Colorado’s Helmet Laws and Assumption of the Risk Doctrine
For those motorcycle rider enthusiasts who aren’t sure what the laws surrounding helmets are and how they may impact personal injury claims in the event of an accident, this article will break it down. It’s important to understand Colorado’s motorcycle helmet laws in order to keep yourself safe in the event of an accident, along with making sure you get the compensation you’re entitled to.
Motorcycle accidents can be incredibly devastating for riders, especially if they aren’t wearing a helmet. It’s important to know that the at-fault driver’s liability doesn’t diminish because a rider wasn’t wearing a helmet. You are entitled to fair compensation, and the attorneys at Mintz Law Firm can secure it. We believe in holding negligent parties accountable and helping injured accident victims receive the fair treatment and compensation they deserve.
Who Is Required to Wear a Helmet in Colorado?
Like most states in the United States, Colorado doesn’t require that every rider wear a helmet. The state only requires eye protection for adults over eighteen. Impact-resistant glasses and goggles often suffice to fulfill this requirement, so many riders and passengers opt for those instead of enclosed helmets that may be uncomfortable or restrict their vision. However, that doesn’t mean that Colorado does not have a helmet law. Riders under 18 years old are required to wear DOT-approved helmets.
Colorado used to have a mandatory helmet law, but that law was repealed in 1977. Thirty years later, in 2007, Colorado modified the law to make helmets mandatory for riders under 18 years old.
What Is Assumption of Risk and What Does it Mean for Motorcycle Riders?
Assumption of risk is a defense that argues that the plaintiff (in this case, it would be the motorcycle rider) was negligent to some degree and that any damages awarded to the plaintiff should be reduced by the percentage of the plaintiff’s negligence. An assumption of risk argument is akin to comparative negligence.
In other words, the plaintiff took an unreasonable and negligent risk, and the defendant (the at-fault party) should not have to pay for all of the plaintiff’s damages because the plaintiff was partially or entirely responsible for the crash or damages.
Colorado’s Helmet Law and Assumption of the Risk Doctrine
In the event of a Colorado motorcycle accident, does the assumption of risk impact the rider’s personal injury claim if they weren’t wearing a helmet at the time of the accident?
Colorado has established a standard of conduct for riders under the age of eight by having mandatory helmet laws that they must adhere to. Riders under 18 who opt out of wearing a helmet, despite it being legally mandated, are taking on the assumption of risk. Therefore, if a rider who is under 18 years old is injured and not wearing a helmet, the defendant will likely be able to present evidence that the rider’s injuries may have been prevented by wearing a helmet. As a result, the rider’s damages can be reduced by a percentage assigned by the court.
However, the assumption of risk defense doesn’t apply to riders over the age of 18. In a 1984 case, the Colorado Court of Appeals confirmed that “evidence of a plaintiff’s failure to wear a protective helmet is inadmissible to show negligence on the part of the plaintiff.” Since the legislature has not required adult riders to wear a helmet, Colorado courts have declined to create a different standard of care when deciding these cases.
Contact an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Attorney at Mintz Law Firm Today
After a motorcycle accident, it’s critical to know your rights and legal options for recovering financial compensation. At Mintz Law Firm, we’re dedicated to helping injured individuals throughout Colorado quickly recover from the frustrating and sometimes life-changing effects of a bike accident.
When an accident impacts your health, livelihood, and financial well-being, Mintz Law Firm strives to help you understand your rights and fight for justice. Contact our firm today to schedule a consultation at (303) 462-2999 or complete our contact form.