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If you Ride a Motorcycle, Wear a Helmet

Although Illinois law does not require motorcyclists to wear helmets I strongly advise wearing one when riding a motorcycle.Compared with cars, motorcycles are an especially dangerous form of travel. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that per mile traveled, the number of deaths on motorcycles in 2010 was about 30 times the number in cars. Helmets decrease the severity of head injuries, the likelihood of death and the cost of medical care. Helmets are highly effective in preventing brain injuries, which often require extensive treatment and may result in lifelong disability. NHTSA estimates that in the event of a crash, unhelmeted motorcyclists are 3 times more likely than helmeted riders to suffer traumatic brain injuries, and that motorcycle helmets reduce the likelihood of a crash fatality by 37 percent. It is estimated that helmets reduce the risk of death in a crash by 42 percent and the risk of head injuries by 69 percent.

Further, motorcycles are less stable than cars in emergency braking and less visible to other motorists.Motorcyclists are more prone to crash injuries than car occupants because motorcycles are unenclosed, leaving riders vulnerable to contact with hard road surfaces, other vehicles and fixed objects such as trees. This is why wearing a helmet, as well as other protective clothing, is so important.

With regards to the legal effect of not wearing a helmet on lawsuits, Illinois case law holds that the failure to wear a helmet should not be considered by a jury with respect to either the question of liability or damages concerning an accident involving a motorcycle.In reality my experience shows that insurance adjustors, defense attorneys, and jurors do consider the failure to wear helmets in evaluating a motorcycle accident case.In addition to being perceived as less safe than drivers of automobiles, there is a cultural prejudice on the part of general public against motorcycle riders. This bias is often seen in the evaluation of a motorcycle accident claim where the Plaintiff was not wearing a helmet.Typically a lesser value is assigned to an accident case because they believe that a Plaintiff was partially at fault for his injuries by not wearing a helmet. Failure to wear a helmet also contributes that the general perception that motorcyclists are less safe drivers.While wearing a helmet does not guarantee an injury will not happen, the jury's damages award will often be reduced if they find it could have been avoided or not occurred if the Plaintiff had been wearing a helmet.

It has been proven that wearing helmets save lives and minimize injuries. However, if you were injured in a motorcycle accident and not wearing a helmet don't give up.A skilled lawyer can minimize jury bias in the courtroom and still win fair compensation for his client.


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