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Are Motorcycle Helmets Required in New York State and What Are My Rights to Bring Suit If I’m Not Wearing One?

couple on motorcycle with helmets onMotorcycle helmets can protect from serious head injuries, reduce concussions, and can even help to prevent fatal injuries. In fact, according to the New York State Department of Health, head injuries are the top cause of death among motorcyclists, and nearly 1,800 bikers throughout the United States were saved by wearing motorcycle helmets in 2015 alone.

But despite the fact that most motorists understand the benefits of wearing helmets when riding motorcycles, many still choose not to wear helmets while riding. While in some states throughout the US this is legal, in other states, including New York, motorcycle helmets are legally required for all riders and passengers.

Do Motorcyclists Have to Wear Helmets in New York State?

New York requires that all motorcycle operators and their passengers wear DOT (Department of Transportation) approved helmets that meet the requirements of federal motor vehicle safety standards.

What Are New York State’s Motorcycle Helmet Laws?

According to New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 318(6), all motorcycle drivers and passengers are required to wear motorcycle helmets and eye protection. It is illegal to operate a motorcycle without wearing a helmet and eye protection that meet federal motor vehicle safety standards in the state of New York.

Motorcycle helmets in New York State must meet specific safety standards. These standards are outlined in section 571.218 of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard promulgated by the US Department of Transportation. Helmets that meet or exceed the established standards are legal in New York and are labeled with a US DOT sticker.

It’s important to note that most novelty helmets do not meet these standards and are therefore not legal for use while motorcycle riding in New York.

What Are the Legal Consequences If I Don’t Wear a Helmet While Operating a Motorcycle in New York?

Riding a motorcycle in New York without wearing a DOT-approved helmet can result in a fine of up to $100, a sentence of up to 30 days in jail, or both.

Can I Still Pursue Compensation If I Was Injured in a Motorcycle Accident But Was Not Wearing a Helmet?

The short answer to this question is yes, you can maintain an action to recover for your injuries even if you were not wearing a helmet at the time of your motorcycle accident.

Violating New York State motorcycle law by neglecting to wear a helmet while riding does not necessarily foreclose you from recovering compensation if you were injured as the result of an accident that was caused in whole or in part by the negligence of another party or individual.

However, it is important to be aware that if you were not wearing a helmet when the accident occurred, the amount of damages recoverable from the responsible party may be reduced. The defense attorneys are entitled to provide expert based proof that some or all of your injuries would not have occurred if you had you been wearing a proper helmet at the time of the accident.

This scenario is similar to that involving a driver who was not wearing a seat belt at the time of a car accident. You can learn more about that scenario here.

Get the Help You Need After You’ve Been Injured in a New York Motorcycle Accident

At Anderson, Moschetti & Taffany, we have nearly a century of combined experience handling personal injury cases of all kinds, including motorcycle accident cases. Our team has the knowledge and experience necessary to represent you successfully. We know what it takes to get you the compensation you are entitled to. We have the resources, including access to well credentialed experts, to develop the proof necessary to obtain the justice you deserve.

The personal injury lawyers at Anderson, Moschetti & Taffany have received numerous accolades and honors, and have successfully achieved record setting verdicts and settlements for past clients in Albany, Saratoga, and elsewhere in the greater Capital Region of Upstate New York.

Ready to get in touch? If you’ve been injured while riding a motorcycle in New York State, take the first step towards protecting your rights and obtaining the compensation you deserve by contacting us today. You can reach us at (518) 785-4900 or via our online contact form to set up a free consultation with one of our experienced Albany motorcycle accident attorneys.

Have other questions about motorcycle accidents and motorcyclist rights? These resources are a good place to start:

Will I receive no fault benefits after a motorcycle accident? Many people do not realize that motorcyclists are not covered by New York no fault insurance. Learn more about how expenses will be covered following a motorcycle accident since no fault does not apply.

What happens if I’m injured in a motorcycle accident? Find out what to do after you’ve been involved in a motorcycle accident and learn about important steps to take to protect your rights.

David J. Taffany

About David J. Taffany

Mr. Taffany is an personal injury lawyer and a founding member of Anderson, Moschetti & Taffany, PLLC in Albany. He specializes in all types of personal injury and wrongful death cases, including complex medical malpractice, products liability and labor law. Read More About David J. Taffany »