Why Wearing A Helmet Is Important But Not Detrimental When You Are Trying To Collect Payment For Damages In A Personal Injury After You Are Involved In A Motorcycle Accident?
This is a question that comes up quite often when clients are discussing their cases after a motorcycle accident. In brief, the answer is “Yes, but with a very important restriction.” In this post, we will take a brief look at the laws behind that restriction.
First of all, the motor vehicle laws of both Tennessee and Georgia require that anyone riding on a motorcycle must wear a helmet because helmets save lives. If you are involved in an accident, the mere fact they you were not wearing a helmet has no bearing on your right to sue for damages because the accident would have happened regardless of what you were or were not wearing.
Although not wearing a helmet will usually result in nothing more than a traffic citation, not wearing a helmet can influence your lawsuit for personal injury damages after an accident.
Both Tennessee and Georgia have adopted a legal doctrine known as the “modified comparative negligence, 50% bar rule.” This doctrine can be quite complicated, but can be explained in general terms as follows.
If you were injured in an accident, you have the right to seek damages from the person who caused the accident even if you were partially at fault. However, if the jury that hears your case finds that you were partially to blame for the accident, any damages that you are awarded will be reduced by the percentage of your contribution to the accident. This can be better illustrated by example.
You were involved in a motorcycle accident and were not wearing a helmet. The jury hearing your case awards damages of $100,000 but also determines that you were 40% to blame for that accident. In the end, you will receive only $60,000 in damages ($100,000 – 40% = $60,000).
If that same jury determined that you were 60% responsible for the accident, you would receive nothing because the laws of both Georgia and Tennessee bar (prohibit) awarding damages to anyone deemed to be 50% or greater responsible for their own accident.
Determination of negligence in motorcycle accident cases can be difficult since there are always factors that must be considered that aren’t always included in a police accident report. Questions of negligence in motorcycle accident cases should always involve a personal injury attorney with experience in such matters.