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Cagle Law Firm
Attorney Zane Cagle

Posted on July 10th, 2015,
by Zane Cagle

States With Motorcycle Helmet Laws Have Fewer Crash Fatalities

Posted on July 10th, 2015 by Zane Cagle

Motorcyclesafetypc13Law or Not, Wearing a Helmet is Just a Good Idea

Currently, 19 states and the District of Columbia have laws requiring all motorcyclists to wear a helmet which is known as universal helmet laws.  Twenty-eight other states require only some motorcyclists to wear helmets. Three states, Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire do not currently require motorcycle helmets while riding a motorcycle.

Helmet Controversy

I understand those on both sides of the helmet controversy. As a U.S. citizen, I treasure my rights, and I frown on any attempts to take decisions out of my hands. Frankly, failing to wear a helmet (in states where not required) is not all that big of a deal….unless you are involved in a motorcycle crash.

Statistically, wearing a helmet reduces the number of fatalities and brain injuries in motorcycle crashes which is the reason so many states have passed legislation including partial or universal motorcycle helmet laws.

Why We Advocate for Helmets

There are several reasons we advocate for motorcycle helmet use. First, statistically, it is safer to ride with a helmet and your personal well-being is crucial. Second, in many states it is the law.  Lastly, if you are injured in a crash and not wearing helmet (even if not required by law), it can be used against you to devalue your bodily injury claim.

Whether you are an advocate for or against wearing helmets, states that have universal motorcycle helmet laws have significantly lower motorcycle crash fatality rates.

Motorcycle Crashes and Fatalities

It is difficult to argue hard numbers.   Compare Missouri and Illinois statistics—the percentage of people killed in 2011 NOT wearing their helmets in Missouri was 13 percent vs. Illinois with 74 percent.  As well, Iowa, Missouri’s northern neighbor came in at 94 percent. Remember,  Illinois and Iowa do not have any motorcycle helmet laws.  Even Arkansas, our neighbor to the south who requires helmet use for those riders 20 and younger have a 59 percent fatality rate.

Failing to Wear a Helmet Doesn’t Matter Unless………..You are in a Motorcycle Crash

Making a Claim for Bodily Injury—Importance of Wearing a Helmet

If you are in a motorcycle crash due to the negligence of another driver, you may encounter some problems if you were not wearing a helmet.  It may seem very black and white, but it is not. Motorcycle accident claims can be very different than car accident claims.

If you are riding a motorcycle in Missouri and you are in a crash and not wearing a helmet, you have a problem as you are in violation of Missouri helmet law.  Whereas,  if you are riding a motorcycle in Illinois and not wearing a helmet then you do not have as big of a problem in the letter of the law—but interestingly enough, potential jury members will wonder why you were NOT wearing a helmet.

Whether you are riding in Missouri or Illinois and whether or not the helmet is required, a potential juror may perceive you as reckless if you do not wear a helmet and that could impact the amount of compensation you can receive.

If You are Injured in Motorcycle Crash, You Will Need Legal Representation

If you have been in a motorcycle crash, chances are you have serious injuries and the medical bills are staggering. The vulnerability you face on a motorcycle makes you more likely to be seriously injured.  If you end up having to go to court to prove your case, the likelihood that you will get six of 12 people who are motorcycle riders is very rare. Even more rare is to find a juror who thinks one should Not wear a helmet.   After a motorcycle crash, you may face scrutiny at various stages of pursuing compensation.

A common misconception among some individuals is that motorcyclists are by nature more “reckless” and by not wearing  a helmet, a motorcyclist may be perceived as having less regard for their own personal safety.  These perceptions are not fair and often, it is the motorcyclist who is extremely safe and mindful of traffic. For a motorcyclist, being reckless makes crashing almost a certainty thus motorcyclists by nature are safety conscious as they are the “little man” on the roadways and interstates.

If you are hurt in a motorcycle crash (helmet or no helmet), you will need an expert motorcycle accident attorney so your claim will not be devalued just because you are on a motorcycle. We know that is not accurate or fair. Research and my personal experience indicate that by and large when a motorcycle rider is injured in a crash, it is generally not the motorcyclist’s failure to be alert but the other vehicle driver’s inability to see them or pay attention.

We represent seriously injured victims of motorcycle accidents.

Call locally 314-276-1681 or toll free 1-800-685-3302 for a free consultation.