If you were hurt in a motorcycle accident that wasn’t your fault, you might be wondering whether or not you can sue the other driver even though you weren’t wearing a helmet. In Texas, provided you meet specific requirements, you are not legally required to wear a helmet. If you choose not to wear a helmet, that will not stop you from bringing a lawsuit against the driver who injured you. However, failing to wear a helmet can affect the amount of damages that you ultimately recover from the other driver’s insurance company or the driver. An experienced Dallas motorcycle accident attorney can evaluate the strength of your case and help you take the right steps to pursue a personal injury claim against the person who caused your motorcycle accident, even if you weren’t wearing a helmet.
Texas Motorcycle Helmet Laws
In Texas, all motorcycle riders under age 21 are legally required to wear a helmet while operating a motorcycle. Texas does allow motorcyclists over 21 to ride without a helmet, provided that you fulfill specific legal requirements. You must have completed a safety course and have the right coverage under an applicable health insurance plan. You can check with your health insurance carrier to determine if your healthcare plan qualifies. The Texas Administrative Code specifies that your insurance company can show that you meet the requirements for a helmet exception by either a notation of “MOTORCYCLE HEALTH” on your regular insurance card/proof of insurance, or issuance of a separate paper card.
Of course, while it is not legally required to wear a helmet, helmets can help prevent serious injury. In a 2016 study, Texas A&M Transportation Institute reported that 52 percent of motorcycle accident fatalities that occurred from 2010-2015 involved riders that were not wearing a helmet. They also reported that in accidents where the motorcyclist was wearing a helmet that was not damaged in the accident, 39 percent of riders sustain no injuries at all. In our experience working on motorcycle accident cases, many victims could have avoided traumatic brain injury or death by wearing a helmet. We strongly advise all motorcycle riders to wear a helmet, even if it is not required by law in all cases. Also, wearing a helmet may ultimately increase the damages that you can recover because of the legal concept of comparative responsibility if the accident is determined to be the other driver’s fault.
Texas is a comparative responsibility state. This means that Texas law recognizes that an accident may not be entirely one person’s fault and adjusts recoveries in lawsuit according to a percentage of fault. If your motorcycle accident case goes to court, a judge or jury will ultimately decide who was at fault for the accident. If you are found not to be at fault at all, you can recover the full amount of damages that the judge or jury decides you are owed. However, if you are partly to blame, the amount of damages you can recover will be reduced by the percentage that the judge or jury finds that you were negligent. As an example, if the jury decided that you were 25% at fault for the accident, you would still be able to recover 75% of the damages done to you. You do still have the right to sue even if you were partially at fault for the accident.
Because Texas is a comparative responsibility state, failing to wear a helmet can affect your case, depending on the type of injuries you suffered. If, as an example, you broke your arm, it would be difficult for a defense attorney or insurance company to argue that wearing a helmet would have minimized your injury. However, if you suffered a traumatic brain injury or other head or neck injuries, it is likely that the defense will argue that your failure to wear a helmet played a role in the severity of those injuries. This could persuade a judge or jury that you have a higher percentage of responsibility, which will reduce the amount of compensation you could receive. If you were involved in a motorcycle accident and weren’t wearing a helmet, it is a good idea to retain an experienced Dallas motorcycle accident attorney to help you negotiate with the defense or insurance company to get the maximum value out of your claim.
Types of Damages You Can Recover in a Motorcycle Accident Case
Motorcycle accidents can be devastating. In addition to medical bills, you will also have expenses to repair your bike, towing costs, rental vehicle costs, lost wages, and other damages. It is important to seek medical care and keep careful records of the expenses you incur after your accident. Insurance companies will look for justifications to deny your claim, so it is essential to document your symptoms and damages.
We Can Help with Your Motorcycle Accident Case
You can give yourself the best chance of recovering damages by contacting an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as you are able after your accident. The experienced Dallas motorcycle accident lawyers at Rasansky Law Firm want to help you get the best results possible. Our dedicated team of attorneys is knowledgeable about the different Texas motorcycle laws. We can help you negotiate with the other driver’s insurance company, and if needed, take them to court to fight for the compensation you need and handle any defense that they may use, including defenses focused on a failure to wear a helmet. Please call us at (214) 651-6100 and we will speak to you about your potential case at no charge.