A helmet is by far the most critical piece of safety gear when it comes to riding a motorcycle. Helmets saved 1,859 lives in 2016 and reduce the overall risk of dying in an accident by 37 percent. That is why many states, including Texas, have helmet laws in place to promote safety.
Current Helmet Laws in Texas
For most motorcycle riders, helmets are a requirement. They protect your safety, and they can drastically reduce the possibility of a brain injury or death from an accident. But, some people in Texas have the option not to wear a helmet under certain circumstances.
First, motorcyclists must be older than 21 before helmets are an option. After that, riders must complete an approved motorcycle operator safety and training course, as well as carry proof of the appropriate health insurance coverage to be allowed to ride without a helmet. This insurance of at least $10,000 worth of coverage is intended to take care of medical expenses in the event of an accident. It also shows that the motorcyclist accepts the risks that come with riding without a helmet.
Motorcycle helmets must meet the following safety standards set by the U.S. Department of Transportation:
- It must weigh at least three pounds. Unsafe helmets usually weigh only one pound or less.
- An inner liner that has a layer of firm polystyrene foam at least one inch thick. This may not be visible, but its thickness can be felt.
- Sturdy chin straps with rivets.
- Any external components or decorations do not extend further than two-tenths of an inch from the helmet’s surface.
- The helmet has a manufacturer’s label with the name, model, size, month and year it was manufactured, and the type of materials used.
- A “DOT” sticker is on the back of the helmet, certifying compliance with the Federal Motor Vehicles Safety Standards. Novelty helmet sellers may give motorcyclists counterfeit DOT stickers to place on a non-compliant helmet, which is why all the other standards must be observed to distinguish if a helmet is safe.
The Impact of Helmets on Liability
If you are injured in a motorcycle accident while not wearing a helmet, it can be extremely challenging to recover full and fair compensation, particularly if you were required by law to wear one. The reason being that victims have the burden of proving another party’s negligence caused the accident before receiving compensation. The at-fault party may deny liability or fight your claim by suggesting your negligence in choosing not to wear a helmet was the actual cause of your injuries.
Texas courts follow the rule of modified comparative negligence with a 51% bar. This rule can dramatically reduce or eliminate your compensation if you are also responsible for your accident. If you are found more than 50 percent at fault for your motorcycle accident, you are barred from financial recovery. If less than 51 percent of the blame is placed on you, you can recover compensation, but it will lower it. For example, if you are awarded $10,000 and found 40 percent at fault, you will receive $6,000. If you are awarded $10,000 and found 51 percent at fault, you won’t receive anything.
Speak to a Houston Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
For more information on Texas state laws regarding motorcycle helmets, or if you believe you have an injury claim, speak to a Houston Motorcycle Accident Lawyer at Milano Legal Group. We offer free consultations; call (713) 489-4270 or reach us online today.