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Motorcycle helmets, crashes and the question of liability

When most people get into a vehicle, the first thing they do is buckle their seat belt. That's because it's not only the law in many states, including here in Indiana, most people are aware of the fact that seat belts greatly reduce a person's risk of suffering a fatal injury in a crash. That's why, for a lot of people, wearing a seat belt is a no brainer.

But the same is not necessarily true for motorcyclists. In our state, Indiana law does not require motorcyclists over the age of 18 to wear a helmet. This seems contrary to scientific studies that show helmets significantly decrease the risk of suffering a serious or fatal head injury. And because motorcycle riders do not have the protective cage that vehicles have, wouldn't a person want to have all the protection they can get?

For some people, not wearing a helmet may seem like a negligent thing to do. Some even feel that if an individual decides not to wear a helmet and gets injured in a crash because of this decision, they should be considered partially at fault. But while an insurance company might agree with this line of reasoning, they also have to follow the law, which states that compensation may be sought by an injured individual if their fault in a crash was less than 51 percent.

Seeking compensation is sometimes the furthest thing from most people's minds after a crash because they are more concerned about recovering from their injuries and making sure that they are telling their own insurance provider what exactly happened. In fatal crashes, a victim's family might not consider seeking compensation because they are consumed by their grief.

Know though that it may be necessary to take legal action in order to seek the compensation you deserve. You don't have to do it alone though. You can get a lawyer's help, which is highly advised if you only have a basic understanding of the law.

Sources: The Governors Highway Safety Association, "Helmet Laws, Motorcycle Helmets," April 2015

The Claims Journal, "Understanding Comparative Fault, Contributory Negligence and Joint & Several Liability," Gary Wickert, Sept. 5, 2013

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