What You Need to Know About Bike Helmets and Personal Injury Lawsuits
Biking is a great exercise, and it’s a lot of fun as well. More people than ever are doing it, especially since they can’t get to the gym because of the pandemic. Some gyms remain closed, and even though a few have opened, many individuals are not ready to go back because of health concerns.
Biking is a way you can explore your neighborhood and burn off some calories. With a bike, you don’t have to pay any gym memberships either.
However, one potential bike-riding issue is that you have to watch out for traffic. You can try to stay away from the main roads, but it’s still possible a car might hit your bike if it doesn’t see you.
If that happens, and you’re sure it was the driver’s fault, you might decide to bring a personal injury lawsuit against them. You might hesitate, though, because you weren’t wearing a helmet when the incident occurred.
Here’s what you should know about biking while not wearing a helmet and personal injury lawsuits.
You’re Not Legally Obligated to Wear Your Helmet
The main thing you need to know is that no laws stipulate that you must wear a helmet while biking. That is true:
- In every state
- For any age group
It’s smart to wear a helmet when you go for a bike ride. Other than the initial helmet cost, there’s no financial outlay, and it makes it a lot less likely you’ll suffer a serious injury if you fall off or a car hits you. However, failure to wear a helmet doesn’t bar you from filing a personal injury claim.
When Might a Driver Hit You?
There are certain scenarios where it’s more likely that a driver will hit you while you’re out bike riding. For instance:
- They ingested alcohol before driving
- Something distracted them, like the radio or their smartphone
- They were speeding
Many of the same factors go into drivers hitting bikes as go into them hitting pedestrians or other cars. They might be going too fast. They might be texting while driving, or maybe they’re blasting their music or arguing with someone in the vehicle.
With bikes, there is one more factor. Some drivers don’t respect a biker’s right to be on the road. If you’re biking on the street, and you’re obeying all traffic laws, you have the legal right to be there. A driver should treat you like another vehicle and respect you accordingly.
What Happens if You’re Not Wearing a Helmet?
If you’re not wearing a helmet while biking, and a driver hits you, it’s more likely that you will hurt yourself. You can fly over the handlebars and strike your head. You might sustain a concussion or a more serious brain injury.
However, keep in mind that legally, you still don’t have to wear a helmet when you’re bike riding. If you know that the driver caused the accident, there’s no reason not to pursue an injury claim in court. You might have to, especially if you have to miss work.
You may have medical bills piling up, and if you don’t hold the driver accountable, you’re stuck paying for those. Unless you have excellent insurance, you will probably have copays with which to deal. You might end up owing hundreds of dollars or even thousands in some cases.
How Might the Driver’s Lawyer Go After You?
In a civil trial, the driver’s lawyer might try to say that you’re partially liable for your injuries because you decided not to wear a helmet. It’s a flimsy defense if what happened was the driver’s fault rather than yours. Probably, the jury will see through it.
Still, the jury might look at a legal clause called the personal negligence standard. Several states have these.
What it means is that even though you broke no laws by not wearing a helmet, the jury will find that you’re partially responsible for your injuries because if you wore a helmet, the collision would not have hurt you as badly as it did.
This is ample reason to wear a helmet when you go out for a bike ride. Nobody wants to get struck by a car, but there are vehicles out there, and you have to share the road with them.
If you wear a helmet, then if a car does hit you, and it injures you, you can get more money if you have to pursue a civil lawsuit.
By Susan Melony