Do motorcyclists in California have to wear helmets?

According to information compiled by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NHTSA), there were 4,885 Motorcycle Rider Fatalities in 2017, and 515 of them happened in California. Most accidents on the road can be avoided, yet accidents still happen. More deaths occur among motorcyclists who choose not to wear helmets.

The Golden State is one of just 19 states that requires helmet use for all motorcyclists. Although helmets have been shown to reduce the frequency of fatalities among riders and passengers, the number of states mandating their use has decreased. The term "universal helmet law state" refers to states like California that require the use of helmets for all riders and passengers.

California Motorcycle Helmet Laws | McCrary Law Firm

Have a question?
We’re here to help 24/7.
Call or Text Us Now (855) 752-6326

California Motorcycle Helmet Law

Motorcyclists in California must wear motorcycle helmets under California Vehicle Code 27803. When operating a motorbike or riding a motorized bicycle in California, all riders must wear safety helmets that meet state requirements. It is against the law in California to ride a motorcycle without a safety helmet. To comply with California motorcycle helmet laws, you must use head protection certified as safe by the federal helmet safety standards. In addition, the straps on the helmet must be able to securely hold the helmet in place on the wearer's head.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports motorcycle helmets saved 1,859 lives in only one year. Even though wearing a helmet reduces the risk of fatal head and brain injuries, most states do not mandate that all motorcyclists do so. In many states where helmet rules exist, they apply solely to riders under the age of 18 or 19 or those without specific types of insurance.

It is against the law in California to ride a motorbike without a helmet. Therefore doing so can result in a traffic stop and a penalty. You can get a $250 fine for each time you get caught riding without a helmet. If you were breaking another law, such as speeding or dangerous driving, the consequences might be more severe when you were caught not wearing a helmet. If things become bad enough, the police could even seize your motorcycle.

Comparative negligence in California motorcycle accidents

In the case of car crashes, California follows the "tort liability" system. Thus, the negligent driver must pay for the other party's damages in the event of an accident. You should consult a motorcycle accident injury attorney to determine whether or not you should submit a claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company or pursue legal action. Why would it matter if you were wearing a helmet if the other motorist was at fault? The answer—is comparative negligence.

The idea of comparative negligence, often known as comparative fault, is used in tort law to assign liability in cases involving personal injuries. In determining damages, when a court has found negligence on the defendant's side, the jury may divide blame among the parties. As a result, the amount of liability is reduced by the plaintiff's share of the responsibility.

Types of helmets required in California

The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) mandates that all motorcycle helmets sold in the US meet specific safety requirements.

To ensure their products are up to par, helmet manufacturers must submit their products to a series of tests:

  • Impact: What protection does the helmet offer against head-on collisions with big objects?
  • Positional Stability: Will you have the helmet on your head when it counts?
  • Retention System Strength: How well do the chin straps keep the helmet in place when there's an impact?
  • The extent of protection: Where on the head does a helmet provide protection?

You can tell if a helmet is up to DOT regulations by looking for a certification sticker. Compared to other agencies, the DOT has relatively low requirements. Snell Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit organization, evaluating helmets for safety for over 50 years, sets the industry standard. As a result, Snell standards provide superior protection compared to DOT minimums, and you can count on seeing helmets that Snell has approved.

It doesn't matter where you buy your helmet; you should always look for these features:

  • Size: Even with extra padding, your helmet should provide a snug fit around your head.
  • Strap: The helmet should stay on your head once the chin strap has been fastened. The strap should go over your ear and chin without wiggle room.
  • Fit: Your helmet should sit slightly over your eyebrows and low on your forehead.
  • Sticker: Check for DOT stickers that prove the helmet satisfies federal safety standards.

Motorcycle helmet manufacturers occasionally make mistakes in the design or execution, which go unnoticed by the appropriate parties until a biker's helmet fails.

Snell suggests regularly replacing your helmet every five years. If you've been in an accident on your motorbike and think your helmet may be to blame, you should talk to an attorney specializing in motorcycle accidents. They may recommend filing a product liability claim against the helmet maker, distributor, or retailer.

What Happens If I Don't Wear a Helmet in California?

Potential Criminal Consequences

In California, you can't hop on your bike and go for a spin without a protective helmet on your head. According to the California Highway Patrol, not wearing a helmet poses a threat to public safety and can result in a fine of up to $250 and probation for up to a year.

Civil Consequences of Not Wearing a Helmet

The legal consequences of riding a motorbike without a helmet can be considerably more severe than a fine and probation. In some cases, your power to sue for damages after an accident may be reduced if you were not wearing a helmet.

If another party is also at fault, an accident victim who partially caused their injury or accident might still seek compensation. However, if you were partly at blame, the amount of damages you might collect would be lower.

How not wearing a motorcycle helmet can impact an injury claim?

While other states mandate the use of a helmet for riders under a particular age, California enforces this rule for all motorcyclists. All motorcyclists, regardless of age, must wear motorcycle helmets when on the road. A motorcycle injury claim can be negatively affected if the injured party was riding a motorbike or motorized bicycle without a helmet, as this violates the law.

After a motorbike accident, the insurance company will investigate whether the rider was wearing a helmet. When establishing fault in a case involving a motorcycle accident in California, whether or not the rider was wearing a helmet is crucial. Like all other personal injury cases, a motorcycle accident claim centers on the idea of negligence. According to the state's comparative negligence rule, plaintiffs in California can be held responsible for their injuries if they were also partially responsible. Therefore, the opposing party or insurance company may try to keep you accountable for your injuries if you were riding a motorbike without a helmet and were involved in an accident.

Victims of motorcycle accidents who weren't wearing helmets may receive less money for their injuries because of their negligence. Therefore, their monetary compensation (including economic, non-economic, and even punitive penalties) would be decreased proportionally to their degree of responsibility.

According to California's "pure comparative negligence policy," an injured party may be up to 99% at blame and yet be entitled to financial compensation. Compensation, however, will be reduced by the victim's assigned percentage of fault. For example, if you sustained brain damage in a motorbike accident and were found to be 25% at fault because you weren't wearing a helmet, your payout would be reduced from $100,000 to $75,000. A California motorcycle accident injury attorney can help you maximize compensation under California's comparative negligence law.

Contact An Experienced Personal Injury and Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today

A motorcyclist's risk of injury in an accident is far higher than that of a passenger car driver or truck driver. It has been shown that motorcyclists are at a far higher risk of injury and death than other motorists. Most motorcycle accidents do not involve other vehicles, but when they do, motorcyclists are more vulnerable because of their lack of safety. Additionally, when an accident occurs, the victim's physical pain, financial burden, and mental stress can increase if the victim is not wearing a helmet.

If you need legal representation in California, look no further than McCrary Accident Injury Law Firm. Regardless of the type of insurance or coverage the other driver has, our team of qualified attorneys is here to help. Contact McCrary Law Firm - A Personal Injury and Motorcycle Accident Law Firm in California at (855) 752-6326. Call us for a free initial consultation, and we are available 24/7.

Call or Text Us Now (855) 752-6326

Free Consultation

    McCrary Accident Injury Law Firm specializes in personal injury litigation. Its founder, Dan McCrary, Esq., spent 14 years working for the insurance companies before switching sides to represent personal injury victims in Rocklin as an attorney.

    Dan McCrary’s years of experience on the defense side taught him exactly how to obtain maximum recovery for his injured clients. If you have been injured in an accident you should contact the Accident & Injury Lawyers, Personal injury Attorney, Car accident lawyers at McCrary Accident Injury Law Firm in Rocklin, folsom, Sacramento to get the money you deserve, and overcome the tactics routinely employed by the insurance companies.