When you ride a motorcycle, you are aware that motorcycle accidents can be devastating. The difference in size and weight between motorcycles and other vehicles can lead to particularly severe injuries. Many organizations recommend that wearing a proper helmet is the best way to minimize these injuries, but what are your legal obligations regarding motorcycle helmets? And how will compliance with those rules come into play if you are in an accident?
Although there are generally applicable rules every motorcyclist should be aware of, an attorney with experience in Leander motorcycle helmet laws can help provide more detailed information about how these rules apply in your specific context.
In Leander, the general motorcycle helmet law set forth in Texas Transportation Code § 661.003 will apply. This rule requires every rider under the age of 21 to wear a helmet that meets the safety standards set forth by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Motorcyclists 21 and older are exempt from the helmet rule when they meet certain requirements. In order to be eligible for the exemption, the rider must have health insurance that will cover medical expenses in the case of an accident or have passed a motorcycle safety course that meets the requirements set forth in Texas Transportation Code Chapter 662. These same rules apply to any passenger on a motorcycle as well.
When anyone rides a motorcycle without a helmet in violation of these laws, they can be charged with a misdemeanor and fined between $10 and $50. However, according to Texas Transportation Code § 661.003(c-1), law enforcement cannot pull a motorcyclist over only to check if the rider or their passenger meets the health insurance or safety course requirements.
The penalties for violating the motorcycle helmet laws discussed above may not be stringent enough on their own to encourage Leander motorcyclists to wear compliant protective gear. Yet the interaction of those laws with state comparative fault rules can have an impact on riders injured in a crash.
Any person who sues another for causing their injuries does not automatically get to recover the full amount of compensation for their losses. Instead, the jury determines whether the injured person had any responsibility for the accident that led to their injuries—either in causing the accident or not taking proper steps to lessen the extent of their loss. When the jury determines the injured person did have some responsibility, their recovery will be reduced in proportion to their fault.
For example, a jury may find an injured person suffered losses of $100,000 in a car accident but also find the injured person 40 percent responsible for causing the accident. In that case, the injured person would receive only $60,000.
In addition, Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 33.001 provides that the injured person cannot recover at all when the level of their proportionate responsibility for the accident is more than 50 percent.
A jury could find that the motorcyclist’s injuries would have been less severe if the rider had been wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. In that case, the jury might assign the rider some proportion of fault for their injuries—even when the other driver caused the wreck. That fault will reduce the compensation the motorcyclist could recover, and it may eliminate their ability to be paid compensation for their injuries altogether.
When you have been injured in a motorcycle accident through the negligence of another driver, you deserve to receive compensation for your injuries.
Working with a lawyer who has experience with Leander motorcycle helmet laws can help you fight to get the maximum amount you deserve. Contact us today to discuss your case and file your claim for compensation.