Can you sue if you weren’t wearing a motorcycle helmet?

On Behalf of | Jan 6, 2023 | Motorcycle Accidents |

If you’ve recently been injured in a motorcycle accident, you may be concerned about the financial consequences of your crash. Whether you’re dealing with significant medical bills or you’re losing income due to your recovery needs, it would not be surprising if accident-related costs were affecting your family’s budget in significant ways. 

You may be hesitating to file legal action because you’re concerned that your conduct played a role in the circumstances that led to your wreck. The good news is that California law protects the rights of motorcycle injury victims to seek compensation from others, even if they were partially to blame. The challenging news is that you may not receive as much compensation as you would ordinarily if you weren’t wearing a helmet at the time of your crash. 

What do helmets have to do with comparative fault determinations?

In every state, accident victims can seek compensation from others whose negligence, recklessness or intentionally dangerous conduct directly caused their injuries. In some states, victims are no longer entitled to seek any compensation from other parties if they were partially responsible for their injurious circumstances. In others, victims can only seek compensation if they were 50 percent or less to blame.

California is one of several states that honors a legal theory known as “pure comparative negligence.” This means that injury victims can still pursue compensation from other legally responsible parties, even if those victims were 99% to blame for what happened to them. 

Motorcycle riders are required to wear approved helmets when operating their bikes in California. If a rider foregoes wearing a helmet and crashes, that failure may be cited as a reason why the rider is partially responsible for their own harm. This is especially true if the injuries would have been less severe with the helmet in place.

If you weren’t wearing a helmet at the time of your crash, it remains important to research your legal options. You may be owed significant compensation as a result of your harm, even if you would have been owed more had you been wearing a helmet at the time of your crash.