Many motorcyclists in our state are hitting the streets and highways this summer, whether it is to get from point A to point B, take a scenic ride or simply for the fun of it. However, motorcycles do not offer the same protections to riders that automobiles do, such as seat belts, air bags and crumple zones. This leaves motorcyclists more vulnerable, should they be struck.
For this reason, many states, including New Jersey have mandatory helmet laws. Here, motorists are required to wear a helmet that is approved by the Department of Transportation. But, does this mean that if a motorcyclist fails to wear a helmet, and suffers a head injury in a motorcycle accident caused by a negligent driver, that the motorcyclist cannot pursue a personal injury claim?
Our state follows the doctrine of "contributory negligence." When it comes to motorcycle accidents, this means that if the motorcyclist's degree of negligence is less than that of the motorist, the motorcyclist can pursue damages, which will be reduced based on the percentage the motorcyclist is negligent.
So, while motorcyclists should wear helmets, for their own safety, if they do not wear a helmet and are involved in a motorcycle accident, it is possible that they may still pursue compensation. Although, depending on the situation, this compensation may be diminished. Nonetheless, this post only provides information on contributory negligence, and does not contain legal advice. Thus, motorcyclists involved in a crash will want to seek the advice needed to determine if it is possible to pursue a personal injury claim.