Motorcycle Accidents: FAQ
If you were hurt in a motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries if another party was at fault. It can be helpful to meet with an attorney to evaluate the strength of your case and see if you were partially responsible. In some state you can be totally barred from recovery if you bore even the slightest degree of responsibility. In other states, you can receive damages if the other party's negligence was greater than yours, but the award will be proportionately reduced. Here are some commonly asked questions surrounding motorcycle accidents.
First Steps After a Motorcycle Accident?
After you have been in a motorcycle accident, you should immediately call the police to take statements and write a report. You then also see a doctor or go to an emergency room if you need medical attention. Getting treatment quickly can help to diagnose injuries, including internal bleeding or other symptoms that may not be obvious in the hours after a crash. It also helps to establish that your injuries were linked to the accident.
Are there Mandatory Helmet Laws?
In 47 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and certain other U.S. territories, you are required to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle. However, the laws differ in their scope and coverage. In some states, you must wear a helmet regardless of your age. In other states riders aged 17 or 18 must wear helmets. With helmet laws varying widely by jurisdiction, it’s important to know which laws apply in your case.
If you have been riding without a helmet and were in an accident, it may still be possible to recover damages. However, the amount of your award could be reduced by a jury if it finds that such failure was a factor in the severity of your injuries.
Is My Motorcycle Helmet Acceptable Under State Law?
Generally speaking, a helmet has to fully cover the top of your head and must be in good physical condition when you ride. In other words, if it has a crack or weak spot in its construction, it may not meet legal standards.
Are Helmet Laws Enforceable?
If you live in a state that has a motorcycle helmet law, it can be enforced by a police officer. It is important to understand that local governments may have ordinances that are stronger than state laws.
Do I Have to Tell Police About the Accident?
Anyone who is in an accident should contact the police for assistance. Law enforcement authorities will, in many cases, use the available evidence to create an accident investigation report that can be helpful if you want to file an insurance claim or take legal action against another party.
Should I Get a Lawyer to Help Me?
An experienced motorcycle accident lawyer can be invaluable in your pursuit of compensation after a crash. An attorney might be able to help you hold other parties responsible for your accident even if you were partially at fault for your injuries. You typically don't have to pay your lawyer until after your lawsuit is settled in your favor, as most personal injury attorneys take these types of cases on a contingency basis. They usually earn a percentage (say 25-35%) of the compensation.
The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.