Several U.S. states require motorcyclists to wear helmets, and Georgia’s helmet laws are some of the strictest. Georgia is one of the 19 states that say motorcycle riders must wear their helmet at all times. The laws are meant to protect riders from injury in the event of an accident. Unfortunately, they can also limit the possibility of financial recovery if the motorcyclist was not wearing a helmet during the accident. The outcome depends on the details of the accident, how they relate to helmet laws, and sometimes additional factors.
What is the Law for Wearing a Helmet on a Motorcycle in Georgia?
Under Georgia law, motorcyclists must always wear a helmet if they’re riding a motorcycle. This applies to both the motorcycle driver and the passengers. That’s not all, though. The helmet must also meet certain legal standards. Those standards are established by Georgia’s Commissioner of Public Safety.
To make the guidelines simpler, the Commissioner has stated in a written ruling that all Department of Transportation (DOT)-approved helmets meet the requirements. These helmets should contain a DOT sticker along with the manufacturer label.
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Can a Motorcyclist Still Recover for Their Injuries If They Weren’t a Helmet?
It’s possible, but it will be harder. If the accident was caused by another driver and the biker had no fault in the crash, there’s a greater chance of recovery. Since Georgia is a “fault state,” anyone who is injured in an accident is entitled to file a claim for financial recovery of their damages. This includes motorcycle riders. Those damages can include:
- Medical expenses, including costs of doctor visits, testing, and hospital stays
- Prescription medications
- Lost wages from missed work time
- Motorcycle repair or replacement costs
- Pain and suffering damages
In another auto accident situation, the biker may be awarded full compensation for all damages. However, since the biker was not wearing their helmet, their recovery will likely be reduced. That’s because not wearing a helmet can be seen as a type of negligence, also known as carelessness. And in Georgia, if the biker holds a percentage of fault for their injuries, their financial recovery can be reduced based on that percentage of fault.
This is especially likely if the biker suffered a head or neck injuries from the accident. If they didn’t wear a helmet, the insurance company might argue the helmet could have prevented those injuries completely and that they shouldn’t be covered.
Fault is initially decided by the insurance company of the other driver. If the motorcycle rider is not found to be 50% or more at fault, they can still recover money. However, the insurance company will likely try to blame the biker completely for the accident or find other ways of reducing what they pay.
What Should I Do If I Was in a Motorcycle Accident and Not Wearing a Helmet?
Contacting an experienced Georgia motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible is highly recommended. Since the insurance company will likely be quick to blame you and not offer much in compensation (if at all), you’ll need a legal professional on your side who can fight for your right to recovery.
Not wearing a helmet is a perfect excuse for the insurer to deny your claim. However, the facts might show your lack of helmet played a minimal part in your injuries. That would mean the other driver was still responsible for the injuries caused by the accident.
Plus, not wearing a helmet probably did not cause the accident to happen in the first place. These are details that can make a huge difference in your case and your financial recovery. But you need a legal professional who knows how to present the facts in your favor. That’s where a lawyer experienced in Georgia motorcycle laws and accidents can help.
Motorcyclists can also face unfair biases based on the dangerous nature and reputation of motorcycles. But you have the same right to be on the road as other motorists, and you shouldn’t be left paying for another driver’s negligence.
At John Foy & Associates, we work hard to ensure motorcycle accident victims are not blamed for factors out of their control. Don’t let the insurance company take advantage of you. Even if you weren’t wearing a helmet, it doesn’t mean you are automatically 100% to blame for the accident and your injuries.
Call us for a FREE consultation to discuss the details and uncover the best options for you. For your free consultation, call 404-400-4000 or fill out the form on this page today.