You know that you should be wearing a helmet, but you weren’t the one who crossed the median or ran a red light. Do you have a legal case against a negligent driver if you weren’t wearing a motorcycle helmet at the time of the accident?
You may be wondering if any Las Vegas accident lawyer will touch your case when Nevada law plainly states that all motorcyclists must wear helmets at all times when operating their bikes on roads or highways. This article will answer some of the most common questions about accidents involving motorcycles and helmets.
First, the bad news
If you’re not wearing a helmet when an accident occurs, you can expect the other party or insurance company to use that against you to assign fault or avoid liability. One of the very first questions that will come up in any legal proceedings will be, “Was the victim wearing a helmet?”
The insurance companies or the courts will look at all the factors involved in your specific situation to determine liability (responsibility) for the accident and the associated costs. Some of the most basic factors include questions such as:
● Was either party speeding?
● Was alcohol a factor in the accident? Were drugs a factor in the accident?
● Was either party driving with distractions, such as a mobile phone?
● Was either party violating driving laws, such as making a turn without indicating or running a red light?
● Did the police find any other indications of citable conduct at the accident scene?
● Were both vehicles in compliance with safety laws and up to date with registration?
The next thing a lawyer will ask is whether or not the involved parties were wearing seat belts and helmets. If the motorcyclist was wearing a helmet, does that helmet meet national safety standards? Vanity helmets are as good as wearing no helmet at all.
It is now illegal to sell a motorcycle helmet in the United States that doesn’t meet safety regulations, so don’t try to save a few bucks by buying an old motorcycle helmet at a garage sale or pulling out that vintage helmet from the 60s.
Time for the good news
The good news is that your case won’t be summarily tossed if you were helmet-less or if your helmet failed to meet national safety guidelines. Your helmet usage is just one of many factors that will be considered in a final ruling involving culpability and compensation. Once all facts are reviewed, the insurance companies or the accident injury lawyers will assign each party a portion of the liability.
Here’s a hypothetical scenario: A car driver was distracted by her cell phone and drifted into oncoming traffic. You were on a motorcycle without a helmet when you skidded out of the way of the distracted driver, causing injury to yourself and to your motorcycle. The driver’s insurance company claims that the driver is 75% liable for your injuries and that you are 25% liable. The reasoning: if you were wearing a helmet, your injuries would have been less severe than they were. If your injuries were less severe, the resulting costs would also have been less.
If you feel that the insurance company is not giving you a fair deal, consult an accident attorney. An experienced accident injury attorney will know how to deal with insurance companies that are taking advantage of victims by offering unfairly low compensation for injuries, lost wages, pain, and suffering. Look for an attorney who specializes in traumatic brain injury if you sustained a TBI. Consequences to your health could be ongoing, and you will want to make sure you recover enough compensation to deal with whatever the future may bring.
In summary, the good news is that even though you violated Nevada law by not wearing a helmet or by wearing a substandard helmet, your case will not be dismissed outright. You may be found to be partially responsible for the resulting injuries, but the negligent driver will also bear some of the costs in accordance with their responsibility.
Sobering facts about motorcycle helmets
Motorcyclists and their passengers are 27 times more likely to die on the road than car or truck drivers or passengers. From 2011-2015, motorcycling fatalities in Nevada numbered 238, with an additional 1,000 motorcyclists suffering serious injuries. According to MedHelp, motorcycle accidents rank as the 12th most common cause of death in the USA.
Leather wear, protective gloves and boots, and a helmet with a visor should be on your gear list every time you take your cycle for a spin. Avoiding risky behavior and alcohol and wearing protective gear can make motorcycling exponentially safer, allowing you to enjoy everything appealing about motorcycles without sacrificing your well-being. Besides the safety advantages, a helmet protects you from bugs and can allow for Bluetooth access.
Gear up, drive safely, and if an accident happens, contact us to get the compensation that you deserve so that you can focus on healing.