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How helmets could help reduce injuries in a motorcycle crash


Residents in West Virginia understand the importance of highway safety. The concept of highway safety requires that drivers uphold the standard duty of care while behind the wheel of a vehicle, but also includes the usage of safety features by both drivers and passengers. With regard to motorcycles, riders do not enjoy the same safety features as motorists in automobiles, but wearing a helmet could help reduce the seriousness of a motorcycle accident. In some instances, wearing a helmet could prevent debilitating or fatal injuries to a motorcyclist.

In West Virginia, motorcyclists and their passengers are required to wear a helmet while traveling on a motorcycle. This is true, regardless of their ages. While the universal helmet law seeks to protect and save the lives of motorcycle riders, some do not understand how beneficial these laws truly are.

With respect to helmet laws in general, some are concerned that the helmet itself could impact or affect the vision and hearing of the driver or riders. While this is a common misconception, it is not true. If a helmet meets Department of Transportation standards, it will not interfere with a motorcyclist's sight or hearing and will only provide protection to the head of the rider.

Others question whether motorcycle safety education could serve as a substitute for a helmet. While there are many benefits of safety education for motorcycle riders, implementing the universal helmet law is the most effective way to increase safety and reduce the number of serious and fatal motorcycle accidents. In fact, reports indicate that using helmets reduces the risk of death in a motorcycle crash by 37 percent. Furthermore, wearing a helmet reduces the risk of a head injury by 69 percent.

Because wearing a helmet is the most effective way to reduce serious or fatal injuries and it is required in the state of West Virginia, it is important to determine whether a helmet was used or properly used following a motorcycle accident. If a victim fails to wear a helmet, this information could be used to prove partial liability for the crash. Whether he or she is partially liable or not, an injured motorcyclist can file a personal injury claim following a crash in which negligence has occurred. Doing so could help the victim recover compensation to cover related expenses.

Understanding state laws helps not only with a civil action following a motorcycle accident, but also helps reduce the number of serious and fatal injuries caused by a motorcycle accident.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Injury Prevention & Control: Motor Vehicle Safety," accessed on Sept. 23, 2014

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Stephen P. New, Attorney at Law
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Beckley, WV 25801

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