Many people think the answer to this question is “no,” especially since Missouri still has a universal motorcycle helmet law. In fact, the opposite is true. Helmetless victims can do more than file claims. In many cases, the lack of protective headgear does not affect the outcome of a civil case.
So, if a Kansas City personal injury attorney establishes negligence or a lack of care, substantial damages could be available. These damages usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages might be available as well, in some extreme cases (although the Missouri legislature has been working to make punitive damages unavailable, even in the most egregious cases).
Motorcycle Crash Causes
Failure to yield the right-of-way causes many motorcycle crashes. Frequently, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) tries to make a left turn against traffic and does not see an oncoming motorcycle. So, the driver turns directly into the rider’s path.
These same dynamics are present in lane-change crashes. As we all have seen, too many drivers zip in and out of traffic. In doing so, they often do not see other vehicles and motorcycles that are on the road. That is especially true if there are a lot of SUVs, pickups, and other large vehicles on the road at that time.
To improve their visibility, some riders weave slightly in their own lanes or wear bright-colored clothes. Sadly, there is little evidence that these tricks are effective.
Failure to yield crashes often involve the contributory negligence defense. If the rider was speeding or committing another moving violation, the insurance company will attempt to shift blame for the accident onto the victim, which may limit the victim’s recovery.
These issues are not just theoretical. There is a lot at stake. Motorcycle crashes often cause head injuries and traumatic brain injuries. he medical bills alone in these cases often exceed $100,000. Health insurance companies often refuse to pay these expenses, citing any number of factors, such as liability issues. However, victims are still entitled to compensation, even when they may share fault in an accident. So, maximum compensation is critical in these cases.
The Helmet Defense in Missouri
As mentioned, the Show-Me State is one of the few jurisdictions with a universal helmet law. All riders, regardless of age, amount of insurance, experience, or anything else, must wear protective headgear.
Although Missouri’s helmet law is quite broad, its motorcycle helmet defense law is quite narrow. Much like the aforementioned contributory negligence doctrine, the motorcycle helmet defense shifts blame for injuries from the driver who caused the crash to the victim who was not wearing a helmet.
In Missouri, helmet non-use is irrelevant in terms of comparative fault. That makes sense because wearing a helmet has nothing to do with the cause of the crash. Insurance companies can use helmet non-use to reduce damages, but only by a maximum of 1%.
This reduction is not automatic. Insurance companies have the burden of proof and the burden of persuasion on this point. They must prove the rider was not wearing a helmet and the lack of a helmet proximately caused the victim’s injuries. Additionally, they must convince jurors of the same thing.
Connect With a Hard-Hitting Attorney
If you have been injured due to another person’s negligence, call Aaron House at 816-875-4260 today for a free consultation.
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