It’s wise for anyone who operates a motorcycle or rides on one as a passenger to wear a Department of Transportation (DOT) approved helmet, regardless of age or experience level. Research proves that wearing appropriately fitted helmets greatly reduces the chances of severe and fatal head injuries in motorcycle accidents. However, Colorado state law does not require motorcyclists or passengers over 18 to wear motorcycle helmets.
What happens when a motorcyclist is not wearing a helmet and experiences an accident due to a negligent driver’s actions? While it may seem to some that a motorcyclist who refrains from wearing a helmet is putting themselves at undue risk, this assumption operates under the impression that the motorcyclist should be responsible for the actions of other drivers. If other drivers adhere to the road rules, avoid distractions, and drive safely, there should be no reason for motorcyclists to fear for their safety if they are competent riders in manageable road conditions.
Unfortunately, drivers make negligent mistakes every day. Motorcyclists can suffer severe injuries due to distracted driving, driving under the influence, speeding, failure to signal, and many other causes. Colorado’s motorcycle helmet law upholds personal responsibility for every driver and motorcyclist.
Colorado’s Motorcycle Helmet Law
Colorado only requires the use of DOT-approved motorcycle helmets for riders and passengers under the age of 18. After 18, wearing a helmet comes down to personal preference, as the state only requires eye protection. Goggles or impact-resistant glasses can fulfill this requirement, so many riders and passengers prefer not to wear enclosed helmets that may be uncomfortable or restrict vision.
Colorado state lawmakers have maintained that motorcyclists and their passengers, while they may be putting themselves at greater risk of injury in the event of an accident, are not responsible for accounting for other drivers’ negligence and have the right to drive under the assumption of safety. Every driver has a responsibility to adhere to the rules of the road and posted traffic signs. When a driver fails in this duty of care and injures a motorcyclist, whether the victim wore a helmet does not matter in terms of liability unless the victim was under the age of 18.
Potential Damages from a Motorcycle Accident
Motorcycles afford their riders and passengers virtually no physical protection from the force of a crash. Studies have shown that wearing DOT-approved enclosed helmets significantly reduces the chances of a fatal head injury in a motorcycle accident and can also spare the victim from spinal injuries, facial injuries, and skull fractures. Ultimately, wearing a helmet may make the difference between an injury requiring a few weeks or months of recovery and a fatal injury.
A driver who injures a motorcyclist due to negligence cannot cite the victim’s lack of a helmet as comparative negligence under Colorado state law. Colorado’s modified comparative negligence law prevents plaintiff recovery when a plaintiff is 50% or more at fault for claimed damages. The helmet law in the state does not allow for refusal to wear a helmet over the age of 18 to constitute grounds for comparative negligence.
Motorcycle accidents can cause traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, soft tissue damage, burns, friction injuries, and even crushing injuries in some cases. All Colorado drivers must understand that motorcycles deserve as much consideration as every other vehicle on the road. When a motorcycle accident occurs and the rider is not wearing a helmet, the driver responsible for the accident cannot expect to cite the lack of helmet as a defense against their liability.
Seek Legal Counsel Immediately After a Motorcycle Accident
It is crucial to know your rights and options for legal recourse following a motorcycle accident. If your loved one was not wearing a helmet and suffered injuries due to a negligent driver, you should not expect the at-fault driver’s liability to diminish due to the lack of a helmet under Colorado’s motorcycle helmet law. An experienced attorney can help you establish fault for your accident and explore the full range of compensation you might secure from a successful claim against the at-fault driver.
If you are ready to discuss a motorcycle accident claim with an attorney or have specific questions about how Colorado’s helmet laws apply in your case, call our firm. The Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal can help. We believe in protecting injured motorcyclists’ rights and provide comprehensive, responsive, and compassionate counsel in every case we accept. Contact us today to learn more about your legal options after a Colorado motorcycle accident.