When you get on your motorcycle, you may dream of riding with the wind in your hair as you speed down the street. However, before you take to the road, you should know what motorcycle helmet laws look like for that state.
Since motorcycle helmet laws vary significantly by state, you may need to look at the laws of any state you need to pass through on your journey, as well as the state you live in or plan to travel in. Understanding motorcycle helmet laws can also prove critical after a motorcycle accident.
Minnesota Motorcycle Helmet Laws
Minnesota law does not require all drivers to wear a motorcycle helmet.
Instead, it requires helmet use by:
- Passengers and drivers under the age of 18
- Motorcycle permit operators who may not have a full motorcycle license yet
In addition, Minnesota requires all riders to wear some type of eye protection. Eye protection can include goggles, glasses, or the face shield on a helmet but may not include motorcycle windshields, which do not meet those legal requirements.
Wisconsin Motorcycle Helmet Laws
Wisconsin law, like Minnesota, does not require helmet use for all riders.
- Riders under 18 must wear helmets.
- Motorcycle instruction permit riders must wear helmets whenever operating their motorcycles, as must their passengers.
- Motorcycle helmets worn by people legally required must meet minimum DOT standards.
Wisconsin also highly recommends that all riders wear helmets whenever operating a motorcycle or moped.
Why Wear a Motorcycle Helmet?
Wearing a motorcycle helmet can prove critical to the rider’s overall safety in the event of a crash. Motorcycle riders have a higher rate of crashing based on vehicle miles driven than other types of passenger vehicles due in part to the smaller size and greater difficulty seeing a motorcycle on the road. In addition, motorcycle riders may have a more serious risk of injury in a crash since motorcycles do not offer any protection from the road, obstacles, or cars that may strike the motorcycle rider.
Wearing a motorcycle helmet can help reduce the risk of many types of injuries in a motorcycle accident.
Helmet use significantly reduces the risk of traumatic brain injury.
People who do not wear a motorcycle helmet have a three times greater risk of a traumatic brain injury than those who wear a motorcycle helmet in a serious crash. Motorcycle helmet use can also reduce the severity of a traumatic brain injury.
Traumatic brain injuries can cause substantial suffering for victims of motorcycle accidents.
A traumatic brain injury can cause physical, mental, and emotional challenges for the victim, including:
- Decreased focus and concentration. Traumatic brain injury can make it very difficult for victims to focus on common tasks, including the tasks necessary to complete work. In addition, traumatic brain injury may impact the ability to focus on things the victim enjoys.
- Struggle with memory. TBI, or traumatic brain injury, may result in both short-term and long-term memory problems. Victims may have difficulty navigating everyday life due to the inability to write memories.
- Emotional control challenges. Frequently, victims with traumatic brain injury find that it impacts their ability to control emotions, leading to larger-scale mood swings, inappropriate emotional responses, and other emotional struggles.
- Difficulty with impulse control. Patients with traumatic brain injury may struggle to control general impulses. They may make poor decisions due to that lack of impulse control, including devastating financial decisions or decisions that may lead to unsafe behaviors.
- Physical limitations. Frequently, traumatic brain injury will result in sleep disturbances, headaches, vision changes, and other common struggles. Dealing with those physical limitations may cause challenges that can make it very difficult for the victim to work or even to engage in preferred leisure activities.
Symptoms of traumatic brain injury can linger long after the initial accident. Some patients with traumatic brain injury will note symptoms for months after the initial accident, even in the case of minor traumatic brain injury. More severe traumatic brain injury can result in permanent limitations, including long-term memory challenges, cognitive and focus difficulties, or even personality changes.
Wearing a helmet may reduce the risk of a severe neck injury.
In addition to protecting the head in an accident, a helmet may help protect against neck injury. Motorcycle accidents can result in serious neck injuries, ranging from strained muscles or herniated discs to spinal cord injuries. A neck injury that results in a spinal cord injury can cause paralysis below the site of the injury, which may cause some ongoing difficulties for the victim. Spinal cord injuries typically mean permanent mobility loss below the accident site. In many cases, spinal cord injuries may involve decreased organ function below the injury site.
Even minor neck injuries can cause serious complications for the victim. Neck injuries may lead to ongoing pain that can make it difficult to turn the head, sit still for long periods, or to handle heavy lifting activities. Furthermore, victims who suffer from significant neck injuries may have difficulty returning to work after the accident, which may mean a substantial loss of income during an already trying and difficult time. Trying to navigate the aftermath of a neck injury can leave victims tired and frustrated, especially as the pain continues.
Helmet use may decrease the risk of facial injuries.
Many victims struggle with the aftermath of facial injuries, which may cause permanent changes to the victim’s appearance. Wearing a helmet with a full facial shield can significantly reduce the risk of serious facial injuries.
Facial injuries can lead to long-term scarring, which may make many users very self-conscious. While plastic surgery can help restore some normal appearance, it may not entirely return the victim to normal. Furthermore, facial injuries can mean a long road to recovery and significant suffering.
In addition, helmet use may help protect against dental injuries. Facial injuries often involve injuries to the teeth, especially in a high-speed collision. A helmet can help protect against some damage, decreasing the risk of devastating, expensive injuries that may create long-term consequences.
Wearing a helmet can help establish that the other driver’s negligence caused your injuries if an accident does occur.
When you suffer injuries in an accident due to the negligence of another party, you may need to file a personal injury claim that will help you pursue compensation for those injuries. Unfortunately, if you fail to wear a helmet, the other party’s insurance company may try to claim that your negligence contributed to those injuries.
Since you chose not to wear a helmet, the insurance company may argue that you have the right to less compensation, despite the severity of your injuries and the expenses often involved with medical treatment for those injuries.
Wearing a helmet, however, will help establish that you did your part to protect against injury. It may help remove that argument from the table and make it easier for you to collect the full compensation you may deserve for those injuries.
Helmet use can help protect your passengers in a motorcycle accident.
Wearing a helmet can go a long way toward protecting passengers in a motorcycle accident, just as it can help protect drivers against potentially life-threatening consequences. Motorcycle riders who wear helmets, including passengers, have a much lower likelihood of suffering severe injury or death. If your passenger does not wear a helmet, and you have an accident, they may end up with devastating injuries.
Motorcycle helmet use can help protect against death in an accident.
According to the CDC, motorcycle helmet use reduces the risk of death in a motorcycle accident by 37 percent for riders and 41 percent for passengers. Failure to wear a motorcycle helmet can increase the risk of catastrophic injury that may result in death. By wearing a helmet, you help protect your loved ones against the possibility of your death. Hundreds of lives are lost to the lack of motorcycle helmet use each year.
Can You File an Injury Claim for a TBI If You Did Not Wear a Motorcycle Helmet?
Wearing a motorcycle helmet goes a long way to protecting against TBI and can help you feel more confident that you did your part to avoid serious injuries. However, neither Wisconsin nor Minnesota requires its riders to wear head protection while riding a motorcycle.
Furthermore, you have the right to file an injury claim when another party’s negligence leads to an accident, regardless of whether you chose to wear a motorcycle helmet at the time of an accident.
However, failure to wear a motorcycle helmet may make it much more difficult for you to get the full compensation you deserve after an accident since the insurance company may argue that your actions contributed to the incident or the severity of your injuries.
If you have a motorcycle accident while not wearing a helmet, working with an attorney as you file your claim can prove essential to recovering the full compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Seeking Compensation After a Motorcycle Accident: What to Expect
Regardless of whether you chose to wear a motorcycle helmet at the time of an accident, you have the right to pursue compensation if someone else’s negligence led to your accident. Determining what type of compensation to expect can prove complicated, especially if you suffered a traumatic brain injury in the accident and will need substantial compensation for the medical costs associated with your accident.
By working with a lawyer, you can better understand how much compensation to expect and how to best put together a comprehensive claim that reflects your financial losses.
- Compensation for your medical bills: In most cases, a motorcycle accident claim will include compensation for the medical bills you had to pay as a direct result of your motorcycle accident. Talk to your lawyer about what medical bills you have faced, including everything from emergency medical transportation from the scene of the accident to long-term costs like occupational therapy.
- Compensation for any income losses related to the accident. In many cases, motorcycle accident injuries will prevent patients from going back to work immediately after the accident. You may have a long road to recovery, including many days or weeks out of work. Talk to your lawyer about those wage losses and how you can include them as part of your claim.
- Compensation for your suffering. In most cases, motorcycle accident claims will also include compensation for the less-tangible aspects of your suffering following an accident. A lawyer can help you formulate a claim that reflects your losses.
- Compensation for the loss of a loved one in a motorcycle accident. If you lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident due to the negligence of another driver, you may have the right to pursue compensation for that loss, including compensation for that individual’s lost income, contributions to the family, and the loss of your loved one’s presence in your life.
After a motorcycle accident, working with a lawyer can help you more effectively put together a claim that includes all the damages you sustained.
Did You Suffer Injuries in a Motorcycle Accident?
Whether you wore a helmet at the time of the accident or not, if another party’s negligence led to your motorcycle accident injuries, you may have the right to compensation for the losses you sustained.
Contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon after your accident as possible to get a better idea of how much compensation you should expect and how to best frame your claim to maximize your compensation.