Motorcycle riding can be a thrilling experience, and things like motorcycle helmet laws are designed to reduce the risk of injury as much as possible. Wearing an approved helmet can lower the risk of head injury or death in the event of a motorcycle accident, but some people still decide to ride without one.
Despite the safety benefits, motorcycle helmet use is not required in every state, and even some that do have helmet laws only have partial helmet laws. This means their laws relating to helmet use may only apply to riders of a certain age. Georgia motorcycle laws, however, require all riders to wear protective headgear, regardless of age.
Wearing a motorcycle helmet can decrease a person’s risk of serious injury in a motorcycle accident, as well as increase the likelihood that they’ll receive compensation if they are injured in an accident that was not their fault. If you or a family member have been injured in a motorcycle crash, the Georgia personal injury lawyers at Ashenden & Associates, P.C. are here to help. Call one of our experienced attorneys today at 770-394-8909 to schedule a free initial case evaluation.
How Common Are Motorcycle Fatalities in the U.S.?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were a total of 5,932 motorcyclist fatalities in 2021, which is the highest number of recorded motorcycle fatalities since motorcycle fatality data was first collected in 1975. That year, motorcycles made up 3.5% of all registered vehicles in the United States, but motorcycle accident cases accounted for 14% of all traffic casualties. Motorcycle crashes in 2021 were five times more deadly than passenger car crashes, and eight times more deadly than light truck accidents.
Georgia Motorcycle Accident Statistics
Georgia is one of only 18 states that requires all motorcyclists and passengers to wear a helmet when riding. In 2021, there were 185 motorcycle fatalities in Georgia, which accounted for approximately 3% of the nation’s motorcycle accident fatalities that year. If you or a loved one have been injured in a motorcycle accident in Georgia, the motorcycle accident attorneys at Ashenden & Associates can help you receive the compensation you deserve. Call us at 770-394-8909 to schedule your free initial consultation.
Why Wearing Helmets and Protective Clothing is So Important on Motorcycles
Georgia’s motorcycle helmet law requires all motorcyclists and passengers to wear DOT-approved helmets and DOT-approved eyewear, if their bike doesn’t have a windshield. Additionally, it requires riders to wear shoes. While these are the only protective clothing requirements for Georgia motorcycle riders, motorcyclists can and should be doing a lot more to protect themselves in the event of a crash. This can include wearing protective clothing and closed-toed shoes.
Wearing an approved helmet can make a world of difference in a motorcycle accident. In fact, in 2021, it’s estimated that 37 out of every 100 motorcycle fatalities could have been prevented if the rider was wearing a helmet. Motorcycle helmets are designed to protect the head in the event of an accident, preventing it from hitting hard surfaces like the road or other vehicles on impact.
Under Georgia law, motorcycle helmets are required for all riders, and being caught riding without one can have legal consequences. Not wearing protective headgear can also have physical consequences: motorcycle accidents can cause serious injuries like traumatic brain injuries, which can have life-altering effects.
Georgia requires all motorcycle riders to have some form of eye protection, whether that is through a properly-sized windshield at the front of the motorcycle, or in the form of DOT-approved eyewear. This eye protection prevents dust, bugs, and debris from hitting the driver’s face, and can prevent eye irritation when riding, improving visibility.
Georgia’s motorcycle helmet law doesn’t extend past protecting the head, but motorcyclists should be wearing thick gloves to help protect their hands when riding and in the event of a crash. Injuries known as “degloving injuries” occur when the skin and tissue of the hand is torn away. These can occur in motorcycle accidents if the rider uses their hands to brace themselves in an accident. Degloving injuries can require skin grafts and may even require amputation, so motorcyclists should wear gloves every time they get on the road.
Jacket and Pants
Motorcyclists who wear approved protective headgear may be safe from brain injuries, but they are not safe from things like burn injuries. In an accident, the motorcyclist will most likely come into contact with the road, usually at a high speed. Road rash can cause severe burns to any part of the body that is not properly protected. Thick, durable clothing like denim and leather can help protect motorcyclists from road burn.
While it’s not against the law to ride a motorcycle in Georgia wearing only flip-flops, it is not recommended. In fact, motorcyclists should be wearing solid, closed-toed shoes to protect their feet in the event of an accident. Like with degloving injuries, the skin from the foot can be torn away from the bone in a motorcycle accident, which could require re-attachment of the toes or amputation.
What is the Georgia Motorcycle Helmet Law?
Under Georgia Code Section 40-6-315, all motorcycle operators and passengers are required to wear protective headgear and eyewear, regardless of age or license status (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-315). According to the Georgia Commissioner of Public Safety, riders must wear an approved helmet that complies with the standards established by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218.
A passenger can only ride on a motorcycle equipped to hold more than one person, and they must also wear approved eye protection and approved protective headgear. The only riders allowed to operate without a helmet are those driving a three-wheeled motorcycle that is used for agricultural purposes only, or persons riding in an enclosed cab or motorized cart.
Penalties for Violating the Georgia Motorcycle Helmet Law
Motorcycle helmet laws are traffic laws and, like with all other traffic violations, disobeying them can have legal consequences. If someone is caught operating a motorcycle without wearing a helmet, they may be fined up to $1,000 and may be imprisoned for up to a year or forced to complete community service.
How Violating the Georgia Helmet Law Can Impact Financial Recovery
Traffic laws, like motorcycle laws, are designed to protect citizens from harm, so when a person operating a motorcycle decides to violate these laws and not wear a helmet, they are putting themselves at a greater risk for injury.
Because of this, if they are in an accident that was not their fault, they still may be partially liable for their own injuries. This means that if they try to recover compensation for their injuries, they may not be able to recover the maximum amount from their insurance company or the person at fault.
Deciding not to wear a helmet could prevent them from receiving the money they deserve for their injuries. Not only that, but if their injuries are fatal, their family may not be able to recover financial compensation in a wrongful death suit to cover burial expenses, medical bills, and emotional distress.
Damages for Motorcycle Accidents
Since motorcycle accidents can cause serious injuries, there are a lot of damages one could recover from a negligent motorcycle accident case. Victims of negligence may be able to recover compensation for:
- Medical bills;
- Lost income;
- Loss of enjoyment of life;
- Loss of earning capability;
- Cost of future medical assistance;
- Cost of assistive medical devices;
- And more.
If someone is in a motorcycle accident and they are not wearing a helmet, they are at a greater risk of sustaining head injuries, like a traumatic brain injury (TBI), which can permanently damage their brain. While a TBI would normally help a victim earn more compensation, Georgia requires all motorcycle riders to wear a helmet. Breaking motorcycle helmet laws can decrease the likelihood of a favorable outcome in a personal injury claim or suit.
If you or a loved one has suffered from mild or catastrophic injuries as a result of a motorcycle accident, call the motor vehicle accident lawyers at Ashenden & Associates at 770-394-8909 so we can discuss your case.
Call Sandy Springs Motorcycle Accident Lawyers at Ashenden & Associates Today
If you or someone you love was injured or killed in a motorcycle accident, the accident lawyers at Ashenden & Associates are here to help. With over 30 years of experience, we have the know-how to help you receive maximum compensation for your damages. Call us at 770-394-8909 or contact us online and schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.