Be Safe! Wear Your Helmet

James F. Humphreys & Associates. L.C. represents people who have been injured or killed through the negligence of others. Mr. Humphreys, the founder of the firm, is a former chair of the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA), and counsel to the West Virginia Brain Injury Association, Inc. (WVBIA). As such, he recognizes that some of the most devastating injuries are traumatic brain injuries resulting from blows to the head. In this article, we would like to address an important way to prevent or minimize such injuries; wearing a helmet when you ride a motorcycle.

Studies show that helmet usage reduces the incidence and severity of motorcycle related brain injuries, the likelihood of death in a motorcycle accident, and the cost of medical care when injuries occur. Riders without helmets are 3X more likely to suffer traumatic brain injuries in a motorcycle accident, while helmet usage reduces the risk of fatality by 37%. [i]

At one time, almost every state required helmet usage by motorcycle riders. Over the years, however, many states have repealed such universal helmet laws. Today, 3 states do not require helmets at all, and 28 states limit required usage to certain groups of people, usually riders under either 18 or 21 years of age. [ii]

Sadly, states which have moved away from universal requirements have seen increases in motorcycle related fatalities, injuries and medical costs. For example, when Texas repealed its universal helmet law, it saw a 31% increase in motorcycle related fatalities, while Arkansas experienced a 21% increase in such fatalities. [iii] When Michigan partially reversed its universal helmet law, there was a 14% in head injuries among motorcyclists at state trauma centers, a shift from mild concussions to skull fractures, and an increased need for costly hospital services, including neurological procedures. [iv] The same study also found that the fatality rate for riders involved in motor cycle accidents was almost twice as high for riders without helmets as it was for riders wearing helmets, 5.4% compared to 2.8%. According to a study by the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania also saw increases in motorcycle related deaths from head injuries and head injury related hospitalizations when it changed its law. During the two years following the repeal, there was a 32% increase in head injury deaths and a 42% increase in head injury hospitalizations. [v] The lesson seems clear: whether your state requires helmet usage or not, the smart thing to do is to wear a helmet.

Here are some tips about helmet safety:

The best choice for a helmet is a full face helmet approved by the DOT (Department of Transportation). There should be a DOT certification sticker somewhere on the helmet if it has been approved. [vi]

According to the Snell Memorial Foundation, an independent helmet testing and standard setting organization, helmets should be replaced every 5 years, and sooner if the helmet if the helmet has been damaged or has been in a crash. [vii] Not only do helmets deteriorate with age, but regular replacement allows you to take advantage of improvements in design and materials.

If you or a loved one has suffered a head injury because of someone else's negligence, please contact us at 304-881-0652 (local) or 877-341-2595 (toll free) for a free initial consultation. You may also contact us at our website, www.jfhumphreys.com.


[i] Insurance Institute for Highway Safety/Highway Loss Data Institute, "Motorcycles: Helmets and Antilock Brakes Make Riding Less Dangerous," December, 2017, www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/motorcycles/topicoverview.

[ii] Insurance Institute for Highway Safety/Highway Loss Data Institute, "Motorcycles: Helmets and Antilock Brakes Make Riding Less Dangerous," December, 2017, www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/laws/helmetuse.

[iii] Consumer Reports,"10 Motorcycle Safety Tips for New Riders: Expert Advice for First-Time and Returning Riders," published April, 2013, https://www.consumerreports.org/.../10-motorcycle-safety-tips-for-new-riders/index.htm.

[iv] ScienceDaily, "Double-Digit Rise In Head Injuries After Michigan Helmet Law Repeal," 11/17/16, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161117204918.htm.

[v] ScienceDaily, "Head Injuries Increase Dramatically After Motorcycle Helmet Law Repeal," June 16,2008, http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/motorcycles/qanda.

[vi] Consumer Reports, "10 Motorcycle Safety Tips for New Riders: Expert Advice for First-Time and Returning Riders," published April, 2013, https://www.consumerreports.org/.../10-motorcycle-safety-tips-for-new-riders/index.htm.

[vii] Id.