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Can I Recover Damages for a Chicago Motorcycle Accident if I Wasn’t Wearing a Helmet?

Posted on September 20, 2021 in

Motorcycle accidents can happen at any time, in any place—including Chicago. These collisions can be extremely severe, resulting in painful and sometimes life-threatening injuries that require extensive medical care and weeks of recovery time. In these situations, Chicago motorcycle accident victims can secure compensation for their losses through an insurance claim or lawsuit.

If you were not wearing a helmet at the time of your accident, however, your ability to recover compensation may be limited. Although Illinois does not have a universal helmet law, you could be found partially liable for your accident if you did not wear this protective headgear.

Illinois Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Unlike other states, Illinois does not have a mandatory helmet requirement for motorcyclists and their passengers. Individual cities and counties have the authority to impose helmet laws, but not all of them do.

Despite the lack of legislation, it is clear that motorcycle helmets are extremely effective at preventing severe injury and death. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), helmets are 37 percent effective at preventing fatal injuries to motorcycle riders. For motorcycle passengers, helmets are 41 percent effective at preventing these injuries.

The NHTSA estimates helmets saved the lives of an estimated 1,872 motorcyclists in 2017. This accident data also shows that, if all motorcyclists wore their helmets at the time of their collisions, an additional 749 lives could have been saved.

Comparative Negligence for Not Wearing a Helmet

Under Illinois law, motorcycle accident victims have the right to file a lawsuit or insurance claim against the person responsible for their injuries. To secure compensation in these claims, the motorcyclist will need to prove that the at-fault party’s actions caused their collision and resulting damages.

If you are filing a motorcycle accident claim, your award could be reduced if the court or insurance company discovers that you were not wearing a helmet at the time of the collision. The insurance company could use this information to reduce the value of your settlement or deny your award completely.

In the courtroom, Illinois’s modified comparative negligence laws will apply. If the court finds that your failure to wear a helmet was partially responsible for your injury, it will reduce your award by the percentage of fault you share. If you are found to be 51% or more responsible for the accident, the court will prevent you from recovering any compensation at all.

For example, say that you are injured in an accident with a driver who suddenly cuts you off without signaling. You lose control of your vehicle and collide with a traffic sign, leading to traumatic brain damage. Because you were not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, the court assigns you 30% of the fault. If you seek a $40,000 award, you will only receive $28,000. If the court had assigned 52% of the fault to you, you would not receive any compensation.

Speak to an Illinois Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

If you are filing a motorcycle accident lawsuit or insurance claim in Chicago, it is imperative to speak with a Chicago motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer can evaluate your case and defend you against allegations of shared fault, protecting your interests from consultation to settlement. As soon as possible after your collision, contact a lawyer to discuss your optimal path to maximum compensation.