Tennessee’s motorcycle helmet law and accident recovery

In one of our previous blog posts, we discussed how Tennessee requires all motorcycle operators and their passengers to wear helmets while riding. Many riders feel that the helmet requirement is a severe restriction on their personal freedoms. Although that may be true to some degree, the fact of the matter is that the use of motorcycle helmets significantly increases the amount of protection for riders against many forms of head and brain trauma.

In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that the use of motorcycle helmets had saved 1,699 lives back in 2012. According to NHTSA, an additional 781 lives may have been spared if those riders had elected to wear helmets during that same year. So far, Tennessee is one of 19 states, and the District of Columbia, which have motorcycle helmet laws on the books.

Despite the mandatory helmet law, Tennessee motorcyclists who have been injured while not wearing a helmet may still be entitled to sue for compensation of their injuries. That’s because Tennessee recognizes the legal concept of Modified Comparative Fault when it comes to determining negligence in motorcycle accident cases. Put simply, this means that an injured motorcyclist can be barred from recovering damages if it is determined that they were 50 percent or greater at fault for the accident.

Additionally, under the Modified Comparative Fault scheme, the amount of recovery can be reduced by the injured motorcyclist’s level of fault in the accident. Obviously, this can become problematic for non-helmet wearing motorcyclists who present claims for head and brain trauma related injuries.

Based in Knoxville, our law firm represents motorcycle accident victims throughout Tennessee. Our firm operates on a contingency fee basis. That means that our clients pay no fees unless we recover a favorable outcome on their claims. There is also no charge for initial consultations with our prospective clients.