Can a Motorcyclist’s Failure to Wear a Helmet Prevent a Successful Lawsuit?

Motorcyclists should always take all precautions against getting seriously injured or killed while riding. However, the question often arises:  if a motorcyclist is not wearing a helmet and is in an accident caused by another motorist, can they still recover compensation for their injuries? The answer, as with many questions in the law, is “it depends.”

While it is not possible that a motorcyclist will be completely prevented from filing a lawsuit because he or she was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, there is a possibility that the defendant in the lawsuit will argue that the plaintiff’s failure to wear a helmet should come into play at some point in the litigation.

Generally speaking, a victim of a motorcycle accident may seek compensation for their injuries through a negligence lawsuit. In any negligence lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove four elements. These are duty, breach, causation, and damages.

Duty is easy to establish because every motorist owes a duty of care to those who share the road with them. The breach element is met when a plaintiff can show that the defendant’s conduct violated the duty of care owed to the plaintiff. Evidence that another driver was drunk, not paying attention, or violating a traffic law may satisfy this element. Whether an accident victim is wearing a helmet will not affect the analysis under these two elements.

Causation is met when a plaintiff shows that the defendant’s breach of the duty resulted in the plaintiff’s damages. The plaintiff must be able to show that, but for the defendant’s conduct, they would not have sustained the injuries they did. Finally, damages must be proven, and only those damages that the defendant caused will be included in the verdict amount. While there is no firm rule regarding helmet use, it is possible that a defendant will try and make the judge or jury aware of a plaintiff’s failure to wear a helmet.

If a defendant is able to convince the court that the plaintiff’s injury would not have been as bad if he or she had been wearing a helmet, they may ask the court to reduce a plaintiff’s damages or even prevent a finding of liability at all. While courts are not likely to agree with this argument, and they may even prevent a defendant from bringing it up at trial, it is something for which a plaintiff should be prepared.

Elementary School Principal Killed in Motorcycle Accident

Earlier this month, a beloved elementary school principal was killed when she was on the back of a motorcycle that drove off the road. According to one local news report covering the accident, neither the driver nor the passenger was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. Evidently, the operator of the motorcycle drove the vehicle off the side of the road as they approached a curve in the road. The principal, the passenger on the bike, was taken to the hospital with serious head injuries. She was pronounced dead shortly after admission to the hospital. The driver of the motorcycle sustained only minor injuries. The accident is currently still under investigation.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Motorcycle Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Maryland motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for all that you have been through. This may even be the case if you were not wearing a helmet at the time you sustained your injury. To learn more about Maryland motorcycle accidents, call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation. Calling is free and will not result in any liability on your part unless we can help you recover compensation for your injuries.

More Blog Posts:

Accidents Caused by a Driver’s Inability to Gauge the Speed of Motorcycles, Maryland Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog, published March 4, 2016.

A Motorcyclist’s Liability to His or Her Passenger, Maryland Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog, published February 18, 2016.

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