Motorcycle crashes can have devastating consequences, leading to a lifetime of disability or even loss of life. Whether another driver strikes you after running a red light or a collision sends you over the handlebars, motorcycles do not protect their riders, unlike other vehicles with walls and a roof. To be sure you are safe, you must follow all Minnesota statutes, including motorcycle helmet laws.
Many motorcycle riders wonder what their rights are if they are in a crash and not wearing a helmet. Kirshbaum Injury Law can help you understand the current Minnesota laws and how they impact your motorcycle accident claim. Reach out to us and let us provide the legal advice and representation you need today.
In 2019 alone, Minnesota motor vehicle crash statistics show that most fatal accidents involving motorcyclists occurred when the rider was not wearing a helmet. These accidents occurred in 30 out of the 44 fatal accidents that year. The use of protective headgear also reduces the risk of serious injury. In short, wearing a helmet saves lives when motorcycle accidents occur and gives you a much better chance of walking away from the collision.
There is a Minnesota motorcycle helmet law, though it is limited. In fact, 47 of the 50 states have these laws: from Michigan to North Dakota, South Dakota to Colorado, California, Pennsylvania, and beyond. The only states that do not have helmet laws requiring some level of protective headgear for motorcycle operators and passengers are Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire.
However, every state’s department of transportation has a different approach to the requirement for an approved helmet. In Minnesota, only riders under 18 must wear a DOT-approved helmet. Riders with a motorcycle driver’s license or a license with a motorcycle endorsement who are over 18 years old are not required to wear a department of transportation approved helmet.
If the rider uses an instruction permit and does not have their full license, they must wear a helmet, even if they are over 18. Drivers over 18 operating a motorcycle with a full driver’s license are still required to wear eye protection such as glasses or a face shield, even though they do not have to wear a full helmet.
None of this means that helmet use is not essential. Even though it is not a legal requirement for riders over 18 to wear a helmet, it still provides essential protection in vehicle crashes and could save your life. Every motorcycle safety course educates learners on the importance of helmets, and the statistics bear it out.
Does Helmet Use Impact Your Ability to File a Claim if You Are in a Motorcycle Accident?
The simple answer to this is no. If you are in a motorcycle accident and suffer injuries, you can still file a personal injury claim in Minnesota, regardless of whether you were wearing a helmet, so long as you were abiding by the current state law at the time of the accident. Again, this comes down to whether you had a license or motorcycle permit and were over 18.
Helmet use, however, is always recommended. It vastly reduces the risk of catastrophic injuries and, as such, is a wise choice. The amount of your claim will be based on the injuries you suffer and their impact on you and your life, not on your helmet choice.
However, your ability to file a claim with your insurance company may depend on your abidance by your insurance policy. That is to say, if your insurance policy requires you to wear a helmet, your provider could try to deny any claim you file if you were not wearing one. Minnesota is a no-fault state, meaning you must carry liability insurance and personal injury protection insurance (also called no-fault insurance) on your policy.
When you are in an accident, you file your initial injury claim with your insurance company, which is supposed to begin paying benefits like medical care and lost wages immediately. Unfortunately, insurance companies actively look for reasons to reduce or deny claims. Wearing a helmet can provide some defense against a claim denial and protect your life.
According to the Department of Public Safety and Commissioner of Public Safety, DOT-approved standards exist for motorcycle helmets. Beyond that, a helmet with a full-face covering offers the most protection for your head, face, and neck. Consequently, these are considered the safest and best types of helmets to protect you against any potential impact.
You may also use a modular helmet. Modular helmets are also called flip-up helmets. These are a mix between a full-face and a three-quarter helmet. They have a visor, chin bar, and sometimes even a tinted secondary visor for extra protection against sunlight. However, the visor and chin bar on these can flip up to open the front of the helmet.
They tend to weigh more than a traditional helmet due to the additional design requirements, and rider safety is somewhat less due to the hinge structure. However, it is still an exceptional choice for those who want high protection and flexibility.
Motorcycle riders love the sense of freedom they get from riding their bike on the open road. That, however, is no excuse to put your life in unreasonable danger. Motorcycle helmets save lives; they are that important. When you are out riding, wind in your hair may be a nice feeling, but is it worth suffering lifelong disability or death?
Regardless of whether you are wearing a helmet, you have legal rights if you are in a serious accident caused by someone else’s negligent behavior. You deserve compensation for your pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, and other damages, and Kirshbaum Injury Law can help. Call us at (952) 545-2700 or use our online contact form to reach out for a free consultation about your case today.
Jim is a very experienced trial lawyer having conducted jury trials in multiple states both on behalf of injured people and on behalf of defending insurance companies.