Motorcycle Accidents and Helmet Use in Rhode Island
Almost all states have some form of helmet safety law for motorcycle operators. Many states simply require that all motorcyclists and passengers wear a helmet to protect against head injuries in the event of a crash, but Rhode Island has taken a different approach to helmet safety requirements.
RI helmet law is very limited
Pursuant to Rhode Island law,”Any operator under the age of twenty-one (21) shall wear a helmet of a type approved by the administrator of motor vehicles. In addition, all new operators, regardless of age, shall be required, for a period of one year from the date of issuance of the first license pursuant to § 31-10.1-1, to wear a helmet of a type approved by said administrator.” TITLE 31 Motor and Other vehicles CHAPTER 31-10.1 Special License for Motorcycles, Motor Scooters, and Other Motor Driven Cycles SECTION 31-10.1-4 § 31-10.1-4 Required equipment.
And, when other motorists are involved, the failure to wear a helmet could also be a significant reason that a respondent insurance provider would deny a claim outright, or at least make a much lower settlement offer than the injured motorcyclist expects. It is imperative to retain an Rhode Island accident attorney or a RI motorcycle accident lawyer when this is the situation because claims can be highly contested and often complicated.
Passenger Injury Claims
Sadly, Rhode Island helmet law does not require that all passengers on a motorcycle wear head protection. Passengers on a motorcycle who fail to wear a helmet could be taking a significant personal risk, especially when any head injuries or TBI are claimed. While passengers are not normally assessed for comparative fault, assumption of personal risk can still be a defense for an unscrupulous respondent insurance companies in an effort to deny or lessen the value of an injury claim. This can become particularly important in high-value wrongful death claims when there is a large amount of insurance coverage available. Insurance claims adjusters are always predominantly concerned about the company bottom line, even in states like Rhode Island that utilize pure comparative negligence that allows even those who are largely at fault for their own injuries to receive some amount of injury damage recovery.
Helmet law for motorcyclists is different from passengers in a couple of respects. Anyone who has only had a motorcycle operators license for less than one year is required to wear head protection. In addition, anyone under 21 years of age is also required to wear a helmet while riding. Operators who are over age 21 are not required by law to wear head protection, but just as with all passengers, failure to wear a helmet can be a problematic case factor when head injuries are being claimed in an accident case. Personal assumption of risk is a potential leverage card for insurance adjusters.
Legal Notice per Rules of Professional Responsibility: The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers and attorneys in the general practice of law, but does not license or certify any lawyer / attorney as an expert or specialist in any field of practice. While this firm maintains joint responsibility, most cases of this type are referred to other attorneys for principle responsibility