Do you have to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle? What happens if I'm in a motorcycle accident with no helmet?
Helmet laws in the state of Texas require every rider under the age of 21 to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle. If you are 21 and do not want to wear a helmet while riding, you must finish a safety course or have an insurance plan that will cover you without a helmet.
Motorcycle helmet laws were passed by the federal government in 1967. The government told the states they had to follow the law if they wanted to get money for highway safety. Not every state followed the rules.
In 1975, three states still hadn't enforced the helmet law. In 1976, Congress took away the federal government's right to charge money for the states who didn't comply.
After that, many more states backed off the helmet issue and only required them to be worn by very young or inexperienced motorcycle riders.
On September 1, 2009, Senate Bill 1967 was signed into law by Governor Rick Perry. The new law canceled the helmet exemption sticker program. The following relates to the helmet exemption:
"Former law required a person be covered with a minimum of $10,000 in health insurance for injuries incurred in a motorcycle accident to be eligible for an exception for the offense of operating or riding a motorcycle without a helmet. The law removes that minimum amount. The law requires the Texas Department of Insurance to prescribe a standard proof of health insurance for issuance to persons who are at least 21 years of age and covered by an applicable health insurance plan."
(Click here to read in full about the type of insurance you must have if you plan to ride your motorcycle without a helmet.)
It's not hard to understand why a person might not want to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle. They may feel it's their choice to make, not the government's. They may like the feeling of freedom on the open road. They may not like the way helmets feel on their heads.
However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has some alarming facts about the dangers of riding without a helmet. In 2013, 1,630 motorcycle rider's lives were saved because of their helmets. If all riders who were in an accident that year had been wearing helmets, it could have saved another 715 lives.
In 2014, "Ten times more unhelmeted motorcyclists died in states without universal helmet laws than in states with such laws (1,565 deaths vs. 151)."
The state of Texas offers safety awareness month events promoting motorcycle safety and sponsors a media campaign to spread awareness about staying safe on the road. They also have several outreach programs and offer activities all year to make sure people stay informed.
You are not guaranteed a cash settlement from an at-fault driver if you weren't wearing a helmet. In fact, not wearing one might make it harder to get. Insurers and their lawyers might argue that you were partly to blame for your injuries under Texas' "modified comparative negligence" rule because you chose not to wear a helmet.
The law doesn’t require you to wear a helmet, but if the other side can convince a jury that you’re partly to blame, your money award may be reduced. If you’ve been in a motorcycle accident, call Justinian and Associates today.