Riding a motorcycle without wearing a helmet is undoubtedly risky, and in Mississippi it is often against the law. But can engaging in this risky behavior prevent you from winning a personal injury lawsuit against a liable party after a car crash? Not in Mississippi.
Mississippi’s Helmet Laws
Under Mississippi Code section 63-7-64, anyone operating or riding a motorcycle (or a scooter) on a public road or highway is required by law to wear a crash helmet designed, inspected, and approved by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators. This helmet law applies to everyone except for people who are 18 years old or older riding a motorcycle or a scooter in a parade at a speed of less than 30 miles per hour. However, failing to wear a helmet when required by law to do so does not necessarily prevent injured motorcyclists in Mississippi from being able to recover damages in a resulting personal injury lawsuit because our state follows a pure comparative fault theory of negligence.
Pure Comparative Negligence
Mississippi is a pure comparative fault state, which means that a personal injury plaintiff (i.e. the injured person who initiated the lawsuit) can still recover damages even if he or she was partially at fault for causing the accident in which they were injured. As long as the defendant was at least partially at fault for causing the accident then the plaintiff has a case, however, in a pure comparative negligence state like Mississippi the amount that the plaintiff is entitled to recover will be reduced proportionately if the plaintiff is also found to have been partially at fault.
For example, pretend that a motorcyclist is riding down a highway in Mississippi without wearing his helmet when a drunk driver negligently swerves into him. The motorcyclist is flung from his bike, hits his head on the pavement, and sustains extensive brain damage. If the motorcyclist files a personal injury lawsuit against the drunk driver he will be able to recover damages under Mississippi’s pure comparative negligence system if the court finds that the drunk driver’s negligence at least partially caused the motorcyclist’s brain damage. However, the motorcyclist’s recovery will be reduced proportionately in accordance to the percentage of fault that his own negligence in not wearing a helmet contributed to causing his injuries. For instance, if the court determines that the motorcyclist suffered damages in the amount of $100,000, that the drunk driver’s negligence was 90 percent responsible for the accident, and that the motorcycle’s negligence was 10 percent responsible, then the motorist will be able to recover $90,000 from the drunk driver.
Need Legal Advice?
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident in Mississippi due to someone else’s negligence and are wondering if you have a case, feel free to contact Derek L. Hall today. Our experienced personal injury lawyers would be happy to discuss your case and legal options during a free initial consultation. Our Jackson office can be reached via our online contact form or by calling (601) 768-8267.