One of the most challenging cases for an Atlanta motorcycle accident attorney is when the victim was not wearing a helmet. This is a serious issue – because it is against the law. But does this aspect invalidate your right to seek compensation if a driver hit you?
While it is not easy to win a fair compensation, it is not impossible. Motorcycle accident victims usually suffer extensive injuries, because their vehicle does not offer them any protection. Also, the fact that you were not wearing a helmet does not cancel the driver’s negligence and liability to compensate you for your economic and non-economic damages. However, you will need to rely on experienced motorcycle accident lawyers in Georgia to build a strong case in your favor, despite the fact that you were also breaking traffic laws by not wearing a helmet.
Georgia Motorcycle Helmet Laws and Regulations
Before we discuss ways in which an Atlanta motorcycle accident lawyer can help you, let us take a look at Georgia laws for motorcyclists. Our state has one of the strictest helmet laws across the US. Section 40-6-315 of Georgia Code states that “no person shall operate or ride upon a motorcycle unless he or she is wearing protective headgear”.
Thus, even a motorbike passenger who was injured in a motorcycle accident will have some difficulties in winning a fair compensation if they were not wearing a helmet. Moreover, the respective helmet must meet the requirements set by the US Department of Transportation in the Code of Federal Regulations Standard no. 218.
Thus, an approved motorcycle helmet must have the DOT sticker and meet the following conditions:
- The helmet must fully cover the head
- The inner lining must be made from polystyrene and at least 1 inch thick
- The helmet must weigh at least 3 pounds
- The helmet must have solid chin straps attached with rivets
- The helmet must not have any attachments extending two-lengths of an inch or more beyond the shell.
Consequences of Not Wearing a Helmet for Your Motorcycle Accident Case
These being said, how does the fact that you were not wearing a helmet affect your case. Motorcycle accident lawyers in Georgia know that the most important implications are:
1. The Effect of the Comparative Fault Principle on Your Case
In Georgia, you must be less than 50% at fault for your accident in order to be eligible to file a claim. Thus, an insurance adjuster will try to make the most of the fact that you were not wearing a helmet.
This is especially the case if your most severe injuries are to the head – skull fracture, traumatic brain injury – or to the neck. The adjuster will claim that the injury is a direct result of the fact that you failed to wear a motorcycle helmet.
However, your Atlanta motorcycle accident attorney will point out that you would not have sustained any injuries if the negligent driver would not have collided with your motorcycle.
2. The Apportionment of Damages if the Victim Is Partly at Fault
Even if you are eligible to file a claim, you may not collect all your damages caused by a motorcycle accident if you were partly at fault. The contributory fault principle also states that a person’s total damages shall be reduced by their percentage of fault for the crash.
This can have a significant impact on how much money you are eligible to recover. Let’s say that your lawyer calculates your total damages at $100,000 after a severe motorcycle accident. However, the fact that you did not wear a helmet and other factors make you 40% at fault for the accident. Thus, $40,000 of the damages will be deducted and you will collect only $60,000.
3. The Perception of the Jury in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Insurance companies will put up a big fight if they find out that the motorcycle accident victim did not wear a helmet. Some of them will refuse to settle, hoping to win the case in court. In general, motorcycle riders have a bad rap: they are perceived as careless and reckless and breaking traffic rules.
The fact that you broke the motorcycle law is proof of this. Thus, the lawyer representing the insurance company will try to put you in the worst light possible. In the end, it all depends on whether the jury is sympathetic to your suffering or believing that you recklessly put yourself at risk by not wearing a helmet.
What You Must Do After a Motorcycle Accident
Since you were not wearing a helmet, the odds are already against you. Thus, it is crucial to play by all the rules after a crash.
As any Atlanta motorcycle accident attorney knows, this means:
1. Calling 9-1-1
You must report the accident to the police and seek medical attention as soon as possible after the accident. You may have suffered very serious injuries that need immediate medical care. Also, your lawyer must be able to prove that you sustained these severe injuries in the crash, not elsewhere.
The initial medical report prepared by the EMT crew will definitely tie the injuries to the accident scene. Also, the police report will establish the circumstances of the crash in a professional and unbiased manner.
2. Documenting the Accident Scene
Every little element at the accident scene tells a story. Skid marks show that the car driver braked suddenly – maybe they were speeding, distracted or not maintaining a safe distance. A bump in the front grille of the car means you suffered a rear end accident.
All the photos of these elements that you take represent the most powerful argument in your favor. They can prove that, even though you were negligent by not wearing a helmet, the driver was even more negligent in causing your motorcycle accident.
3. Hiring an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Law Firm
The team of motorcycle accident lawyers in Georgia at Diaz & Gaeta is not afraid to accept challenging and difficult cases. Other attorneys only take sure-win cases. But we believe that every person deserves justice and a fair compensation, even if they were partly at fault for their accident.
We will not give you false hopes and unrealistic expectations. This is why we offer you a free initial consultation, where you will discuss with an experienced attorney who will explain your chances. You have nothing to lose, so schedule your consultation as soon as possible after your accident: 678-329-9084!