Motorcycle helmets are required by law in New Jersey for riders and passengers on a bike. Studies show that riding a motorcycle without a helmet increases the risk of death in an accident by more than 40%; and, unhelmeted riders are three times more likely to suffer a traumatic brain injury in a crash. Without question, riding with a helmet is safer than without. What happens when an motorcycle driver is injured in an accident caused or contributed to by another driver but wasn't wearing a helmet?
Motorcycles provide significantly less protection than a standard car which results in a higher likelihood for serious injuries and fatalities for the motorcycle driver. Often, insurance companies will attempt to pressure an injured victim into settling for very little compensation as quickly as they can. The insurance adjuster may also claim that the accident is your fault for riding without a helmet.
In New Jersey, even if you were riding without a helmet, you still may have grounds for a personal injury claim and can sue the liable parties. The caveat is that the Comparative Negligence Act may apply, which could reduce your compensation.
What is Comparative Negligence in New Jersey?
According to New Jersey Statute 2A:15-5.1, compensation and damages can only be awarded, in personal injury cases, based on the standard of "comparative negligence". This means the total damages you will be able to recover will be determined by subtracting the percentage of negligence the jury attributes to your actions. For example, if you have been seriously injured in a no helmet motorcycle accident caused by a careless driver and the jury finds that you were 20% responsible because of your failure to abide by the safety law, you will only be eligible to recover 80% of the compensation you originally sought from the negligent, careless driver.
What Compensation is Available in a No Helmet Motorcycle Accident Claim?
Regardless of your helmet use, when you file a personal injury claim after a motorcycle accident, you can seek compensation for both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages refer to any tangible loss or expense as a result of the accident such as medical bills and lost wages. Non-economic damages are awarded for intangible losses, such as your physical and emotional pain and suffering.
It’s possible that a judge or jury could reduce the amount of compensation based on New Jersey’s comparative negligence statute, as mentioned above. For instance, an insurance company may claim your injuries would not be as severe if you had worn a helmet. Without an aggressive motorcycle accident attorney on your side, you are leaving your right to compensation in the hands of an insurance company. Don’t rely on them to determine your exact degree of negligence.
Brandon J. Broderick, Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
In an incident where you or a loved one suffered an injury due to a motorcycle accident, you should be focused on your health and well-being. When the accident is due to someone else's lack of care, you may need legal representation to ensure your rights and best interests are protected—in these situations, having someone who is on your side to back you up can be a huge relief.
When you hire a New Jersey motorcycle accident lawyer from our team at Brandon J. Broderick, you can be assured we will passionately and aggressively represent your best interests and work to maximize your compensation. Without a legal claim, the insurance company can offer you a lowball offer that barely covers any of your needs. You may be left having to pay for the costs of your injuries on your own. Contact us today and let us turn your setback into a comeback.