Does not wearing a helmet impact a motorcyclist’s lawsuit?

February 16, 2021 | Crandall & Pera Law
Does not wearing a helmet impact a motorcyclist’s lawsuit?

Motorcyclists taking to the road in Ohio may find themselves subject to rules regarding helmets. Helmets are not mandatory for all motorcyclists, so a motorcyclist excluded from requirements to wear a helmet might ride without one. Dire problems could arise when a negligent driver hits and injures a motorcyclist. Does the decision to go without a helmet hurt the motorcyclist's chances in a personal injury suit?

The motorcyclist’s ability to sue

Riding without a helmet does not preclude a motorcyclist from filing a personal injury suit. In personal injury suits, the proceedings look closely at whose negligence caused the injury. If a truck made an illegal turn and hit a motorcyclist stopped at a stop sign, for example, a significant amount of negligence points in the truck driver's direction. However, the motorcyclist's decision not to wear a helmet may factor into how severe the injuries are. If a drunk driver rear-ended the motorcycle, causing the rider to suffer a skull fracture, the driver might be found significantly liable for the damages. However, the jury may feel that the decision not to wear a helmet contributed to the injury's severity. The jury might then reduce the award to the plaintiff.

Exploring a larger picture of the incident

A helmet is designed to protect the head from injury. A person not wearing a helmet may suffer other injuries besides head trauma. For example, a motorcyclist may experience a brain injury and a broken leg. Questions about monetary awards related to the leg injury might not necessarily factor in deciding not to wear a helmet. If the motorcyclist suffered leg and spinal damage but no brain injury, then choosing to go without a helmet may not factor into their award at all. Unfortunately, a motorcyclist may need a significant insurance settlement or lawsuit award to pay for traumatic brain injury costs. The insurance company or defendant might try to negotiate the lowest settlement amount as a result. Motorcyclists involved in car accidents might face challenges if they did not wear a helmet. A personal injury attorney may discuss a way to address the challenges in their lawsuit.