California’s motorcycle helmet law and how it may affect you

On Behalf of Griswold LaSalle Cobb Dowd & Gin LLP

The efficacy and necessity of motorcycle helmets has been debated for a long time. Yet, research has shown time and again that those who wear a motorcycle helmet are better protected from serious injury in the event of an accident. But there’s still a lot of uncertainty out there about motorcycle helmet laws and how helmet use (or lack thereof) could play into a legal case. We hope this post will provide you with some valuable information and some clarity.

California’s motorcycle helmet laws

California is one of a handful of states that has a universal motorcycle helmet law on the books. This means that every person on a motorcycle is required to wear a helmet. Those who fail to abide by the law can be penalized, most likely via fine.

The helmet that is worn must conform to certain standards, too. To start, the law clearly specifies that “wearing a helmet” means that the helmet is strapped on and is of a correct size. The Department of Transportation (DOT) tests motorcycle helmets to determine their protection from impact, their positional stability, the ability of the straps to keep the helmet on the head even during impact, and the extent of protection coverage on the wearer’s head. Those helmets that pass the DOT’s testing receive a certification sticker and are in accordance with California’s motorcycle helmet law when worn.

But the helmet law doesn’t just apply to motorcycles. The law is broader than that in that it includes motor-driven cycles and motorized bicycles. So, keep in mind that the law expects you and your passengers to wear appropriate helmets when riding on these vehicles, too.

How California’s helmet law could affect you

This universal helmet law could affect you in a number of ways. To start, you could face a fine if you choose not to wear a helmet while riding on a motorcycle or motorized bicycle. But the law can have a more profound impact on your life if you were injured in an accident and subsequently filed a personal injury lawsuit. This is because California recognizes comparative fault.

Under comparative fault, any damages awarded to the plaintiff in a personal injury case can be reduced by his or her allocation of fault. So, if you were injured in an accident and claim $100,000 in damages, the defense may argue that you should be awarded much less than that if you were operating your motorcycle in violation of the universal helmet law. They would claim that your injuries, and thus your damages, would have been significantly reduced if you had been following the law.

This is a strong argument, and one that may be difficult to overcome depending on the facts of the case at hand. That’s why it’s important to follow the law and speak to a legal professional when issues pertaining to California’s helmet laws arise.

Know how to address your legal issues

Whether you’re facing a ticket due to violation of the helmet law or your personal injury claim is at stake due to the law, you need to know how to efficiently and effectively navigate the system and develop arguments that put your interests first. That’s not always an easy thing to do, which is why many Californians turn to experienced law firms like ours for help. We take pride in advising our clients so that they are fully informed and can make the decisions that they think are best for them.

So, if you’re want skilled legal analysis and aggressive representation that puts you first, then now may be the time to discuss your case with an attorney of your choosing.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email