How Do California’s Helmet Laws Affect Motorcycle Accident Claims?

by Staff Blogger | September 25th, 2023

According to California Highway Patrol data, there were 596 motorcyclist fatalities in 2022, with 19 in Alameda County and 20 in Sacramento County. These staggering statistics make it critical for everyone on the road to ensure rider safety. As a rider, complying with California’s helmet laws is a big part of safeguarding your well-being when riding your motorcycle. 

But what happens if you were injured in a crash and weren’t wearing your helmet? Can non-compliance affect your motorcycle accident claim?

While not wearing a helmet does not prohibit you from seeking compensation, the insurance company may try to hold you partially responsible for your injuries. Our California motorcycle accident attorneys can help you understand your rights after a motorcycle crash and determine the impact of the state’s helmet laws on your settlement.

Overview of California’s Helmet Laws

Under California law (Statute 27803), all drivers and passengers must wear helmets when riding or operating a motorcycle. Head injuries are the leading cause of serious and fatal motorcyclist injuries, accounting for approximately 37% of the more than 4,500 motorcycle crash fatalities annually in the U.S.

Wearing a certified helmet can reduce the risk of these injuries. Under Statute 27802, helmets in California must meet the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218, which typically means the helmet must be U.S. DOT certified and comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 218.

Helmet Use and Comparative Negligence

California uses pure comparative negligence to determine settlement awards. This allows compensation to be adjusted based on the degree of fault of each party in an accident.

This means that even if you’re partly responsible for the crash, you can still seek compensation; however, the amount you receive is reduced according to your contribution to the accident.

Although they may be primarily at fault for the accident, the other party can submit evidence to prove you were partially responsible due to not wearing a helmet. If they can show your failure to wear a helmet exacerbated or directly caused your injuries, it can lower their liability percentage and affect your potential compensation.

Implications on Damages Awarded

Helmet usage can have major implications on your potential settlement or damage award. The other party’s insurer and your motorcycle accident attorney will consider several elements to determine the impact that not wearing a helmet may have on your settlement, such as:

  • Duty to mitigate: All California drivers have a duty to mitigate or lower the risk of potential harm when on the road. Not wearing your helmet may indicate that you acted negligently in this duty, potentially reducing your damage award.
  • Adherence to state law: Riders are expected to follow all traffic laws on the state’s roads and highways. If you ignore the law by not wearing a helmet, it can be used against you, lowering the compensation you receive from the at-fault party.
  • Direct contribution to injuries: Your award may depend on how much of a direct impact not wearing your helmet had on your injuries. For example, if you suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury, the insurer may offer less money because your actions directly contributed to your damages.

Consulting with a Motorcycle Accident Attorney

If you ride a motorcycle in the Golden State, complying with applicable helmet laws for your personal safety is essential. It also protects your interests if you’re involved in a crash.

Consult a motorcycle crash attorney at our law firm for guidance on your claim. Our attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers will fight for your rights and help you get the compensation you deserve by providing the following:

  • Expert legal guidance: We help you understand your rights, potential liabilities, and the impact of not wearing a helmet on your claim.
  • Skilled claims navigation: We manage paperwork, deadlines, and communications with insurance companies, ensuring you have a well-supported claim.
  • Optimal outcome strategies: We create a strategic plan to secure the most favorable outcome for your motorcycle accident claim. This includes determining fault, evaluating your injuries, and fighting for fair compensation.
  • Negotiate comparative negligence: Weskillfully negotiate the concept of comparative negligence while advocating for your interests.

Schedule Your Free Case Review Today

If you’ve been in a motorcycle accident, contact Berg Injury Lawyers. Our experienced team has over 40 years of experience serving motorcycle accident victims in California and will use our understanding of helmet and motorcycle insurance law to get you a fair settlement.

Contact our California motorcycle accident attorneys for a free consultation today. We can guide you through the legal process and fight for the restitution you deserve for your injuries.