Motorcycles do not offer the same safety features occupants of automobiles enjoy. There are no seatbelts, airbags or crumple zones on a motorcycle. One safety precaution that motorcyclists can take, however, is wearing a helmet.
Helmets protect a rider's head in the case of a motorcycle accident. In fact, a motorcyclist who is involved in a crash and is not wearing a helmet is three times more likely to injure his or her head, including possibly sustaining a traumatic brain injury.
However, laws mandating the use of motorcycle helmets are far from universal. In Ohio, only riders age 17 and younger must wear a helmet. This means that, in many motorcycle accidents, the rider is not wearing a helmet and is seriously injured as a result.
Motorcyclists who are involved in an accident with a negligent driver may want to know more about their options for pursuing compensation. However, if they weren't wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, does this mean they cannot file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver?
First it is important to note that an act or failure to act that only increases the damages sustained does not by itself mean a person cannot pursue a lawsuit. In some states, a motorcyclist who is not wearing a helmet is deemed to be the proximate cause of the rider's injuries, and thus the damages the rider may pursue may be limited. For example, in Ohio if the motorcyclist's negligence is less than that of the other party to the lawsuit, the motorcyclist can still recover damages, although they will be diminished in proportion to the motorcyclist's fault.
So, when a motorcyclist in Ohio is not wearing a helmet at the time of a crash, if the motorcyclist's percentage of fault is less than the other party's, it may be possible for the motorcyclist to pursue compensation. However, this post only provides information on this topic and is not legal advice. Those who are considering pursuing a motorcycle accident claim will want to first seek the guidance of a professional, so they can better understand their options.