Helmets, if selected, fitted, and worn correctly, reliably protect wearers from head injuries. They’re not fail-safe — you can still suffer a head injury while wearing a helmet. But they’re extremely effective at reducing the severity of head trauma and preventing fatalities.
Here’s an overview of the efficacy of helmets in preventing head injuries, and how an experienced brain injury lawyer can handle your head injury compensation claim, whether or not you were wearing a helmet when you got hurt.
Wear the right helmet for the circumstances. Helmets for activities such as high-impact sports differ significantly from those designed for cycling, for example.
To be sure, helmets are not a fail-safe solution. Wearing one does not guarantee protection against all types of head injuries, particularly when impacts inflict rotational or angular forces that increase the risk of brain injuries.
Helmets can also create a false sense of security, leading individuals to take more risks while engaging in concussion-prone activities, such as contact sports. But despite those limitations, helmets unquestionably represent the single most-effective means of minimizing head injury severity and preventing head injury fatalities in a wide variety of settings.
Helmet Laws and Regulations
Due to the widespread recognition of helmets’ effectiveness in preventing head injury, many jurisdictions and governing bodies have implemented laws and regulations to promote helmet use.
- Bicycle helmet laws: Many states and municipalities require cyclists to wear helmets, especially children.
- Motorcycle helmet laws: Many states require at least some motorcycle operators and passengers to wear helmets, although some allow exceptions for riders over 18 or those who carry supplemental health insurance or can demonstrate their financial ability to cover the cost of a severe injury.
- Workplace safety laws: Employers must comply with occupational health and safety laws, which may require workers to wear helmets, such as hard hats, at work sites where head injuries are a potential problem.
- Recreational activity rules: Sports leagues, recreational facilities, and other organizations often require helmet use for participants.
Violating these rules can prompt a range of consequences, from citations to bans from participation in certain activities. Even in jurisdictions and settings where helmet use is not required, it’s widely encouraged as a means of preventing tragic, preventable head injuries.
Helmet Use and Personal Injury Claims
Because helmets protect against head injuries, their use can play a role in the outcome of personal injury cases. Let’s take a look at two common scenarios where that can happen.
Significance of Helmet Use in Traffic Accident Claims
Helmet use often becomes an issue in traffic accident cases. Specifically, the outcome of a crash victim’s personal injury claim can depend on whether they were wearing a helmet at the time of the collision. But not always.
On balance, a victim who wore a helmet stands a better chance of obtaining the maximum compensation for a head injury than one who did not. The widespread recognition of the efficacy of helmets means that insurance companies, judges, and juries, will consider their use as a factor in deciding whether and how much to award a crash victim. That said, the significance of helmet use can also depend on the particular facts and circumstances of a traffic accident.
In most states, you can still file a successful personal injury claim if you did not wear a helmet in a traffic accident.
Here’s an illustration. A motorcyclist in a state like Colorado that does not require helmet use for riders over 18 has every right to choose not to wear one. But the law assumes they make that choice with full appreciation for the risks it entails.
If the unhelmeted rider sustains a severe head injury in a crash, insurers and the courts may place at least part of the blame for the degree of trauma on them, even if the careless actions of another motorist triggered the crash. The rider can still sue the motorist for damages, but may receive less in compensation than if they wore a helmet.
Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. If an unhelmeted biker sustains catastrophic internal injuries but no head trauma in a wreck, their lack of a helmet shouldn’t play much, if any, role in determining the compensation they deserve. Similarly, it might not play a role if a crash was so violent that helmet use would not have mattered.
Experienced personal injury lawyers who represent crash victims know how to present their cases to minimize the relevance of helmet use when necessary to see justice done and fair compensation paid. Always consult an attorney about your rights, even if you didn’t wear a helmet when an accident hurt you.
Liability for Failure to Provide Helmets or Enforce Helmet Rules
Helmet use can also play a role in cases where someone in a position of authority did not ensure proper helmet use, leading to an injury. If one party owes a duty of care to another to provide an adequate helmet or enforce helmet rules, their failure to do so can saddle them with liability for the injured person’s losses.
For example, a high school football coach and his employer could face liability for allowing players to remove their helmets during high-impact drills, leading to a young athlete suffering a concussion or other head trauma.
Similarly, the owner of a private skateboarding park could owe damages to the family of a child who sustained a head injury after being allowed to ride a halfpipe without a helmet.
You might hold the general contractor on a construction project liable for failing to monitor proper hardhat use, leading to a site visitor sustaining head trauma when materials fell on them.
These are just a few examples. The point is, when the law or reasonable expectations create a duty to ensure the safety of others through helmet use, liability can flow from when someone falls short of those standards.
Potential Damages for a Head Injury
As we’ve seen, you can have a claim for damages arising out of your head injury whether or not you were wearing a helmet at the time of your accident.
Often, an attorney can secure payment for your:
- Medical expenses in treating a head injury or other trauma you suffered in an accident
- Costs of repairing or replacing a damaged vehicle or other personal property
- Other expenditures made necessary by your accident or injuries
- Loss of income and job benefits from missing work while healing
- Loss of future earnings and opportunities due to an accident-related disability
- Physical pain and discomfort from injuries and medical treatments
- Emotional suffering due to the accident or your injuries
- Impaired personal relationships or loss of enjoyment of life
- Scarring, disfigurement, or loss of bodily function
In some cases, attorneys can also seek a court award of punitive damages. These damages punish the liable party for engaging in extreme or malicious misconduct. They don’t apply in every case, but when they do they can significantly add to the size of your damages award.
An experienced personal injury lawyer can evaluate your rights to determine the types and amounts of compensation you could claim for a head injury. Even if you were not wearing a helmet when you got hurt, you may still have the right to demand significant payment for your losses.
How an Attorney Navigates Complex Helmet Laws and Head-Injury Claims
After suffering a head injury in a preventable accident that was someone else’s fault, the last thing you need is to shoulder the burden of figuring out how to get paid for your losses. And you don’t have to. An experienced head injury lawyer can obtain the maximum compensation on your behalf.
An attorney with experience navigating the complexities of helmet use laws and regulations can:
- Investigate your accident to determine how it happened, who is to blame, and the significance of your helmet use or non-use to your claim;
- Evaluate the damages you’ve suffered to ensure any legal action demands the maximum payment allowed by law;
- Handle all interactions with insurance companies on your behalf, so that you don’t have to worry about talking to insurance adjusters or missing critical deadlines;
- Answer your questions and guide you through your legal options;
- Gather evidence to support your claims, including medical records, accident reports, and witness statements;
- Take legal action on your behalf in the form of submitting insurance claims or filing lawsuits against parties liable for your losses;
- Negotiate settlements with defense lawyers and insurance companies;
- Advise you about whether to accept or reject settlement offers (the final decision is always yours to make);
- Take your case to court to present it to a judge and jury in a trial;
- Follow up to ensure that you receive every penny owed under a settlement, court judgment, or jury award.
Personal injury lawyers offer free case consultations for you to learn about your rights and options. They also represent their clients on a contingent fee basis. That means they don’t charge upfront fees or hourly rates, but instead only get paid if they get you results. In other words, you owe nothing unless they win for you.
Protect Your Rights After a Head Injury
If you recently suffered a head injury — regardless of whether you were wearing a helmet — following these simple tips can enhance your legal rights and position you for maximum compensation.
Take Your Head Injury Seriously
Head injuries, and particularly those that involve brain trauma, are serious business. But people don’t always treat them that way. Concussions, for example, were long treated as injuries you could shake off. But researchers and doctors now consider concussions a form of traumatic brain injury that can cause severe and lasting physical, emotional, and cognitive impairments, and may lead to an increased risk of degenerative brain disease.
So, always take head injuries seriously. Follow up with your medical appointments, get the necessary rest, and give yourself time to heal. And never assume that you couldn’t have suffered a head injury simply because you wore a helmet at the time of your accident. Helmets are extremely effective in preventing head trauma, but they’re not perfect.
Save Your Helmet and Relevant Documents
Don’t throw away your damaged helmet after an accident. Save it so that your lawyer and medical team can examine it. The marks and cracks on it could provide vital clues about the causes and most effective treatments of your injury.
The same goes for documentation related to your head injury. Save all medical records, accident reports, pharmacy receipts, bills, insurance statements, and other documents related to your injury. They may contain essential information that your lawyer needs to build the strongest case for you.
Hire a Lawyer Immediately
The sooner you have an experienced lawyer on your side, the better your chances of securing the maximum compensation for your head injury, whether or not you were wearing a helmet. Hiring a lawyer also ensures that you meet any applicable legal deadlines for taking action, which protects your rights.
Contact an Experienced Head Injury Lawyer Today
Helmets prevent head injuries. But they’re not perfect. Helmet users can still suffer trauma for which they deserve compensation. And even if you weren’t wearing a helmet when you got hurt, an experienced lawyer can often get you paid for your losses.
To learn more about your rights after suffering a head injury (with or without a helmet), contact an experienced personal injury attorney today for a free consultation.