Wearing a helmet is the best way to help protect riders during a bicycle accident because it mitigates the severity of the impact if a rider is struck by a motor vehicle. Hitting your head on the street or sidewalk could have profound physical complications and consequences, including concussion, traumatic brain injury, or paraplegia.
However, experienced bicycle accident attorneys also know that wearing a helmet can be crucial when it comes to civil litigation following an accident. In addition to their effect on physical safety, the impact that helmets can have on Atlanta bicycle accident cases should not be underestimated.
Contributory Negligence for Failing to Wear a Helmet
Under Georgia law there are no legal ramifications for not wearing a helmet in terms of contributory negligence. If an accident victim violated any legal provision with respect to the operation of a bicycle, the Official Code of Georgia expressly states that such a violation does not constitute evidence of negligence per se or contributory negligence per se. In personal injury cases, there are not a lot of implications if someone did not wear a helmet, provided that they are over the age of 16.
Even though it is legal in Georgia for adults to not wear a helmet while riding a bicycle, it could still have a dramatic effect on their civil case against another negligent party because of how it impacts the opinions of civil jury members. When deliberating a bicycle accident case, one of the primary facts in a juror’s mind is going to be whether the plaintiff was wearing a helmet, much like how they would focus on whether the plaintiff in a car crash case was wearing a seat belt.
Wearing a helmet is not a statutory factor in civil recovery, but it is a soft factor. It is helpful to wear a helmet to avoid or minimize injuries, and the severity of somebody’s injuries from not wearing a helmet could later impact any civil case they decide to pursue.
How to Tell if a Bike Helmet Is Defective
Defective bike helmets may not provide proper protection in a crash, leading to more severe injuries that a functioning helmet might have prevented. One way to tell if a helmet is defective is if there are bubble bursts inside.
If there are bubble bursts, it means the structural integrity of the helmet is compromised in some way. Bubble bursts are often extremely tough to detect, so it is important for riders to perform a careful review of all their safety equipment, including their helmet, before riding. Some other indications of a defective helmet include:
- Helmet has cuts, scrapes, or cracks;
- Straps are torn or detached;
- Straps do not fasten properly; and
- Foam in the helmet is falling out or had to be re-glued.
The Importance of Helmets in Atlanta Bike Accident Cases
Even though state law does not require adults to wear bicycle helmets while riding, it is never a good idea for anyone to go without one. The risk of serious injury, not to mention the risk of an unsympathetic jury in a civil case, is too great to consider riding a bike without this crucial safety equipment. Take it from experienced injury attorneys—bicycle helmets can play a crucial role in both bicycle accident injuries and lawsuits in Atlanta.