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How Does Helmet Use Affect a Motorcycle Accident Claim?


The Dothan Alabama motorcycle accident lawyers at Smith & McGhee hope you or your loved one are never involved in a motorcycle accident.

Dealing with the injuries, expenses, and loss can be quite devastating. Maybe your loved one was killed, or the accident victim has lost the ability to work following his motorcycle accident. He is dealing with pain and suffering, lost wages, medical bills, and a long recovery.

Motorcycles bring a sense of freedom on the road, but with no air bags, seat belts, or a dashboard for protection, motorcycle helmets are one of the only tools a biker has to help minimize the resulting injury from a motorcycle crash. Therefore, they can have a huge impact on a motorcycle accident claim. 

If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident, you understand how vulnerable you are on the road. Motorcycle helmets offer a degree of protection against injury.

Motorcycle helmet use reduces motorcycle deaths by 37 percent and prevents brain injuries 67 percent of the time, according to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS).

In Alabama, your claim is much more likely to be successful if you are wearing a helmet.

Understanding Alabama’s Helmet Laws

In Alabama, you are required to wear an approved motorcycle helmet to protect your brain from any impact in a motorcycle accident. 

A designer helmet does not count.

The state requires the helmet must be one approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). It must be made of a hard shell that cannot shatter. It needs to have shock-absorbing properties along with a permanent chin strap, which must be worn. The safety standards are set by the DOT and your helmet should say it is DOT compliant.

Please understand, if you do not wear a motorcycle helmet, it will make your case to recover any compensation following a motorcycle accident much more challenging. 

Alabama Contributory Negligence Motorcycle Laws

The Alabama contributory negligence laws can give the other side the ammunition they need to undermine your case.  Contributory negligence laws state that even if the claimant is just one percent at fault, he/she will not be able to recover any compensation for the injuries sustained.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a monetary amount for pain and suffering, for property loss, medical bills, or lost wages. These are your actual losses, but if you were not wearing a helmet, the other side will try to use this to say you are a reckless rider because you failed to follow the law.

Other states allow recovery according to the percentage of negligence they shared in the accident. In other words, without a helmet you may be found to be 25% responsible for your head injuries, but you can still bring forth a claim. 

In Alabama, you may not even be able to file that lawsuit, that is, unless you have the guidance of an experienced Alabama motorcycle attorney early on in your case.

Also consider that if you injured your head, those injuries would likely be less severe if you did wear a protective helmet.  The other side will argue that you would have suffered no or few head injuries had you been wearing a helmet, therefore you contributed to your own injuries.

There will be little defense we can offer if you did not have a protective helmet and you suffered head injuries. If, on the other hand, you injured your arm, leg, back, hip, or another part of the body and you didn’t have a helmet on, that is another story.

In such cases, it could be argued that the use of a helmet had no bearing on the fact that you got hurt and the severity of your injuries. That said, the other side will still probably try to pin some of the blame on you simply because you didn’t wear one. This, again, is why you need strong legal counsel working immediately on your behalf. The sooner you get an attorney involved, the better your chances of securing a favorable outcome.

There are other contributing factors aside from helmet use that could adversely impact your claim. These may include speeding, reckless driving, changing lanes without signaling and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In a contributory negligence state such as Alabama, these too can be used against you by the other side and may prevent you from being able to recover damages.  

If you or a loved one suffered injury in a motorcycle accident, Smith & McGhee is here to help! If you were not wearing a helmet, the case will be more difficult, but we may still be able to get you compensation. Call our office today at 334-377-1674 or message us online to schedule a consultation and case assessment.