Motorcycle accidents have been on the rise in recent years. The increasing number of distracted drivers on the roadways puts riders at the mercy of motorists who cannot seem to stay off of their cell phones. This leads to more and more accidents that are totally unnecessary; and we know that when a motorcycle rider is involved in an accident, they are 26 times more likely to be severely injured or killed.
In addition to distracted driving, there are a number of other reasons motorcycle accidents occur. Some of the most common include:
- Speeding/Reckless Driving: When a motorist is speeding excessively or otherwise driving recklessly, they are often in a state of mind in which they have willful and wanton disregard for the safety of themselves and others on the road. So, when they encounter a motorcycle, they may not take the measures needed to avoid an accident.
- Unsafe Lane Changes: Sometimes, it is hard to spot a motorcycle that has entered into the blind spot of another vehicle. When drivers try to change lanes without seeing the motorcycle, it can lead to disastrous consequences.
- Turning Accidents: Similar to lane changes, turning (particularly making left turns) can also be dangerous if a motorist fails to see a motorcycle that is inside their blind spot.
- DUI/DWI: Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can affect reaction times and make it more difficult to avoid a motorcycle accident.
- Defective Vehicle Parts: A faulty vehicle (or vehicle part) that goes bad at just the wrong time can be the cause of an accident. Examples may include computer dashboard malfunctions, faulty brake lines, and tire blowouts.
How Does the Use of a Helmet Impact an Injury Claim after a Motorcycle Accident?
The question of whether or not a motorcycle rider wore a helmet is not usually related to the cause of a motorcycle accident. In most cases, the accident most likely could not have been prevented even if the rider had a helmet on. That said, insurance companies may still use that fact that a rider was not wearing a helmet as a reason to argue that they share some fault for the accident.
The use of a helmet may very well become a factor, however, in determining how much the responsible party (or their insurer) will end up paying in damages. This depends on several variables, among the most important being the helmet laws in the state in which you were riding when you had the accident.
Alabama is one of 19 states along with the District of Columbia that has universal helmet laws. Everyone in this state, regardless of age, is required to wear a helmet when they are out riding a motorcycle. In addition, the state has strict requirements on the specifications of helmets to be worn by riders and passengers, and it is illegal to sell any helmet in the state that does not meet these specifications. This means that if you were a rider in a motorcycle accident in Alabama and you were not wearing a helmet, this could be a major factor if you are pursuing an injury claim.
There are a couple ways the other party and their insurer might use the fact that you were not wearing a helmet against you. First of all, they might argue that you are a reckless rider and that not wearing a helmet makes you partially at fault for the accident. Alabama applies the legal doctrine known as contributory negligence, which holds that even if you are 1% at-fault for an accident, you are barred from recovering compensation. So, if the defense can successfully argue that your failure to wear a helmet makes you partially responsible, you might not be able to recover damages for your injury.
Another argument the defense might make is that your injuries would have been less severe if you were wearing a helmet. This could be a particularly effective argument if you suffered head injuries as a result of the accident. In such cases, you need an experienced advocate in your corner who can skillfully argue that your head injuries would have been just as severe even if you had been wearing a helmet.
Speak with a Seasoned Alabama Motorcycle Accidents Lawyer
If you or someone close to you was injured or killed in a motorcycle accident, it is important to understand your rights and options. Regardless of whether or not you were wearing a helmet, you might still be entitled to compensation, depending on the specific circumstances of the case. At Burge and Burge, we have represented countless clients who have suffered injury in all types of motor vehicle accidents, and we have a successful track record with even the most complex and challenging cases.
For a free consultation with one of our skilled personal injury attorneys, call us today at 205-251-9000, or you may send a secure and confidential message through our online contact form.