According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcycle helmets play a significant role in protecting motorcyclists from serious injuries and death. Between 2002 and 2017, more than 25,000 lives were saved because of helmets.
The NHTSA also estimates that motorcycle helmets are 37% effective in the prevention of fatal injuries to motorcycle drivers, and 41% effective at preventing fatal injuries to their passengers.
Looking at these numbers, you can see why wearing a helmet is so important. However, what happens if you were in an accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, but you were not wearing a helmet? Are you out of luck when it comes to getting compensation for your injuries?
Wearing a helmet does impact liability and compensation in a motorcycle accident claim. However, working with an experienced and knowledgeable motorcycle accident attorney can ensure that you receive as much as possible, even with any reduction due to your share of responsibility.
Determining Liability in a Motorcycle Accident
Determining liability after a motorcycle accident involves investigating the circumstances and details surrounding the crash.
Insurance companies will look at police reports, conduct interviews with those involved, and review factors like weather conditions, speed, traffic violations, impairment, helmet usage, and more. They will use this information to assign a percentage of fault to each party involved.
Indiana follows a comparative fault statute, also called comparative negligence. It means that multiple parties can be held liable for an accident. As long as you were less than 50% responsible for the accident, you can sue the other parties for damages. However, if you bore anywhere from 1-49% of the responsibility, your total compensation can be reduced by that same amount.
For example, if a car turned left into an oncoming motorcyclist, the insurance company may find the driver 80% at fault and the motorcyclist 20% at fault for not wearing a helmet. Even if the motorcyclist acted lawfully, an insurer or jury may still assign partial liability if the rider wasn’t wearing a DOT-approved helmet, as required by law.
The rationale is that helmets protect against major injuries in crashes, so part of the harm was “self-inflicted.”
Liability determination directly impacts the settlement or compensation amount a motorcyclist receives.
Additional Factors that Contribute to Assigning Fault
Insurance companies, judges, and juries also consider the following factors
- The drivers’ rates of speed
- Weather conditions
- Any impairment issues
- Failure of any party to abide by posted traffic signs or laws
- Distracted or drowsy driving of any party
- Recklessness on the road
- Disregard for other vehicles
How can an attorney help to dispute liability claims from an insurance provider?
Sometimes, an insurance company will attempt to deny an entire claim because of something like your failure to wear a helmet. Or, they will offer a very small amount of monetary compensation, claiming that you were responsible for your own injuries because you did not protect yourself with a helmet.
Although it’s true that you likely bear some responsibility for your injuries for disregarding Indiana’s helmet law, that doesn’t mean that another individual isn’t more than 50% responsible for your injuries!
The fact that you were not wearing a helmet doesn’t change the fact that another driver may have been reckless on the road, intoxicated, distracted, speeding, or breaking the law.
Accidents can also be caused by:
- Municipalities that fail to maintain safe roads
- Manufacturers who create faulty products and allow them to be distributed to the public
- Commercial trucking companies that disregard safety laws
An attorney who is on your side can review the evidence related to the accident and help identify each responsible party and how much liability they should share. The insurance company’s job is to reduce your payout as much as possible, so you need someone in your corner who can argue in your favor.
What does an attorney need to investigate your accident?
To fully investigate your claim, your attorney will collect evidence and contextualize it.
Be sure to save and document as much about your accident as possible. That means you should save every receipt, every statement, and every piece of communication with all parties involved, including insurance companies.
Your attorney can use the following to create a strong case:
- Police statements
- Eyewitness testimonies
- Photos and videos from the scene (taken by you, witnesses, or security cameras and dashcams)
- Medical bills
- Medical records and notes from healthcare providers who have treated you since the accident
- Accident reconstruction from expert witnesses
- Vehicle damage inspection reports
- Evidence of lost income/wages
- Documented pain and suffering
- Phone records showing distracted driving
- Police reports of citations issued
- Blood alcohol tests if drunk driving is suspected
Preserving evidence and allowing your attorney full access to the details surrounding your accident is crucial. Your attorney has the legal expertise to know what evidence carries the most weight and how to present it effectively.
An experienced motor vehicle accident attorney knows what facts to highlight and how to frame arguments to dispute unfair liability assignments and secure the maximum amount of compensation you deserve.
Besides gathering evidence, attorneys also conduct in-depth investigations that insurance companies overlook. This includes visiting and photographing the accident scene, taking precise measurements, coordinating expert testimony, researching case law, calculating lifetime costs of injuries, and demonstrating how much pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life resulted from the accident and injuries. Thorough investigations allow attorneys to counter questionable liability claims and build a compelling demand that forces insurance companies to offer a fair settlement.
Statistics About Motorcycle Helmets & Accidents
Let’s take a look at a few important statistics about motorcycle helmets and accidents.
- In 2020, more than 5,500 motorcyclists were killed on America’s roads
- Also in 2020, 180,000 motorcycle operators and passengers were treated in emergency departments because of crash injuries
- In 2017, 1,872 motorcycle operators or passengers were saved by wearing helmets
- That same year, 749 people died who could have survived if they had been wearing a helmet
- The US spends $1.5 billion annually on economic costs related to motorcyclists failing to wear helmets
- Wearing a helmet on a motorcycle reduces the risk of head injury by 69%
Yosha Law Firm Can Help Injured Motorcycle Drivers in Indianapolis
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, it’s important to understand how helmet use and other factors may impact your ability to receive fair compensation. The experienced Indianapolis motorcycle accident attorneys at Yosha Law Firm can help.
We assist injured victims by gathering medical evidence and expert testimony to dispute unfair liability claims by insurance providers. Our lawyers have extensive experience valuing accident claims, negotiating for settlements, and taking cases to trial if a fair settlement is not offered. We have a proven track record of securing maximum compensation for clients.
Yosha Law Firm offers personalized legal representation for Indiana motorcycle crash victims. We work on a contingency fee basis- – so you pay nothing upfront and owe no legal fees unless we recover financial damages for you!
If you were injured while riding your motorcycle, contact our dedicated team today for a free consultation on your case. Contact us today to get the compensation you deserve.