Motorcyclists have differing views on helmets. Some people love to feel the wind in their hair and refuse to wear a helmet. The CDC recommends that anyone on a motorcycle needs to wear a helmet, but there is no nationwide standard for helmets.
Where You Ride Matters
States have created their own laws about wearing a helmet. Generally, helmet laws fall under these categories:
- Required for everyone, both drivers and passengers (19 states and Washington D.C.)
- Required for under 21 years old
- Required for anyone under 18
- Not required (New Hampshire, Iowa, and Illinois)
In addition, some states require a certain amount of insurance if you choose to ride helmetless. Texas, for instance, requires the driver provide coverage of a personal health insurance plan. You should know the law where you’re driving to be prepared. If you leave Illinois to ride in Michigan, only the riders under 21 years old need a helmet. If you go to Missouri, any rider under the age of 26 needs a helmet. You should also make sure that your helmet meets DOT regulations for protection if you are required to have one while riding.
What If You’re Not Wearing a Helmet and Get Into an Accident?
You can legally not wear a helmet, but it could impact your claim if you do get in an accident. Motorcycle accidents typically have more injuries and larger claims because of the lack of protection during the accident. Motorcyclists don’t have the metal protection of a car to prevent their head from hitting the pavement. In a motorcycle accident, if you aren’t using protective gear, you could be assumed to be partially at-fault for your injuries. The insurance company or court (if your case goes to a lawsuit) could determine that not wearing a helmet led to more injuries, which would reduce your claim. There are a lot of variables. It’s not always cut and dried.
Do You Have a Claim if You Weren’t Wearing a Helmet?
Every motorcycle accident is different. You may still have a claim, even if you weren’t wearing a helmet, either legally or not. It depends on your state’s laws about fault, the helmet laws where you were riding and the injuries you sustained. It can be a complex situation, but you shouldn’t just discount your claim if you weren’t wearing a helmet. You should talk to a lawyer, like a motorcycle accident lawyer from John K. Zaid & Associates, about your case to determine the best steps to take in your situation.