Although Oklahoma doesn’t require motorcyclists ages 18 and up to wear helmets when they ride, doing so is still recommended because it can save riders’ lives in a crash. However, we know that not all riders wear helmets on every trip or at all.
If you’re hurt in a motorcycle accident that wasn’t your fault and you weren’t wearing your helmet at the time, you may be wondering whether that can affect your chances of getting compensation.
As experienced Oklahoma motorcycle accident lawyers, we’ve helped many injured victims get compensation, whether they were or weren’t wearing helmets at the time of their crashes. Here’s what we know about winning accident claims when riders are involved in accidents and weren’t wearing helmets at the time.
You Can File a Claim After a Crash if You Weren’t Wearing a Helmet
There are no Oklahoma laws stating that injured riders can’t file compensation claims against other drivers and at-fault parties if they weren’t wearing helmets at the time of their crashes. Although wearing a helmet is extremely important, not wearing one doesn’t disqualify injured riders from seeking compensation—even if their injuries affect their faces, heads, skulls, or brains.
You Won’t Be Cited or Ruled Partially at Fault by Police for Not Wearing a Helmet
If you’re 18 years old or older, you won’t receive a citation from the responding police officer after a motorcycle crash if you weren’t wearing a helmet. In addition, you won’t be ruled partially at fault for the crash by the responding police officer solely because you were not wearing a helmet.
That’s important in a state like Oklahoma, which uses a comparative negligence system. Any percentage of fault a victim is assigned is subtracted from their settlement. Because there’s no citation and no assigned fault for not wearing a helmet, you will be free to keep 100% of your settlement, as long as you were not doing anything that contributed to the crash that can be cited, such as speeding.
The Insurance Company May Claim Your Injuries Are Because You Weren’t Wearing a Helmet
Just because the responding police officer won’t assign you fault for not wearing a helmet doesn’t mean the insurance company won’t. If you suffer a head or neck injury during the crash, the insurance company, whether it’s yours or the other driver’s, may claim that even if you would have crashed regardless of whether you had been wearing a helmet or not, your injuries would be less severe or would have been prevented if you had been wearing a helmet.
Because of that, they may claim you’re partially or fully at fault for your injuries. It’s common for insurance companies to use this as a tactic for reducing payments to victims or denying them compensation altogether.
The Insurance Company May View You as a Reckless Rider
Insurance companies are already biased against motorcyclists. They think of riders as being reckless daredevils who weave in and out of traffic, speed, and drive with little regard for themselves and other motorists. When riders are hurt in crashes and they weren’t wearing certain safety gear, especially helmets, insurance companies and their adjusters often feel vindicated in their beliefs.
Even when victims don’t suffer injuries that could have been prevented by a helmet, such as broken bones or road burn, insurance companies may still use the lack of a helmet as proof that riders were negligent with their own safety. Because of that, they may be reluctant to pay victims fair compensation.
Our Lawyers Can Protect Your Rights Against a Biased Insurance Company
At Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers, we strongly believe in the life-saving potential of helmets. But in Oklahoma, wearing a helmet is a personal choice for riders over the age of 17. We respect that, and we work hard to help all injured riders get maximum compensation after crashes that weren’t their fault, regardless of the safety gear they were or weren’t wearing.
However, insurance companies don’t always see it the same way. If you’re hurt in a crash while riding a motorcycle, you’re already fighting an uphill battle. And if you’re hurt while not wearing a helmet, your uphill battle may get even steeper.
Contact the Oklahoma motorcycle accident lawyers at our firm anytime for a free consultation after a crash that wasn’t your fault. We want to help you get the money you need for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.