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Motorcycle Helmet Use in Texas and Comparative Negligence

Posted on Tuesday, November 13th, 2018 at 12:12 pm    

Texas, like some other states, now has a more permissive law on motorcycle helmet use than it once had. Texas repealed compulsory helmet use back in 1977 which was only 2 years after a federal law imposed the restriction on states in order to incentivize the funding of highway construction.

The present law in Texas still makes helmet use by motorcyclists theoretically compulsory, but there are exemptions for anyone 21 and over who has health insurance or has completed mandatory motorcycle training. As this training is essential to get a motorcycle license in Texas it means that anyone over 21 who has a motorcycle license can choose to not wear a helmet.

The fact that wearing a helmet saves lives and in particular it helps to reduce the severity of traumatic brain injury doesn’t necessarily stop riders from not wearing a helmet. So, what happens if a motorcyclist is hit by another motor vehicle and is thrown from the machine and injured?

Wearing a helmet is unlikely to prevent accidents from happening. Not all accidents end up with the motorcycle rider hitting the ground on their head. Some motorcyclists are injured through their own negligence. However, it would be hard to argue that motorcycle riding is inherently safe. It is not. In fact, riding a motorcycle, however exhilarating it might be, is reportedly 27 times as dangerous as driving or being driven in a car or other 4 wheel vehicle. Not wearing a helmet does definitely put the rider at risk of serious brain injury if he or she is thrown to the ground head first.

Riding a motorcycle, with or without a helmet, is inherently dangerous

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) records, there were 443 fatal accidents involving motorcycles in 2015 in Texas, and 231 of these fatalities were riders who were not wearing helmets. Motorcycle riders, when hit by another road user, tend to be thrown over the handlebars and land on their head, even if the blow is a glancing one. The impact can mean serious head injuries and TBI. This could lead to long term disability and the need for substantial financial support. Theoretically, the rider may have the right to sue the driver of the vehicle that hit him or her if the fault lay with the other vehicle. However, despite the fact that wearing a helmet is not compulsory for those who are 21 and over in Texas, the fact that the injured rider was not wearing a helmet at the time of a crash could significantly affect the chance of obtaining compensation.

Motorcycle helmet use and comparative negligence

Texas has a modified comparative negligence rule which could prevent or limit the right to obtain compensation through a personal injury claim after an accident between a motorcycle rider and another road user. The rule allows an injured accident victim claim compensation if the degree of fault is less than 50%. The amount of compensation after that is decided on a proportional basis. For example, if a motorcycle rider is 60% at fault, he or she will not receive any compensation at all under Texas comparative negligence rules. However, if the rider was judged to be only 20% at fault, then he or she may receive 80% of the amount claimed.

If you have any questions about your motorcycle accident, especially if you think you may be unfairly be dealt with by an insurer, talk to a motorcycle accident attorney at our San Antonio Lawyer’s office here in San Antonio. The contact number is 833-210-4878.