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How do motorcycle helmet laws affect a potential lawsuit?

by | Oct 11, 2018 | Personal Injury |

It is well-known that motorcyclists who wear a helmet can experience significantly less serious injuries should they be struck by a car than motorcyclists who do not wear a helmet. In fact, in California all motorcycle riders must wear a helmet when operating their vehicles. However, if a motorcyclist is not wearing a helmet, and is hit by a car, does this preclude him or her from obtaining compensation in a subsequent lawsuit?

California follows the laws of pure comparative negligence. Under this rule, even if a party is 99 percent at fault, he or she can still pursue compensation in a lawsuit. However, the amount of compensation he or she may receive will be reduced by the amount he or she was at fault for the crash.

So, in California if a motorcyclist is not wearing a helmet and is involved in a motor vehicle accident, the motorcyclist may suffer worse injuries than he or she would have had he or she been wearing a helmet. However, suffering worse injuries isn’t the same as being partly negligent for the crash, and may not preclude recovery entirely, although it could affect the amount of damages received. However, if the motorcyclist negligently operated the vehicle that in part caused the crash, the amount of compensation received may be reduced by the percentage the motorcyclist was at fault.

Of course, this post is only a general overview of motorcycle helmet laws and comparative negligence. It cannot promise any specific result in a person’s case, and it should not be relied upon as legal advice. Those who have been in a motorcycle crash and now want to pursue compensation through a personal injury lawsuit will want to seek the professional guidance they need to understand how the law applies to the facts of their case.


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