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Comparative Fault in Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle AccidentsMotorcycle accidents can result in serious injuries, such as, injuries to the neck and spine, traumatic brain injuries, and muscle injuries. Wearing a helmet when riding a motorcycle has been shown to reduce the risk of the injuries sustained in a motorcycle-related accident, and in California, motorcycle helmets are required by law for all riders. However, not all riders use helmets, and motorcyclists who are involved in an accident with a negligent driver, while not wearing a helmet, may wonder how this would affect their claim for compensation.

The Legal Impact of Helmet use

The lack of a helmet does not necessarily bar an injured rider’s claim for compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages and similar losses. However, the lack of a helmet is most likely to affect the amount received in compensation for his injuries. California follows a pure comparative negligence approach to damages in personal injury cases. This means that the conduct of the injured person affects the amount of compensation they can receive in a personal injury case, and if the injured person is found to have contributed to their injuries in some way, the amount of compensation is reduced by the percentage of their fault.

Rider Responsibility

Unlike other states where a person cannot recover compensation if they are found to have been 51 percent at fault, in California, an injured person may receive compensation for their injuries even when they are found to have been 99 percent at fault. Therefore, while wearing a helmet may not lead to a person losing a personal injury case outright, the amount of compensation that they receive may be less than they would have received if they were wearing a helmet. This rule applies to any other potentially dangerous conduct that a rider may take while riding, including tailgating, improper passing, or riding under the influence of alcohol, and not just to riding without wearing a helmet.

Generally, whether the injured rider was wearing a helmet or not is not likely to affect the case if their injuries are located on other parts of their body that would not have been protected by a helmet anyway. For example, if the injuries were to the rider’s arms, chest, or legs, the lack of a helmet is not likely to affect their compensation as it would if the rider suffered a traumatic brain injury. There is also no set percentage of fault allocated to a rider’s failure to wear a helmet. This depends on the facts of a particular case.

Reach Out to Us for Help

If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, you may be able to recover compensation whether or not you were wearing a helmet. For a free consultation, contact the experienced San Jose personal injury attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P., serving Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, Monterey County, Alameda County, San Benito County, and the Bay Area.

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