Can I File a Motorcycle Accident Claim If I Wasn’t Wearing a Helmet?

September 21, 2021
motorcycle helmet

Motorcycle accidents are responsible for a significant number of head injuries every year. Although wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of brain damage—and is required by law in many states—some riders still opt to forgo this piece of safety gear.

If you were recently involved in a motorcycle accident and you weren’t wearing a helmet at the time, you’re probably wondering if you’re entitled to file a personal injury claim. In South Carolina, not wearing a helmet does not automatically bar you from taking legal action following a wreck. It could, however, influence the proceedings.

Here’s what you should know about motorcycle accident claims and how not wearing a helmet could affect the outcome, depending on the circumstances:

If You Hurt Your Head

Since studies show motorcycle helmets reduce the risk of injury and death, those who decide not to wear one could be found partially liable for any head injury or brain damage they end up sustaining. If the party that struck you can prove your head injury would not be as severe had you been wearing a helmet, the modified comparative fault rule may come into play.

This rule as applied in South Carolina states that a plaintiff’s own negligence cannot exceed that of the defendant. If it does, the Plaintiff is barred from recovering anything at all. What’s more, if the Plaintiff is found between 1 percent and 51 percent liable, the total available compensation must be reduced accordingly.

In other words, the fact that you weren’t wearing a helmet could reduce the value of your claim considerably if you end up seeking funds for damages related to a head injury.  

If You Did Not Hurt Your Head

If you didn’t sustain any head injuries, the fact that you weren’t wearing a helmet may not impact the proceedings much, if at all. Assuming your condition would still be as severe had you been wearing a helmet, the at-fault party likely will not be able to shift a portion of blame your way (at least not when it comes to safety gear).

Should there be any disputes over the cause of the crash, however, not having worn safety gear could paint you as a bit of a reckless rider. This opens the door for the insurance adjuster to question your credibility, which may ultimately influence their final settlement offer and/or a jury verdict at trial.

While not wearing a helmet isn’t actually illegal in the state of South Carolina it is certainly recommended but as long as you’re 21 or older, you may choose to ride without one.  Based on this, an insurance adjuster and/or defense attorney won’t be able to accuse you of violating the law and, subsequently, may have a hard time using this to demonstrate a pattern of misconduct that might have contributed to the wreck. 

Speak with a South Carolina Motorcycle Accident Attorney

If you were seriously hurt in a motorcycle accident, you deserve justice, and the tireless team at Hodge & Langley Law Firm can help you seek it. Even if you weren’t wearing a helmet at the time, we may be able to put together a strong claim on your behalf, so you can pursue compensation from all liable parties. To schedule a free initial consultation with a motorcycle accident lawyer in South Carolina, complete our Contact Form or call 864-585-3873.

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