There’s no doubt that motorcycle helmets can prevent serious brain injuries and save lives. Wearing a helmet when riding your bike is just good common sense. However, in Pennsylvania, most riders 21 and older are not required by law to wear a motorcycle helmet. At Thomas, Conrad, and Conrad, our personal injury lawyers have handled thousands of motorcycle accident cases. We help them understand the potential drawbacks that not wearing a helmet can present when litigating a motorcycle accident claim.
Benefits of Wearing a Motorcycle Helmet
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), wearing a motorcycle helmet can reduce the risk of death by 37%, and decrease the risk of serious head injury by 69%. Not only does wearing a helmet help safeguard you from catastrophic injury or death, helmet use can be of benefit if you’re hurt and need to file a motorcycle accident claim.
Comparative Negligence In Pennsylvania
In most personal injury claims, the Comparative Negligence Rule is applied according to Pennsylvania Law. A motorcycle accident victim can seek compensation for damages from another party if the motorcyclist was less than 50% at fault. If a rider is 1% to 49% at fault, they can still pursue a financial recovery but their settlement is reduced by their degree of fault.
For example, a motorcyclist with a broken taillight was hit by a truck and sustained $100,000 in damages. The insurer may argue that because the taillight wasn’t working, the rider is at fault. In this case, the motorcyclist is found to be 49% at fault then the recovery would be reduced by 49%, or in other words a recovery of $51,000 rather than $100,000.
Helmet Use And Motorcycle Accident Claims
It’s important to be aware that even though riding without a helmet is legal in Pennsylvania, insurance companies often try to argue that lack of helmet use is grounds for denying a claim or paying as little as possible. Regardless of whether an injured victim was wearing a helmet when an accident occurred, insurance adjusters often try to paint motorcyclists as reckless and irresponsible to shift blame onto the rider.
The “Helmet Defense”
Often, an insurer will contend that an injured motorcyclist’s not wearing a helmet failed to mitigate the severity of their injuries. However, to use the “helmet defense” an insurer must prove that the victim’s injuries would not have been as serious if they had been wearing a helmet. Typically, this defense is used in cases where a rider suffered head or brain injury. If they sustained no head injuries but suffered a broken arm that required amputation, the motorcyclist’s failure to wear a helmet probably wouldn’t be relevant.
Why You Need A Lawyer For Your Motorcycle Accident Claim
Most riders don’t know how failing to wear a helmet can impact motorcycle accident claims. If you or an injured loved one attempt to file a claim on your own, the “helmet defense” can take you off guard. Insurance companies employ all kinds of tactics that can lead to injured victims admitting fault even when an accident was caused by someone else’s negligence.
Suffering catastrophic injuries in a motorcycle accident can leave you worrying about how you’ll pay your medical bills and support your family. Insurers prey on people’s desperation, which can result in a victim of a motorcycle accident accepting a settlement that barely covers their medical bills and lost wages, let alone damages like pain and suffering or emotional distress.
A personal injury lawyer who has experience handling motorcycle accident cases will know how to handle negotiations with insurance adjusters. They may recommend that you take your case in front of a jury if a reasonable settlement can’t be reached. Your motorcycle accident attorney will thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding the crash. They may also work with medical experts to determine the cause and extent of your injuries and whether the lack of a helmet contributed to them in any way. Having someone in your corner to act as your advocate and take care of all aspects of your motorcycle accident claim can be a relief and take a huge weight off your shoulders so you can focus on your recovery.
Contact A Motorcycle Accident Lawyer To Learn More
If you’ve been injured or have lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, our compassionate personal injury team at Thomas, Conrad & Conrad can help. To schedule a free consultation, contact us online or call our Bethlehem office at 610-867-2900. We serve clients throughout eastern Pennsylvania.