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The Law Offices of Bailey & Burke

A Proven Full Service Law Firm Since 1971

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Helmet laws raise questions in motorcycle negligence cases

On Behalf of | Oct 17, 2012 | Motorcycle Accidents

A man driving on a Massachusetts road suffered serious injuries recently when his motorcycle slammed into an SUV during rush hour. The driver of the motorcycle was airlifted to a Boston area hospital following the motorcycle accident. There was some damage to both vehicles, and police reported that the driver of the motorcycle’s injuries were not life threatening. The cause of the motorcycle collision is still under investigation.

Unfortunately, motorcycle accidents are more common than some might think. Because motorcyclists face unique dangers on the roadway, it is important that they understand their rights of recovery in situations where they are injured on the road. Statistics show that in two thirds of motorcycle collisions involving another vehicle, the other vehicle violated the motorcycle’s right of way. This may be because drivers sometimes have difficulty seeing motorcycles.

Motorcyclists are also more likely to be injured than those involved in accidents while riding in a passenger vehicle and, unfortunately, also more likely to be killed. For this reason, it is especially important motorcyclists understand their legal rights and responsibilities on the road.

When motorcyclists have been injured by negligent drivers, they may wish to recover damages. If the motorcyclist was required by law to wear a helmet and was not wearing one, the other motorist may claim the motorcyclist’s negligence contributed to the accident.

However, there is an important legal distinction between negligence that contributed to the accident and negligence that contributed to the severity of the injury. In states that have mandatory helmet laws, the impact on the negligence claim of a motorcyclist who failed to comply with such laws is unsettled.

Some states view failure to wear a helmet as a proximate cause of cyclist’s injuries, meaning the motorcyclist has less of chance at recovering compensation. Other states do not take this view.

It is important that motorcyclists understand the laws that govern their use of the roadway. It is equally important they understand their options for recovery if injured by a negligent driver.

Source: Metrowest Daily News, “Man seriously injured in motorcycle accident in Natick,” Brad Pertishen, Oct. 1, 2012.


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