What Are My Rights Following a Motorcycle Crash if I Wasn’t Wearing a Helmet?
The state of New York requires motorcycle operators and passengers of all ages to wear a helmet that meets standards set out by the U.S. Department of Transportation. But what happens when bikers and their passengers choose to disregard the law and then suffer a head injury in an accident? It turns out that under New York’s comparative negligence rules, failure to wear a helmet can actually reduce the amount of compensation an injured motorcyclist is able to recover in a lawsuit.
Comparative negligence is the fairly straightforward idea that each party is financially responsible for an accident or injury, but a claimant’s recovery is limited proportionally by his degree of fault for the accident. In most contexts, this means that any financial award by a court in a personal injury lawsuit will be reduced based on the percentage of the fault that a court or jury believes lies with the victim. For instance, if you are speeding, but another driver fails to stop at a red light, a court may find that you both share some responsibility and split the liability 50/50, 75/25 or any other way they see fit.
The same comparative negligence analysis applies when you don’t wear a helmet while riding your motorcycle. If a jury finds that your failure to protect your head constitutes negligence, your compensation may be reduced, even if another driver was largely to blame for the accident itself.
It’s important to understand that comparative negligence doesn’t prohibit you or your family from recovering compensation after a motorcycle accident on the roads of Long Island, even if you were not wearing a helmet. While damages are often reduced due to the victim’s actions, some financial recovery is often still allowed, especially if your injuries were not the type that could have been prevented by wearing a helmet.
If you have suffered an injury in a motorcycle accident on Long Island, the dedicated motorcycle accident injury attorneys at Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia can help you understand your options. We serve clients throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.