Motorcycle accidents are by far one of the most catastrophic on the road. With the high speeds and a rider completely exposed to vehicles, elements, and the road itself, the injuries are much more severe than passengers in the vehicle.
If you are injured in a motorcycle accident, you might start exploring your option for compensation. While you were in an accident caused by someone’s negligence, you forgo wearing a helmet. Now you wonder if that helmet will become an issue in court – and whether it will make it impossible for you to receive compensation.
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer here. Instead, it comes down to the evidence and the role your missing helmet played in the accident and injuries you suffered.
What are the Motorcycle Helmet Laws in Chicago, Illinois?
Illinois is one of the few states to have no helmet laws. You can choose whether to wear a helmet on your motorcycle, and you will not receive a citation for not wearing one. There are a few bills in the making that may change this, but as of 2018, there are no helmet laws in place and those that have attempted to pass have failed.
In the past, most states did have a universal helmet law – Illinois included. However, by the 1970s the Department of Transpiration no longer could create financial penalties for states without these laws. As the fines stopped, the laws disappeared too.
It is within your right to not wear a helmet, but not wearing one could result in civil complications – even if you have no criminal complications for that choice.
Motorcycle Laws Only Play a Small Role When It Comes to Lawsuit
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 you 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, there are no laws mandating you 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 a life and prevent serious traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Therefore, when you choose to not wear one, the defense will be quick to argue that your choice had 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 needs to consider the law, but also how that lack of helmet played a role in their injuries and the compensation they are requesting.
Where Was the Injury?
You were in a motorcycle accident and you have 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 these are injuries you recover from quickly. 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 were to suffer a minor concussion, and your most serious injury was damage to your spinal cord, then you could receive compensation despite your 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 Affects Your Settlement
Comparative negligence is a term you will hear often in these types of cases.
Illinois uses the pure form of comparative negligence. Therefore, you can receive compensation when you are partially at fault for your injuries, but the compensation you receive is reduced by your contribution. 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 is what 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 is divided. Some states will bar you from seeking compensation if you are slightly at fault, but Illinois is not one of them.
Using the new 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 were obeying the rules of the road but failed to wear a helmet. The driver’s negligence obviously caused the accident, but your negligent choice to not 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.
Options for Fighting Helmet Usage Defenses in an Injury Case
Because comparative fault will play a heavy role in this type of accident case, you need an attorney. 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 a substantial amount of evidence that will 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, and how a helmet would have lessened them or whether it would have had an effect at all. An expert can show how most of your injuries were not related 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 of 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 to not wear a helmet. Before your next motorcycle ride, consider the consequences of not wearing a helmet, and keep in mind that you will be pitted against the insurance company who is ready to use their resources so that they can reduce your compensation. then, reconsider wearing a helmet.
Hire an Attorney to Help
If you were involved in a motorcycle accident and you did not have a helmet on at the time, it is imperative you 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 888-305-5043 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.