There are more than 350,000 motorcyclists in Texas. That makes our state one of the most popular for motorcycle ownership. Maybe it is our great weather, or our independent streak, motorcycle ownership is popular. But enjoying the open Texas air on a motorcycle comes with risks. Before diving into the specifics of the Texas motorcycle helmet law, consider these Texas Motorcycle accident statistics.
Texas Motorcycle Accident Statistics
According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT):
- One motorcyclist dies every day in Texas, on average;
- The period from May through October is the deadliest for motorcycle riders; and
- 30% of motorcycle fatalities occurred in an intersection;
- In 2019, 412 motorcyclists were killed in Texas;
- More than 1,800 were seriously injured.
Unfortunately, even the safest motorcycle riders can still be at risk because they share the road with other vehicles. Other drivers must be aware of their surroundings when sharing the road with cyclists. For drivers in other types of vehicles, motorcycles may be hard to see and it’s easy to misjudge the distance and speed of an oncoming motorcycle. Crashes regularly happen when drivers make left turns in front of oncoming motorcyclists. To protect motorcycle riders, TXDOT began the “Share the Road: Look Twice for Motorcycles” campaign to protect motorcycle riders and to encourage safer driving choices.
McKinney motorcycle accident lawyers will tell you, helmets are one way to mitigate risks associated with driving a motorcycle. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, motorcycle helmets reduce the risk of death by 37% and the risk of head injury by 69%. Even more sobering, non-helmeted motorcyclists are more likely to suffer traumatic brain injury, which increases the risk of death and costs associated with hospitalization. In 2009, the median charges for a hospital stay for motorcycle brain injuries ran around $31,979 – compared to median charges of $2,641 for injured cyclists that did not incur a brain injury.
Now that I have shared the grim statistics, I’ll give you the rundown on Texas motorcycle helmet laws.
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Texas Motorcycle Helmet Laws
Texas is one of the few states where motorcyclists may ride without a helmet. There are certain conditions to our motorcycle helmet laws.
You may ride without a helmet in Texas if:
- You are 21 or older; and
- You can prove that you have completed motorcycle operator training and safety course; or
- You can prove that you have health insurance coverage.
The motorcycle helmet law is codified under Chapter 661 of the Texas Transportation Code. To many laymen, the wording of the Act may seem odd and difficult to understand. Essentially, the law states it is “an offense if [a] person operates or rides…on a motorcycle…and is not wearing protective headgear.”
To most people, that language would suggest that you must wear a helmet in Texas. But, upon closer inspection, the Act excepts certain people from the protective headgear requirement.
Those riders and drivers over 21, who either completed a motorcycle safety course, or have sufficient medical insurance, need not wear a helmet. The majority of motorcyclists in Texas fall into this exception, because a safety course is required to get your motorcycle license.
Texas law does not permit police officers to stop someone riding a motorcycle solely because they are not following the helmet law. But some lawmakers are trying to change this. In 2019, HB 748 was introduced to allow officers to stop helmet-less motorcyclists. If the law passed, it would have permitted officers to stop cyclists without a helmet to ensure they are over 21, completed a safety course, and have adequate health insurance. To date, the bill has not passed but that does not mean legislators won’t make another attempt to change the law.
If you own a motorcycle, keep up with proposed changes to the law to keep yourself out of any legal trouble.
Legal Consequences of Not Wearing a Helmet
None of us ever intend to be in an accident (whether it’s on a motorcycle or in a car) but accidents happen. When you suffer injuries from an accident, you may be able claim damages in a personal injury lawsuit. But motorcyclists beware, failure to wear a helmet can affect your personal injury lawsuit.
If you are injured on a motorcycle and not wearing a helmet, the other driver may claim that your lack of helmet use made your injuries worse (so your injuries were at least partially your fault). Deciding not to wear a helmet will not bar you (or your loved ones) from compensation. But, helmet use is important!
A Texas jury may reduce the amount of compensation awarded to you, if they determine you are partially responsible for your own injuries. In Texas, this is called comparative fault. For instance, if a jury determines that you were 30% responsible for the accident and you suffered $100,000 in damages, they can reduce your compensation by 30% or $30,000.
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How To Find A McKinney Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Near Me
As a McKinney Motorcycle accident lawyer, I have seen the devastation that can result from motorcycle accident injuries and death. I would not wish that pain and suffering on anyone.
Many lawyers, claim to be Texas motorcycle crash lawyers. If you experience the devastation of a motorcycle accident, you want the best motorcycle accident lawyer you can find.
In Texas, motorcyclists who suffer injuries they did not cause may be eligible for damages. Motorcycle accident lawsuits can be complex and confusing. It helps to have an experienced McKinney Motorcycle accident attorney on your side. Our firm is here to help make the process as painless as possible.
If you have suffered injuries in a Texas motorcycle accident, we can help you determine the best way to move forward. To learn more, contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation at (972) 535-6377.