Bicycling is an enjoyable pastime that’s enjoyed all over the Kansas City area. Our great weather and beautiful scenery mean it’s almost always a good day for a ride, just like a motorcycle. You may even bicycle to work on nice days to save on gas and parking and keep your endurance up. Or you may have a baby seat on your bicycle and take a little one out for a ride, too.
If you’ve been riding for any length of time, you know that wearing a helmet is an essential part of safety. In the event of an accident, a safety-certified bicycling helmet can make the difference between a bad headache and a traumatic brain injury. Many accidents are caused by problems on the roadway, but most are collisions with motor vehicles.
Still, many riders just don’t like wearing a helmet, forget them, or don’t see it as that important. But here’s one more reason to wear one: an insurance claim after an accident.
Missouri Does Not Have Helmet Laws
While the state doesn’t have mandatory helmet laws, many municipalities do, particularly for teenagers. St. Charles and Columbia counties require helmets for riders 16 and under, and St. Louis County requires riders 17 and under to wear one. But Berkley, BlackJack, Calverton Park and many others require riders of all ages to wear a helmet. You can see a complete listing of Missouri local bicycle helmet laws.
The penalties for failing to wear a helmet aren’t expensive—from $5 to $25 over 18, and impounding the bike for those under 18. But the risks of a catastrophic injury from riding without one far outweigh the financial penalties. And a bicycle accident with a car or truck is more likely to be debilitating, and potentially fatal.
Missouri is one of several states that use comparative negligence in its personal injury laws. The defendant can be found to have injured a bicyclist by his or her negligence. However, the bicyclist can be found partially responsible for his or her injuries because of the lack of a helmet. Because a helmet is known to prevent severe head injuries, the bicyclist shares some of the blame.
If the bicyclist is found to be 25% responsible for injuries suffered in an accident, any awarded settlement would be reduced by 25%. This means that a $15,000 settlement is reduced by 25%, making it $11,250—a reduction of $3,750.
Battling The Insurance Company
If you’re in an accident with an automobile without a helmet, the first objection by the other party’s insurance company is that you weren’t wearing a helmet. Even if it was solely the driver’s fault, they will likely bring up comparative fault in order to reduce or dismiss your claim. Many won’t take a claim seriously from a bicyclist without strong legal representation.
But a driver who does an illegal U-turn, fails to yield the right of way, ignores stop signs, or commits other offenses is indeed at fault.
Wear Your Helmet!
We want you to enjoy your bike riding, but we also want you to be safe. Wearing a bicycle helmet can protect you from catastrophic and traumatic brain injuries. We’re ready to help you recover damages while you heal.
Since 1918, The Popham Law Firm has been representing people just like you in all types of personal injury cases. We’ll be happy to review your case, let you know if you have one, and how to proceed. Contact us at (844) 243-2288 or (use our online contact form) to get started.