Does the Use of a Motorcycle Helmet Impact an Injury Claim?
Motorcycle accidents can result in some of the most serious injuries. Motorcyclists in particular are at greater risk of injury because they do not have a steel cage to protect them when they are involved in a collision, and there is not much that separates them from hitting the hard pavement. One factor that may play a role in an accident injury claim is whether or not the rider was wearing a helmet.
In Mississippi, every one of all ages who rides a motorcycle is required to wear a helmet that is in keeping with American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators regulations. So, if you are in a motorcycle accident and you are not wearing a helmet, at the very least, you will most likely end up with a citation and a small fine.
If you are injured in the accident, the use of a helmet could also affect your injury claim. How much wearing a helmet matters depends largely on the types of injuries you suffered and the specific circumstances of the collision.
How does Helmet Use affect a Motorcycle Accident Injury Claim?
In most instances, the use of a helmet has no impact on the cause of a motorcycle accident. In other words, the accident most likely would have happened regardless of whether or not you had a helmet on. But despite this fact, the other side will probably still try to argue that not following Mississippi helmet laws makes you an irresponsible rider, and thus you must be at least partially at fault for the accident. If they are able to make this argument stick, it could significantly reduce the amount of compensation you are able to receive for your injuries.
Mississippi is a pure comparative negligence state. And this means that when you suffer a personal injury, your compensation award is reduced in proportion with the percentage of fault you share in the accident or incident.
If a motor vehicle driver crashes into your motorcycle and the driver was clearly negligent, the insurance company might still try to pin some of the blame on you for not wearing a helmet. Now let’s assume the total damage award would have been $150,000, but it is determined that you are 30% at fault for the accident. In this scenario, your damage award would be reduced by $45,000.
With these types of cases, it is especially important to have strong legal counsel in your corner advocating forcefully for your legal rights and interests. With an experienced attorney working on your behalf, it is far less likely that the other side will be able to get away with this type of an argument.
Another area where the use of a helmet can be a critical factor in a motorcycle accident case is your legal responsibility to mitigate the losses you suffer when you sustain a personal injury. Although the other driver may be 100% at fault, the other side might try to reduce the amount of compensation they have to pay by arguing that your injuries would not have been as bad if you had been wearing a helmet.
As we eluded to earlier, whether this argument holds merit or not will depend on the type of injury you sustained. For example, if you suffered a broken arm or a broken leg because of the accident, the use of a helmet should have no bearing on your injury claim – your injury would have been just as severe either way.
If, on the other hand, you suffered head or neck injuries from the accident, then not wearing a helmet could be a very relevant fact. In such a scenario, an argument could be made that these injuries could have been prevented (or at the very least, they would have been less severe) had you been wearing a helmet.
Injured in a Motorcycle Accident in Mississippi? Contact the Gardner Law Firm Today for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one was injured in a motorcycle crash in Mississippi, you may be entitled to damages, regardless of whether or not you were wearing a helmet. Not wearing a helmet will almost certainly complicate matters, however, and you will need a seasoned advocate by your side fighting hard for every dollar of compensation you deserve.
For motorcycle accidents in Biloxi, Gulfport, Pascagoula, Ocean Springs, and communities throughout Southern Mississippi, contact the Gardner Law Firm to schedule a free consultation and case assessment. Call our office today at (228) 900-9618 or message us through our online contact form.