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How Do Helmet Laws Affect Motorcycle Accident Cases?

Motorcycle helmets are the best way to prevent serious head and brain injuries in the event a person is involved in a motorcycle accident. However, the state of Arizona does not require all motorcyclists to wear a helmet. Any person 18 years of age or older does not have to wear a motorcycle helmet. Motorcyclists under the age of 18 do have to wear a motorcycle helmet. However, will a motorcycle helmet affect the outcome of a personal injury case in the event a motorcycle collision occurs?

The Motorcycle Accidents Stats That Should Raise the Alarm

Data from the Arizona Department of Transportation shows that there were around 2,300 total motorcycle accidents across the state during the latest reporting year. These incidents led to 1,921 injuries and 160 fatalities. When we examine studies from the NHTSA, we can see that approximately 80% of all reported motorcycle accidents in this country result in an injury or death to the motorcyclist.

This data is actually quite shocking. However, those who wear a helmet when operating a motorcycle are much less likely to sustain severe head or brain injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC says that helmets reduce the risk of death for motorcycles by 37%, and they reduce the risk of a head injury by 69%.

Arizona Law for Motorcycle Helmets

In the state of Arizona, there is no universal motorcycle helmet law. Any person 18 years of age or older are not required to wear a helmet when they are operating or riding on a motorcycle. However, any person under the age of 18 is required to wear a motorcycle helmet when driving or riding on a motorcycle.

Can Not Wearing a Helmet Affect Your Case?

The number one way that at-fault parties try to use the non-use of a motorcycle helmet in their favor is by saying that the injured motorcyclist failed to mitigate possible injuries by not wearing a helmet. In some jurisdictions in the US, this argument may actually work. However, that is not the case in Arizona. This is mainly due to the fact that most motorcyclists are not required by law to wear helmets, so they cannot be found negligent if they opt not to wear one. They cannot be held negligent per se in these situations.

Even if a motorcycle accident occurs and the motorcyclist sustains a head or brain injury as a result of the incident, they will still be entitled to compensation from the at-fault party. The person who caused the injuries may argue that the head or brain injury would not be nearly as bad if a motorcyclist had been wearing a helmet, but that will not matter. If liability towards a driver can be shown, they will be on the hook for compensation for the injuries.

The only time this argument could possibly be made in Arizona is if in motorcycle crash involves a person under the age of 18 who was not wearing a helmet. Because these individuals are legally required to wear a helmet in this state when riding a motorcycle, the failure to wear one could open the door to the at-fault driver placing some of the blame for the injuries on the motorcyclist.