Motorcycle accidents can result in some of the most serious and catastrophic injuries. This is why many states, including Alabama, have universal helmet laws. In Alabama, motorcyclists of all ages are required to wear a helmet that meets the state’s specifications; including the requirements that the helmet must contain a hard, exterior shell that is made of non-shattering material, shock-absorbent padding, and a secured chinstrap.
Although wearing a helmet is mandatory for all motorcyclists in Alabama, some riders do not follow this requirement. This can make things far more complicated if they are injured in a motorcycle accident. Even if the accident was caused by the negligence of another person or party, the fact that you were not wearing a helmet will give the defense ammunition that they would not have otherwise had to argue that the accident was at least partially your fault.
The defense may not win this argument, but if they do, you may lose out on getting any compensation for your injuries. This is because of Alabama’s “contributory negligence” legal standard. Under contributory negligence, if an injured party is found to have “contributed” in any way to their injuries, even 1%, they can be barred from recovering damages. Contributory negligence is applied in almost all motorcycle accident cases, except for those which are caused by malice or willful misconduct, such as DUI.
Most other states use some form of comparative negligence, which would allow an injured party to collect damages even if they were partially at fault, with their damage award being reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault they share in the accident. In states like these, it would be much easier for a motorcyclist to recover compensation even if they were not wearing a helmet.
Because of the high bar to clear in Alabama, it is extremely important to obtain skilled legal counsel as soon as possible, so your attorney can go to work immediately to construct your case and develop the most effective legal arguments.
How Could not Wearing a Helmet affect my Motorcycle Accident Claim?
As with all personal injury claims, no two motorcycle accident cases are exactly alike. As such, your chances of recovering compensation depend largely on the specific circumstances surrounding the accident. As mentioned earlier, the defense is likely to use the fact that you were not wearing a helmet to argue that this makes you partially liable, but in most cases, helmet use is not actually related to the cause of the accident.
For example, if a car collided with your motorcycle because the driver was sending a text and he did not see you, this collision could not have been prevented if you had been wearing a helmet. With this type of case, the defense will likely make a more general credibility argument along the lines that not wearing a helmet shows that you are a careless and irresponsible rider.
The other factor that is much more relevant to helmet use is the type and severity of the injuries you suffered. In some cases, the extent of your injuries would not have been affected by wearing a helmet, while in other cases, wearing a helmet could have made a big difference.
For example, if the accident resulted in a broken arm or a broken leg, these injuries would still have happened if you had not been wearing a helmet. But if you sustained a head or neck injury, this will be a much more difficult argument to make. At the very least, the other side will argue that your injuries would not have been as severe if you’d had a helmet on. And this could make recovering compensation an uphill battle.
Contact an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Attorney in Alabama
If you or a loved one sustained an injury from a motorcycle accident that was caused by another person or party, it is important for you to speak with an attorney right away, so your case can be evaluated and you can be advised of your legal rights and options. Even if you were not wearing a helmet, you might still be able to recover compensation, depending on the specific circumstances of your case. The sooner you get in touch with us, the better the chances we will be able to help you.
Call M. Adam Jones and Associates at 334-581-9238 to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys. You may also message us through our online contact form or stop by our Dothan, AL office in person at your convenience.