Failure to Wear a Helmet While Riding Motorcycle Could Affect Personal Injury Claim Settlement

Can the insurance company penalize my son for not wearing his helmet when they make a settlement offer on his personal injury claim? He was on a motorcycle. Thanks. Tammy B., Hagerstown

The insurance company might be able to reduce the value of your son’s claim based on his non-use of a helmet depending upon where the accident occurred. Most states require any operator and passenger on a motorcycle (minibike, scooter or the like) to wear a safety helmet, and sometimes a visor or other eye protection. However, different jurisdictions (the place where your son’s case would go to trial) take different stances on whether evidence of an injured person’s failure to wear a safety helmet is admissible in a civil trial for personal injury. This is a rapidly changing area of law, so you would need to refer to the specific laws of the state where the accident occurred and/or perhaps seek the advice of an attorney to truly be sure.

The majority of US states do not allow evidence regarding the lack of helmet to be presented, but a few do allow it based on the idea that it is relevant to the issue of damages. Often, the states that allow evidence of the non-use of seatbelts to be presented to a jury also allow evidence of the non-use of a safety helmet. Depending on the nature of your son’s injuries, a jury might be able to figure out for themselves whether or not your son was wearing his helmet anyway; whether or not this affects what the jurors might award your son is subjective as no one really ever knows what is truly on a juror’s mind. The insurance adjuster handling your son’s case would have all of these issues in mind when evaluating your son’s case.

This article is approved for informational purposes and is not intended to take the place of competent local legal counsel.

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