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If you ride a motorcycle, you should wear “all the gear, all the time.” That means fully suiting up before every ride and wearing a riding jacket, pants, gloves, boots, and most importantly, a helmet. Because motorcycles have no safety equipment, the gear you wear is your only protection if you’re involved in a crash.
However, there’s no legal responsibility to wear all of this gear when you ride. In fact, Ohio doesn’t even require riders to wear helmets after turning 18 or after their first anniversary of receiving their motorcycle licenses. However, forgoing a helmet still isn’t a wise decision, as it significantly increases your risk of a traumatic brain injury and even death during a crash.
But what happens if you’re involved in a crash that wasn’t your fault and you weren’t wearing a helmet? Can you still get compensation since you weren’t technically breaking the law?
Although riding without a helmet is extremely dangerous, it’s not illegal for most riders, nor does it contribute to a crash. It also only impacts the motorcyclists who choose to forgo that essential level of protection. That means injured riders who weren’t wearing helmets can still file personal injury claims against the parties who caused their crashes.
Note that even riders who are legally required to wear helmets, which includes riders under age 18 and those within their first year of riding, can still pursue compensation after crashes that aren’t their fault if they weren’t wearing helmets at the time of the crash. However, they may be charged with a minor misdemeanor after their crashes, which can influence the insurance company’s willingness to pay their claims.
Although there’s nothing legally preventing injured riders from getting compensation after crashes where they weren’t wearing helmets, they may run into issues with insurance companies—especially if they suffered head injuries or TBIs. That’s because adjusters may argue that their injuries are worse than they otherwise would be if they had worn a helmet.
Motorcyclists already face unfair treatment and bias from insurance companies, and their adjusters will use any bit of evidence to reduce or deny their claims. Riding without a helmet is just one of the facts that insurers use to argue that they shouldn’t have to pay full damages to injured riders, even though their injuries were caused by someone else, and may be extremely expensive or result in lifelong disability.
Ohio is a comparative negligence state. That means that even people who are partially at fault for their accidents and injuries can pursue compensation, provided their degree of fault doesn’t exceed 50%. In other words, a speeding, non-helmeted motorcyclist can still get money for their injuries, lost wages, and pain and suffering, as long as they aren’t 51% or greater at fault for their crashes.
That’s why it’s important for injured riders to always seek the advice and representation of an experienced law firm. Many riders give up before their claims even get started because insurance companies convince them they don’t have valid claims due to partial fault or lack of a helmet. But thankfully, the legal system allows many riders to pursue the compensation they need.
Although we strongly recommend that all riders wear helmets, we know that it’s up to each person to decide how much gear they wear on each ride. And regardless of their level of protection, riders shouldn’t have to bear the burden of injury-related expenses for crashes that were caused by negligent, distracted, and reckless drivers.
If you or someone you love was injured while riding your motorcycle, even if you weren’t wearing a helmet or were even partially at fault, our Ohio motorcycle accident lawyers want to help you get a fair settlement. Contact our firm today for a free consultation.
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