The law requires motorcycle riders wear a helmet when riding in New York. There are various factors that may mean we do not always wear one. Perhaps we forgot the helmet, chose to enjoy a beautiful day, or simply forgot.
Whatever the reason, anyone who is injured in a motorcycle accident and not wearing a helmet may wonder if they can still file a claim against the other driver.
Question #1: Does the law require helmets?
To answer this question, it is best to start with a better understanding of the law. The law requires anyone who rides a motorcycle to wear a helmet that meets the requirements of section 571.218 of the federal motor vehicle safety standards.
This answers the first part of the question: the law requires motorcycle riders use helmets.
Question #2: Will this impact my claim?
To answer the next part of the question it helps to know that the legal theory of negligence generally guides these types of claims. Negligence essentially refers to a failure to act with care. When it comes to motorcycle and car accidents, state law requires all drivers operate with care.
Now here is where it gets interesting. It may seem cut and dry — no helmet, legal violation, no claim. But it is not that clear. This is in part because New York law recognizes each driver may have had some degree of carelessness that contributed to the crash. This is referred to as comparative negligence.
Now, lets take this information and circle back to the question. Not wearing a helmet could impact the claim based on the application of comparative negligence. However, because each driver has some level of responsibility, the other driver may be partially responsible for the crash and the claim may still be valid. If the other driver was drunk, distracted, or otherwise careless they likely bear some responsibility. An attorney experienced in this niche area of personal injury can review the case and discuss your options.