Texas Motorcycle Helmet Laws Explained
While most motorcycle riders know that wearing a helmet is good, you might be wondering if it is necessary. Some states require all motorcycle riders and passengers to wear a helmet while they ride a motorcycle, some require only those under 21 to wear helmets, and still others have more- or less-forgiving requirements. What is the law in Texas, and what changes will this law be undergoing in the future? Our Dallas motorcycle accident lawyers explain.
Do You Need to Wear a Helmet on a Motorcycle in Texas?
Speaking as injury attorneys, we always urge everyone to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle – or even a bicycle. Traumatic brain injury is one of the most serious injuries you can receive, and since your head is completely exposed without a helmet, these injuries are quite common in motorcycle crashes and bicycle accidents. Especially if you are hit while riding a motorcycle at highway speeds, you could suffer traumatic head injuries and potential death if you are not wearing a helmet.
Whether you choose to wear a helmet or not is your personal choice. However, the law in Texas requires all riders under 21 to wear a helmet. This means that minors and young adults who operate a motorcycle must wear an approved helmet – no exceptions. Passengers under 21 must also wear a helmet.
If you are 21 or over, you must generally wear a helmet, but you can get permission not to wear a helmet. Texas motorcycle helmet laws have an exception that states that you can ride without a helmet if you meet both of the following criteria:
- You complete a motorcycle safety course
- You carry health insurance that will cover your motorcycle accident injuries
In many cases, this insurance is not high enough to actually cover your full needs after an auto accident, and you should speak with an attorney if you or a family member is injured in a motorcycle accident. However, you must carry this motorcycle health insurance if you want to ride your motorcycle without a helmet, even if you will need additional coverage after an injury.
Because some riders are allowed to ride without a helmet in Texas, police cannot pull you over just for riding without a helmet. This cannot be the “primary offense” for which a cop pulls you over, but if they notice reckless driving, speeding, or another ticketable offense, they can pull you over and give you a citation for riding without a helmet in addition to the other offense.
Changes to Texas Motorcycle Helmet Laws in 2019
The helmet law as it stands today is already the product of various changes. Before 2009, the Texas motorcycle helmet law required riders to carry medical insurance with at least $10,000 of coverage before they could ride without a helmet. This ended in 2009 when Gov. Rick Perry removed that minimum threshold. While your medical insurance still needs to meet the statutory requirements for motorcycle health coverage, a $10,000 coverage minimum is no longer a part of that.
The motorcycle helmet laws in Texas may undergo other proposed changes this year. In February 2019, Texas legislators introduced a bill that would make wearing a helmet a primary offense that police can pull you over for. This means that if you are caught riding a motorcycle without a helmet, police could pull you over even if you do not commit any other offenses. This would help close a “loophole,” according to many critics of the current motorcycle law.
It is yet to be seen how this law will change in the future since this proposed law is still going through the legislative process and has not been passed into law.
Does Wearing a Helmet Affect a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit?
In cases of serious brain injury or head injury after a motorcycle accident, people may blame the rider for not wearing a helmet. If you sue the other driver for injuries after a motorcycle accident, they may argue that your lack of a helmet made the injuries worse and that they should not be responsible for that harm. However, this argument does not always work, and you can still sue for compensation.
Victim-blaming accusations are not always good legal arguments. First and foremost, if someone causes an accident by driving dangerously, they are responsible for all of the effects of that crash, even if the victim is especially vulnerable to injury. Because the accident and subsequent injuries would not have occurred at all without the defendant’s negligence, these arguments can often be overcome.
Additionally, if the court does consider your lack of a helmet your own fault, that does not bar you from recovering compensation. In Texas, courts and juries can assign partial blame to any, both, or all parties involved in the accident. If the court finds that the other driver was at fault for your crash, but you contributed to the crash, your damages will be reduced by your percentage of fault in the crash. For example, if your lack of a helmet is considered 5% fault in causing the accident, you will still recover 95% of the damages. As long as you were 50% at fault or less, you can still recover damages for a motorcycle crash without a helmet.
Our Dallas Motorcycle Accident Lawyers Can Help if you Got into a Wreck
If you or a loved one suffered motorcycle accident injuries in Texas, do not let the Texas motorcycle helmet laws discourage you from talking to a personal injury lawyer or taking the responsible parties to court. Our personal injury lawyers may be able to file your claim in court and work to get you and your family the compensation you need for serious motorcycle accident injuries. To schedule a free legal consultation, call our law offices today at (817) 476-1797.