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Helmets and Motorcycle Accidents: Liability vs. Responsibility

Unlike most states, Illinois holds steadfast in its refusal to instate a motorcycle helmet law. Illinois recognizes wearing a helmet is a strongly recommended safety precaution but not a matter of public safety. In Illinois, it’s legal for a motorcyclist of any age to ride without a helmet. But without a helmet, many motorcycle accidents are fatal. Naturally, this begs the question of who is responsible for the motorcyclist’s injuries or death? Is it the motorcyclist who failed to follow recommended safety measures or the motorist who caused the accident?

Liability vs. Responsibility

As stated above, motorcyclists in Illinois do not have a legal responsibility to wear a helmet. And if another motorist causes an accident with a motorcyclist, the motorist could be held liable. But is the motorist liable for the full extent of the injuries the motorcyclist suffered? The law on this is straightforward. If the motorcyclist was following the law and the motorist caused the accident, the motorist is liable for the damages. Because the motorist failed to fulfill his or her responsibility to operate with caution, he or she must compensate the motorcyclist.

Other Considerations

While Illinois eschews a helmet law, it does require motorcyclists to wear safety goggles, shatterproof glasses, or ride behind a transparent windshield. Debris from the road can spray into the field of vision of motorcyclists, and without these safety measures, a rider could quickly lose control of the vehicle, which poses a public safety hazard. If a motorcyclist in Illinois failed to adhere to this law and caused an accident, he or she could be held liable.

Wear a Helmet for Safety

Motorcyclists are 26 times more likely to die in an auto accident than motorists per mile traveled. While you aren’t required by law to wear a motorcycle helmet, it is the single most effective way to stay safe when riding. Helmets reduce your risk of head injury by 69% and your risk of death by 37%. In light of these numbers, wearing a helmet may be a personal choice, but it’s one that should be taken seriously.

Motorcycle accidents can be fatal. Always wear a DOT-approved helmet, and practice safe riding. Speak with an Arlington Heights motorcycle accident attorney if you’ve been in an accident. You will need a fierce advocate on your side, especially if you are seriously injured. An attorney can make sure your rights are protected, so you can focus on treating your injuries.

R.F. Wittmeyer

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