Yes. Motorcycle helmets save lives. The research on this matter is simply overwhelming. Do not take any risks with your health and well-being. You should always wear a Department of Transportation (DOT) approved safety helmet every time you get on a motorcycle.
Here, our top-rated Washington motorcycle accident attorneys provide an overview of the research on motorcycle helmet safety, discuss Washington’s law on helmet use, and explain your rights and options if you get into a crash while not wearing a helmet.
Motorcycle Helmet Safety: The Data
Motorcycle Helmets Reduce Brain Injuries
To start, motorcycle helmets reduce the risk of head injuries—including facial injuries and traumatic brain injuries. According to a comprehensive study published by the National Institute of Health (NIH), a statistical analysis of decades worth of crash data found that motorcycle helmets reduce the risk of head injuries by nearly 70 percent.
The rate of motorcycle helmet use in a state is strongly correlated with a reduction in crash-related head injuries, brain injuries, and facial injuries. The more riders that wear a helmet, the fewer riders end up in the emergency room with a serious head injury or brain injury. This is an important finding. There is no such thing as a minor traumatic brain injury (TBI). Even a moderate concussion can have adverse long-term ramifications.
Motorcycle Helmets Save Lives
Beyond protecting riders and passengers from brain injuries, motorcycle helmets also save lives. Based on the best estimates from public health researchers, wearing a motorcycle helmet will reduce your risk of being killed in a motorcycle collision by nearly 42 percent. To put that number into perspective, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that motorcycle helmets saved 1,859 lives in 2016 alone. In other words, between 40 and 50 people survive motorcycle accidents in Washington state every year simply because they are wearing motorcycle helmets. Many hundreds more motorcyclists in the state escape traumatic brain injuries because of a helmet. Do not take any chances with your life.
Washington’s Motorcycle Helmet Law
It should be noted that our state requires all motorcyclists to wear approved safety helmets. Under Washington law (RCW 46.37.530), both riders and their passengers must wear a helmet whenever on public roads. Unlike some other states, age is not a factor. All riders are covered by this statute. Violators are subject to a fine. If you do not have a motorcycle helmet, a state or local police officer can pull you over and issue a ticket. In early 2019, a bill was introduced in the legislature seeking to repeal Washington’s motorcycle helmet safety regulations. However, to this point, that bill has not made significant progress and it is not expected to become law.
What Happens If You Get Into a Motorcycle Crash Without a Helmet?
If you fail to wear a helmet and you are involved in a motorcycle wreck, it could impair your ability to recover financial compensation for the complete value of your damages. Why? The answer is because Washington is a comparative negligence jurisdiction (RCW 4.22.005). As such, parties will be held liable for their “share of the blame” for a victim’s injuries. If you violated your obligations to protect your own health, you could be deemed partially at fault for contributing to your own damages.
An injured motorcyclist who did not have a helmet on may be held partially liable for their own injuries. Indeed, When a motorcyclist fails to wear a helmet and suffers a head injury, they should expect that an opposing insurance company will try to use that as an excuse to reduce the value of a settlement offer. It might work. Not wearing a helmet could result in a rider only making a partial recovery for their losses.
That being said, there are many exceptions and these are highly complicated. To be clear, not wearing a helmet does not mean you are legally barred from bringing a personal injury claim. You can still bring a claim against a negligent defendant and their insurance company. Call an experienced motorcycle accident attorney for more information.
Discuss Your Case With Our Washington Motorcycle Accident Lawyers Today
At Premier Law Group, our Washington motorcycle accident attorneys are strong, aggressive advocates for clients. If you or your loved one was hurt in a motorcycle collision, we are here to help. To set up a free, completely confidential review of your personal injury claim, please contact our law firm right away. With offices in Bellevue, Seattle, Renton, and Federal Way, we represent motorcycle accident victims throughout the region.