Georgia’s Helmet Law And Its Affect On Your Injury Case
What Is The Requirement?
Georgia law requires all operators of motorcycles and those riding on a motorcycle to wear a regulation compliant helmet at all times while the motorcycle is moving. Under the law, a compliant helmet must be what in rider terms is frequently referred to as a “DOT helmet.” In other words the helmet must met the Federal safety standard to ensure adequate protection.
Unfortunately, many of the popular, cool looking helmets are not DOT helmets. Before purchasing a helmet make sure it has a sticker or other packaging indicating that it meets the Federal safety standards. If it has a sticker, you are going to want to keep that sticker on the helmet. If it does not have a sticker, keep some packaging material that identifies your helmet and reflects that it meets the requirements.
A violation of Georgia’s helmet law is a misdemeanor which carries with it a fine of up to $1,000.00 and a year in jail. In reality, no one goes to jail for these violations but hefty fines are frequently imposed. In the context of a motorcycle injury case, the ramifications for not wearing a helmet at the time of a wreck can be severe.
Potential Ramifications To Recovery For Your Injuries
In any personal injury case whether it be a motorcycle accident or other incident, the jury has to apportion fault for the injuries sustained to the plaintiff. Often times this means an effective defense against a personal injury case is to blame the plaintiff for causing his or her own injuries in the accident. Motorcycle accident injury plaintiffs have to face this sort of defense much more frequently than other plaintiffs in court. So do not give the defense a perfect opportunity to argue that you caused your own injuries by not wearing a required helmet.
When Not Wearing A Required Helmet Likely Means No Recovery
When your case involves injuries to your head, having not worn a DOT helmet at the time of the wreck could impact your case severely. This often comes up when a rider faces brain damage from the motorcycle accident. If he or she was not wearing a DOT helmet and the defense can prove that had the right helmet been worn the plaintiff likely would not have received brain injuries or as severe of an injury, the plaintiff could receive no compensation at all.
This is equally the case when the injuries are visible damage to the head or face. For example, if a rider sustained a fractured skull in the accident and the defense can show that it is very unlikely the fracture would have happened at all had the right helmet been worn, the plaintiff may not recover.
When Not Wearing A Required Helmet Should Not Affect A Recovery
Quite frankly this is common sense. If the injury sustained has nothing to do with the head, for example a broken leg, whether or not the rider was wearing a helmet should not play a role in whether the plaintiff obtains full compensation for his or her injuries. I say “should not” because the defense will still try to get into evidence the lack of a DOT helmet in hopes of tainting the jury against the motorcyclist plaintiff. This is an example of why it is important to have a trial lawyer handle your motorcycle accident case because we always require the Judge to instruct the defense attorney not to bring up in front of the jury the violation of the helmet law by the client.
Keep in mind that Georgia law still allows a plaintiff to recover compensation in most instances where the jury believes the plaintiff was somewhat at fault for his or her own injuries. Under Georgia law, so long as the jury only finds the plaintiff less than 50% at fault, the plaintiff can recover compensation. However, the plaintiff will only recover that percentage of the value of his or her case the jury believes the defendant is at fault for.
Do not put yourself at risk of serious injuries and do not give the insurance company and the defense a way to deny you a just recovery. Use a DOT compliant helmet each and every time you ride. If you are involved in a motorcycle accident anywhere in Georgia, feel free to give an Atlanta motorcycle accident lawyer at Boling Rice LLC a call to discuss your case.