What Should You Know About Motorcycle Helmet Laws in Texas
Motorcycles offer recreation and practical transportation. But if you ride a motorcycle, your chances of being injured by a negligent driver are high. If you’re injured by a negligent driver in south Texas, discuss your case at once with an Edinburg motorcycle accident attorney.
Motorcycles offer none of the protections that cars and trucks provide to their operators and passengers. That makes it genuinely essential to wear a helmet whenever you’re riding a motorcycle.
What does the helmet law in Texas require? What are your rights if a negligent driver injures you while you’re motorcycling? Keep reading, because if you ride a motorcycle in this state, you need to know.
What is the Best Way to Protect Yourself on a Motorcycle?
Motorcyclists who survive serious accidents often suffer lacerations, traumatic brain injuries, multiple bone fractures, spinal cord injuries, or paralysis. Far too many of these injuries are permanently disabling. And in 2018, over 4,900 motorcyclists in the U.S. died in traffic crashes.
Thousands more were catastrophically injured. For decades, virtually every research study on the subject has concluded that helmets are the single most effective tool for preventing serious injuries and death in a motorcycle accident.
Exactly What Are the Helmet Laws in Texas?
State law requires all motorcyclists who are under 21 years of age to wear a helmet whenever they are motorcycling on Texas streets and highways.
Motorcyclists who are age 21 and older do not have to wear a helmet if either of the following apply:
1. They have completed a motorcycle operator safety and training course.
2. They have a health insurance policy that provides at least $10,000 of coverage for any injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident.
The failure to wear a motorcycle helmet – unless you have met one of the requirements listed above – is a “secondary” offense in Texas. This means that a law enforcement officer cannot make a traffic stop based solely and exclusively on a motorcyclist’s failure to wear a helmet.
Can You Be Penalized For Not Wearing a Helmet?
However, if a police officer makes a traffic stop for some other reason and finds that you are not in compliance with the helmet law, you can be charged with a misdemeanor under Texas law, and if you’re convicted, fined between $10 and $50.
No child under the age of 5 may ride on a motorcycle in Texas, and passengers between the ages of 5 and 21 must wear a helmet. Passengers who are 21 or older may ride without a helmet if the operator of the motorcycle has met the training or insurance requirement.
It may sound as if the full burden for traffic safety is placed on motorcyclists, but it’s not. Far too many accidents are caused by drivers failing to yield to motorcyclists. Personal injury lawyers represent injured motorcyclists and those injured by motorcyclists in roughly equal numbers.
Who Gets Hurt in Motorcycle Accidents?
Experienced motorcyclists take responsibility for their own safety. They fully understand that when a car or a truck crashes into a motorcycle, the person most likely to be hurt is the one on the motorcycle. If a motorcycle collision isn’t deadly, it can still be catastrophic and devastating.
Texas motorcyclists who are injured by a negligent car or truck driver are entitled under state law to full compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, and related losses, but proving that you were injured because a driver was negligent may not be easy.
In fact, the negligent driver or that driver’s attorney may claim that you were the one who was negligent, that you weren’t seriously injured, or that your injury was pre-existing. Motorcyclists who are injured by negligence will need to be represented by the right personal injury attorney.
What Should You Know About Motorcycle Helmets?
The U.S. Department of Transportation has established the motorcycle helmet safety standards listed here, and the Department certifies helmets that meet these standards:
1. Motorcycle helmets must be manufactured with an inner liner made of polystyrene foam at least an inch thick.
2. Motorcycle helmets must weigh at least three pounds.
3. Motorcycle helmets must have durable chin straps that are attached with solid rivets.
4. Nothing on a motorcycle helmet may extend more than two-tenths of an inch beyond the helmet’s shell.
Wearing a helmet safely means that the helmet fully covers the rider’s head and that the chin straps are fastened securely. The fit needs to be snug and prevent any excessive movement of the head inside the helmet.
If You Are Injured By a Negligent Driver
A good injury attorney will fight aggressively on your behalf for the compensation – as well as the justice – that you will need and deserve after you’ve been injured. Your accident attorney will examine the evidence in the case and determine which party can be held liable.
Another Good Reason to Use a Helmet
If you become the injured victim of another driver’s carelessness in a traffic collision, and you take legal action to recover damages, that driver’s attorney may try to portray you as “reckless” or “brash” merely because you ride a motorcycle. It’s an old, unfair prejudice.
Nevertheless, if you ride a motorcycle in Texas, it really is best to ride with a helmet. It’s not only your best protection against a serious head injury, but it also demonstrates that you are responsible rather than reckless.
A good accident attorney will move your case away from any prejudices and point to the facts. Your attorney will know what it takes to hold the driver who injured you accountable.
Is There a Deadline for Taking Legal Action?
If you’re injured by a negligent driver, you’ll need to act quickly. The statute of limitations in Texas sets a two-year deadline – from the date of the injury – for filing a personal injury claim, but if you can’t work and your medical costs are mounting, you can’t wait two years.
After you’ve been examined and treated by a medical professional, contact a Texas personal injury lawyer as quickly as you can. Your first legal consultation is free, you won’t be obligated to anything, and you’ll learn how the personal injury laws in Texas apply to your own case.
If you and your attorney move forward with a personal injury claim, you will pay no attorney’s fee until and unless you receive the compensation you need. The contingent fee system in personal injury law gives every injury victim a fair chance to seek justice.
The injuries sustained in motorcycle accidents sometimes require medical care for the rest of an accident victim’s life. If you are the victim, you’ll need the maximum amount of compensation that’s available – and a motorcycle accident attorney who knows how to prevail on your behalf.
By Chris Brasure
Brasure Law Firm, PLLC was founded by Chris Brasure in 2006. His legal accomplishments are diverse and numerous. He is a fellow with the Texas Bar Foundation, was a delegate in the American Bar Association House of Delegates and holds a BA in political science and speech communication from Baylor University. He then went on to obtain his law degree from Baylor University Law School. Chris believes that education is absolutely critical to one’s success, so his firm now offers The Brasure Law Firm Scholarship to give back to the community and to help students who are seeking to pursue a higher education.