Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Berenson Injury Law exclusively handles auto and motorcycle accident claims in North Texas. This singular focus has allowed us to refine our processes and approaches to maximize damages recovery. In addition to our legal focus, attorney Bill Berenson has acquired important knowledge about motorcycle safety and injury prevention based upon almost 40 years of experience.

Wearing a motorcycle helmet is one of the single most effective means of surviving a traffic collision and avoiding a devastating brain injury. In fact, a helmet increases the rider’s chances of surviving a wreck by 37 percent and decreases the likelihood of a head injury by 67 percent. An operator or passenger can still die or sustain a debilitating brain injury, but the chances are much lower with helmet use.

Amendment of Texas Motorcycle Helmet Legislation

Texas law used to require riders to carry a minimum of $10,000 in health insurance coverage for motorcycle-related injuries in order to obtain an exemption to wearing a helmet. That law was amended in 2009 to delete the minimum insurance requirement.

The current law mandates that the Texas Department of Insurance issue an exemption certificate to any rider who is at least 21 years old and retains a health insurance plan that specifically covers motorcycle crash injuries. To be eligible for the exemption, the rider must have the words "MOTORCYCLE HEALTH" printed on the insurance card or a letter that details the insurance plan and includes the phrase "MOTORCYCLE HEALTH: Standard Proof of Health Insurance.”

In addition, the current law prohibits a police officer from stopping or detaining a motorcyclist solely to determine whether the rider has the requisite health insurance coverage or has completed the safety course and operator training mandated by law.

Despite these allowances, wearing a helmet, obtaining adequate training and maintaining a quality health insurance policy are three of the best means of protecting yourself if you are in a motorcycle accident.

How Helmets Prevent Head Injuries and Deaths

A motorcycle helmet is a simple piece of equipment that achieves powerful results. Helmets come in a variety of styles and designs, but generally comprise a polycarbonate shell and an expanded plystyrene (EPS) foam lining.

During a crash, the outer hard polycarbonate layer of the helmet is designed to crack upon impact. This cracking effect distributes the force of impact more evenly across the surface of the helmet. The EPS foam inner lining then absorbs the force and continues to distribute its effects across a wider brain area.

This basic, but brilliant, design protects the brain from the intense level of impact it would have endured had the skull come into direct contact with a hard surface.

Legal Reasons to Wear a Helmet

The safety benefits should be reason enough to wear a helmet. However you may also consider the legal issues should you be involved in a motorcycle wreck. Legally you have the right to forego helmet use if you are at least 21 years of age and meet the health insurance and training as required by Texas laws. But whether you wear a helmet may nonetheless affect the outcome of your civil case.

Texas adopts the modified comparative fault rule, which means you cannot recover damages from a negligent driver if you are found to be more than half at fault.

Furthermore, your damages are reduced by the percentage you are found responsible. For example, your damages would be reduced by 20 percent if a jury found you 20 percent responsible for your head injuries because you did not wear a helmet. In a $100,000 award, this would be a reduction in damages of $20,000.

Often the defense makes a convincing argument that a helmet would have diminished the head injury damages and the plaintiff is found to be 51% or more responsible, which means he receives no compensation.

Our firm also uses the helmet in our investigations and as evidence of the force, angle and repercussions of impact. Through analysis of the cracked helmet, our experts can corroborate medical tests as to area of brain affected and severity of the injury.

Learn More About Motorcycle Helmet Laws in Texas

Our Dallas-Fort Worth motorcycle accident attorney at Berenson Injury Law has substantial experience helping our clients recover for head injuries.Schedule a free consultation to learn how we use our knowledge about the use of and the laws governing motorcycle helmets to bring a successful liability claim.

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