Here in California, helmets are required for cyclists under the age of 18. Bike helmets used to be mandatory for all cyclists, but a 2015 law change gave adults the choice not to wear one.
Of course, there’s no question that it’s safer to always wear a helmet. Decades of safety research have shown that bike helmets prevent severe injuries and save lives, which is why California’s original helmet law was enacted in 1993.
Over the years, the state has introduced numerous new bike-friendly laws for public safety, better traffic flow, and protecting the Earth. Still, many motorists don’t realize that California cyclists have the right to share our roads regardless of whether they’re wearing helmets.
With up to 20,000 cyclists in big cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles, cycling accidents happen frequently. Sometimes a vehicle, scooter, pedestrian, or another cyclist collides with you, and suddenly every detail of the accident matters.
Could not wearing a helmet affect your bicycle injury case? Let’s take a closer look at this issue because you might be relieved to hear what the law says about your situation.
Bicycle Helmets and California’s Comparative Negligence Rule
First, you should know that California personal injury cases use something known as the comparative negligence rule. It means that each person’s responsibility is assigned a percentage, with a total of 100%.
So you might be found to be 50% at fault for the accident and the other person is 50% at fault. Or you’re 0% at fault and they’re 100% at fault, or vice versa, or anywhere in-between. Sometimes, the fault is even split three or more ways, depending on how many people were involved in the accident.
When you’re awarded bicycle accident compensation in the case, the amount of your award will be reduced by your percentage of the blame. So if the judge determines that you were 25% at fault and the total award was $100,000, you’d still receive $75,000.
But no matter how the responsibility is split, adults can’t be faulted for not wearing bicycle helmets in California. If you rode without a helmet, this can’t be used against you. So rest assured that you still have the right to sue or make an insurance claim.
Injured Cyclists Have Rights in California!
Despite all the legal facts described above, some cyclists still face an uphill battle when trying to claim bike accident compensation in California. Although not wearing a helmet doesn’t affect liability percentages, it may affect the causation of your injuries and the insurance carrier could argue to discount your claim for not wearing one. There is also plenty of bias against cyclists! For example, the motorist who hit you might try to push 100% of the blame onto you, saying your failure to wear a helmet shows you’re an unsafe cyclist.
It’s also possible that a police officer will state in their report that you caused the accident or were cited for a violation. Also, a witness could say something about you that makes you look bad. Or a pushy insurance adjuster might try to bully you into thinking that your lack of a helmet ruins your case.
No way! None of these things are deal-breakers when you have an experienced California bicycle accident lawyer on your side.
Don’t let anyone talk you out of pursuing a legal case until you speak to a lawyer who has YOUR best interests in mind. Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers are here to help you understand your rights and decide on your next move.
This is a turning point in your life that could impact your mental wellbeing and financial stability. With a lawyer’s help, you could win full and fair compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, bike damage, missed days of work, and the ongoing treatment you need to heal from your accident.
If someone hit you while you were cycling, call (415) 413-0033 or get a FREE online case evaluation now. You’ll be talking to a law firm full of avid cyclists who care about helping you secure the compensation you deserve!
We Handle Your Accident Claim So You Can Focus On Your Life
After a personal injury, contact the attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many areas of the law, including bicycle injuries. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering while we handle the legal details.
We truly care about the people of California. Contact us today for a free online case evaluation.