A traffic accident can be deadly for anyone involved if it’s severe enough, but you’re at a much greater risk when you’re riding a motorcycle. You don’t have the protection a car provides, and even small impacts can leave you on the ground with cuts, bruises or a head injury.
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident that was caused by a car driver, you may find yourself seeking compensation for hefty medical bills and potentially even lost wages. But will you receive any compensation if you decided not to wear a helmet the day you got into the accident? Although the answer is typically yes, when you weren’t wearing a helmet, it can affect your compensation after an accident. Here’s what you need to know and what you can expect.
Your Lack of a Helmet Doesn’t Affect Who Was at Fault
The insurance company that pays for an accident is the one whose driver was at fault and caused the accident. Whether you wore a helmet or not, that has no impact on the key issue of who was at fault for the accident. A driver who rear ended you would have done so regardless of what you wear wearing at the time. Therefore, an insurance company can’t use your lack of a helmet to argue against the fault of its driver.
Of course, fault laws depend on what state the accident occurred in. If it was in a no fault state, your personal injury protection will pay for your injuries no matter which driver caused the accident. Most states have some sort of fault system in place, though.
An Insurance Company May Argue How Much It Needs to Pay in Damages
One area where not wearing a helmet could affect you is the amount of compensation you receive from the driver’s insurance company. Every insurance company’s goal is to avoid having its driver found at fault and, failing that, to keep the amount it needs to pay out to a minimum.
What an insurance company will likely do if you weren’t wearing a helmet when you got into a car crash is argue that your damages are more severe than they would have been if you had taken better safety precautions. It will then try to offer you a reduced amount for medical expenses, lost wages and any other damages you incurred.
You will still most likely receive some compensation for what happened, but it could be less than what you would have gotten had you worn a helmet. Keep in mind though that you don’t to accept the insurance company’s offer and could always take them to court if you don’t feel that you’re getting a fair deal.
Helmet Laws Vary by State
Your state doesn’t just factor because of its fault laws – its helmet laws can also play a part in the results of your claim. States can have universal helmet laws, partial helmet laws or no helmet laws.
Universal helmet laws require that everyone who rides a motorcycle wears a helmet. Partial helmet laws only require that riders under a certain age, typically 18, wear a helmet. No helmet laws don’t put any requirements on riders to wear a helmet.
If you weren’t legally required to wear a helmet, the insurance company can still try to argue down how much compensation you receive, but it’s less likely to be successful. It’s a good idea to see what the helmet laws are in your state so that you’re prepared if the insurance company goes that route.
Getting the Compensation You Deserve
Just because you decided not to wear a helmet doesn’t mean you lose entitlement to compensation for your injuries. To get reimbursed for any medical expenses and lost wages you had, you may want to consult with a skilled personal injury lawyer who can help you as you go through the claim process. Your lawyer can ensure that you don’t accept a bad settlement offer or give up your rights without realizing it, and argue your case if you need to go to trial.