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Georgia’s Helmet Law May Prevent Injured Motorcyclists from Recovering Damages

Research shows that wearing helmets reduces motorcycles fatalities by anywhere from 22 to 42 percent and can also significantly decrease the seriousness of survivors’ injuries. This is why Georgia, like most other states, has a statute requiring helmets. The Universal Motorcycle Helmet Law states that drivers and passengers “must wear protective headgear which complies with standards established by the commissioner of public safety.” Not wearing a compliant helmet is a misdemeanor and can draw a fine of up to $1,000. Worse still, it can limit or defeat your ability to sue for damages.

In some states, a rider’s failure to comply with a mandatory helmet law completely bars any recovery of damages from other drivers. Georgia law is less harsh, following a modified comparative negligence rule. A motorcyclist is barred from recovering damages only if he or she is at least 50 percent responsible for the accident and the resulting injuries. But while another driver may be principally at fault for causing the accident, failing to wear a helmet as required by law may be a main causal factor as to the injuries directly stemming from that failure.

For example, a motorcycle with a rider not wearing a helmet is hit by a car that ran a red light. The rider is thrown from the bike and hits the ground hard, breaking a leg and suffering burns, abrasions and other bodily harm. The failure to wear a helmet, though negligent, would not be considered a proximate cause of the rider’s injuries, and so full recovery of damages from the other driver may be possible. But if the rider sustained head, brain or spinal cord injuries, the lack of a helmet could be deemed the primary cause, and recovery for those may be barred.

This creates a predicament for the helmetless motorcyclist, in that the most serious types of injuries, though provable, are those for which recovery of damages is most difficult to attain. The rider would have an easier time establishing the other driver’s liability for harm unrelated to the lack of a helmet — not only broken bones but also disfigurement, scarring, muscle damage, road rash and pain and suffering.

All of this underscores the importance of wearing a helmet as a motorcycle driver or passenger. Lack of a helmet not only increases the chance of serious injuries and fatalities but also may decrease or bar your ability to seek financial recovery if you are hurt. A skilled motorcycle accident attorney can analyze your legal rights and liabilities following an accident.

The lawyers at Jason & Bradley, LLC in Stone Mountain, Georgia are experienced at analysis, preparation and pursuit of motorcycle injury claims. To schedule your free initial consultation, call 404-297-9933 or contact us online.