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Motorcycle riders are extremely vulnerable to life-changing and deadly injuries in the event of an accident. Using protective equipment like helmets can considerably lower the number of fatal motorcycle accidents. At least 19 states, including California, have approved mandatory motorcycle helmet regulations to safeguard motorcyclists. Anyone riding a motorcycle or motorized bike in California is required to wear a helmet compliant with California laws.

Your responsibility as a biker in California is to learn and adhere to the regulations that apply to you. It is also your right to defend yourself when you know you followed the rules but were involved in an accident. Complete awareness of California’s motorcycle helmet law may provide you with confidence and safety on the open road, as well as a firm basis if you need to engage a motorcycle accident lawyer and file a personal injury claim. You’ll know precisely when you are in the right.

The Motorcycle Helmet Law in California

Anyone riding a motorbike in California must wear a motorcycle safety helmet consistent with the United States Department of Transportation (DOT). The helmet law in California differs depending on the mode of transportation. Different classes of vehicles have partial or full helmet classifications based on their level of safety.

Bikes and scooters are subject to the same helmet regulations. Helmets were required for all riders for the vast duration of California’s history. However, recent modifications to the legislation have modified this comprehensive helmet regulation into one that merely compels riders under the age of 18 to wear this safety gear. Individuals above 18 can now ride their bikes and scooters without wearing helmets. This legislation, interestingly, extends to electric bikes and scooters, which can achieve speeds of up to 20 mph and 15 mph, respectively.

It has been blatantly clear since 1992 that motorcycle helmet rules save lives. As enjoyable and cost-effective as these machines are, there is no denying that they are riskier than normal passenger transportation. 80% of motorcycle accidents result in fatalities or serious injuries, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The great majority of these deaths and injuries involve catastrophic head trauma or brain damage. This is one of the reasons why wearing a helmet is such an important safety practice. 

Penalties for Not Wearing a Helmet

The penalty for violating California’s helmet requirements varies according to the officer and the situation. Helmetless cyclists might face two forms of sanctions from law enforcement: correctional fines and safety hazard fines.

In rare cases, an officer may issue you a citation for an equipment violation. This is accompanied by a $100 fine and documentation of rectification indicating that the officer fixed your infraction. This is a light penalty for not wearing a helmet and is most likely only applicable in low-risk scenarios. Alternatively, citing a safety issue, the police may penalize you up to $250 and sentence you to up to a year on probation.

Comparative Fault vs. Contributory Negligence in California Bike Accidents

California observes pure comparative fault, which means that the plaintiff can still receive damages even if they are somewhat to blame for the accident. Your proportion of culpability may lower your pay in California.

Take this comparative fault scenario: A motorcycle rider is injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver. Because the rider did not use their helmet’s chin straps, the helmet fell off after contact, subjecting them to harm. Because the rider could have avoided their damages if they had worn their helmet appropriately, the insurance provider holds them responsible for 60% of the incident. Because the driver was preoccupied at the time of the collision, they shared 40% of the blame. In this instance, if the rider is granted $100,000 in damages, they will only receive $40,000, assuming pure comparative fault.

Contributory negligence is a legal principle that prohibits a plaintiff from receiving compensatory damages even if the plaintiff’s responsibility in an accident is just 1%. An example of contributory negligence is a motorbike rider who was fast, intoxicated or did not have their helmet on at the moment of the collision. Speeding and driving under the influence are two of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents. Motorcyclists may not be compensated if they are involved in an accident due to their fault.

What Are the Benefits of Wearing a Helmet?

Wearing a helmet protects your head in the event of a fall or collision. If you are hit by a car, your helmet might be the difference between experiencing a serious head injury and avoiding one.

Bike helmets are made in various styles, but they all provide head and brain protection. California helmet rules require riders and passengers to wear a helmet that satisfies the state-adopted DOT requirements. Helmets that fulfill DOT minimum criteria may bear a sticker indicating that fact.

Wearing a helmet is the first action toward addressing the risks in the event of an accident or collision. Your injuries might be considerably worse if you don’t have one. This little piece of protective gear may make a significant impact and perhaps save your life. 

Contact a California Motorcycle Crash Attorney and Get the Help You Need

If you were injured in a motorcycle crash caused by the carelessness of another individual, you might be entitled to reimbursement for medical costs, lost income, loss of earning ability, pain, and suffering, and other damages. Even if you were not wearing a protective helmet at the moment of the accident, a competent personal injury trial lawyer could make arguments to counter some of the defense’s comparative negligence allegations.

Our experienced personal injury attorneys at Setareh Law have vast experience assisting injured motorcyclists in obtaining the compensation they want and deserve following an accident. If you have any questions concerning your motorcycle accident case, call us at (310) 659-1826 or fill out our contact form to arrange a free consultation. We also speak Spanish.