How Failing to Wear a Helmet Impacts Your New York Personal Injury Case

Written by
Abraham Jaros
Updated on Saturday, Oct 21, 2023

By law, all bicyclists under the age of 14 must wear safety-certified bicycle helmets when they are either an operator or passengers of a bicycle. Failing to wear a helmet can result in death: in 2020, there were 12 cyclist fatalities in New York City. Of those, 10 of the riders were not wearing helmets.

Yet according to a 2020 New York Department of Transportation study, only 50% of cyclists in New York wear helmets.

We recommend following the law, but we understand it’s possible you might be involved in an accident in which you weren’t wearing a helmet. We’re not here to judge; we’ll just tell you how it might impact your personal injury case.

The Burden of Proof

If the defendant wants to raise the issue that you weren’t wearing a helmet, the defendant will have to prove that some or all of your injuries would not have been received had you used a helmet.

They’ll be a lot less successful at doing so if you didn’t sustain any head injuries. If, for example, you broke a leg but didn’t hit your head, then the defendants would have a

hard time making an issue out of this case.

The Determination of Damages

If they are successful, the fact will go to determining damages. Determining damages is the process of calculating the amount you’re entitled to recover from the defendant. Comparative negligence is always a factor in the determination of damages.

If you’re found to be 20% at fault for your own injuries because you weren’t wearing a helmet, then you will only be able to recover 20% of the damages you sustained. So, if you had a potential settlement of $100,000, you’d recover just $80,000.

Personal Injury Law is Complex

If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident, you should never assume you don’t have a case just because you made a mistake.

It’s important to bring your case to a personal injury attorney who can review all the facts and help you determine whether proceeding makes sense. Not wearing a helmet shouldn’t necessarily prevent you from holding a driver accountable if they harmed you on the road.

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