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New York’s Motorcycle Helmet Law and Personal Injuries


Helmets save lives. For this simple reason, New York has had a motorcycle helmet law on the books for over 50 years. If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, wearing a helmet can make the difference between life and death. It can also protect your legal rights to compensation for your injuries.

New York’s Motorcycle Laws

Recognizing the importance of helmets to save lives, New York is one of the few states that has a universal law requiring everyone riding on a motorcycle to wear a helmet. This law applies to both the motorcyclist and all of their passengers. Furthermore, motorcyclists must have eye covering. To check whether your helmet satisfies the law, check to see that is has a Department of Transportation (DOT) sticker on it.

Furthermore, New York also requires that children aged 1 to 13 wear a helmet while riding on a bicycle. Any parent or guardian who allows their child to violate the law can be fined up to $50.

Safety Statistics

According to government statistics, motorcycle helmets can prevent death and serious injury while reducing the costs of all accidents:

  • Helmets reduce your risk of death by 37%
  • Helmets reduce your risk of head injury by almost 70%
  • Helmets saved 1,772 lives in 2015.
  • If all motorcyclist wore helmets, then over $1 billion could be saved
  • A universal helmet law would save an additional 740 lives each year

Furthermore, wearing a helmet does not meaningfully reduce a rider’s visibility or ability to hear. Instead, studies have shown that riders can compensate for any restriction on their visibility by turning their head more. Also, helmets do not reduce your ability to hear while on the motorcycle.

Protecting Your Legal Rights

If someone else injures you while you are riding a motorcycle, you might be entitled to financial compensation. However, New York is a comparative fault state. Under this scheme, the amount of compensation you can receive will be reduced by your percentage of fault for the accident. Unfortunately, failing to wear a motorcycle helmet qualifies as contributory negligence, which will reduce and possibly eliminate the amount of financial compensation you can receive in a settlement or lawsuit.

Consider the following example: you are riding your motorcycle without a helmet when a speeding driver slams into you. At trial, the jury calculates your injuries are worth $120,000. However, because you were not wearing a helmet, the jury claims you are 50% responsible for your injuries. In this case, you will only receive half of the $120,000, or $60,000. You lose out on the other 50% because you did not wear a motorcycle helmet.

Speak with a Brooklyn Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today

After an accident, you need an advocate who works tirelessly for your rights. At the Law Offices of David J. Hernandez & Associates in Brooklyn, we fight for our clients to receive reimbursement of medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering when they are injured because of someone else’s negligence. Reach out to us today for a free consultation by calling 718-407-4123 or filling out our contact form.


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