Outdoor activities increase as spring and warmer weather approach all around the country. Many people love to ride motorcycles as a way to enjoy the sunny days. Though many people use motorbikes as transportation, they can also be a fun way to spend an afternoon.

Here in Louisiana, many people are already out on their motorcycles since the winters are generally milder here than in other locations. As enjoyable as this pastime may be, it can also present some dangers, particularly during a motorcycle accident with another motor vehicle. State law mandates that all motorcycle riders wear helmets, but there are those who don’t follow that rule. If an injured biker tries to file a personal injury claim against a negligent driver and he or she wasn’t wearing a helmet, could that affect the case?

Why are helmets so important?

A person on a motorcycle not wearing a helmet is three times more likely to sustain a brain injury in a motorcycle accident than those who wear helmets. In Louisiana, everyone riding a motorcycle is required to wear a helmet, passengers as well as drivers. Some people dislike this mandate, saying that it infringes on their personal choice. Riders have even challenged whether helmet laws impede their constitutional rights, but most laws requiring helmet use are still in place.

Despite arguments from the motorcycling community, many studies show that the use of helmets saves lives and reduces the severity of injuries. Failing to wear one can literally mean the difference between life and death in some crashes. So, does that mean that not using a helmet while riding a motorcycle means the biker holds some liability for injuries after an accident?

How helmets figure into liability

In any type of personal injury claim, liability and negligence matter. In some cases, the court may decide that the person bringing a claim against someone else, the plaintiff, is partially responsible for the outcome of the accident. Louisiana uses a concept called “comparative negligence.” This means that if a plaintiff did or failed to do anything that may have made his or her injuries worse, the court will decide a percentage of “blame.”

When thinking about a motorcycle accident, it’s easy to see possibilities of comparative negligence. For example, a judge may decide that a motorcycle rider is 20% to blame for the injuries sustained in a crash because the rider wasn’t wearing a helmet, even though another vehicle caused the accident. That means a possible reduction in any awarded damages in a case but not a total elimination of them.

Should I pursue a civil claim?

Every case is different and the best way to know if you should bring a personal injury claim against a responsible party is by speaking with an attorney. A motorcycle accident can significantly change an injured person’s life. If you or someone you care about has been hurt in a crash because of a careless driver, you have options to pursue justice and every right to do so.