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We get it. Many motorcycle riders hate wearing helmets.
As experienced Cherry Hill motorcycle accident lawyers, we have many clients who tell us they do not like helmets. Unfortunately for them, not only are helmets required under New Jersey law, there is ample evidence to support the conclusion that helmets really do help to protect against head and neck injuries. Further, failing to wear a helmet in New Jersey can also negatively impact a case you might have for personal injury damages, should you end up in a motorcycle crash.
If you don’t wear a motorcycle helmet because you don’t like how it feels, you are not alone. Most people who forego wearing a motorcycle helmets cite interference with how riding feels as the reason. According to a National Institutes of Health survey, the most common reasons adult motorcyclists gave for not wearing helmets were:
According to a report published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are no compelling medical arguments against helmet use. The study concluded that not only do helmeted riders show significantly lower frequencies in all types of injuries, but unhelmeted injured motorcyclists are three times a likely to suffer brain injuries.
Head impacts that would otherwise cause death or permanent injury can often be reduced to little or no injury if a motorcyclist is wear a proper helmet.
Further, a study reported by the New Jersey Department of Transportation concluded that helmets do not interfere with riders’ ability to spot danger and that unhelmeted riders are three times more likely to die from head injuries than are riders who are wearing a Department of Transportation (DOT) approved helmet.
Whether you like motorcycle helmets or not, all motorcyclists and their passengers are required to wear a DOT approved helmet in New Jersey. The failure to wear a can result in a ticket and have a huge impact on your ability to collect damages for another’s negligence should you end up in an accident.
If you are in a motorcycle accident caused by another driver, you may be able to sue the other driver for negligence. In order to sue the other driver you would have to establish that the other driver owed you a duty to drive safely, that they breached this duty, and that this breach was the result of you incurring actual damages to your person and/or property.
However, if you were not wearing a motorcycle helmet at the time of the accident, whether and how much you can recover for your injuries are subject to dispute.
Under New Jersey’s rule of comparative negligence, a jury in a personal injury lawsuit looks at what percentage, if any, the accident may have been your fault. As long as you are not more than 50 percent at fault, you will likely be able to recover damages. But if you are more than 50 percent at fault, you will recover nothing.
If you are not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident and try to claim that you are entitled to damages for head injuries, you could be barred from recovering for those injuries. The jury could determine that your injuries were more than 50 percent the result of your not wearing the law-mandated helmet. They might find that the failure to wear a helmet required by law was negligence per se on your part.
While you still could recover for other injuries, depending on the fact of the case, becoming injured in an accident while not wearing a motorcycle helmet certainly muddies the water and could hurt your case significantly.
An experienced Cherry Hill motorcycle accident lawyer can assess your case and advise you on how to proceed. The lawyers at Folkman Law Offices will evaluate your case at no charge. Visit us online or call 856-354-9444 to schedule a free consultation.