Can I Sue for Injuries If I Wasn’t Wearing a Motorcycle Helmet?

It’s a proven fact that helmets save lives and prevent serious head trauma that could cause permanent disabilities. Nearly every state in the U.S. has motorcycle helmet laws. New York is one of them. In New York, both motorcycle drivers and passengers are required to wear a helmet with eye protection that has met the federal motor vehicle safety standards. In short, there is no logical reason not to wear a helmet when you ride. From a legal standpoint, not wearing a helmet can make your situation more complex. It’s best to consult an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer to sort through the liability issues.

If you did not experience head trauma

Head injuries are very common in motorcycle accidents in which the rider wasn’t wearing a helmet. In the event you’re in an accident, were not wearing your helmet, and did not suffer injuries that the helmet is designed to prevent, then the issue of helmet usage is irrelevant as it pertains to a legal claim. You can still file a lawsuit to recover compensation for your injuries if the accident was caused partially or entirely by someone else.

If you did suffer head injuries

If you did suffer head injuries in a motorcycle accident and you weren’t wearing a helmet at the time, it’s very unlikely that you’ll recover compensation for those injuries. However, it’s still possible that you may recover some compensation for other injuries. New York is a comparative negligence law. That means that even if you were responsible in part for your injuries, you can still recover some compensation.

For example, let’s say the other driver is found to have been 75% responsible for your injuries. You were found to be liable for 25% of them because you didn’t wear a helmet. You could still recover compensation for 75% of the damages.

Insurance considerations

It’s important to note that if you live in a state that requires you to wear a motorcycle helmet, such as New York, and you failed to do so, this could affect your insurance. Some insurance carriers may raise premiums when riders behave recklessly. You may also have a harder time securing a payment from the insurance company to cover damages from the accident.

What to do next

After any accident, there are certain steps you need to take. First, gather as much documentation as you can. Ideally, you should have pictures of the accident scene and damage to your bike. Take notes about the accident, such as what likely caused it, what the road conditions were like, and what you were doing immediately prior to the crash. You should also be careful to follow your doctor’s orders to the letter. Next, seek legal counsel.

Legal counsel you can count on in New York

Regardless of the particulars of your case, the best way to improve your chances of maximizing your compensation is to seek representation from a seasoned legal team. The personal injury law firm of Edelman, Krasin & Jaye serves accident victims throughout New York State. Our motorcycle accident lawyers in NYC will thoroughly investigate your case, sort through the complex liability issues, and provide aggressive legal representation in and out of the courtroom. Call us today at 1.800.469.7429 to request your case consultation.

Additional resources for accident victims:

  1. NY Department of Health, Motorcycle Helmets,
  2. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Motorcycles,