For many motorcyclists, wearing a helmet is a personal preference, but depending on where you are riding, a helmet may not be an optional accessory. Many states mandate helmet usage for motorcycle riders, but even in states that do not, if you are in an accident, whether or not you are wearing your helmet can have a surprising impact on your claim. Helmets protect a motorcycle rider from serious injuries when a rider does not wear one, they can put themselves at risk of more severe damage and life-threatening injuries.
How Motorcycle Helmet Usage Influences a Fault Determination
Insurance companies will have strong biases against motorcyclists in any collision. The representatives of an insurance company are looking for any way to place blame on a rider for an accident and one particular strategy they will take to achieve this is by turning their focus on helmet use. Insurers will argue that even if a motorcyclist has no blame for the cause of the accident, the choice not to wear a helmet will lead to more severe injuries and losses.
It is common for insurance companies to apportion fault for an accident onto a motorcyclist based on whether or not they are wearing a helmet. If you are wearing a helmet at the time of an accident, you take ammunition away from the insurers to try to reduce their liability and compensation to you. When you wear your helmet you are reducing the danger to your life and protecting your rights.
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Can a Motorcyclist Seek Compensation if They Were Not Wearing a Helmet at the Time of a Crash?
If you are a helmet-wearing motorcyclist victim of the negligence of a motor vehicle driver, you have every right to seek compensation for all damages that arise from an accident. However, if you are not wearing a helmet, does that mean you are barred from seeking compensation?
The answer depends on where the accident occurs.
Comparative Negligence State
In a comparative negligence state, the state will allow any victim to recover money against a party at fault in an accident so long as the fault of the other party exceeds their own. This can mean that while you will not be prevented from filing a claim or lawsuit against the parties responsible for the accident in these states, the amount of compensation you may be eligible for might be drastically less. How much compensation you will be able to seek will depend on the percentage of fault that an insurer apportions to you for liability for your own injuries.
Contributory Negligence State
If a motorcycle accident occurs in a contributory negligence state, it may be difficult for a motorcyclist that does not wear a helmet to be able to seek compensation in their case. States that follow pure contributory negligence will bar the recovery of compensation for any party that has any responsibility or fault in the accident, even if the apportionment of the fault of the victim is minimal and considerably less than a defendant’s.
Damages Available in a Motorcycle Accident Case
As a motorcyclist, you are vulnerable to severe injuries and a high risk of fatality if you are in an accident with a vehicle. When you are the victim of an accident and the other driver is at fault for the collision and your injuries, you can seek the losses that you incur up until the point of your claim and any future losses that you may acquire because of your injuries.
Damages to a motorcycle rider can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
- Wrongful death
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Is a Lawsuit Necessary to Seek Compensation After a Motorcycle Accident?
Although many personal injury cases resolve in the settlement stage, there are times when the case will require litigation to reach a resolution. In cases where there is a dispute as to the apportionment of fault or an insurance company does not offer reasonable compensation for the losses of a motorcycle accident victim, your lawyer may advise you that filing a lawsuit is the next step in your case. With a lawyer representing you after a motorcycle accident, there is a much higher chance that they will be able to help you reach a resolution with the insurance company that is able to avoid a trial.
Is There a Statute of Limitations for Motorcycle Accident Claims?
Each state has set time limits for motorcycle victims to seek compensation for their losses and damages from the party they believe is responsible for an accident and their subsequent injuries. While some states may offer more generous statutes of limitations upwards of four years, others can impose limitations to just one year. It is vital that you seek a motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible to discuss what statute of limitations applies in your case.
Should You Consult a Lawyer About Your Possibility of Recovery After a Motorcycle Accident?
There is too high a risk to you as a motorcycle rider victim to proceed without an attorney. Failing to hire a lawyer can cause you significant harm. When you go against the insurance companies without the proper backing and support from a knowledgeable and qualified attorney, you are at their mercy.
Insurance companies will not pay you the value of your claim without a lawyer. They are more likely to deny your claim on a technicality, error, or lack of support. If your claim proceeds, then they will offer you as little money as possible to close out the claim.
Call a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today for a Free Consultation
If you are in a motorcycle accident and are concerned about your rights to compensation, contact a motorcycle accident attorney to discuss representation in your case to help you win against the parties responsible.
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