Yes, you can hold a negligent driver responsible for your injuries in a motorcycle crash, even if you were not wearing a helmet.
However, the amount of compensation you receive could be reduced if it's determined that not wearing a helmet contributed to the seriousness of your injuries. We explain why this is the law in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts’ Universal Helmet Law
As of 2020, Massachusetts is one of only 19 states to require that all motorcycle riders and passengers—regardless of age or type of motorcycle—wear a helmet. While other states have backed off on helmet laws in favor of personal freedoms for people over 18, the Massachusetts helmet law has withstood arguments of right to privacy, due process, and equal protection in court.
Riders can be ticketed and fined for not wearing helmets, and their insurance rates will go up. If the accident occurred while they didn't have helmets on, they can also be assigned blame for their injuries.
How Comparative Negligence Plays a Role
Under Massachusetts comparative negligence law, the extent to which an injured party contributed to the cause of the crash will be considered. For example, if a motorcyclist was speeding when another car ran a red light and hit him, the rider may be found to be partially to blame for the crash. If the injured rider is found to be less than 51 percent at fault, he could still be compensated, but his settlement would be reduced by the percentage of fault he's assigned.
Since helmets are required by law in Massachusetts, if a rider is injured in a crash and wasn't wearing a helmet, it could be decided that he contributed to his injuries. This assessment shouldn't be made if the rider avoided face, head, or neck injuries, but the insurance company for the at-fault driver may still try to reduce its liability by claiming comparative negligence.
How a Motorcycle Accident Attorney Can Help
It’s hard enough for motorcycle riders to be taken seriously in accident claims, but when a victim didn't have on a helmet at the time of the crash, it's even more challenging for him to get the compensation he deserves.
This is why it’s crucial to speak to a personal injury attorney who handles motorcycle accident cases. Consult with Mahaney & Pappas, LLP, in a free, no-obligation consultation to find out if we can help you get the compensation you need to recover from your serious motorcycle accident injuries. Call or fill out our contact form today.