While everyone should wear a helmet each time they get on a motorcycle, not everyone does. But will your motorcycle helmet use affect your accident claim, if you need to file one?
Yes. Washington law requires everyone riding a motorcycle to wear an approved motorcycle helmet. This includes passengers as well as motorcycle drivers. Because not wearing a helmet is proof of negligence, if you were injured in a motorcycle accident while not wearing a helmet, it can affect the amount of your claim.
It is important to note, however, that your helmet use will only be valid if your failure to wear a helmet contributed to your injuries. If your failure to wear a helmet did not contribute to your injuries, it will not reduce the amount of compensation you receive.
How does my own negligence affect my motorcycle accident claim?
Washington is a pure comparative negligence state. This means that you can recover compensation for your injuries, as long you were not totally at fault for the accident. However, the percentage of your contribution to the accident or your injuries will reduce the amount of compensation you will receive.
For example, Ron was speeding while riding his motorcycle. Bill, who ran a red light, struck Ron with his car. An investigation found Ron to be 10 percent at fault and Bill to be 90 percent at fault. Ron’s damages were $80,000. The amount of compensation he can recover from Bill will be $72,000. This is because his negligence reduced his compensation by 10 percent, or $8,000.
What if I did not contribute to the accident? Will I still receive less?
Yes. Even if you were totally innocent in the accident, you can receive less if your injuries resulted from your lack of a helmet. Remember that injuries unaffected by helmet use do not apply.
For example, Sophie was riding her motorcycle when she was struck by a drunk driver, Todd. The accident investigation found Todd was 100 percent at fault in causing the accident. Sophie was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident; however, she suffered leg, not head injuries. Her leg was mangled and had to be amputated. Sophie will receive 100 percent of her damages from Todd, because her failure to wear a helmet did not cause or worsen her leg injuries.
Let us change the story a bit: Todd, the drunk driver, hits Sophie who is not wearing a helmet. The force of the impact threw Sophie off her bike and onto the pavement where she hit her head. She sustained a moderate traumatic brain injury and also sustained the same leg injury.
Todd’s expert proved that a motorcycle helmet would have lessened or prevented the head injury. The judge determined that Sophie’s failure to wear a helmet was 25 percent responsible for the head injury. Sophie’s failure to wear a helmet will decrease the damages for her head injury by 25 percent. She will receive unreduced damages for her leg as her failure to wear a helmet did not cause or worsen those injuries.
Get help from a Kirkland motorcycle accident attorney today.
Evaluating motorcycle accident claims is complicated when the motorcycle rider was not wearing a helmet. First, investigators must determine the amount of each person’s fault in the causation of the accident. For most accident claims, this is where the comparative negligence issue ends. When an injured motorcycle rider was not wearing a helmet, however, you then have to analyze whether the failure to wear a helmet caused or contributed to any of these accidents.
While we advise everyone wear a helmet each time they ride, we know not everyone does. If you or a loved one was injured in a motorcycle accident caused by another negligent party, contact Max Meyers Law. We know how difficult these cases are, especially when an insurer is trying to pin the blame on you. We will build your case and defend you against any accusations of fault or negligence.
Call 425-399-7000 today to set up your free, no-obligation consultation.