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Can You Bring a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit Even if You Weren’t Wearing a Helmet?

Riding Motorcycle With No Helmet

Motorcycle accidents can result in severe and devastating injuries, since there is nothing to protect a motorcycle rider from impact with the road, other vehicles or stationary objects during an accident. Wearing a helmet is required by law and may reduce the chances of a serious injury or fatality, but does a rider’s failure to wear one affect the right to bring a lawsuit to be compensated for injuries?

New Jersey’s no-fault insurance law does not apply to motorcycles, so recovering damages usually requires proving negligence by another party to the accident. Whether or not a motorcyclist was wearing a helmet often has no bearing on how the accident occurred or who was responsible for causing it. Accidents can happen due to a wide variety of factors ranging from another driver’s recklessness to their failure to observe the motorcycle on the road.

The fact that you failed to wear a helmet at the time of the accident will not bar you from seeking financial recovery from other drivers at fault. When it comes to determining liability, New Jersey follows the rule of modified comparative negligence. As long as a motorcyclist is less than 51 percent at fault for the motorcycle accident, they can still recover compensation in a lawsuit, though the amount they are able to obtain is reduced by their percentage of fault.

However, this same rule also applies to the cause and extent of injuries in a crash. Since New Jersey law requires that protective helmets be worn by all motorcycle operators and riders, defense lawyers in a personal injury action will likely argue that your injuries would not have been as severe if you had been wearing a helmet. This could result in a finding that you were 51 percent or more to blame for your injuries. Even if not, your damages can still be reduced based on the degree to which your injuries were caused or worsened by lack of a helmet.

The comparative negligence argument is commonly raised when an accident results in head injuries. These may include:

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Concussion
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage
  • Epidural hemorrhage
  • Subdural hemorrhage
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Paralysis

If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, you should have an experienced attorney on your side who can help you obtain the maximum compensation you and your loved ones deserve.

Kevin T. Kutyla, Esq. has been providing skilled advocacy and knowledgeable counsel for clients in Sussex and Morris counties and throughout New Jersey for more than 25 years. The firm’s office is conveniently located in Succasunna at 15 Commerce Boulevard, just off Route 10. To schedule a consultation, call 973-940-8970 or contact us online.


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