Some Thoughts on Helmet Laws in Illinois
Posted on September 10th, 2013 by Zane Cagle
Illinois remains one of only three states that do not have a mandatory helmet law for motorcyclists. Data from the Illinois Department of Transportation reports that fatal motorcycle accidents in the state of Illinois increased by 13% in 2012. There were 131 fatal motorcycle accidents in 2010 and 148 in 2012. Illinois State Police indicated it was hard to find a single reason for the increase since overall motorcycle collisions are declining. In the past decade, the number of registered motorcyclists in Illinois has increased by 57% and some experts say new riders may not be getting the proper training in motorcycle safety. Some motorcycle riders in Illinois actively campaign for Illinois to remain a “free” state, a state not mandating motorcycle helmets. Actually, it is quite a debatable topic for many.
While I’m usually against any law that puts more restrictions on individuals, I do advocate for required helmet use for all motorcyclists for many reasons. One, the motorcyclist is by nature more exposed when on a motorcycle. Motorcycles lack the protection of a vehicle shell to absorb trauma in a crash, not to mention a lack of safety belts and air bags. The human body does not usually fare well in a collision directly with another vehicle or other inanimate object. Two, while I understand the feeling of freedom on a motorcycle, a person’s head is not designed to endure trauma very well. When trauma occurs to the head, serious injuries such as paralysis, brain damage and death are likely. Motorcycle helmets help in reducing the severity of the injury.
Let me be clear—a helmet does not make the rider impervious to crashes just as seatbelt in a car will not prevent all injuries—its goal is reduction in severity of injuries. Maybe human beings were never meant to travel at high rates of speed on a motorcycle or in a car? But the fact of modern-day society is that we DO. Why wouldn’t we want to make travel as safe as possible by wearing a helmet, strapping our children in safety seats and wearing our seatbelts? In my line of work, I see victims of tragic accidents including car accidents, truck accidents and motorcycle accidents. Each horrible experience of our clients involving a motor vehicle accident reminds me to be more and more safety conscious in order to avoid
Generally, if you are involved in a motorcycle accident. your injuries are serious. Some claim motorcycle helmets increase the odds of a neck injury in a collision, but this is similiar to the arguement by car drivers of being trapped by a seatbelt after a car accident. These “concerns” are secondary to the real problem—initial crash survival. Statistics do show that helmets help reduce head injuries by a considerable difference.
From a legal perspective, if you are contemplating a personal injury claim for injuries or a wrongful death claim, then whether or not the motorcyclist was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash will be important regardless of the state law. Why? ……………If you are in a motorcycle accident and need to file a personal injury claim against someone who may have hit you, then wearing a helmet will only help your case. How does wearing a helmet impact your case if you are in a helmet-free state? Unfortunately, many individuals view motorcyclists as less cautious people in general and may think they are more reckless and risky with their safety–we know this is not true. Even if you are in a motorcycle accident in Illinois where you are not required to wear a helmet, many potential jurors may consider you “reckless” if you do not wear a helmet. They may know you are not disobeying the law by being helmet-free, but may have negative assumptions about motorcylists in general. In all accidents, jury members want to know if you were being safe or if you contributed to your accident.
If you have been in a motorcycle accident, chances are, you are seriously injured. If so, you need an expert personal injury attorney.Whether you have been injured in Missouri or Illinois, you will need an experienced personal injury attorney to assist you in getting the compensation you deserve. Call (314) 276-1681 for your free consultation.
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Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Injury Prevention & Control: Motor Vehicle Safety