One of the best things about riding a motorcycle is the feeling of being free and unrestricted. Some riders feel that a helmet takes away that feeling, and therefore avoid wearing one. Even on short trips around your neighborhood, it’s illegal to ride without a helmet in New York State, and even more important than that, it’s always a risk that’s not worth taking.
A report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed that as recently as 2015, 36% of motorcyclists do not use DOT-Compliant helmets. If you or someone you know is one of those people, I have a few things I’d like to share with you.
Helmets lower your risk of injury
Although injuries can occur even if you’re wearing all the proper safety equipment, these precautions lower your risks dramatically. Traumatic Brain Injuries are one of the most serious injuries associated with motorcycle crashes. Multiple studies have shown that those who do not wear a helmet are twice as likely to suffer this kind of injury than those who do wear one.
According to traumaticbraininjury.com, the death rate for those sustaining this type of injury is very high. Assuming you do survive, people with this type of injury often have limited use of their arms or legs, abnormal speech or language, loss of thinking ability and emotional problems, along with other potential consequences. The impact on your life can be dramatic, possibly leaving you unable to work and in need of care. Beyond just the consequences for you, this type of injury will no doubt affect the lives of your loved ones.
Compensation is not guaranteed, you need to do your part
The obvious question that comes to mind after reading the previous section is, “Who will take care of me if I find myself dealing with this type of injury?” If you were the victim of a crash caused by someone else’s negligence, then you will likely be entitled compensation for your injuries to ensure that you and your family are taken care of.
The first question the insurance company will ask is whether or not you were wearing a helmet. They will try everything they can to point to your lack of safety precautions as being partially responsible for your injury. If you broke your arm during the crash, whether or not you were wearing a helmet will probably not factor into your case, but if you suffered a serious head injury, it will be a central point raised by the insurance company. In most cases, if it’s determined that you were not wearing the proper safety equipment, you are likely to be found partially at fault for your injuries and will therefore not receive full compensation. The insurance company will argue that your injuries would have been less serious if you had been wearing a helmet and they therefore should only be responsible to compensate you for the less serious injuries you would have likely incurred by wearing a helmet.
Wear the proper helmet
Your best hope for surviving a motorcycle crash and protecting your brain from injury is to wear the proper helmet. According to nhtsa.gov, your helmet should meet the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 218. You can look for the DOT symbol on the outside back of the helmet. A certified helmet also will have a permanent inside label identifying the manufacturer and providing information about the care and use of the helmet. Helmets meeting FMVSS 218 weigh around three pounds; have a thick polystyrene-foam lining; and sturdy chinstraps.
Some helmets also include plastic face shields that offer protection from wind, rain, insects, dust, and stones thrown up from cars. If your helmet doesn’t have a face shield, wear goggles instead of eyeglasses, which do not offer protection and can easily fall off.
While this article is focused on helmets, it’s worth reminding you that your arms and legs should be completely covered when riding a motorcycle, preferably by leather or heavy denim. Your boots or shoes should cover your ankles and you should wear gloves, which not only protect your hands, but offer a better grip.
If you’re injured in a motorcycle accident, don’t go it alone
In any accident where you sustain serious injuries, the very first thing to do is seek medical attention. This is extremely important because some serious injuries do not present symptoms immediately and things could get worse by not addressing them right away.
Once you’ve seen a doctor and you are stable, you should speak to an qualified, experienced personal injury attorney. Particularly considering the unfortunately bias against motorcyclists in our society, receiving fair compensation is often impossible on your own.
Attorney Greg Bagen is Putnam County’s most experienced personal injury attorney. Beyond that, he is a motorcycle rider himself and has been the victim of a crash caused by a negligent driver. Contact him now for your free consultation and get yourself back on the road to recovery.