Motorcycle Helmet Laws

January 15, 2015 | By Riddle & Brantley Accident Injury Lawyers
Motorcycle Helmet Laws

North Carolina Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Motorcycle Accident Lawyers Explain Benefits of Safety Gear Use

Riddle & Brantley lawyers explain motorcycle helmet laws

Riding a motorcycle can be a freeing and enjoyable activity. However, it can also be dangerous if you do not wear the right safety gear, including a helmet. A 2008 study on motorcycle accidents and helmet use concluded that helmets reduced the risk of head injury by more than 65 percent and the risk of death by more than 40 percent. However, some estimates, such as those put forth by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), suggest that helmets can prevent up to 85 percent of serious head injuries and up to 73 percent of fatalities. Despite these injury statistics, motorcycle helmet laws across the nation vary from state to state. While NC has a universal motorcycle helmet law, some states have looser requirements and two states have no helmet laws in place at all.

Helmets can often reduce motorcycle accident injuries, but a negligent driver can still cause a serious crash. If a careless motorist caused your motorcycle accident, then you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. At Riddle & Brantley, our motorcycle accident lawyers have decades of experience assisting injured bikers and their families. Our motorcycle accident lawyers can explain NC laws and represent your case, helping to ensure you get a fair insurance settlement or personal injury verdict.

What are the Motorcycle Helmet Requirements in North Carolina?

Motorcycle helmet laws fall into two types of categories: universal helmet laws or partial helmet laws. Universal helmet laws require that all riders, no matter their age, wear a helmet while on a motorcycle. This includes passengers. Partial helmet laws require helmet use only by certain groups, usually young riders and/or novice motorcyclists. NC is one of 19 states that have universal helmet laws. Nearby states like Virginia, Tennessee and Georgia all have universal helmet laws as well. However, travel to South Carolina and only riders who are 20 years and younger are required to wear helmets.

In 2014, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), there were more than 4,000 motorcycle accidents throughout the state. Of these, only 150 were fatal crashes, thanks in large part to a high incidence of helmet use. Since 1968, when the NC helmet law was enacted, the law has saved an estimated 80 lives by helmet use per 100,000 registered bikes. As a result, our state ranks number one in the nation for lives saved and economic costs saved due their helmet requirements.

What Other Safety Gear Should Motorcyclists Wear?

Wearing additional equipment can help prevent a motorcycle crash and reduce your risk of injuries. To increase your visibility while riding, it is often best to wear bright colors as well. This gear may include:

  • Safety goggles or a face shield. Motorcyclists have little protection against wind, especially at high speeds. This wind can affect the eyes and make it difficult to see, resulting in slower reaction times and other dangers. As a result, many states have mandatory eye-protection laws for motorcyclists. While NC is not among them, bikers should still take steps to protect their eyes.
  • Sturdy boots. Strong boots with thick soles can protect a motorcyclist from flying debris as well as prevent injuries to the bottom of the foot when stopping quickly. Additionally, in the event of a crash, boots offer protection from broken bones and serious lacerations that other shoes do not.
  • Thick gloves. Gloves protect the hands from road rash and other painful injuries in a motorcycle crash. They also improve a rider’s grip on the handlebars. However, bikers should ensure that the gloves fit snugly, but not so tight as to limit range of motion or circulation.
  • Riding jacket. Leather or a comparable synthetic material will protect the skin from road rash and deep cuts during a motorcycle crash. Therefore, a thick, long-sleeved jacket is essential for motorcyclists, even in warm weather.
  • Thick pants. Like a sturdy jacket, thick pants will protect the legs during a wreck.

While protective gear is a good idea, your personal injury claim cannot be denied or reduced simply because you did not wear certain equipment. Even lack of a motorcycle helmet should not limit your recovery, though many insurance companies try to deny injury claims for this reason.

More Questions on NC Helmet Laws? Contact our Motorcycle Accident Lawyers Today

NC universal helmet law exists to promote motorcycle safety. Thus, it is important to always wear a motorcycle helmet, even if you are not traveling a long distance. However, if you or a loved one has sustained serious motorcycle accident injuries caused by a careless driver, you may be entitled to compensation. Regardless of whether you were wearing a helmet or other safety gear, if another driver caused your injuries then you are entitled to compensation for lost wages, past and future medical bills, scarring and permanent injuries, as well as physical and emotional pain and suffering.

At Riddle & Brantley, we understand how motorcycle wrecks can devastate a victim’s financial, physical and mental well-being. With decades of combined legal experience, our motorcycle accident lawyers can help you fight for the compensation you deserve. We have offices located throughout NC, in Raleigh, Goldsboro, Jacksonville and Kinston*. We proudly serve clients in all the surrounding areas as well as across the state.

For more information on how we may be able to help you with your accident claim, contact us online or call (800) 525-7111 to schedule a free initial case consultation.

*Kinston office available by appointment only