Will Not Wearing a Motorcycle Helmet Affect Your Case?

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Will Not Wearing a Motorcycle Helmet Affect Your Case?

Written by Malman Law, reviewed by Steve J. Malman.

Motorcyclists face a good deal of hazards when taking those carefree motorcycle rides. Not only are they hard to spot by motorists, but they may find it hard to maneuver out of the way of turning vehicles. These types of dangers lead to severe injuries and motorcycle fatalities. If you get involved in a motorcycle-vehicle crash, you’ll need to consult with a personal injury attorney without delay.

Some Revealing Statistics

The National Safety Council (NSC) states that riders wore helmets for about 65% of 2021. However, this figure was still lower than the previous year. In 2020, about 70% of motorcycle riders were wearing helmets.

While Illinois does not require you to wear a helmet, it is indeed important – not only to your safety but to you financially. Whether you file a personal injury claim or receive an insurance settlement, you’ll be asked if you wear a helmet.

Motorcycle accident claims are based heavily on the concept of negligence. If you’re involved in an accident, your personal injury lawyer must prove that the other party was responsible for the accident. Otherwise, you’ll find little you can do to claim-related damages.

What are the Motorcycle Helmet Laws in Chicago, Illinois?

It is within your right not to wear a helmet, but not wearing one could result in civil complications – even if you have no criminal complications for that choice.

Ironically, Illinois is lax about driving without a helmet. In the past, most states did have a universal helmet law – Illinois included. However, by the 1970s, the Department of Transpiration could no longer create financial penalties for states without these laws. As the fines stopped, the laws disappeared too. It is not required, by law, that you wear head protection when riding a motorcycle. While it is certainly recommended, it is not legally something the Prairie State mandates. Nevertheless, if you file a personal injury lawsuit and you do not wear a helmet, it can still reduce your settlement.

While you don’t have to wear a helmet, you are legally required to wear protective eye gear if your motorcycle does not feature a windshield. Also, if you wear a helmet, you’re allowed to have internal speakers. Even with this law, you’ll still be considered negligent in a personal injury claim.

For instance, if your PI settlement is $80,000 and you’re found to be 40% negligent, you’ll only receive $48,000. That’s why it’s always important to speak to a personal injury attorney before you talk to your insurance company or the other party’s insurer. Insurance companies are in the business of making money. They aim not to pay out sizable claims for medical bills or pain and suffering.

Motorcycle Laws Only Play a Small Role When It Comes to Lawsuits

Sadly, motorcycle laws only matter if there is a requirement to wear a helmet. If there was a law stating you must wear a motorcycle helmet and are in an accident without one, you have broken the law and showed a blatant disregard for safety. Therefore, it will be difficult to receive compensation.

In a motorcycle accident in Chicago, no laws mandate you to wear a helmet. While you might assume exercising your right protects you from being put to blame for your injuries, you would be wrong. Even if there is no requirement, motorcycle helmets can save lives and prevent serious traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Therefore, when you choose not to wear one, the defense will quickly argue that your choice caused your injuries and the losses you suffered. The result? Their client may not have to pay for those injuries.

Motorcycle Laws and Your Ability to Recover from Injuries

A motorcycle rider in an accident must consider the law and how that lack of helmet played a role in their injuries and the compensation they requested.

Where Was the Injury?

You were in a motorcycle accident and had injuries, but where were those injuries? If the only injury you suffered was to your head and neck, but you did not wear a helmet, the defense has a reasonable argument that your negligence played a heavy role in the accident and your injuries.

If you have injuries that not only include your head and neck, then you can still receive compensation because, helmet or not, injuries to your chest, legs, and extremities are not impacted by your choice to wear a helmet.

How Extensive Was the Injury – and Were There More Serious Injuries?

The more serious the injury, the more scrutiny you will receive. For example, you have lacerations and a few broken bones but quickly recover from these injuries. You have a long-term disability now because of the injury to your head. You did not wear a helmet; therefore, the defense will argue that they are responsible for the other injuries, but the long-term complications you suffer from your TBI are not their client’s fault – and the court might agree with them.

On the other hand, if you suffered a minor concussion, and your most serious injury was damage to your spinal cord, you could receive compensation despite not wearing a helmet. Helmet or not, the injury to your spinal cord would not have been protected by helmet use; therefore, the defense has nothing to argue.

Comparative Negligence – How It Can Affect Your PI Claim

Comparative negligence is a term you will often hear in these cases.

You must learn more about Illinois’s comparative negligence law to understand how riding without a helmet can affect a personal injury claim. Under this law, more than one person may assume fault in an accident. Therefore, you can collect damages if you are less than 50% at fault. The settlement is reduced by how much you’re determined to be at fault.

Illinois uses the pure form of comparative negligence. Therefore, you can receive compensation when you are partially at fault for your injuries, but your contribution reduces your compensation. So, you may receive compensation even if you did not wear a helmet, but the jury would decide how much of your negligence contributed to the injuries.

What is Comparative Fault?

Comparative fault or negligence determines who is at fault for an accident and who should pay for what portion of that fault. It determines how the settlement and fault are divided. Some states will bar you from seeking compensation if you are slightly at fault, but Illinois is not one of them.

Using the newly modified comparative negligence, your damages are simply reduced by the amount of fault you have contributed. For example, the driver was speeding and texting. You obeyed the rules of the road but failed to wear a helmet. The driver’s negligence obviously caused the accident, but your negligent choice not to wear a helmet contributed to the core of your brain injuries. Therefore, the jury decides that the driver is 80 percent at-fault for the collision, and you are 20 percent at fault for the rest.

The court awards you $100,000. Then, they reduce your settlement by the 20 percent you contribute, or $20,000. You will receive $80,000 for your compensation.

Factors that Lead to Settlement Decisions

Besides wearing a helmet, a court or insurance company will also consider the following factors:

  • If you or the other driver were speeding
  • If the other driver made a turn without checking for oncoming traffic
  • If the driver is distracted
  • If alcohol or drugs played a role in the mishap
  • If citations were issued at the accident scene

Just like distracted driving, reckless driving, speeding, or the lack of protective gear, such as a helmet, breaches the duty of reasonable care. After a court or insurance company reviews the facts of a case, the fault is assigned proportionately to each of the involved parties.

You may feel frustrated in this respect if you were riding without a helmet, but the other party was the primary cause of the accident. For example, their attorney might argue that their injuries would not have been as severe had they bothered to wear a helmet.

You should talk to a personal injury attorney about your case. You’ll need substantial evidence to fight the allegation of not wearing a helmet – especially if it is used to pinpoint the severity of your injuries.

Options for Fighting Helmet Usage Defenses in an Injury Case

You need an attorney because comparative fault will play a heavy role in this accident case. Insurance claims adjusters work hard to reduce settlements by looking for every possible avenue. They want to put you at fault, they want to reduce the settlement, and they will try to allege you are mostly to blame for the accident.

You need an attorney to help find substantial evidence to thwart the allegations that your helmet affected your injuries. The two key pieces of evidence your attorney will use include:

  • Medical Testimony – Testimony from a medical doctor is the most powerful evidence you have in these cases. You need a doctor to testify about your injuries, how a helmet would have lessened them, or whether it would have had an effect. An expert can show how most of your injuries were unrelated to your helmet use; therefore, the helmet played no role.
  • Medical Records – Medical records, such as diagnostic scans and doctors’ notes, will show your diagnosis, what MRI and CT scans reveal, and where the core of your injuries are located. The more injuries outside your head and neck, the easier it will be to justify your compensation requests.

When you can prove that the severity of your injuries would not have changed even if you wore a helmet, it becomes easier to fight your case and push the insurance company into a fair settlement.

Ideally, You Should Always Wear a Helmet

You cannot predict other motorists, and no one wants to find themselves in a position where they must fight for compensation because they exercised their right not to wear a helmet. Before your next motorcycle ride, consider the consequences of not wearing a helmet, and remember that you will be pitted against the insurance company, which is ready to use its resources to reduce your compensation. Then reconsider wearing a helmet.

Hire a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer to Help

If you were involved in a motorcycle accident and did not have a helmet, you must speak with an attorney quickly.

The attorneys at Malman Law are here to protect you from insurance companies ready to claim your negligence caused your injuries. You did not cause the accident; therefore, do not let the insurance company bully you out of the settlement you deserve.

Speak with our team today at 888-625-6265 or request a free consultation online. There is no obligation to meet with us, and you do not pay our attorneys unless we succeed with your case.

Steve Malman

Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.

Years of experience: +30 years
Justia Profile: Steve Malman
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2024

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by President and Founder, Steven J. Malman who has more than 20 years of legal experience as a personal injury attorney.

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