The motorcycle helmet law depends on the rider’s age and whether the rider meets one of the requirements for exemption from the law. It’s a good idea to check with the Texas Department of Public Safety or the Department of Transportation for the most current laws.
Those younger than the age of 21 are required to wear a helmet while riding or operating a motorcycle. Those 21 years and older can ride and operate one without a helmet if they have met any of the exemptions.
One exemption is that the individual has health insurance. The plan must include coverage for any medical or surgical costs that arise as a result of a motorcycle accident.
To prove this, an insurance card should include the words “Motorcycle Health” or the insured must be provided a letter that includes the words, “Motorcycle Health: Standard Proof of Health Insurance.” The letter must contain the same information as the card. Motorcyclists must carry this documentation with them at all times when riding or operating a bike.
The other helmet exemption is that the individual has completed an approved basic motorcycle operator training course. Although not required, it is recommended that experienced, licensed motorcyclists complete the advanced operator training course.
Failing to wear a helmet could be a contributing cause to the severity of head injuries that riders can sustain in an accident. This might impact an injury claim to recover damages.
Let’s say the motorcyclist was younger than 21 or didn’t meet one of the helmet exemptions. Failing to wear a helmet not only would be against the law but it also likely would be factored into a personal injury case.
Texas follows the modified comparative fault system. Anyone whose degree of fault reaches 51 percent or higher is unable to recover damages, which could be an important issue. And if less than 51 percent, damages are reduced by the claimant’s degree of fault. By not wearing a helmet when required to do so, the motorcyclist may be negligent.
For instance, a driver fails to use his turn signal when switching lanes and veers into the path of a motorcycle. The 19-year-old motorcyclist didn’t wear a helmet and had been speeding at the time of the wreck. Both of these negligent acts (not wearing a helmet and speeding) can be factored into a case. If fault exceeds 50 percent, the rider would not be able to recover damages.
Even if the injured biker was exempt from wearing a helmet, it still may be considered negligence. The decision not to wear a helmet could factor into the severity of the head injuries. It could be argued that wearing a helmet may have prevented or lessened the severity of injuries to the neck, face or head.
Of course, if the person was injured elsewhere (such as a broken leg), then not wearing a helmet wouldn’t be an issue. With a variety of factors to consider, it’s always a good idea to check with an attorney. The Law Offices of Julie Johnson helps injured motorcyclists in Dallas and throughout the area pursue legal action against negligent drivers. Call 214-290-8001.