Can I Recover Compensation if I Wasn’t Wearing a Helmet in my Motorcycle Accident?
If you’ve been in a motorcycle accident, you may be wondering if wearing a helmet could influence your ability to recover compensation. It’s important to understand the helmet laws in South Carolina, as well as comparative negligence. A lawyer can help you understand what you might be entitled to and can fight for you when the insurance companies argue that you shouldn’t be able to recover compensation because of your failure to wear a helmet. If you need help, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
Insurance Companies May Argue Negligence
If you weren’t wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, the insurance company many try to argue that you are at least partially responsible for your injuries because you weren’t wearing a helmet. Had you been wearing a helmet, your injuries wouldn’t have been so severe. Fortunately, this usually won’t be successful.
In South Carolina, motorcycle drivers over 21 are not legally required to wear helmets while operating their motorcycles on public roads and highways within the state. In a South Carolina Supreme Court ruling – Mayes v. Paxton (1993), the court held that failure to wear an approved helmet does not constitute contributory negligence.
This means that if you are injured in an accident without wearing a helmet, you are still eligible for compensation from other parties who may be liable for your injuries, and you will not be considered at fault due to your lack of protective gear.
Insurance Companies May Also Argue Assumption of Risk
If you’re involved in a motorcycle accident while not wearing a helmet, the insurance company may also argue that you assumed risk of catastrophic injury by not wearing a helmet while riding your motorcycle, and therefore shouldn’t be entitled to compensation, or at the very least, should be entitled to reduced compensation.
Fortunately, this is likely to be unsuccessful as well. According to the same case – Mayes v. Paxton – every driver has an obligation to exercise reasonable care while operating their vehicle on the roads. This means that all motorists must act with caution and avoid situations that could lead to accidents and injuries. The fact that a motorcyclist wasn’t wearing a helmet does not relieve them of this duty and does not limit their ability to recover damages.
Compensation You Can Recover After a Charleston Motorcycle Accident
In terms of monetary compensation, you may be able to recover medical costs associated with your injury (including hospital stays and doctor visits), lost wages due to missing work while recovering from your injuries, pain and suffering damages for physical pain or emotional distress caused by the accident, as well as punitive damages if applicable.
Additionally, if your motorcycle was damaged in the accident or totaled altogether, you may also be able to recover compensation for vehicle repairs or replacement costs.
Motorcycles offer no protection in the event of an accident, leaving riders vulnerable to serious injuries or even death. Wearing a helmet doesn’t guarantee full protection from harm, but it can help to lessen the severity of head trauma sustained in collisions. If you’ve been injured riding a motorcycle in Charleston, contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your options for seeking monetary damages.