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Motorcycle Helmets and Accident Liability

Motorcycle Helmets and Accident LiabilityHelmets have been shown to significantly lower a motorcyclist’s chance of sustaining a head injury in an accident. For this reason, in California, motorcyclists are required to wear helmets when operating motorcycles. This law can be an important factor in a victim’s ability to recover for any injuries sustained in an accident, even if he or she was in no way at fault.

Motorcycle Helmets

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, for every 100 motorcyclists that are killed in crashes while not wearing a helmet, 37 would have survived if they had chosen to wear one. For this reason, many states have enacted mandatory helmet laws. California’s law is universal, meaning that both operators and passengers are required to wear one when riding.

The Department of Motor Vehicles recognizes four types of helmets, all of which meet California’s requirement. The types include:

  • Half-shell;
  • Three-quarters;
  • Modular; and
  • Full-face.

While any of these four types will satisfy California’s law, a full-face helmet with a lock-in visor generally offers the best protection overall because it shields the back and sides of the head, as well as the top of the head and the forehead.

Additionally, it is recommended that, in order to increase the chance of safety in an accident, each motorcyclist ensure that the helmet:

  • Meets Department of Transportation safety standards;
  • Has the manufacturer-applied Department of Transportation lettering on the back, which should not be easily removable;
  • Fits snugly, all the way around the head; and
  • Has no obvious defects, such as cracks, loose padding, or frayed straps.
Liability

If a motorcyclist sustains a head or neck injury in the state of California in a motorcycle accident and was not wearing a helmet, it will be extremely difficult to recover compensation for any resultant injuries. Because California has a mandatory helmet law, not wearing a helmet automatically establishes that a motorcyclist was comparatively negligent in causing the injury.

While motorcyclists may be able to recover for other injuries, head injuries are often the most dangerous and require the most medical treatment, and being denied compensation for those bills could be devastating. Motorcyclists may be able to obtain compensation by proving that the injury would have occurred even if they had been wearing helmets, but this is generally extremely difficult and expensive to prove. To ensure that, if you are ever involved in a motorcycle accident, you and your family are able to recover medical costs as well as lost wages, you should always wear a helmet when operating a motorcycle.

If you were injured in a motorcycle accident and believe that another person’s negligence was the cause, it is important that you contact an attorney who can help you recover compensation. Please contact the dedicated San Jose personal injury attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. for a free initial consultation.

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