Louisiana is one of 19 states in the nation with a universal helmet law that requires anyone who rides a motorcycle to wear a helmet, with few exceptions.
That is why many riders are unsure about whether they can obtain compensation after a motorcycle crash if they were not wearing a helmet. You might think that the helmet law allows insurance companies to deny claims from riders who were not wearing helmets, even if the crash was caused by someone else’s negligence. You may also be wondering if the law prohibits you from filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Below, the Baton Rouge motorcycle accident lawyers at Simien & Simien cover what you need to know about the helmet law and how not wearing a helmet could affect your recovery in an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.
If you were injured in a motorcycle crash and you were not wearing a helmet, contact us to discuss your legal options. We have detailed knowledge of Louisiana motorcycle laws and may still be able to pursue financial compensation on your behalf.
Louisiana Helmet Law
Wearing a motorcycle helmet can dramatically improve your chances of survival if you are involved in a crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that helmets prevent about 37 percent of deaths and nearly 67 percent of brain injuries.
That is one of the reasons Louisiana has a universal helmet law. This statute requires all operators and passengers on motorcycles to wear a helmet that is manufactured for motorcycle riders. The helmet must be secured by a chin strap while the vehicle is in motion and must have lining, padding and a visor.
There are two exceptions to this requirement:
Police in a town, city, village or parish can allow members of organizations that are sponsoring, conducting or participating in parades or public exhibitions to not wear helmets while participating in the parade or exhibition.
The law does not apply to a motorist if the vehicle has supports that meet the standard for a safety helmet, roll bar or roll cage. A roll bar or roll cage means supports that can bear the weight of the vehicle and can protect occupants while the vehicle is resting on those supports.
The commissioner may establish other specifications that must be followed and if any are violated you can be fined $50 if you are convicted.
How Your Compensation Could Be Reduced
The helmet statute does not prohibit an attorney from filing an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit over your accident.
However, Louisiana’s comparative fault law could cause your claim to be denied or your compensation award to be reduced. This law says that if you suffer an injury that is partially a result of your own negligence, your compensation award must be reduced by your percentage of fault. This means that if it is determined that you are 40 percent at fault for an accident and you sustained $100,000 worth of damages, the most you would be able to recover is $60,000.
Insurance companies and juries may assign fault if you were not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. However, as long as you are not 100 percent at fault for your injuries, you could be entitled to compensation.
Unfortunately, insurance companies are always looking for any reason to deny or devalue your claim and if you were not wearing a helmet they may decide to deny your claim altogether, even if another party is partially at fault.
This is why you should always wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle. It gives the insurance company one less thing to try to use against you in the claims process.
You should also work with an attorney on your claim if you were not wearing a helmet. A trusted lawyer knows how to build a strong case and work to try to make sure you are not assigned more fault for the crash than you deserve, even if you were not wearing a helmet.
Contact an Attorney for Help with Your Motorcycle Accident Claim
After a motorcycle accident, you need all the compensation that you can get, especially if you were seriously injured. Severe injuries are more likely in situations when you are not wearing a helmet.
The skilled motorcycle accident attorneys at Simien & Simien can conduct a thorough investigation into your claim to determine whether you have the right to recover compensation for your injuries and whether your recovery will be reduced because you were not wearing a helmet.
A Baton Rouge personal injury lawyer from our firm can provide a free consultation so that we can learn about your claim and you can learn about your legal options. We work on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you will not owe us anything unless we recover on your claim.