New York requires all motorcyclists to wear a helmet that meets federal safety standards, according to Vehicle and Traffic § 381. Failing to wear a helmet properly not only puts you at a significant safety risk, but it also makes it more unlikely that you will be able to recover compensation after an accident.
A motorcycle accident lawyer from our firm will be able to assess your personal injury case and determine your right to recover damages. We will build a solid case using our knowledge of New York vehicle and traffic laws in general and motorcycle laws in particular to your advantage.
- New York Law Requires Motorcycle Helmets
- Why Would You Have Difficulty Recovering Damages If You didn’t Wear a Helmet?
- Are You Still Eligible to Recover Compensation Despite Not Wearing a Helmet?
- Does Cowboy Style Count as Wearing a Helmet in New York?
- Will a Motorcycle Helmet Affect Your Insurance Rate?
- Learn More About New York Motorcycle Helmet Laws Today
New York Law Requires Motorcycle Helmets
Vehicle and Traffic § 381 states that all motorcycle riders are required to wear a helmet. Regardless of age or experience, you are not legally allowed to ride your motorcycle any distance without wearing a protective helmet.
The law exists to protect riders from serious injury or death. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there is an overrepresentation of motorcyclists in fatal traffic accidents, with 5,932 fatalities in 2021 alone.
Riders who forgo wearing a helmet are not only violating the law, but they also place themselves at a higher risk of sustaining a devastating head injury such as a concussion, hematoma, contusion, or worse. Such injuries result in staggering medical expenses and financial losses that you might not be able to recover if you didn’t wear a helmet.
The other driver has an obligation to exercise vigilance and responsibility while on the road, but so do motorcyclists.
Other Requirements for Motorcycle Riders
Beyond helmets, Vehicle and Traffic § 381 outlines other requirements motorcyclists must meet. To legally operate your motorcycle, you must have:
- Adequate brakes on your bike
- A working bell or horn
- Front and rear lamps that are bright enough to illuminate your plate number
- A muffler or other device to reduce noise
- Your bike registered
- At least one red reflector
- Handlebars or grips that are no higher than your shoulders
- Goggles or a face shield
- Rearview mirrors
- An exhaust device
Failure to follow these guidelines could result in penalties such as fines, imprisonment, or both. To protect your rights after an accident, it is important that you adhere to all of New York’s traffic safety laws.
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Why Would You Have Difficulty Recovering Damages If You didn’t Wear a Helmet?
Just as drivers of other vehicles must follow all traffic laws and safety regulations, so do motorcycle operators. Wearing a helmet is the law in New York.
If you fail to wear a helmet and you get into an accident, if another driver’s negligence caused the injuries you claim could have been lessened or prevented by wearing a helmet, the court may find you to have been responsible, in part or totally, for the injuries you suffered.
By complying with the law and taking this step to protect yourself on the road, you are making it more likely that you will recover compensation for your injuries and financial losses.
Are You Still Eligible to Recover Compensation Despite Not Wearing a Helmet?
While the other party will argue that your injuries are your fault because you didn’t wear a helmet, this is not always the case. (For example, if the accident resulted in a broken leg.) Just because you did not wear a helmet does not make the injuries you sustained your own fault. You have a legal right to fight for compensation after a motorcycle accident, especially if the other driver’s negligence is the reason you were injured.
Your lawyer will:
- Keep you updated on your case
- Identify liable parties
- Communicate with all parties for you
- Gather evidence
- Determine a value for your case
- Fight relentlessly to win the best possible outcome for you
The amount of compensation you receive will depend on several factors. One of those factors is whether or not wearing a helmet may have afforded protection from the injuries you suffered, that you chose not to avail yourself of by choosing to operate a motorcycle without wearing a helmet. That unfortunate decision could result in a reduction of the value of your claim.
Wearing a helmet not only protects you from injury, but it could also protect you legally.
Does Cowboy Style Count as Wearing a Helmet in New York?
Cowboy style refers to wearing your helmet on the back of your head resting on your shoulders. This does not count as wearing a helmet in New York. Most of your head has no protection if you get into an accident.
Therefore, wearing a helmet in this manner is still a violation of the law and the other party will claim that you are at fault for your own injuries because you did not wear your helmet correctly to prevent injury.
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Will a Motorcycle Helmet Affect Your Insurance Rate?
Your choice to wear or not wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle won’t affect your insurance rate, but wearing one could prevent your premiums from increasing after an accident. If you were found to be involved in an accident during which you were not following the proper safety measures, your insurer could decide to increase your rates.
Learn More About New York Motorcycle Helmet Laws Today
If you choose not to wear your helmet, you should prepare for the consequences that could result from that decision. Our law firm has over 30 years of experience fighting for compensation for victims of traffic accidents, including motorcycle riders, and we are ready to use that experience to answer your questions, address your concerns and fight to win the best possible case result for you.
While a jury may be less likely to be sympathetic to a helmetless rider who suffers an injury, we will fight for your right to receive compensation. Ultimately, the most important takeaway from this article is this: Wearing a helmet could increase the likelihood of recovering damages since the liable party and their lawyer will have more difficulty blaming you for your injuries.
To learn more about New York motorcycle helmet laws, or to talk to us about your case, call us for a free consultation today.