One of the more frequently asked questions about motorcycle accidents in the state is whether wearing a helmet will prevent an injured rider from receiving financial compensation or lower the amount he or she is entitled to. Currently, Colorado law does not require a helmet when riding a motorcycle if you are 18 or over – just protective eyewear – so it’s at the rider’s discretion.
When taking a look at this question, first consider the four elements of a motorcycle claim in the state:
• The defendant must have a legal duty of care. For the driver who hit the motorcyclist, this includes controlling his or her vehicle, driving on the right side of the road and observing the right of way at any intersection.
• There must be a breach of that duty on the driver’s part. For example, not stopping at a stop sign or red light or speeding.
• The plaintiff must have had losses, such as medical injuries or damage to his or her bike.
• Finally, there has to be some sort of relationship between the breach of duty and the injury. One example would be a driver who runs a stop sign and hits a motorcyclist, sending that motorcyclist to the hospital. The driver’s running of the stop sign is likely what caused the accident and therefore the motorcyclist’s injuries.
Nothing in those elements prevents a motorcyclist from recovering damages for an accident, even if he or she wasn’t wearing a helmet. In fact, this very issue was actually addressed by the Colorado Supreme Court back in 1984 in the case of Tracy Dare (http://www.leagle.com/
Dare was a motorcyclist who was not wearing a helmet when he killed by a driver of a car in a crash. After the accident, his parents brought forward a wrongful death claim against that driver. The Court decided in the Dare case that the defense couldn’t bring up the failure to wear a helmet to show negligence on Dare’s behalf or lessen the damages awarded to his family.
Simply put, a motorcyclist doesn’t have to anticipate that a driver on the road is going to cause an accident. While it is recommended that motorcyclists wear helmets for their own safety, not wearing one doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t receive the full damages you’re entitled to after an accident under state law. If you or someone you love has been the victim of a motorcycle accident, speak to a legal professional about your case as soon as possible to protect your rights.
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