According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, wearing a motorcycle helmet reduces the risk of fatality in a crash by 37 percent. That being said, many riders don’t wear helmets all the time and Pennsylvania doesn’t require them for all riders.
People who travel sans helmet and get in an accident are at significant risk of head injury. A lot of accident victims or their family members call our office inquiring about whether or not they can still recover damages for the injury if they weren’t wearing a helmet. The answer is: partially. ‘Partially’ because of the comparative negligence rules, which we explain more below.
Pennsylvania’s Comparative Negligence Rule
Pennsylvania follows the comparative negligence rule. This rule states that a motorcycle accident victim can seek financial recovery for damages so long as she is less than 51 percent at fault. In cases where the rider is one to 50 percent at fault, she can still obtain compensation, but the settlement is reduced by her degree of fault.
For example, let’s say a rider is hit by a car at night and sustains $500,000 in damages. The insurer determines that because rider’s tail light was out, she’s 50 percent at fault. As such, her settlement will be reduced by 50 percent, equaling $250,000.
How Lack of Helmet Usage Can Affect a Motorcycle Accident Case
When a rider files an accident claim for a head injury, the insurer may try to deflect partial blame and thus reduce their settlement payout. This is a common defense in a motorcycle accident claim. One way they can accomplish this is by saying that the rider would not have sustained the injury if he’d been wearing a helmet. The helmet claim is a plausible argument that’s usually fairly successfully in motorcycle accident claims and lawsuits.
If this is your situation, note that you can still obtain some compensation; it will just be reduced a fraction because of your contributed negligence. Also, if you sustained injuries on other body parts, such as your back or limbs, the fact that you weren’t wearing a helmet would have no bearing on the compensability of that injury.
Speak to a Motorcycle Accident Attorney in Pennsylvania for Free
If you or your loved one were recently in a motorcycle crash, call our team at Cordisco & Saile LLC in Pennsylvania for a free consultation. If we are a good match for your case, we can help fight for your best interests and obtain the highest settlement for which you’re eligible. Contact us today at 215-642-2335.