The Legal Consequences of Failing to Wear a Helmet in Motorcycle Accidents

The Legal Consequences of Failing to Wear a Helmet in Motorcycle Accidents

As an avid motorcyclist, you understand the thrill and freedom of riding without anything between you and the open road. However, choosing to ride without a helmet comes with serious legal risks that must be considered. Though tempting to feel the wind in your hair, failing to take proper safety precautions can have devastating consequences in the event of a motorcycle clash or a car accident. Protect yourself, your finances, and your future by understanding the legal implications of riding helmetless. Perusing the research may spur you to strap on a brain bucket for your next ride.

The Importance of Wearing a Helmet When Riding a Motorcycle


Wearing a helmet while operating a motorcycle is critical for your safety. Helmets significantly reduce the risk of head injury or death in the event of an accident. Studies show that helmets decrease the risk of death in a motorcycle accident by almost 40% and reduce the risk of head injury by over 60%. Without a helmet, your head is completely exposed and unprotected in the case of a crash.

Most states have laws requiring all motorcycle operators and passengers to wear helmets. If you are in an accident without a helmet, you can face legal penalties such as traffic citations, fines, or even license suspension. Some states only require helmets for riders under a certain age, but for your safety, helmets should be worn by motorcycle operators of all ages.

Insurance Implications

Not wearing a helmet can also have implications on your motorcycle insurance. Insurance companies may increase your premiums or even drop your coverage if you frequently ride without a helmet. They view helmets as a safety mechanism that reduces the severity of injuries and claims, so riding without one is seen as a liability. To keep insurance costs low and maintain coverage, helmets should be worn for all motorcycle rides.

In summary, wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle is extremely important for safety, legal, and insurance reasons. Helmets can save your life and prevent debilitating injuries, traffic violations, legal penalties, increased insurance costs, or loss of coverage. For the wellbeing of all motorcycle operators and passengers, helmets should be worn on every ride.

Helmet Laws for Motorcyclists in Texas

Mandatory Helmet Use

In Texas, all motorcyclists are required by law to wear helmets. According to the Texas Transportation Code, helmets must meet or exceed the standards set by the United States Department of Transportation. Failure to wear a helmet can result in legal penalties, including fines and points added to your driving record.

Exceptions to the Law

The only exceptions to the mandatory helmet law in Texas apply to motorcyclists over the age of 21 who have completed a motorcycle safety course or who have health insurance coverage for injuries resulting from a crash. To qualify for the health insurance exemption, the policy must provide a minimum of $10,000 in medical benefits for injuries incurred as a result of a motorcycle accident.

Penalties for Violating the Helmet Law

If cited for riding without a helmet, you will face legal penalties in Texas. For a first offense, the fine is typically between $50 to $200. Subsequent violations can result in fines up to $500, as well as points added to your driving record. Too many points can lead to license suspension. While some motorcyclists may see helmet laws as an infringement of personal freedoms, helmets have been proven to save lives and reduce the severity of head injuries in crashes. Wearing a helmet is the law in Texas, and following it is in your best interest.

How Not Wearing a Helmet Impacts Your Case if in an Accident

If involved in a motorcycle accident without wearing a helmet, you could face severe legal consequences. As the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit, the defense may argue that your injuries resulted from your own negligence in failing to wear proper safety equipment.

Diminished Damages

Without a helmet, you have exposed yourself to greater harm, and the defense may claim that your damages should be reduced accordingly. They may argue that your injuries would have been less severe had you taken the precaution of wearing a helmet. The court may find your damages diminished by a certain percentage due to your contributory negligence.

Shared Liability

In some states, the court can assign a percentage of liability to each party. The defense may claim that by not wearing a helmet, you bear a share of the liability for your injuries. If the court agrees, your settlement or award amount would be reduced by your assigned percentage of fault. Some states prohibit assigning liability to motorcyclists for not wearing a helmet, but in others, it remains a possibility.

Banned Evidence

Some courts prohibit introducing evidence that a motorcyclist was not wearing a helmet, as it may prejudice the jury. However, if your injuries would have been avoidable or less severe with a helmet, the defense may still try to find ways to subtly convey this message to the jury. They may describe the nature and extent of your injuries in graphic detail to implicitly suggest a helmet may have helped.

In summary, not wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle can present legal obstacles if you are in an accident. While the court may ultimately find the other party primarily at fault, failing to take proper safety precautions can weaken your case and reduce the compensation you receive. The risks to your health and legal position make wearing a helmet the wisest choice.

Working With a Texas Car Accident Lawyer if You Were Injured Without a Helmet

If you were injured in a motorcycle accident without wearing a helmet, you should consider consulting with an experienced Texas car accident attorney regarding your legal options. A lawyer can review the details of your accident and determine if you may be entitled to financial compensation.

Establish Liability

To recover damages, your lawyer will need to establish that another party, such as the driver of the other vehicle involved in the crash, was at fault for the accident. Even if you were not wearing a helmet, you may still be able to recover compensation if the other driver violated traffic laws or engaged in reckless behavior that caused the collision. Your lawyer can investigate police reports, interview witnesses, and review footage to build a strong case.

File a Lawsuit

If it is determined that the other driver was liable for your injuries and a fair settlement cannot be reached, your lawyer may file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf. Lawsuits can be complex, so having an attorney to guide you through the process is critical.

Negotiate a Settlement

In many cases, car accident lawsuits end in settlement before going to trial. Your lawyer can negotiate with the insurance companies and attorneys for the other parties to try and reach a fair settlement that provides you with compensation for medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages.

Even though you were not wearing a helmet, with the help of an experienced lawyer, you may still recover damages for your injuries. However, to maximize your recovery, be sure to seek medical attention promptly following any accident. Your medical records will be important for establishing the severity of your injuries.

FAQs: What You Need to Know About Helmet Laws and Motorcycle Accidents

What are the helmet laws in my state?

Helmet laws vary in each state. Currently, 19 states and the District of Columbia have universal helmet laws that require all motorcyclists to wear helmets. Another 28 states have partial helmet laws that only apply to certain riders, typically those under a certain age. The remaining 3 states have no helmet laws. You should check with your state's department of motor vehicles to determine the specific helmet laws in your state. Failure to comply with your state's helmet laws can result in legal penalties including fines and points on your driver's license.

Can I be held liable if I'm not wearing a helmet during an accident?

Yes, failing to wear a helmet during a motorcycle accident can have significant legal consequences. Not wearing a helmet is considered negligence, and the other party may claim that your injuries were aggravated or even caused by your failure to take proper safety precautions. They may argue that wearing a helmet would have mitigated or prevented your injuries. Your settlement or jury award could be reduced substantially due to your contributory negligence in not wearing a helmet. You could also face additional fines and license suspension for violating helmet laws.

How does not wearing a helmet affect my insurance claims?

Failing to wear a helmet during a motorcycle accident will likely affect your ability to recover damages through insurance claims. Most insurance policies have clauses excluding or reducing coverage and benefits for injuries sustained while not following standard safety practices. Insurance companies may deny your medical claims, reduce payouts for pain and suffering, or increase your premiums due to your negligence in not wearing a helmet. They may view you as a high-risk client and either drop or refuse to renew your policy following such an incident.

Wearing a helmet is the single most effective way to prevent severe head injuries and reduce fatalities in motorcycle accidents. Failure to do so can have devastating legal and financial consequences following an accident. Check your state's helmet laws and always wear a DOT-compliant helmet to ensure your safety and protect your legal rights.


Therefore, all motorcycle riders must understand the legal consequences of failing to wear a helmet. While individual freedom is an essential right, the data shows that helmets dramatically reduce the risks of severe injury and death in motorcycle accidents. For your own safety and to avoid steep financial and legal penalties, consult an experienced attorney from lawyers at Fletcher Law and be sure to wear a Department of Transportation-approved helmet every time you ride. Though it may seem inconvenient, a helmet can save your life. Weighing temporary discomfort against grave harm, the choice is clear. For your own sake and your loved ones, make the legal and responsible decision to always wear a proper helmet when operating a motorcycle.