When Are Helmets Required in Indiana?
No federal laws mandate helmet usage for bicyclists or motorcycle riders. Instead, every state is responsible for setting its own rules regarding helmets. Some, such as California, have universal helmet laws for motorcyclists, while others, including Iowa and Illinois, have no motorcycle helmet laws at all. To make it even more confusing, helmet laws for bicyclists generally differ from the requirements for motorcyclists in the same state.
So where does Indiana stand on this issue? It is essential to understand the law so you can be a responsible rider and make informed choices about your health and safety. A knowledgeable Indiana motorcycle accident attorney can explain what state law says about helmet-wearing and the impact it could have on a personal injury claim after a crash.
Do Motorcycle Riders Need to Wear a Helmet?
There are 30 states in the US, including Indiana, that have some form of helmet requirement for motorcycle riders. However, Indiana’s rules are less extensive than some other states. Under state law, motorcyclists under 18 are required to wear a helmet and eye protection, such as glasses, goggles, or a face shield while operating a motorcycle on the road. The same requirement applies to holders of instructional permits.
In order to provide the necessary protection to the rider, the motorcycle helmet worn must be designed to meet federal standards. A failure to wear a helmet or eye protection when required is a Class C infraction and could result in a fine of up to $500. While it is strongly recommended for all motorcycle operators and passengers to wear helmets, it is not a legal requirement for riders over 18.
Are Helmets Mandatory for Bicyclists?
People often wonder if bicyclists under 18 are also required to wear a helmet in Indiana. Interestingly, there are currently no laws regarding helmet usage for bicycle riders of any age. A state law was proposed in 2020 that would have made helmets mandatory for bicyclists, skaters, and skateboarders who were under 18 and on public property. However, this law did not pass the Indiana House of Representatives, and there have been no new proposals for bicycle helmet requirements in recent years.
What Are the Advantages of Wearing a Helmet?
Even though most Indiana riders are not legally obligated to use a helmet, there are many reasons why wearing head protection could be beneficial. Bikes and motorcycles are considered vehicles in Indiana, and their riders have the same rights and responsibilities as other motorists. However, riders do not have the advantage of the protection provided by the safety features that are standard on most cars and trucks, such as roll bars, airbags, and crumple zones. While no helmet is truly concussion-proof, they do provide an essential layer of protection for the victim’s head in the event of an accident.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), motorcycle helmets alone save nearly 1800 lives every year, and it is estimated that close to another 800 motorcyclists could have survived if they had worn a helmet. The Bicycle Helmet Institute reports that 75 percent of child fatalities involving bicycles and up to 45,000 head injuries annually could be prevented by helmet use by children aged four to fifteen.
What Are the Risks of Head Injuries?
Wearing a helmet while biking or motorcycling significantly reduces your chance of suffering a debilitating head or brain injury. In addition to protecting your jaw, teeth, and eyes from physical damage caused by an impact with the ground or other objects, a helmet provides critical cushioning for your brain.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are some of the most common injuries resulting from bike or motorcycle accidents where the victim is unhelmeted. They occur when the brain suffers physical damage from a blow, penetration, or violent shaking. TBIs can range from mild to severe, depending on the intensity of the accident and how it affects the victim’s consciousness. However, these classifications can be misleading because even a mild TBI is still a serious injury that can cause life-threatening complications and long-lasting symptoms. Even after a victim’s external injuries heal, a TBI can cause lingering aftereffects such as:
- Brain swelling and bleeding
- Chronic, severe headaches
- Coordination problems
- Difficulty speaking
- Light sensitivity
- Memory loss
- Mood swings
- Personality changes
- Vision issues
Can a Failure to Wear a Helmet Impact a Personal Injury Claim?
If another individual has caused your bicycle or motorcycle accident through their negligent actions, you have a legal right to seek compensation for your losses, including lost wages, medical bills, personal property damage, and pain and suffering. However, many victims worry that they may be partially blamed for the accident because they were not wearing a helmet. It’s important to note that while helmets are useful pieces of equipment, they do not prevent accidents, and under Indiana law, an adult rider has no obligation to wear one. Ultimately, whether or not you were wearing a helmet at the time of the crash should have no bearing on your ability to recover damages.
That being said, insurance companies may still try to imply that your compensation could be affected because you did not wear a helmet. It may even be used as a reason to offer you less than your claim is worth. After the pain and trauma of your bicycle or motorcycle crash, you deserve to recover fair and full financial compensation. To ensure that your legal rights are upheld, and you receive the full value of your claim, contact an experienced Indiana personal injury lawyer today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.