While motorcyclists are always advised to wear a helmet, Texas law has made helmets optional for some motorcycle riders so many motorcyclists in Texas may wonder, “Can I still recover damages if I wasn’t wearing a helmet at the time of the motorcycle collision?”
The short answer is yes you can, but if you were not wearing a helmet during your motorcycle accident in Corpus Christi or other parts of Texas, the insurance company is likely to use this fact to undervalue your personal injury claim or deny it altogether. In these cases, seek help from an experienced Corpus Christi motorcycle accident attorney to protect your rights and help you fight for the compensation you deserve.
Texas motorcycle helmet law
Texas repealed its mandatory motorcycle helmet law in 1997. Specifically, Section 661.003, Texas Transportation Code provides that motorcyclists are not required to wear helmets while riding a bike unless they are under the age of 21.
Motorcycle helmets are optional if the rider can demonstrate evidence that:
- They have completed a motorcycle operator training and safety course; or
- They have the required medical insurance coverage that would provide them with benefits for injuries in a motorcycle crash.
Usually, when a motorcycle rider without a helmet is injured in a traffic crash and files a personal injury claim, the insurance company will determine whether the rider qualifies for the exemption to the Texas optional helmet law.
Risks of not wearing a motorcycle helmet
As long as you comply with Texas motorcycle helmet law, whether or not to wear a helmet is entirely up to you; however, it’s vital to think about your safety when riding a bike. Motorcycle riders are at greater risk for severe and catastrophic injury in the event of collisions on the road, especially if the motorcyclist is riding without a helmet, which in particular increases the risk of death.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a motorcycle helmet can reduce the risk of death by 37% and is 67% effective in preventing traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). In addition to a helmet, essential protective equipment for motorcycle riders includes:
- Armored jacket
- Back protector
Seeking compensation when you weren’t wearing a helmet
When seeking to recover damages for your injury if you were not wearing a motorcycle helmet, it’s important to understand that Texas follows the doctrine of modified comparative negligence, also known as “proportionate responsibility” under Section 33.001, Texas Transportation Code.
Under the Lone Star State’s proportionate responsibility doctrine, an injured party can only seek compensation as long as they were less than 51% at fault for their injury. Thus, the fact that you weren’t wearing a helmet during the motorcycle collision could potentially affect your damages award.
The insurance company will investigate your case and review your medical records to determine if the fact that you weren’t wearing a helmet caused or worsened your injury. In most cases, insurers will argue that a victim’s injury to the head, neck, and face could have been less serious or prevented altogether had they worn a helmet.
So if you are deemed partially at fault for contributing to your injury due to your failure to wear a helmet, your settlement award may be reduced in proportion to your degree of fault.
Common types of motorcycle injuries
Regardless of whether a motorcycle rider was wearing a helmet or not, they can suffer a number of injuries, including but not limited to:
- Head trauma or TBIs
- Back and neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Road rash
- Fractured or broken bones
- Lower-extremity injuries
- Internal bleeding
Receiving medical treatment or undergoing surgery for any of these injuries can be quite costly, which is why the injured motorcyclist may need to seek compensation for their damages and losses.
What damages are available in motorcycle accident cases?
Determining what kind of compensatory damages will be awarded in your motorcycle accident case depends on factors such as:
- The severity of your injury
- The circumstances of your accident
- Loss of income
- The cost of medical treatment and rehabilitation
- The parties’ shared/proportionate responsibility for the crash
In addition to compensatory damages, also known as economic and non-economic damages, the victim may be entitled to exemplary damages. Under Section 41.003, Texas Transportation Code, exemplary damages, which are also known as punitive damages, are awarded in cases involving malice, gross negligence, or fraud.
Give yourself the best chance at compensation with a Corpus Christi injury lawyer
If you were not wearing a helmet during a motorcycle accident in Texas, the insurance company or the at-fault driver’s lawyer might attempt to reduce the total amount of compensation or prove that you are not entitled to any damages. For this reason, it is imperative that you hire a Corpus Christi motorcycle accident attorney to fight for the best possible outcome in your case. Contact our injury lawyers at The Burkett Law Firm to review your case. Call us at (361) 882-8822 to schedule your free consultation.