Around half of cyclists nationwide report that they use a helmet on a regular basis. That, of course, means that the other half don’t. In fact, only one state, Washington, has laws that require riders of all ages to wear a helmet.
When someone is injured in a bike accident, they wonder if not wearing a helmet will affect their claim for compensation.
No Helmet and Liability
The first rule in liability for a personal injury case is that the injured person must prove that the alleged at-fault driver was negligent. This is done by producing evidence that the driver operated the vehicle in a careless manner so that others couldn’t proceed in safety.
Once this is proven, then the fight will be over how much compensation should be awarded. However, what about negligence on the part of the injured? Don’t they have a responsibility to make sure they are as safe as possible? After all, what if it was proven that the person wouldn’t have been injured or killed if he or she had been wearing a helmet?
These are great questions, and the answer lies in the nature of a civil law suit and the laws of that state. In Pennsylvania, there is no law that requires adults to wear helmets. The law does require that children 11 and under wear one, but no one else.
But Pennsylvania also has a law that divides the percentage of negligence between the parties in a civil personal injury suit. It’s called comparative negligence.
In earlier times, all states followed the “common law” regarding negligence which was if the injured person was at fault—even a slight amount—then he or she couldn’t get compensation from the other driver even if he or she was more negligent.
Today only a handful of states still use the contributory negligent rule, and the rest use some variation of the comparative negligence rule. This divides up the monetary damage to each party based on their percentage of fault.
However, never assume that you are partially responsible for your injuries without speaking to an experienced attorney.
What About those Under Eleven?
When the injured person is required by law to wear a helmet, one might think then they shouldn’t be able to collect in a civil case if they broke the law. However, that’s not the way the laws of negligence work.
In Pennsylvania there is a law that says any criminal conviction or ticket can’t be used to prove that someone was automatically negligent. This cuts both ways. It helps the at-fault driver because it requires that the injured person prove that they were negligent.
However, it also helps the injured because a no-helmet ticket or violation of the helmet law can’t be used in civil court to prove that the injured person was automatically negligent for not wearing a helmet.
Should I get an Attorney?
The insurance company is likely going to say that you can’t collect—or that you can’t get very much—if you are injured while not wearing your helmet. This is not the law, but insurance companies don’t stay wealthy if they pay out the maximum on every claim.
They are counting on you to not talk to an attorney so they can pay you less than you deserve or maybe even none at all. Talk to an experienced Philadelphia Bicycle Accident Lawyer today in a free consultation so you can be advised of the law and your rights.
Contact the Pearce Law Firm, P.C., to talk to an experienced attorney today. Don’t suffer alone and leave it to an insurance agent to determine what compensation you deserve for your injuries.