What Are Colorado’s Helmet Laws – and How Do They Affect Injury Claims?

Categories: Personal Injury

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Riding your bike in the fresh air of the Rockies is the best way to celebrate fall weather here in Colorado.

As a motorcycle rider, you must obey the same traffic laws as other vehicles on the road. Colorado does have minimum safety standards you must meet, and failing to meet them might result in a citation.

Helmet Laws Affecting Montrose, Colorado Residents

You have a motorcycle, and you are ready to venture out onto the open road. Before you do so, have you briefed yourself on the helmet laws?

In Colorado, riders 18 years or older are not required to use a helmet on their motorcycle. However, if you have a passenger that is under the age of 18 or you are under the age of 18, you must wear a Department of Transportation approved helmet.

Also, Colorado does require eye protection for all riders and passengers. Naturally, eye protection is best when it involves a visor affixed to a helmet. If you do not wear a helmet, then opt for goggles or safety plastic eyewear approved for motorcycle use. Your bike’s windshield is not considered legal eyewear protection.

Failure to Wear a Helmet and No State Laws – How Does It Affect an Injury Claim

So, there is no law requiring that you wear a helmet if you are an adult rider. While this is true, and you will not have citations to worry about, you do have an injury claim that might not work out in your favor.

The impact of your not wearing a helmet becomes murky for how it will affect your claim. Generally, the defendant in the case would need to argue that your failure to wear a helmet was the sole cause of your injuries – meaning you contributed to the injuries and your compensation should be reduced.

Wearing a Helmet Is Important

Not only does wearing a helmet protect you in the event you must file a claim later, but it could save your life.

Wearing a helmet can help by:

  • Reducing fatal injuries; thus, saving your life;
  • Alleviating or lessening the severity of your injuries – including reduce the risk of a serious traumatic brain injury (TBI);
  • Protecting your face, neck, and eyes from debris;
  • Increasing riding comfort;
  • Increasing your visibility on the road;
  • Reducing wind noise and distractions; and
  • Showing the court you are a responsible rider.

Comparative Fault Comes into Play

If you choose to ride your bike without a helmet, you have not broken state laws. However, you are now subject to comparative fault laws for your injury claim.

In Colorado, the state uses contributory negligence. Contributory negligence refers to the amount you contribute toward your injury, and the amount you do contribute reduces your compensation value.

For example, you are in a serious motorcycle accident, and you did not wear a helmet. You suffered lacerations, broken bones, but also severe head trauma. If the court determines that your negligence of not wearing a helmet contributed to 40 percent of your injuries, they will reduce the settlement value by 40 percent.

Consider it this way: you receive a $100,000 reward, but you are 40 percent at fault. Now, you have your compensation reduced by $40,000 – leaving you with only $60,000 in compensation.

In cases like these, the courts would have to assess how much your failure to wear a helmet plays into your injuries. If you have no brain trauma and most of your injuries are chest or extremities, then the defense would fail to argue that your lack of helmet use contributed at all.

Likewise, the court may remove compensation for any brain or neck trauma from not wearing the helmet, which means you may only receive compensation for the injuries sustained to other areas of the body.

Do Not Forget about Insurance

Insurance companies love to argue against injury claims, and they do their best to reduce the amount of money they pay out on them. Any time you give them the opportunity, they will use it to their advantage – and not wearing a helmet is undoubtedly one of those opportunities.

Your insurance company, as well as the other party’s, will argue that if you were not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, you were at fault. Furthermore, you might find that your insurance premiums increase for what they see as reckless driving. If you were injured outside of Colorado, in a state that requires helmets, insurance may deny the claim altogether because you broke the law.

Injured in a Motorcycle Accident without a Helmet? Talk to an Attorney Immediately

If someone harms you in an accident and you were not wearing a helmet on your motorcycle, you need an attorney.

An attorney knows how insurance companies and defense attorneys try to get out of paying claims. They work alongside you to find a solution through negotiations and using the preponderance of the evidence to show the other side was negligent and caused your injuries.

Some evidence your attorney may need to collect to prove your case includes:

  • The type of injuries you suffered and how many of those injuries were not related to your helmet use
  • The prognosis of your injuries
  • Medical experts who will testify that your not wearing a helmet did not impact most of your injuries

After a severe motorcycle accident, you need an attorney with experience handling these types of complicated cases.

Contact Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C., for a free consultation today. You can get started by calling 970-704-0888 or by contacting his office online.

Mark Rubinstein

Attorney Mark S. Rubinstein has been practicing law for more than 30 years, including 25 years in Colorado. He founded Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C., in Carbondale after working for law firms in Denver and earlier in his career in San Diego. He focuses his practice in the areas of criminal defense and personal injury representation, and he is well known throughout western Colorado as an effective and unwavering advocate for his clients.