A motorcycle helmet should not fundamentally affect your motorcycle accident case. If a motorist causes a collision with you, you can hold the motorist financially liable for your damages—regardless of whether you wore a helmet.
Even so, insurers and liable parties can use a motorcyclist’s lack of a helmet against them. An experienced lawyer will combat any false argument that you forfeit your right to compensation because you weren’t wearing a helmet.
If you were in a motorcycle accident someone else caused, you deserve fair compensation—it is that simple. You will only get it if you hire a motorcycle accident lawyer in New Jersey.
Why You May Still Deserve Compensation Even if You Didn’t Wear a Motorcycle Helmet
The fact that you were not wearing a helmet (if, in fact, you were not wearing a helmet) does not mean you cannot receive compensation for your motorcycle accident. Your lack of a helmet may not even reduce the sum of money you deserve because:
Helmets Are Not Legally Required
Motorcycle helmet laws vary from state to state. In many states, motorcyclists over a certain age (often 17, 18, or 20) can choose whether to wear a helmet. If your state gave you the right to ride without a helmet, your decision should not affect your right to compensation.
Helmets Do Not Always Prevent Injury
While helmets can prevent or lessen injuries, a helmet may not prevent all injuries or save a person’s life.
Several serious injuries are completely unrelated to helmets, including:
- Neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
- Internal injuries below the neck
- Scarring below the neck
- Amputation injuries
There is no logical reason for a defendant to mention your helmet use, for example, if you are seeking compensation for a broken arm.
Were It Not for Liable Parties’ Negligence, the Question of a Helmet Would Not Matter
Whether you wore a helmet may not matter. Even if it does, it is far less relevant than this question: Who caused the accident?
If someone else caused the accident, they should pay for most of your accident-related damages. While the defendant may argue that your lack of a helmet made your injuries worse, the fact remains—were it not for the defendant’s negligence, you wouldn’t need to discuss injuries at all.
Some States Prevent Defendants From Mentioning Your Helmet Use During Legal Proceedings
While many states permit insurance companies (or other defendants) to mention a rider’s non-use of a helmet, some states do not. Therefore, liable parties may not mention whether or not you used a helmet. This can render their attempt to deprive you of a settlement or judgment completely moot.
A Lawyer Will Not Let Liable Parties Hold Your Lack of a Helmet Against You
When the topic of your helmet arises in the context of an insurance claim or lawsuit:
- The parties who bring it up are an insurance company or a civil defense lawyer
- The parties who bring it up want to deprive you of money (while saving themselves money)
- You should prepare for these attempts to hold your lack of a helmet against you
Hiring a lawyer is one of the clearest ways to prepare yourself for allegations that you caused your own injuries by not wearing a helmet.
A lawyer will combat all bad-faith attempts that you may face, including:
- Claims that you might not have suffered injuries if you had worn a helmet: Your lawyer can argue against these claims. Your attorney may even employ doctors, traffic accident experts, and other professionals to make a science-based argument in your favor.
- Attempts to avoid paying medical bills and other expenses: Liable parties may have specific damages they seek to avoid paying. For example, if you needed surgery for a severe head injury, liable parties may seek to place the surgery's cost on you. Your lawyer will argue that liable parties must cover all accident-related damages, including medical bills.
- Lowball settlement offers: Liable parties may offer you compensation, but significantly less compensation than you deserve. Your attorney will respond to these lowball settlement offers by demanding more money.
Insurance companies may try these bad-faith tactics even when motorcyclists wear helmets. If there is any excuse for an insurer to blame you (which riding without a helmet allows), you can expect an insurer to latch onto that excuse.
Defending Your Choice Not to Wear a Helmet May Not Be Easy
You might even acknowledge that wearing a helmet can help lessen or avoid an injury. However, there may be specific legal arguments that render this point irrelevant.
Do you know these arguments?
A lawyer will. Your lack of a helmet should not be the focus. The motorist’s negligence is the focus. Let a lawyer use their experience and legal training to keep the focus of your case where it should be.
Motorcycle accident attorneys make arguments that are:
- Proven to work through years of legal practice
- Evidence- and fact-based
- Difficult for insurance companies and civil defense lawyers to argue against
Let a lawyer do their job for you. There is no substitute for legal experience and training. Access these benefits for the sake of your case and your future.
Recoverable Damages for Motorcycle Accident Victims
One of your lawyer’s prime focuses will be your accident-related damages. They will not be concerned about whether or not you wore a helmet. Instead, they will simply measure the total cost of your accident, which may include:
The economic cost of a serious traffic accident can be high, and medical bills are a notable portion of that cost.
Your financial costs (and medical costs) can be substantially more than this average figure and may result from:
- Ambulance transport from the accident scene
- Emergency medical attention
- Medical imaging (such as X-rays)
- Specialist appointments
Every accident victim’s healthcare needs differ, so every victim faces different medical bills after a motorcycle collision. Your attorney will identify the exact cost of your medical bills and seek fair compensation from liable parties.
Motorcycle Repairs and Other Property Expenses
Your attorney will value all property expenses related to your accident, which may include:
- The cost of repairing your motorcycle
- The cost of replacing a totaled motorcycle
- The replacement value of your cell phone, clothing, and other damaged property
- The cost of temporary transportation when you are without your motorcycle
Your attorney may consult automotive professionals to calculate vehicle repair or replacement costs.
Pain and Suffering
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Emotional anguish
- Lost quality of life
- Scarring and disfigurement (and accompanying self-esteem issues)
- Substance abuse issues
- Sleep problems
- Chronic pain
Each accident victim responds differently to the fear and pain that accidents generally cause. A lawyer can pair you with a mental health expert who will diagnose your conditions, recommend treatment, and help calculate the cost of mental healthcare.
Mental Health Treatment
If you choose to take medication, undergo counseling, or receive any other treatment for pain and suffering, your lawyer will include the cost of your treatment in your case.
Motorcycle accident victims often miss work following their collisions.
As a result, you may lose:
- Income (salary or income)
- The opportunity to earn bonuses
- Progress towards promotions
- Earning power
The longer you cannot work, the more costly your professional damages will become. Your attorney may consult an economist to calculate how much your professional damages have cost (and may cost in the future).
If any of your accident-related injuries are disabling, you may need:
- Medical equipment (possibly including a costly electric wheelchair)
- An in-home caregiver
- Improvements to your home (such as wheelchair ramps and handrails)
- A vehicle that accommodates a wheelchair
- Lifelong financial assistance if you are unable to work again
Disabilities can also cause significant pain and suffering. Your lawyer will account for the toll of any disabling injuries you suffered.
A Wrongful Death
If your loved one passed away from injuries suffered during a motorcycle accident, you have paid the ultimate price.
A lawyer will seek compensation to get justice for you and your loved ones.
The financial recovery should account for:
- Funeral costs
- Burial costs
- Your pain and suffering
- The decedent’s pain and suffering
- Loss of a spouse’s companionship
- Loss of a parent’s guidance
- Loss of the decedent’s income
- Loss of the decedent’s household contributions
Wrongful death lawyers handle motorcycle accident lawsuits for those grieving a loved one’s passing. This ensures loved ones can work through their loss without worrying about the legal process.
What Does a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Do for Their Client?
A motorcycle accident attorney will take the entirety of your case off your hands.
Your insurance claim or lawsuit may be a months-long (or years-long) process with many demands, including:
Handling All Case-Related Communications
Your lawyer will communicate with insurance companies, experts, civil defense attorneys, court officials, and anyone else involved in your case. By overseeing all communications, your lawyer will ensure nobody violates your rights.
Securing Evidence from the Motorcycle Accident
Your attorney will secure all useful evidence, which may include:
- Video footage of the accident
- Eyewitness testimony about how the collision occurred
- The police report detailing the collision
- Photographs of the accident scene
- An expert’s reconstruction of the accident
If any other evidence can help build your case, your lawyer will secure it and include it in your claim or lawsuit.
Identifying All Liable Parties
Those who you may hold liable for a motorcycle accident include:
- A motor vehicle driver
- A motor vehicle manufacturer
- A motorcycle manufacturer
- Those responsible for dangerous road conditions (which may be a municipality)
- Any other party whose negligence contributes to a motorcycle collision
Your lawyer will identify every party with liability for your accident, and more than one person or organization may have financial liability for your damages.
Your lawyer will calculate the monetary value of your accident-related damages.
Your lawyer will also document these damages using:
- Medical bills and records
- Proof of lost income
- Experts’ diagnoses of your mental health symptoms
- Invoices for vehicle repairs and other property-related costs
- Any other proof of accident-related harm
Your attorney will secure all available documentation to prove the cost of your motorcycle accident.
Fighting for a Settlement
Experienced lawyers are seasoned negotiators, and your lawyer will demand that liable parties pay you fairly.
Completing a Trial
If your lawyer does not secure a fair settlement offer from liable parties, they should be ready to take your case to court. They may complete a final round of negotiations before proceeding to trial and may appeal for a jury to award you the compensation you deserve.
Hire a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer as Soon as Possible
Attorneys generally have deadlines for filing motorcycle accident cases, so don’t wait to find and hire a motorcycle accident lawyer.