Posted in Motorcycle Accidents on April 20, 2023
In the state of California, every motorcycle operator and their passengers are required to wear a U.S. Department of Transportation-compliant motorcycle helmet when riding. When we examine the information available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we can see that motorcycle helmets are 37% effective in preventing fatalities in motorcycle riders, and they reduce the risk of a head injury by 69%.
Here, we want to examine whether or not a motorcyclist can file a lawsuit for injuries sustained in an accident if they were not wearing a helmet at the time the collision occurred.
How a Law Violation Affects Compensation
If you get into an accident caused by the actions of another party, you will typically be able to recover compensation if you file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit against the alleged negligent party. However, that is not as straightforward when a plaintiff in an injury case violated a law while the incident was ongoing. This is particularly an issue if the violation of the law is directly related to causing the incident or relates to the injuries caused by the incident.
Because California has a motorcycle helmet law in place, motorcyclists could face complications in recovering compensation for their claims. That is because, even if a motorcyclist was not intentionally trying to be negligent, this could be considered negligence per se, which is a doctrine in U.S. law where an act is considered negligent by simply violating a statute.
Not wearing a motorcycle helmet is a violation of a statute. We need to examine how this could affect motorcycle accident head and brain injuries.
Recovering Compensation for Head and Brain Injuries
Motorcyclists are not going to be prohibited from recovering compensation entirely if they are injured due to the negligence of another driver but were not wearing a helmet when the crash occurred. The issue with compensation in these situations will typically revolve directly around head, face, and brain injuries.
If a motorcyclist was not wearing a helmet when the accident occurred and they sustain a face, head, or brain injury, the at-fault party and their insurance carrier will likely argue that those injuries would not have occurred had the motorcyclist been wearing a helmet in the first place. Even if this argument is successful, it may not entirely take away the motorcyclist’s ability to recover compensation for a head, face, or brain injury. It is likely that the pure comparative negligence system in California will be utilized to adjust the total amount of compensation the motorcyclist receives only for those specific injuries.
It is crucial to point out that a motorcyclist should be able to recover complete compensation for any other type of injury they incur as a result of these incidents. For example, the at-fault party cannot try and claim negligence per se in order to get out of paying compensation for a motorcyclist’s broken bones or internal organ damage.
We strongly encourage any injured motorcyclist to reach out to a skilled Long Beach motorcycle accident lawyer who can examine every aspect of their claim and help them develop the best path moving forward to recovering compensation. An attorney can gather evidence, speak to expert witnesses, and handle the insurance carrier or personal injury jury on behalf of their client.