Motorcycle riders in the state of Tennessee may feel confident that they can safely operate their vehicles without wearing a helmet. Even if they have that opinion, the law is clear on one point: All motorcycle riders — drivers and passengers — must wear helmets while on the motorcycle. Those helmets, which can provide a significant amount of protection during a motorcycle accident, must meet federal safety standards set by the Department of Transportation.
Why do we need a mandatory helmet law?
Legal experts say that helmet laws are generally successful in reducing head injuries and deaths because of motorcycle accidents in Tennessee and other states. However, this is a major bone of contention for riders, who believe that they have a constitutional right to operate their motorcycle without a helmet.
Can I still receive financial compensation if I am not wearing a helmet and get injured in an accident?
Surprisingly, even though Tennessee does have a mandatory helmet law, accident victims may still be entitled to compensation even if they are not wearing their helmet. In some states, the laws provide only for criminal penalties and do not impact a civil proceeding.
What are my chances of recovering damages?
This all depends on whether the court proceeding determines that you may have been negligent in the motorcycle accident. In some instances, failure to wear a helmet does not contribute directly to the rider’s injury. Negligence on the part of the motorcyclist may include failing to properly signal, or the rider could be found negligent because of speeding and other traffic violations. You and your attorney can work together to maximize the outcome of your helmet-related motorcycle accident case.
Source: Department of Safety and Homeland Security, “Top Ten Traffic Safety Laws for TN Visitors” Sep. 22, 2014