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Will Compensation be Reduced for a Motorcycle Crash if I Wasn’t Wearing a Helmet?

Posted in Motorcycle Accidents on July 14, 2022

A June 4 motorcycle accident took the life of a Gonzales man, according to the Louisiana State Police. The motorcycle operator was 48 years old, and authorities say that he was not wearing a DOT-approved helmet at the time the collision occurred. 

Numerous studies demonstrate that wearing a helmet saves lives and lessens the severity of injuries. In some collisions, wearing a helmet can mean the difference between life and death. The CDC states that helmets save around 1,900 lives during a recent reporting year and that the US could save $1.5 billion in economic costs if all motorcyclists had worn helmets. 

If a person wasn’t wearing a helmet at the time a motorcycle accident occurred, they will still likely be able to recover compensation. The amount recoverable may be reduced, but even that depends on a variety of factors. If another driver was at-fault for a motorcycle accident, injured motorcyclists should push forward with their claims, even in the absence of helmet use. 

Motorcycle Laws in Louisiana 

The first thing to be aware of before riding a motorbike is that before legally operating the vehicle, motorcycle riders must obtain a motorcycle endorsement from the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles. A knowledge and abilities test must be passed before riding a motorbike, and a driver’s primary driver’s license will now have a motorcycle endorsement. Before registering the motorcycle, it must get inspected within 40 days of purchase and pay the necessary taxes.

There are currently only three states in the United States that do not have helmet motorcycle laws. Furthermore, Louisiana is one of nineteen states that require all riders, regardless of the age and area, to wear a helmet when operating a motorcycle. If a driver is caught without a helmet, they will receive a ticket and be required to pay a fee. 

The mandatory helmet laws also apply to any passengers on the motorcycle. If the bike is equipped to have two people on it and there is another person riding, they must also be wearing an approved helmet. 

Does this imply that a motorbike rider who doesn’t wear a helmet may be held responsible for injuries sustained in an accident? Not necessarily, but without the help of an attorney, it is likely that compensation will be greatly reduced. 

At-Fault Insurance Laws in Louisiana 

Louisiana is an at-fault insurance state, which means that the person who caused the accident will be responsible for the other driver’s injuries and damages. Fault will typically be determined by the insurance companies and police reports unless one driver openly admits to it. 

It is possible that both drivers could be at-fault for an accident. In these cases, drivers can collect damages to the proportion of the fault. If a driver was 40% at-fault for an accident, then they can only receive 60% of the damages awarded. 

Due to Louisiana requirements, a motorcycle driver may be seen as negligent if they fail to wear a helmet and therefore share some of the fault. Insurance companies will focus on this specific aspect and attempt to lower the amount of compensation the motorcycle driver receives. 

Comparative Negligence Laws in Louisiana 

The laws governing how to handle a personal injury claim when the plaintiff bears some of the blame have been adopted by each state. Louisiana, which has a pure comparative negligence rule, is among the states that are the most forgiving.

In this state, individuals can recover compensation even if they are up to 99% responsible for the incident. This contrasts with most jurisdictions that allow recovery as long as the victim’s fault was less than either 50% or 51 %. There are some states that do not allow a party to recover for an injury if they bear the slightest bit of fault (contributory negligence laws).

So, as an example, if a negligent driver was texting and driving and predominantly to blame for the accident but makes an injury claim that the motorcycle driver was not wearing a helmet, then that driver may also collect minimal damages or reduce the amount of damages that the motorcyclist could receive. 

When a shared fault situation arises, a jury or judge will need to determine each party’s percentage of fault. They will examine evidence and come to the best conclusion based on their judgment. When a settlement negotiation occurs between the parties, these types of fault determinations do not usually occur formally. 

Insurance carriers and at-fault parties often try to shift a significant portion of fault onto other parties to limit the amount of compensation they will pay, so motorcycle crash victims should be ready for these tactics if they were not wearing a helmet when the incident occurred. 

Gaining Compensation After a Motorcycle Accident 

The helmet rule does not prevent a lawyer from making an insurance claim or suing you for personal injuries related to your accident. All motorcycle accident lawsuits are predicated on the idea of carelessness, just like any other accident.

The person or entity determined to have been careless or at fault for the collision is liable for the damages. The courts or the insurance companies will consider every aspect of the case.

If a rider was not wearing a helmet when the accident happened, insurance companies and juries might place the blame on the driver. However, the motorcyclist can be eligible for compensation if the injuries were not entirely their fault (anything below 100% fault).

The absence of a helmet shouldn’t affect culpability after an accident if a neck or head injury was not sustained. Therefore, the fact that the rider was not wearing a helmet would not have made a difference if they had suffered serious injuries, such as leg or back damage, that the insurance company cannot attribute to helmet use. The use of a helmet in this situation is technically unnecessary, and therefore the compensation should not be affected. It is still likely that the rider will face a fine and ticket because they were breaking the law, but it will not be a factor in the personal injury case. 

Wear a helmet for safety, but don’t feel like a claim shouldn’t be filed if you weren’t wearing one and an accident occurred. No motorcyclist should have to pay for the negligent actions of other drivers on Louisiana roadways.