Georgia law requires that people riding motorcycles wear helmets. However, even if you suffered injury in a motorcycle accident while not wearing a helmet, you might still be entitled to injury compensation.
I Was Not Wearing a Helmet. Can I Still File an Injury Claim?
Probably. Breaking the motorcycle helmet law is not, by itself, a total bar to recovery. However, breaking this law is negligence on the part of the helmetless motorcycle rider, which can affect your ability to recover compensation.
Georgia follows the doctrine of modified comparative negligence. This legal theory means that even if you are partly at fault in an accident, you can still recover for your injuries as long as you were less than 50 percent to blame. If you were 50 percent or more at fault in causing the accident or your injuries, you would recover nothing.
Your negligence will reduce the amount of compensation you can recover. For example, if you had $10,000 in damages and you were 20 percent at fault, you can only receive $8,000 (80 percent of $10,000).
Does My Negligence Only Apply to the Cause of the Accident?
No. Even if the other driver was completely at fault in causing the accident, comparative fault laws could still bar you from recovery for some of your injuries. If the other driver can prove that wearing a helmet would have prevented your head injury, you might not receive any compensation for that injury.
All the other driver has to prove is that your failure to wear a helmet contributed 50 percent or more to your head injuries, and you can lose out on recovering any damages for your head injuries. You may, however, still be able to recover for other injuries or damages the other driver caused, as long as they were not related to your not wearing a helmet.
For example, Tom was not wearing a motorcycle helmet when Lisa, who was distracted by talking on her cell phone while driving her car, struck him from behind. The impact ejected Tom from his bike and he suffered severe injuries. His injuries included a broken leg and hip, broken back, three fractured ribs, and a skull fracture.
The investigation found Lisa was 100 percent at fault for the accident. She will have to pay for Tom’s leg, hip, back, and rib injuries.
However, the investigation found Tom was 40 percent at fault for his head injury, for not wearing a helmet. His negligence will reduce his damages — for the head injury only — by 40 percent. Lisa will have to pay for 60 percent of Tom’s head injury costs.
If Tom were, on the other hand, 50 percent or more negligent with regard to his head injuries, he would get nothing for his head injury damages.
How Can I Ensure I Recover Compensation for My Head Injuries?
The focus of your claim will be on who was negligent and in what proportions. We will have to provide evidence that proves the other driver was at least 50 percent at fault. There are many ways in which the other driver can be negligent. These can include:
- Running a red light or stop sign
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Distracted driving
- Drowsy driving
One standard form of proof in motor vehicle crashes is the police report, also called the accident or incident report. These reports can contain errors, so we will make sure the report is correct and accurate. The investigating officer can file a supplemental report to correct or clarify errors.
Since the other driver will argue that you were at least 50 percent negligent, we will look for evidence that minimizes the amount of your negligence. Proving this fact may involve having a medical expert testify that wearing a helmet would have only reduced the severity or likelihood of your head injury by 25 percent, for example.
The bottom line is that we will have to prove the other driver was more negligent than you, and that your negligence was less than 50 percent in both the causation of the accident and in your specific injuries. If we can prove this, you will get compensation for your injuries, reduced by the proportion of your negligence.
Call Jason R. Schultz for Help
Of course, it is best to wear a compliant motorcycle helmet at all times when you are a driver or passenger on a motorcycle. If you experienced injuries from a motorcycle accident that was not your fault, or in which you were only partially at fault, we can help.Call the motorcycle accident team at the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, P.C. today at 404-474-0804 to line up your free consultation.