In Maryland, all motorcycle riders are required to wear helmets. Because of the unique nature of motorcycles, some of these rules don’t apply to drivers in ordinary passenger vehicles. Before getting on a motorcycle, it’s important to understand the Maryland motorcycle helmet laws to avoid legal problems later.
At William G. Kolodner, P.A., our Baltimore motorcycle accident lawyers have over 100 years of collective experience fighting to protect accident victims’ rights. If you were hurt in a motorcycle accident and Maryland’s helmet laws become an issue, we can help.
Maryland Motorcycle Helmet Laws: The Basics
Early in 2020, new laws were proposed that would relax the Maryland helmet laws. Those rules have not yet become law–so it’s still important for motorcycle riders to be familiar with the helmet rules.
Under Maryland Transportation Code Section 21-1306, anyone who rides on a motorcycle must wear protective headgear that meets certain safety standards. The motor vehicle administration has the authority to approve certain helmet designs. In general, Maryland follows the federal motor vehicle safety standard in deciding whether a helmet meets minimum standards.
All approved helmets are marked with a Department of Transportation label. A compliant helmet will also have a label sewn into the inside of the helmet. Within this grouping, motorcycle riders can choose between:
- A full face helmet
- An open-face, or three-quarter, helmet
Regardless of the type of helmet you prefer, it’s important to look for the DOT label. Defective helmets can fail to provide the protection you need in a crash. Your eye protection devices–and taking an approved safety course–can also be critical to preventing injury.
Maryland Comparative Fault Rules and the Motorcycle Helmet Law
Maryland has contributory negligence rules – some of the strictest in the country. In most accident cases, victims who share any fault for the accident lose all right to recover compensation from the person who caused the accident.
Section (e) of the motorcycle helmet law makes an exception for failure to wear a helmet. Failure to wear a helmet cannot be considered evidence of:
- Negligence, or
- Contributory negligence
Further, lack of a helmet does not limit the liability of an insurance company or at-fault party after a crash.
During the course of a lawsuit, the at-fault party is not even allowed to mention whether or not you were wearing a helmet. The only exception is if the issue during trial is whether that helmet was somehow defective and increased the severity of your injuries as a result.
However, if this is the case, the judge should order separate judicial proceedings to determine whether the helmet was defective. This is to make sure that the helmet is not considered in determining the at-fault party’s responsibility for paying you damages.
Motorcycle Helmet Safety Statistics
Motorcycle operators often resist the helmet laws because they think the helmet is overly restrictive or will inhibit their views. In reality, the helmet provides important safety protection. When considering miles driven, the number of motorcycle deaths is nearly 27 times the number of deaths in cars–and the helmet is the only thing between your body and the concrete.
Maryland safety data shows that when 900 crashes were studied, there was not a single case where the helmet prevented the driver from spotting danger.
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, 4,985 motorcyclists were killed in 2018 crashes. Wearing an approved helmet reduces the risk of death in an accident by almost 30% in general. When the motorcycle is traveling at a slower speed, a helmet can reduce the risk of serious head injury by half.
How Our Experienced Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help After a Motorcycle Wreck
If you were hurt on a motorcycle, an experienced personal injury attorney can stand up for your rights to make sure you get the compensation you need. AtWilliam G. Kolodner, P.A., we have decades of experience helping accident victims. We know every trick that the insurance company might use to reduce your compensation award.
Here are some ways that our Baltimore personal injury attorneys can help:
- Investigation. Relying on the police accident reports alone is often not enough to show you deserve compensation for your injuries. We have the resources needed to conduct a full investigation, including working with experts to determine the cause of the crash.
- Defending your rights. Insurance companies often try to blame the victim–and Maryland shared responsibility rules are harsh. Our lawyers will defend your rights to make sure your helmet is not used to point the finger at you.
- Valuation. In serious injury cases, it can be difficult to know what you deserve. Our lawyers will fight to get the full amount of compensation you need for both past and future costs.
- Shared fault. Multiple parties might share responsibility for your accident. That means those parties can also share in the burden of paying your financial compensation.
Our lawyers have the skills, experience, and resources needed to get the money you deserve after a motorcycle accident. If you were hurt or lost a loved one in a Baltimore motorcycle accident, call our personal injury attorneys for a free consultation today.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle riders often cite their own safe driving as a reason why a helmet isn’t necessary. In reality, many motorcycle crashes have very little to do with the motorcyclist’s driving. Common causes of motorcycle accidents include:
- Texting while driving
- Motorists making an unsafe turn
- Unsafe passing
- Poor weather conditions
- Road hazards
- Vehicle defects
Regardless of the cause of the crash, a helmet reduces your risk of death in a crash significantly.
Understanding the Severity of Motorcycle Accident Injuries
Maryland motorcycle helmet laws are in place for a reason. Motorcycle accident victims are much more likely to sustain serious injuries in a crash. The vehicle itself simply does not provide the same level of protection as a typical motor vehicle.
Common injuries sustained by motorcycle accident victims include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Severe burns or “road rash”
- Broken bones
- Head and neck injuries
- Back injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Broken ribs
- Lost limbs
- Wrongful death
You might suddenly find yourself faced with the need for expensive medical care and an indefinite recovery period. If you were hurt and the accident was someone else’s fault, you have the right to hold them financially responsible. Our lawyers will fight to get the money you need.
Maryland Statute of Limitations for Filing a Damages Claim
If you’re recovering from a serious injury, filing a lawsuit might be the last thing you want to think about. It’s still important to get started on your claim quickly. Our lawyers can get to work while you continue to recover–because you only have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit.
Maryland state law only gives you three years to file a lawsuit. When the time it takes to investigate, evaluate, and value your injuries is considered, that isn’t as long as it sounds. If you were hurt in a crash and have any questions, don’t hesitate to call for legal help today.
Damages Available for Maryland Motorcycle Crash Victims
Motorcycle accident victims often suffer catastrophic and life-changing injuries in the accident. This is true whether or not you were wearing an approved helmet.
The helmet laws in Maryland cannot be used to reduce the amount of compensation you deserve. At William G. Kolodner, P.A., our motorcycle accident lawyers fight to get the most compensation possible in your case.
We will work to get money for:
- Medical bills
- Future medical care
- Lost wages
- Lost future earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress, PTSD and anxiety
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Damages for wrongful death
- Property damage
It can be hard to know what your case is worth if you don’t have experience handling personal injury cases. Our personal injury lawyers work with a skilled team of experts to put a comprehensive dollar amount on your injury claim.
That team might include medical, financial and even vocational experts. You only have one shot at getting the fair compensation you deserve. We know that the stakes are high and put the full weight of our experience to work for you. To learn more, call our law firm for a free case review today.
Call Our Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers for Answers About the Maryland Motorcycle Helmet Laws
Understanding Maryland’s motorcycle helmet laws is an important responsibility when riding a motorcycle. At William G. Kolodner, P.A., our experienced Baltimore motorcycle accident lawyers can help you understand how these laws might impact you after a crash.
Your first consultation is 100% free. If you or a loved one were hurt in a motorcycle accident, call our experienced personal injury lawyers to learn more about protecting your rights.