How Will Missouri Helmet Laws Affect My Case?
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation from the other driver. Helmet laws in Missouri mandate motorcycle riders under the age of 26 to wear helmets, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t make a claim if you were not wearing one during the crash. Before you speak to anyone about your accident, it’s important to gather information about your crash and contact a personal injury attorney who knows Missouri helmet laws.
The Ins and Outs of Helmet Laws in Missouri
There’s no doubt that motorcycles are dangerous. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, a total of 5,932 people died in motorcycle accidents in the U.S. in 2021. Motorcycles make up only 3% of our country’s registered vehicles but are involved in 14% of all traffic deaths.
Even though research shows that helmets reduce the risk of a motorcyclist experiencing a potentially fatal head injury by 69%, Missouri no longer requires every rider to wear one. As of August 2020, Missouri helmet laws were revised under statute RSMo. 302.026 as such:
- Any qualified motorcycle operator who is 26 years of age or older may operate a motorcycle or motor tricycle upon any Missouri highway without wearing protective headgear.
- The motorcycle operator must be able to show proof of health insurance that can cover their medical expenses in case of an accident.
- Drivers who have only been issued a learning permit are required to wear a helmet, regardless of age.
In other words, any motorcyclist over 25 with a valid license to drive the vehicle, and who has insurance covering Missouri liability limits of $25,000 per person for bodily injury and up to $50,000 per accident, does not have to wear a helmet.
Are Missouri Helmet Laws Enforced?
Police can not pull over motorcycle riders simply for not wearing a helmet. As the law states: No person shall be stopped, inspected, or detained solely to determine compliance with this subsection. A citation for not wearing a helmet can only be issued when a motorcyclist is stopped for a traffic violation such as speeding, a broken taillight, or illegal lane-splitting.
What are the Penalties for Not Wearing a Helmet?
For a first offense, the state of Missouri will issue a $25 ticket. Repeat violators could pay higher fines and have points added to their driving records. As a high-risk rider, being cited for not wearing a helmet could also result in higher insurance rates.
What Qualifies as an Approved Helmet?
To ensure the maximum amount of protection, The Missouri Department of Transportation has safety requirements for motorcycle helmets. Qualified helmets are marked with a DOT label on the back, have a sturdy chin strap, a one-inch foam liner, and a weight of three pounds. Any other helmet does not provide the same protection, and thus, puts riders at risk.
Can I Make a Personal Injury Claim if I Was Not Wearing a Helmet in an Accident?
Regardless of whether you were wearing a helmet when your accident happened, there is a good chance you were not at fault. Distracted driving causes over 3,000 fatal accidents every year in the U.S. The small size of motorcycles makes them difficult for other drivers to see. Add to that a driver who is texting or eating, and the chances of them hitting a motorcyclist increases.
Drivers making improper lane changes are also often at fault in Missouri motorcycle crashes. They have a responsibility to check blind spots before moving over. A motorcycle rider who happened to be in his own lane when getting hit did not cause the accident.
So can you make a personal injury claim if you were not wearing a helmet? Absolutely. However, Missouri is a pure comparative negligence state. This means that both parties involved in a collision can share responsibility for the accident. If a distracted driver switched lanes and ran into you, that driver would seem to be completely at fault. Even if you did not contribute to the crash, some insurance companies will claim that you contributed to your injuries by choosing not to wear a helmet. A jury could decide to make the other driver pay only 75% of your medical bills and pin the other 25% on you, even though you weren’t breaking Missouri helmet laws. Your personal injury attorney will fight to get the money you deserve.
How to Seek Compensation When You’ve Been in a Motorcycle Accident
In Missouri, motorcyclists have five years after an accident to file a claim, but it’s very important to begin gathering details as soon as the crash occurs if possible. Write down weather conditions, the type of vehicle that hit you, and how the collision happened.
Also keep notes, bills, and receipts regarding:
- Medical expenses related to the motorcycle accident
- Loss of income due to the accident
- Ongoing treatments such as physical therapy, chiropractic care, and medication
- Repairs to the motorcycle
While undergoing medical care, contact a Missouri motorcycle attorney like Hipskind & McAninch. You could be entitled to recoup costs that your insurance company doesn’t cover, as well as paychecks you’re missing while unable to work. You could also receive money to compensate for your pain and suffering.
Motorcycle Accident Attorneys Help Crash Victims
Seeking legal counsel after an accident is the best way to get fair compensation for the expenses associated with personal injuries, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Motorcycle accident attorneys at Hipskind & McAninch represent all people who are suffering because of crashes, whether they were wearing helmets or not. Contact us today to get the help you need.