Throughout the state of New York, the law requires all riders, including passengers, to wear helmets. Helmets must meet the U.S. Department of Transportation federal motor vehicle safety standards and include or be in addition to protective eyewear. Motorcyclists must also use daytime running lights or headlights, have at least one red rear reflector, directional signals, a horn, and a muffler.
Motorcycle safety laws are in place to protect motorcyclists, not to limit their options in the event of personal injury lawsuits. However, a judge may consider broken laws on your part if they contributed or added to your injuries. For example, if your failure to wear a helmet contributed to your head injury in an accident, the judge may lessen your compensation, since you were partly to blame for your injuries.
Luckily, New York abides by pure comparative negligence rules, meaning you can still obtain compensation no matter what percentage the judge finds you at fault. However, if the judge finds you partially at fault, he or she will reduce your award based on the percentage. If the court finds you 20% to blame for a traumatic brain injury due to no helmet, for example, you’d receive $8,000 out of a $10,000 settlement. New York’s comparative fault rules are a major reason you need an experienced accident attorney arguing your side in court.
An expert motorcycle accident attorney can prove, with the help of a health care professional’s key witness testimony, that your injuries would have been the same regardless of the rules you broke. Another angle to argue may be that the defendant was comparatively much more at fault for driving negligently than you were for breaking a road rule. Motorcyclist rights and rules in New York can be confusing. Trust a personal injury lawyer to do the hard work for you, so you can focus on recovery.