known as vanity helmets. If you were wearing a non-compliant helmet at the time of your accident, an insurer or jury may view this as if you were not wearing a helmet at all. The same rule applies to protective eyewear. A standard pair of sunglasses will not count as compliant eye protection.
You can tell if your helmet is a compliant helmet. Either the helmet or the packaging material will contain identification of the item as DOT-compliant, as noted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Do not remove a DOT sticker from your helmet or throw away the packaging material that identifies your helmet as compliant. Those items will be your proof that you followed the Georgia motorcycle helmet law, which can mean money in your pocket in the event of a crash.
There Is a Deadline for Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
You only have two years to file a lawsuit and seek compensation if you got injured or your close family member passed away from a motorcycle accident (O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33). The time spent negotiating with the insurance company does not extend the time limit.
You might not plan to file a lawsuit, but the claims adjuster will stop negotiating with you the moment the filing deadline passes. They have no legal obligation to pay you anything at that point. Therefore, it is important to act promptly for your motorcycle accident case.
Contact Bader Scott Injury Lawyers for a Free Case Review
Bader Scott Injury Lawyers can handle your motorcycle accident insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit so that you can focus on getting better and rebuilding your life. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these cases, and you only pay us when you win. Contact us today for a free consultation, and we can tell you more about how not wearing a helmet may affect a motorcycle accident claim.