With Kirkland's dense downtown area, there are many people driving back home or out to a restaurant during the late afternoon and evening hours. This increase in traffic density presents a lot of hazards to bicyclists. If a rider uses his or her bicycle without a safety helmet, these dangers present an even greater risk. Helmets protect the head from injuries or could reduce severity of an injury in the event of an accident.
Risks of Biking Without a Helmet
Helmets absorb the impact of an accident, rather than the skull, which can save this sensitive part of the body from suffering serious damage. Examples of head injuries include concussion, hematoma and skull fractures.
These injuries may affect motor skills, cognition and more. For some, physical, occupational and speech therapy is required after brain injuries. Long-term care may be necessary in severe cases.
In order for a helmet to work, the rider needs to use it properly. The helmet should fit snugly on the head. Its brim should come down almost to the eyebrows, recommends the Public Health Department in King County. Riders can look for Consumer Product Safety Commission or Snell Foundation certification stickers on the helmet.
Helmet Laws and Regulations in Kirkland
There's no statewide law in Washington requiring the use of helmets when cycling, but there's a countywide law in King County, which includes Kirkland, that mandates helmet use. Bike riders who violate this ordinance are subject to a $30 fine for not wearing a helmet.
How Helmetless Riding Affects a Person's Legal Rights
Bike accident victims may seek compensation from the at-fault driver's insurance policy by filing a bike accident claim. An insurance adjuster will investigate your claim and offer you a settlement for your injuries. If the adjuster discovers that that you weren't wearing a helmet, he or she may reduce the settlement offer.
Washington's pure comparative negligence laws allow injured bicyclists to pursue compensation, even if they were partially at fault for the accident or contributed to their injuries. Their recovery is reduced in proportion to the bicyclist's percentage of fault. So even a bicyclist who is 99 percent at fault can recover 1 percent of his or her damages.
Not wearing a helmet may be considered partial negligence and may increase the bicyclist's comparative negligence, thus reducing recovery of damages. As noted above, failure to wear a helmet is a violation of county law and could increase the risk of head injuries. If a bicyclist suffered a head injury, this may be a factor. If the bicyclist suffered a leg injury, though, it likely will not have an impact on compensation because wearing a helmet has no relation to leg injuries.
Bicyclists who suffered significant injuries, including head injuries, should contact an attorney to review their case and their options to recover compensation. Max Meyers Law helps injured bicyclists in Kirkland pursue fair compensation, so contact our office at 425-399-7000 to schedule a free consultation today.