Motorcycle riding can be a cost-effective alternative to a passenger car for travel. Unfortunately, motorcycles can be a dangerous option for Indiana transportation. Motorcyclists are more exposed to different hazards, and the smallest mistake can cause serious injuries.
Motorcyclists are at an increased risk of an accident since they are harder to see on the road. Motorcycle helmet laws in Indiana have specific regulations and laws regarding motorcycles to help ensure rider safety.
The Indiana Motorcycle Accident Attorneys at Wagner Reese are passionate about providing top-notch legal counsel to victims of motorcycle accidents. As a renowned law firm, Wagner Reese, LLP takes legal experience and knowledge to the next level, having earned recognition from many prestigious organizations along with numerous awards for our dynamic, aggressive, and thorough legal representation. Wagner Reese, LLP is the nation’s leader in motorcycle accident injury cases.
Understanding the Current Indiana Motorcycle Helmet Laws
Indiana’s motorcycle helmet regulations and laws can be found in Indiana Code § 9-19-7-1. This law requires that any rider or passenger who is 18 years of age or under wear:
- A safety helmet that meets or exceeds all federal safety standards
- Goggles, protective glasses, or a transparent face shield.
Generally, a motorcycle helmet will meet all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) 218 if it contains a “DOT” sticker on the backside. Unfortunately, there can be counterfeit “DOT” stickers placed on helmets by manufacturers or distributors. The presence of a “DOT” sticker alone should not be your only determining factor when choosing a helmet.
To guarantee you are purchasing a helmet that properly meets FMVSS 218, you should look for the following:
- Solid rivets with a sturdy chin strap
- No less than 1 inch of thick inner foam liner
- 3 pounds or more in weight
- Protruding features extending no more than 2/10-inch from the surface
If the helmet meets American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or Snell standards, it should also meet federal standards. Novelty helmets may not meet all of the above standards and, therefore, do not comply with Indiana helmet laws. As a result, the helmet may provide little to no protection to riders or passengers if they were to get into an accident.
The Importance of Wearing a Helmet While Riding a Motorcycle
Prior to 1976, almost every state had a universal helmet law. Then, Congress removed the federal government’s power to punish states that did not have helmet laws. They would be punished in ways such as not being provided highway safety funding.
Currently, 19 states have universal helmet laws which are explained by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). Twenty-eight states have limited helmet laws, including Indiana. New Hampshire, Illinois, and Iowa are the only three states with no helmet laws at all.
Should riders and passengers wear a helmet, even when there is no requirement by law to wear one? According to safety experts, the answer is yes. There are a host of safety benefits provided by helmet usage.
The Potential Consequences of Not Wearing a Helmet
According to studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NHTSA), helmets can lower the fatality rate by 73%, with an 85% reduction in serious, critical, and severe injuries compared to unhelmeted riders. Not wearing a helmet can be the difference between life or death in serious motorcycle accidents.
The proper use of a motorcycle helmet can help to prevent:
- Eye injuries
- Mouth injuries
- Ear injuries
- Cervical spine injuries
- Skull fractures
- Traumatic brain injuries
Common Misconceptions About Indiana Motorcycle Helmet Laws
Many Indiana motorcycle riders are unaware of what the helmet laws cover. Although the law provides strict directions for riders and passengers under 18, the law also covers other motorcyclists.
Helmet requirements for motorcycles in Indiana state that riders with a learner’s permit are to wear a safety helmet no matter their age. An adult who meets all Indiana requirements for obtaining a motorcycle endorsement on their Indiana driver’s license can then choose whether or not to ride with a helmet.
Legal Recourse for Motorcycle Accident Victims in Cases Involving Helmet Non-compliance
Most judges recognize the importance that a helmet can play in a rider’s safety in a motorcycle accident. Choosing not to wear a helmet shows a conscious disregard for a rider’s well-being. The court could state you were negligent or careless, assumed an unnecessary risk, or did not mitigate your damages by wearing a safety helmet.
Even if Indiana law does not require you to wear a helmet, insurance companies can attempt to use your lack of helmet-wearing against you if you suffer injuries from a motorcycle crash. Despite the many other injuries a rider can suffer during a crash, the insurance company will still argue that you hold higher responsibility regarding the comparative negligence law under Indiana Code 34-51-2-6.
Indiana comparative negligence laws state that if you suffer personal injuries, you can seek compensation if you are less than 51 percent at fault for the accident. However, the compensation will be reduced by the amount you are found to be at fault. This means if you are found to be 40 percent at fault for the accident, you can recover 60 percent of your compensation award.
How Wagner Reese, LLP Can Assist Motorcycle Accident Victims in Navigating the Legal Process
Our Indiana Motorcycle Accident Lawyers have a proven track record of recovering maximum compensation for our injured clients. In 2006, the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association named attorney Stephen Wagner Trial Lawyer of the Year. An invitation-only organization, the National Trial Lawyers, honored attorney Jason Reese as one of the nation’s premier legal professionals.
Insurance companies have an endless supply of resources available to minimize their payout to protect themselves and their clients. We pride ourselves on the ability to level the playing field for our clients, providing them with respect and excellence throughout the legal claims process. Our dedicated team of personal injury attorneys will ensure that your legal rights are fully protected and you recover maximum compensation. Call us today to discuss the details of your case or use our secure online contact form.