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Maryland's Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Motorcycles are a fun and popular form of transportation and are frequently seen on Maryland’s roadways. But without the metal body of the car for protection, motorcycle riders are much more exposed and likely to suffer serious injury or death during an accident. Helmet use is an extremely effective way to reduce injuries, and Maryland law makes helmets mandatory for motorcyclists on public roads.

Benefits of Helmets

Wearing a helmet is the most effective way to reduce the risk of serious injury in a motorcycle accident. According to a study by the World Health Organization, helmet use decreases the risk of serious injury in a motorcycle accident by 70% and reduces the risk of death by 40%.

Without protective headgear, motorcyclists involved in crashes are much more likely to die or suffer traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBI effects can include loss of cognitive or sensory function, memory loss, mental illness, coma, or death. Symptoms can persist for months or years or can even be permanent. TBI can also result in long-term medical costs and loss of income.

Maryland Law

Maryland has a universal motorcycle helmet law, meaning that anyone on a motorcycle, whether operating the vehicle or passenger, must wear protective headgear. Additionally, the helmet must conform with standards set by the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA). The MVA publishes a list of approved helmets.

If the helmet does not cover the rider’s eyes, and if the motorcycle is not equipped with a windscreen, the motorcyclist must wear additional eye protection in compliance with the Food and Drug Administration’s impact resistance regulations. The rider must fasten the helmet’s chinstraps at all times.

The same rules generally apply to riders of motor scooters or mopeds. However, their helmets must conform to federal standards, rather than MVA standards, though the MVA does publish a list of approved headgear.

Contributory Negligence

In Maryland, the doctrine of contributory negligence generally means that if an accident victim contributes in any way to the accident, he or she can be held contributorily negligent and will be totally barred from recovery. For example, a pedestrian who fails to look both ways while crossing a street or a driver who speeds may be contributorily negligent if his or her careless behavior was a partial cause of the accident.

Maryland’s helmet law also states that the failure to wear a helmet cannot be used as evidence of negligence or contributory negligence. The at-fault party’s liability will not be limited, and the victim’s recovery of damages will not be diminished. Other drivers still have the duty to safely operate their vehicles.

In a civil personal injury suit, Maryland law prohibits merely making reference to a helmet during a trial, unless the case is a products liability case against a manufacturer for a defective helmet or headgear.

Charles County, MD Personal Injury Lawyers that Fight for You

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, please call the Law Office of Robert R. Castro at (301) 804-2312 for a confidential consultation.

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