What Are California’s Motorcycle Helmet Laws?

In California, it is the law for all motorcycle riders to wear a U.S. Department of Transportation-compliant motorcycle safety helmet when riding motorcycles, motorized bikes, and other motor-driven cycles. The law is there to help protect motorcyclists, as statistics show that head injuries account for the majority of serious injuries and wrongful deaths in motorcycle accidents. In many cases, these head injuries are reduced by wearing a proper and certified motorcycle safety helmet.

California is home to approximately 10% of the country’s registered motorcyclists. So, naturally, it makes sense that the motorcycle law is a source of debate within our state. Since being implemented, however, the motorcycle helmet law has significantly reduced the number of motorcycle accident fatalities and serious injuries in CA.

Those caught riding motorcycles without proper helmets in California may face potential criminal consequences for breaking the law. Law enforcement officers are authorized to ticket motorcyclists not wearing helmets for up to $250 and up to a year of probation. In extreme cases, police are also authorized to tow the bike away, as well as tack on additional fines for aggressive driving, excessive speeds, and other traffic violations.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that California motorcycle riders have a 90% rate of wearing helmets while operating motorcycles. States that lack universal helmet laws have an adoption rate of helmet usage closer to 40%.

Do Motorcycle Passengers Have to Wear Helmets in CA?

Motorcycle passengers must also wear a Department of Transportation-compliant motorcycle safety helmet. It is unlawful for motorcycle passengers to ride on motorcycles without proper headgear. It does not matter if you are taking a quick circle around the block or going on a road trip; the law says you must wear a helmet. Failure to wear a helmet as a motorcycle passenger could result in fines and also negatively impact your personal injury claim should an accident occur.

Do Motorcycle Helmets Prevent Injury and Death?

Wearing a motorcycle safety helmet can save your life or reduce the amount of suffering you might endure from a severe injury. In fact, helmets save thousands of lives every year.

Statistics suggest that motorcycle helmets can reduce the risk of fatal injuries by up to 37%. DOT-compliant helmets are designed to absorb and dissipate the force of impact on the motorcyclist’s skull. By reducing this impact energy, your head and neck suffer less force, allowing accident victims to walk away with their lives.

In addition to saving lives, helmets can protect your face from disfigurement and your teeth from dental injuries and reduce the risk of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Studies have shown that helmet use could potentially reduce the risk of a traumatic brain injury by up to 69%.

What Are the Long-Term Consequences of Not Wearing Helmets in Motorcycle Accidents?

Head trauma and brain damage are among the most common consequences of head injuries resulting from motorcycle collisions. Some symptoms of brain injuries do not reveal themselves right away but develop over time. This can cause long-term negative effects such as seizures, paralysis, dizzy spells, and chronic migraines.

Can Not Wearing a Helmet Affect a Personal Injury Claim?

The maximum compensation you may recover for a motorcycle accident case can be influenced by whether or not you were wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. Wearing a helmet in California is mandatory, and failure to wear a helmet could affect personal injury claims.

Your personal injury claim is meant to help reimburse you for damages and financial losses suffered as a result of the accident. You may recover economic and non-economic damages, including medical expenses, property damage bills, and pain and suffering.

However, the other party involved in the motorcycle crash or their insurance company provider may point to your failure to wear a helmet as negligence on your part, which could reduce your settlement or dismiss your claim altogether.

Can You File a Personal Injury Lawsuit if You Weren’t Wearing a Helmet?

Even though motorcycle riders who do not wear helmets are breaking the law, they still have the right to sue other liable parties following motorcycle accidents. However, your motorcycle accident case will depend upon the unique facts surrounding the collision, the actions of the other party involved in the crash, and the severity of injuries suffered.

If your case goes to court, you need an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer to represent your legal rights in pursuit of financial recovery.

How Do California’s Comparative Negligence Laws Relate to Helmet Usage?

California is a pure comparative negligence state (also known as pure comparative fault). Under this doctrine, multiple parties can be held liable for damages in an auto accident, including the accident victim.

Under our comparative negligence laws, the other party can use the fact that you are not wearing a helmet against your case, declaring you partially negligent. If found negligent, the percentage of your negligence will be reflected in the amount of compensation you may recover.

Schedule Your Free Initial Consultation with Experienced Motorcycle Accident Attorneys Today

Motorcycle helmets are important, not just because they could save your life or reduce the severity of your injuries, but because they could also save your personal injury case and help you recover more in terms of financial compensation should you be injured in an accident. If you were in a motorcycle crash and you or your passenger were not wearing helmets at the time, you may have a more uphill battle as you take legal action to recover financial compensation. It is highly recommended that individuals with such complex motorcycle accident cases retain professional legal counsel from experienced personal injury lawyers.

The Law Office of Daniel Deng has years of experience representing clients in motorcycle accident cases, and we would be proud to represent your legal rights as you pursue a satisfactory outcome for your case. To learn more about our legal services, please contact our personal injury law firm for a free consultation today. You may get in touch with us at 626-280-6000.