Can You Sue After a Motorcycle Accident if You Weren’t Wearing a Helmet?
Georgia has a strict law that requires all motorcycle riders, both drivers and passengers, to wear helmets at all times. Whether you are age 16 or 60, you must wear a helmet that meets Department of Transportation (DOT) standards. But what happens if you get into a motorcycle accident and you aren’t wearing a helmet? Will you still have the ability to recover financial compensation for your injuries?
Georgia law follows the doctrine of modified comparative negligence. That means an injured person who is partially at fault for an accident has the right to sue another driver or potentially responsible party. However, if the injured person is found to be 50 percent or more at fault, then he or she will not be able to recover any compensation. If the victim wins compensation but is found less than 50 percent at fault, the compensation will be reduced by the percentage of fault. For example, if a jury finds you incurred $100,000 in damages but also finds you 15 percent responsible for the crash, then you would be awarded $85,000.
In motorcycle accidents where the victim wasn’t wearing a helmet, it is almost certain that he or she will be found partially at fault. This is because failing to wear a helmet in violation of the state statute can be considered negligence — not in causing the accident but in making the injuries more severe. This is especially the case when a crash victim suffers head, neck and spinal injuries.
Even if you weren’t wearing a DOT-compliant helmet, you could still be able to file a lawsuit against the other driver and receive substantial compensation. Damages that may be recovered in a motorcycle accident case include:
- Compensation for medical bills and future medical care
- Property damage to your motorcycle
- Lost wages to make up for time away from work due to the crash
- Lost future wages if you are unable to return to work
- Pain and suffering associated with your crash
However, be aware that the other driver’s insurance company and its attorneys will make a concerted effort to emphasize how your injuries were worsened by your not wearing a helmet, in order to reduce the amount you receive and/or to convince the jury that you were 50 percent or more at fault and should therefore not receive anything. You will want an experienced lawyer in your corner who can counter these arguments and obtain the money damages you deserve.
The Law Office of S. Mark Mitchell, LLC in Newnan, Georgia is experienced in helping injured motorcyclists win financial compensation. I would be happy to meet with you and explain your legal options. Schedule a free initial consultation by calling 470-344-8550 or contact me online anytime.