When you suffer injuries on a motorcycle, the potential for significant and expensive medical care is high. This is especially true for motorcyclists who don’t wear helmets. Recognizing the value of helmet laws is important for complying with state regulations and protecting your head in the event of a serious accident.
A lawyer familiar with Missouri helmet law can help you prepare a legal case when you get hurt on your bike in an accident. Speak to the Liberty, MO, motorcycle accident attorneys at Aramjoo Law Firm Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule your consultation.
Current Missouri Helmet Laws
Missouri enacted a universal helmet law in 1967, which originally required every person operating a motorcycle or riding as a passenger to wear a helmet while on any highways in Missouri.
However, that helmet law was changed in 2020, which now only requires certain people to wear a helmet when riding on or operating a motorcycle.
Currently, every individual under the age of 26 riding or driving a motorcycle or motor tricycle must wear a helmet, in addition to every individual operating a motor tricycle or motorcycle with only an instruction permit. All-terrain vehicles and motorized bicycles are not subject to Missouri’s helmet law requirements.
Do You Have to Wear a Motorcycle Helmet in Missouri?
Missouri’s motorcycle helmet penalties only apply with secondary enforcement. Citations for failing to wear a helmet may only be issued after the motorcyclist has been stopped for some other traffic violation. An officer cannot stop someone on a motorcycle only because that person or their passenger is not wearing a helmet.
Motorcycle riders and passengers cannot be inspected or stopped only to determine their compliance with Missouri’s helmet Law. Citations for failing to wear a helmet may only be issued after the motorcyclist has been stopped for some other traffic violation.
First-time offenses carry a maximum fine of $25. Even though a helmet may not be required in Missouri, wearing a helmet can significantly increase your chances of protecting your head and neck in a motorcycle crash.
The Importance of Wearing a Motorcycle Helmet
Since the 2020 repeal of the universal motorcycle helmet law, motorcycle fatalities have increased by approximately 30% in Missouri. Wearing a helmet on a motorcycle reduces your risk of a head injury by as much as 69%, and it also decreases your risk of facing lifelong medical costs.
Typically, injuries like traumatic brain injuries or neck injuries carry significant medical expenses, and you may even be diagnosed with a permanent disability.
Anyone not wearing a helmet on a motorcycle can sustain a severe head, neck, or spinal cord injury, but they may also have other injuries as well.
Suffering from multiple injuries at the same time may render the rider unable to go back to work. It can take months or even years for someone with serious enough conditions to recover, and even at that point, they may never fully recover.
Lack of Wearing a Helmet and Comparative Negligence
Wearing a helmet protects you every time you’re on a motorcycle, but it also helps protect your right to receive damages if someone else causes an accident.
Even if you are not legally required to wear a helmet to ride on a motorcycle or to drive one in Missouri, this is a comparative fault state. This means that if you in any way contributed to your injuries, the amount of damages you may be entitled to can be reduced in accordance with your percentage of fault.
The jury will be asked to determine the percentage of your accident that was your fault. If you ride on a motorcycle as a passenger or driver, a jury may determine that your decision to ride without a helmet negatively affected you in terms of your medical conditions. This could decrease your possibility of recovering maximum compensation.
There is a good chance that the at-fault driver will focus on your decision to avoid wearing a helmet in order to decrease their own accident liability in the case. It is always best to wear a helmet just in case of a serious accident or any resulting injuries.
Could your insurance company reduce my payout if you didn’t wear a helmet?
If you attempt to file an insurance claim as a result of a motorcycle accident, your insurance carrier in Missouri might reduce your payment if you were not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.
From the insurance company’s perspective, not wearing a helmet may be interpreted as negligence and puts you at partial fault for your injury if you were not the one who caused the accident.
Your lawyer can help you look at this and other aspects of your injury claim, so you’re prepared for potential challenges.
What should you do if involved in a motorcycle accident?
You need to get emergency medical treatment as soon as possible after an accident and then communicate with a motorcycle accident lawyer. Your attorney can play a critical role in your case by filing your lawsuit, negotiating with the insurance company, and keeping you informed of any deadlines and other important details in your case. The more severe your injuries, the higher the chances that you’ll need to file a lawsuit.
What is the most common cause of motorcycle accidents in Missouri?
Although weather conditions and road design can contribute to the chances of a motorcycle accident, it is often the inattention, carelessness, or outright recklessness of other drivers who put motorcyclists at risk.
Motorcyclists do not have the same protections as those inside traditional vehicles and, therefore, may suffer substantial or even permanent catastrophic injuries.
How a Lawyer Who Knows Missouri Helmet Law Can Help
It’s enough to try to recover from a devastating accident on your own. Whether you wore a helmet or not, you deserve to work with an attorney who can help you. If you got hurt in a crash because of someone else’s actions, the law may be on your side.