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California Helmet Laws and Their Impact on Your Palmdale Motorcycle Accident Claim

helmet and motorcycle

In California, helmet laws are critical elements of road safety regulations, especially for motorcycle riders. Understanding these laws and the consequences of non-compliance is essential for anyone riding a motorcycle in the state. This blog explores California’s helmet laws and delves into how not wearing a helmet can significantly impact your motorcycle accident claim. If you or a loved one was injured in a motorcycle accident in the Antelope Valley caused by a negligent driver, whether wearing a helmet or not, contact the Kistler Law Firm, APC to review your potential claims with an experienced Palmdale personal injury lawyer.

California’s Helmet Law

California Vehicle Code Section 27803 requires all motorcycle drivers and passengers to wear U.S. Department of Transportation-compliant helmets while riding. This law is comprehensive and applies to motorcycles, motor-driven cycles, and motorized bicycles. The rationale behind this strict regulation is clear: helmets save lives and reduce the risk of severe head injuries in accidents.

Wearing a helmet is not just about following the law; it’s about protecting yourself. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has consistently highlighted helmets as being about 37% effective in preventing motorcycle deaths and about 67% effective in preventing brain injuries. In a state with as many riders as California, these statistics highlight the importance of helmet use.

Impact on Motorcycle Accident Claims

Non-compliance with helmet laws doesn’t just risk your safety; it can also have legal and financial repercussions in the event of an accident. Here’s how not wearing a helmet can affect your motorcycle accident claim in California:

Comparative Negligence in California

California follows a “comparative negligence” system. This means that in an accident, the fault can be distributed among all parties involved, including the victim. Your compensation can be significantly reduced if you’re found partially at fault for your injuries because you weren’t wearing a helmet. For instance, if you’re deemed 20% at fault for your injuries, your compensation will be reduced by that percentage.

Reduction in Damage Amounts

The logic behind reducing damages for not wearing a helmet is straightforward: helmets are proven to reduce the severity of head injuries. If you suffer a head injury in a motorcycle accident while not wearing a helmet, the defense may argue that your injuries would have been less severe or even prevented with helmet use. This argument can lead to a reduction in the damages you’re awarded for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and any long-term care needed as a result of the injury.

The Burden of Proof

While you, the plaintiff, have the initial burden of proof to show your injuries and damages, in helmet law cases, the defense has the burden of proof to show that not wearing a helmet contributed to the injuries. This involves medical expert testimonies and accident reconstruction experts who can attest to the likelihood of a helmet preventing or reducing the severity of the injuries. As the plaintiff, you and your legal team will need to counter these arguments, a process that can be complex and require substantial evidence and expert testimony.

Insurance Implications

Insurance companies may also reduce settlement offers if they determine that failure to wear a helmet contributed to the injuries. This is because insurers assess risk and liability when determining settlement amounts. Non-compliance with helmet laws could be viewed as risky behavior that contributed to the severity of the injuries, thus affecting the settlement amount.

Best Practices for Riders

To protect yourself both physically and legally, here are some best practices for motorcycle riders in California:

  • Always Wear a DOT-Compliant Helmet: This is the most straightforward way to comply with the law and protect yourself.
  • Understand Your Rights and Responsibilities: Familiarize yourself with California’s motorcycle laws, including lane splitting regulations and required gear.
  • Seek Legal Advice: If you’re involved in a motorcycle accident, consult with an attorney with experience in motorcycle law who understands the nuances of California’s helmet laws and comparative negligence system.

Contact The Kistler Law Firm, APC, After a Palmdale Motorcycle Accident

California’s helmet law is designed to protect motorcycle riders from severe injuries. Non-compliance not only increases your risk of injury but can also have significant legal and financial repercussions in the event of an accident. Wearing a helmet is a simple step that can have a profound impact on your safety and your ability to secure fair compensation if you’re ever involved in an accident. Remember, the helmet you resist wearing could be the one thing that saves your life or preserves your right to full compensation in a claim. As a rider in California, embracing the helmet law is not just about compliance; it’s about ensuring your safety and protecting your legal rights.

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, whether wearing a helmet or not, call the Kistler Law Firm, APC, at 661-727-7344 for a free consultation and case evaluation.

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