Failing to Wear a Motorcycle Helmet and its Impact on Compensation
The Amount of Recoverable Damages can be Impacted by not Wearing a Helmet if you are Injured, but your Claim Depends on the Extent of your Injuries and Proving Liability.
In 2003, the Pennsylvania state legislature repealed its decades-old mandatory helmet law but not without resistance. While many motorcycle enthusiasts applauded the advancement of individual rights to make choices about their safety, medical associations and hospital workers opposed the law’s repeal, as it invited potentially more fatalities, severe injuries, and social costs. Motorcycle injuries are typically more extreme since they have no protection against direct impact with the ground or other vehicles and, thus, cost more to treat. But even though statistics show that helmet-wearing reduces fatalities and severity of injuries in a crash, a motorcyclist without a helmet may still sue those responsible for their injuries in an accident.
Can I Still Seek Compensation if I Wasn’t Wearing a Helmet in a PA Motorcycle Accident?
Although seeking compensation may turn into a challenging task if you weren’t wearing a helmet, that does not mean you are not entitled to get a positive outcome in your personal injury claim. A Pennsylvania court may find that you share some responsibility for your injuries if you sustained an injury that could have been avoided or mitigated if you had complied with the law and worn a helmet and if you were legally compelled to do so. The judge in this case may decide to distribute responsibility for your injuries between you and the driver who was at fault for the collision.
To get a better picture of how your case will unfold, it is important to determine who was at fault. Depending on the circumstances, it could be that just one party was responsible for the accident or that both parties are found to be negligent. The modified comparative negligence system used in Pennsylvania means that in cases of injury, the potential to recover damages is only available if the injured party is judged to be at least 50 percent or less to blame.
Falling to obey Pennsylvania motorcycle laws could be considered negligent behavior. For example, if a motorcyclist in Pennsylvania gets severely injured due to an incident with a passenger vehicle. Even if the driver of the car was involved in the accident, the motorcyclist could still be found negligent for failing to wear a helmet. Nevertheless, motorcyclists share the road with other vehicle drivers who are legally responsible for road awareness and safe driving. A negligent driver who makes speedy, erratic lane changes and hits a motorcyclist they failed to see, for example, is likely liable for damages to the motorcycle rider.
Again, if the other party was primarily to blame, this does not necessarily imply that the person cannot seek damages. However, it might affect how much can be recovered. Those damages may include medical bills, lost wages, permanent injury care, motorcycle repairs, and pain and suffering. If the motorcyclist dies, damages could include funeral expenses, loss of companionship, death benefits, and other damages. The amount of compensation the rider can obtain in these situations will frequently be reduced by civil courts, but the negligent driver can still be held accountable.
Dealing with Insurance Companies after a Motorcycle Accident without a Helmet
Unfortunately, insurance companies often make it difficult to resolve a personal injury claim. Ideally, you want a quick and fair resolution, a settlement compensating you for all your damages if another driver harms you in a motorcycle accident. But insurance companies want to pay out the least amount possible, so they typically challenge liability or damages to diminish your claim, sometimes forcing you to sue their insured to get the compensation you deserve.
Though an insurance adjustor may claim you contributed to the severity of your injuries by failing to wear a helmet, you are not required to wear one by law if you are over 21 and have a motorcycle license for two years or passed a safety course. Even if you are under 21 and failed to wear a helmet, you do not forfeit your right to compensation for another’s negligent vehicle operation. Your insurer may also try to minimize your claim if your accident occurred without involving another party.
While you want to settle outside court, you may not have an option. Regardless of your intentions or an insurance company’s intentions to whittle down your claim, you will probably need the help of an experienced personal injury attorney who deals with motorcycle accidents frequently. Our Northeast Philadelphia & Lower Bucks County lawyers know how insurance companies operate and can deal with the insurer responsible for covering your damages. We also know how to find coverage limits and supplemental coverage if the insurance company withholds that information. Short of litigating, our sharp attorneys know tort law and how to force an insurance company to cooperate and potentially settle a claim outside court.
Injured without a Helmet? Contact a Bensalem Motorcycle Accident Lawyer for Help Getting Just Compensation
Despite protective gear, motorcyclists are at higher risk for crashes and suffer more severe injuries than those in cars or other enclosed vehicles. Even in the absence of a motorcycle helmet, you or your loved ones deserve compassion and legal support when a tragic accident occurs and you get injured. You may not get what the liable party owes you or any monetary award to place you in a position as close as possible to your pre-accident state. You are at a severe disadvantage without knowledge of insurance company tactics, what you need to gather to support your claim, and how to navigate through the legal system.
Contact a reputable motorcycle accident lawyer on our team at Kamensky, Cohen, and Riechelson to find out what you should do to maximize your chances of being fully compensated for the past and future medical attention you may need and financial support for your recovery and ongoing treatment. We serve in Croydon, Levittown, Warrington, Langhorne, Bensalem, and places surrounding Northeast Philadelphia & Lower Bucks County, Pennsylvania.