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Does Not Wearing a Helmet Affect a Motorcycle Accident Claim?

Motorcyclists who are injured by motor vehicle drivers may have grounds for a lawsuit or insurance claim. Texas is a fault insurance state, meaning that at-fault drivers must pay for the damages of their victims. However, failure to wear a helmet can affect your ability to recover this compensation, even if the other driver caused the accident.

Are You Required to Wear a Helmet in Texas?

While many states require all motorcyclists to wear helmets while riding, Texas is not one of them. In fact, you can ride a motorcycle without a helmet if you are 21 years or older and you meet at least one of the following criteria.

  • You have completed a motorcycle operator training and safety course and can provide documentation proving that you completed this training.
  • You have health insurance coverage and documentation proving this coverage.

Since Texas laws require riders to take a safety course in order to receive a motorcycle license, most motorcyclists fall into this exception. While a police officer cannot stop you solely because you are not wearing a helmet, failure to do so can put you at risk of severe injury. Additionally, failure to wear a helmet can affect your ability to recover compensation after a collision.

Can I Still Recover Compensation?

Under Texas law, you have two main options to secure compensation after an accident: an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit.; If you are injured in a motorcycle accident and you are not wearing a helmet, the at-fault driver could use this information against you in your future case.

For example, the insurance company may claim that your failure to wear a helmet made your injuries worse. The company may reduce your settlement offer in response to this claim, preventing you from recovering the full compensation you need to recover. In some cases, the insurance company may use this information as justification to deny your claim.

During the lawsuit process, Texas’s comparative negligence rules will come into play. Under these rules, the court will reduce your award by the amount of liability you share. If you are more than 50 percent responsible for the collision, you will not receive any compensation at all. For example, if you request $30,000 in compensation and the court assigns you 30 percent of the liability for failure to wear a helmet, you will only receive $21,000. If the court assigns you 51 percent of the liability, you will receive $0.

Risks of Not Wearing a Motorcycle Helmet

Although Texas law does not require motorcyclists to wear helmets, doing so can potentially save your life. Research shows that motorcycle helmets are effective at preventing serious, sometimes fatal injuries.

  • One study examining motorcyclist injuries in states with partial helmet laws versus states with universal helmet laws discovered that facial injuries were 1.5 times more common in partial law states.
  • Another study found that the fatality rate for motorcyclists who did not wear a helmet was 4.2 percent, compared to 1.1 percent for riders who wore helmets.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that helmets saved an estimated 1,859 lives in 2016. The CDC also states that if all motorcyclists wore helmets that year, an additional 802 lives could have been saved.

If you are in a motorcycle accident with a negligent driver, you deserve compensation—regardless of whether you were wearing a helmet or not. In these situations, a McAllen motorcycle accident attorney can help. Contact a lawyer as soon as possible following your collision to discuss your legal options.