Motorcycle Accidents: Can I Sue if I Was Not Wearing My Helmet?

December 7, 2020 Accident

Motorcycle Accidents: Can I Sue if I Was Not Wearing My Helmet?

Yes, even if you were not wearing a helmet, you are entitled under Louisiana law to bring a claim and/or file a personal injury lawsuit if you were injured in a Louisiana motorcycle accident. Indeed, if the accident was caused by another person, we here at Mansfield, Melancon, Cranmer & Dick LLC believe the wrongdoers should be brought into court to answer for their misconduct. As such, we absolutely recommend that you bring insurance claims and/or sue if you have been the innocent victim of a Louisiana motorcycle accident, even if you were not wearing a helmet. The amount of money damages that you could be awarded might be reduced, but that depends on the unique circumstances of your case. Your recovery might not be reduced at all. Most importantly, you still have a right to sue, and it is highly unlikely that your recovery would be reduced to zero.

Louisiana is one of many states with a mandatory helmet law. That is, all motorcycle riders and passengers are required to wear a helmet when riding. That being said, statistics show that, for many years, about 15% of Louisiana motorcycle accidents involved riders who were NOT wearing their helmets. See helmet wearing stats here. That would be a lot of Louisiana citizens unable to recover their medical bills, for example, if not wearing a helmet prevented any sort of recovery.

Louisiana auto accidents and motorcycle accidents are a type of personal injury case. These cases are covered by the laws of negligence. Generally, the person or business that causes an accident must pay money damages to victims of their wrongdoing. However, many accidents have multiple causes. Louisiana has a law that requires that all those at fault pay their percentage share of fault. This applies to the victims, too, if they were partly at fault. This is commonly called Louisiana’s “comparative fault” statute. See La. Civ. Code § 2323. The statute requires that a jury determine the percentage of the victim’s fault and that the judge reduce a victim’s recovery by the percentage of their fault. So, for example, if the jury finds that a victim is 10% “at fault” and awards $500,000 as damages, then the judge will reduce the award by 10%.

Comparative fault applies to the cause of the accident AND to the cause of the injury. Sometimes, not wearing a helmet has NO effect on either. In those cases, there is no reduction of the judgment awarded. Imagine an accident where a car runs a red light and hits a biker who was not wearing a helmet. The biker suffers a broken leg. In that scenario, factually, not wearing a helmet was irrelevant to the cause of the accident OR to the cause of the injury. Put another way, if the biker had been wearing a helmet, his or her leg would STILL have been broken. Under the unique facts of that hypothetical, the comparative fault statute would not be applied. By contrast, assume the biker in our hypothetical suffered an injury to his or her head. NOW, failure to wear a helmet can be seen as a partial cause of the injury (even though it was not part of the cause of the accident itself).

So, as said, do not discard your right to sue and/or bring an insurance claim just because you were not wearing a helmet.

Mansfield Melancon Attorneys can Help

If you have been injured in a Louisiana motorcycle crash, contact the Louisiana motorcycle accident attorneys at Mansfield, Melancon, Cranmer & Dick LLC. We have proven experience with many types of car accidents and personal injury cases. Contact us by calling one of our offices: New Orleans at (504) 500-1108, Baton Rouge at (225) 612-0800, or Lafayette at (337) 409-0003. You can also request a free consultation by using our “Contact Us” page.