Laws regarding motorcycle helmets can make an insurance claim much more complicated if you weren’t wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. If you weren’t responsible for the accident, you can make a claim with at-fault driver’s insurance, but motorcyclists not wearing a helmet at the time may have a harder time getting full compensation for their losses. To understand if your actions may affect your claim, you need to know about negligence laws in your state and how they operate.
Some accidents have a clear liable party and a clear innocent one, but in many cases, both parties are partially at fault. For example, a driver who was not paying attention may turn out in front of another vehicle that was speeding, in which case both drivers partially contributed to the collision. In contributory negligence laws, the plaintiff cannot receive any compensation if they were at fault for the accident in the slightest amount. In a motorcycle crash, the defendant may argue that by not wearing a helmet, the motorcyclist (plaintiff) was partially at fault for their own injuries. If the court accepts this argument, the motorcyclist cannot receive any compensation.
Since contributory negligence laws can be harsh and somewhat unfair depending on the situation, many states have adopted a happy medium called comparative negligence. This type of negligence still allows both parties to be partially at fault, however, the compensation they receive is relative to their liability for the accident. If the motorcyclist is found 20% responsible for their injuries due to not wearing a helmet, they may end up receiving 80% of their requested compensation. The other driver, who was 80% liable, may receive 20% of their compensation. In states with these laws, a motorcyclist not wearing a helmet can still file a claim with the other driver’s insurance.
Finally, there are states that don’t allow you to file a claim with anyone else’s insurance. These are no-fault states, and you can only get coverage from your own insurance. This prevents disputes over fault that can take up a lot of time and money for both the courts and the parties bringing the case.
You may find that a lawyer who works specifically with motorcycle accidents is a good source to contact. Motorcycle lawyers are aware of state helmet laws and if you have a good chance of receiving compensation despite not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. A local attorney or law firm, like the motorcycle accident lawyers, at David & Philpot, PL, likely have the resources to help you choose the best course of action for recovery.