Motorcycle helmets: The only thing protecting your brain from a traumatic injury

Motorcycles are a popular mode of transportation for many people, offering an exhilarating and freeing experience on the open road. However, with this excitement comes a higher risk of accidents and injuries.

In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclists are about 22 times more likely to die in a crash than occupants of passenger cars. And one of the most common and severe injuries resulting from these accidents is head injuries.

If you’ve recently met with a motorcycle accident, it’s important to understand the severity of head injuries and how wearing a helmet can protect your brain from traumatic injury.

Read on to learn more about the legal impact of not wearing a helmet in California and how to choose the right motorcycle helmet for you.

The Severity of Head Injuries in Motorcycle Accidents

Compared to car occupants, motorcycle riders are 78% more likely to suffer a head injury in a crash. That’s a staggering number, and it highlights the critical role a helmet plays in protecting your head during an accident.

A motorcycle accident can leave you vulnerable to a variety of head injuries, including:

Type of Head InjuryDescriptionLong-Term Consequences
ConcussionA bruise to the brain caused by a bump or blow to the headHeadaches, dizziness, memory problems
Skull FractureA break in the skull boneBleeding in the brain, infection
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)Damage to the brain caused by a blow to the headMemory loss, difficulty thinking, speaking, or moving, emotional problems

These injuries can have a devastating impact on a rider’s life, affecting their ability to work, enjoy hobbies, and connect with loved ones. In the most severe cases, they can be fatal.

The good news is that wearing a properly fitted helmet can significantly reduce your risk of suffering a head injury in a motorcycle accident. Studies show that helmets are effective in reducing the risk of death by 37% and the risk of head injury by 69%. That’s a compelling reason to always wear a helmet every time you ride.

How Motorcycle Helmets Protect Your Head

Think of your motorcycle helmet as a high-tech shield for your head. It’s made of several key components that work together in a crash:

  • Outer Shell: This hard, usually plastic or composite shell is the first line of defense. It disperses the force of a blow over a wider area, preventing it from concentrating on a single point.
  • Inner Liner: Beneath the shell lies a thick layer of soft, energy-absorbing material, like polystyrene foam. This liner acts like a crumple zone in a car, compressing upon impact to slow down your head’s movement.
  • Visor/Shield: This transparent shield protects your face and eyes from flying debris during an accident. Look for one made from a scratch-resistant and shatterproof material.
  • Retention System: A strong chin strap keeps the helmet securely fastened to your head. A loose helmet can come flying off in a crash, leaving your head vulnerable.

Different helmet styles offer varying degrees of protection. Full-face helmets provide the most comprehensive coverage, protecting your entire head, face, and jaw. Half-helmets leave your face exposed, while modular helmets offer a flip-up front section for added versatility, though with slightly less protection than a full-face design. 

The Legal Impact of Not Wearing a Helmet

California law takes motorcycle safety seriously. For riders over 18, California Vehicle Code Section 27803 makes it mandatory to wear a Department of Transportation (DOT) compliant helmet. It’s not just about safety; it’s the law.

But what happens if you’re in an accident and not wearing a helmet? California follows a “shared fault” system in accident cases. This means that if you’re not wearing a helmet and get into an accident, the court may determine you share some of the blame, even if the other driver was primarily at fault.

This can significantly impact your ability to receive full compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. Insurance companies may also use your lack of a helmet to reduce your payout.

Wearing a helmet is the smartest decision you can make for your safety. It’s also a way to protect your legal rights and ensure you have the resources you need to recover if an accident occurs.

Choosing the Right Motorcycle Helmet for You

A helmet can only offer its full protection if it fits you properly. A loose helmet can come off in a crash, while a tight one can be uncomfortable and lead to fatigue on long rides.

When choosing a helmet, consider these key factors:

  • Size: A snug but comfortable fit is crucial. Your helmet shouldn’t move around when you shake your head.
  • Material: Look for helmets made from high-quality materials like fiberglass or composite materials for optimal strength and protection.
  • Safety Rating: Check for certifications from reputable organizations like DOT or Snell. These ratings provide additional assurance of the helmet’s effectiveness.
  • Comfort: You’ll be wearing your helmet for extended periods, so prioritize comfort features like ventilation and a comfortable inner lining.

Don’t hesitate to visit a motorcycle gear store!  The knowledgeable staff can help you find the perfect helmet that fits your head shape, riding style, and budget. They can also answer any questions you may have and ensure you get the best possible protection for your head.

Your Trusted Partner After a Motorcycle Accident

The aftermath of a motorcycle accident can be overwhelming, both physically and emotionally.  Dealing with injuries, insurance companies, and potential legal battles can be incredibly stressful.

If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, consider seeking guidance from a trusted attorney.  An experienced lawyer can advocate for your rights, navigate the legal complexities, and help you get the compensation you deserve to get back on your feet.

See more: The pros of hiring an attorney who works on a contingency fee arrangement

See more: The best ways to determine liability in a motorcycle accident

See more: A parent-friendly guide on choosing the best safety seat for your child