In August of 2020, Missouri reversed a decades-old law that required motorcyclists in the state to wear helmets while riding. Since the law passed, anyone over 26 years of age who also has proof of health insurance is no longer required to wear a helmet while riding their motorcycle.

Naturally, over the last few years since its establishment, this law has led to an increase in injuries and death for those motorcyclists involved in accidents. According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, motorcycle fatalities have increased 47% since 2020. In 2023 alone, there were 174 motorcycle deaths in the state, making it the deadliest year on record.

And yet, there still has not been any further discussion on whether or not to consider reversing the repeal of the universal helmet law. Until that discussion takes place, it’s necessary to thoroughly understand the risks of riding without a helmet, as well as take careful steps and precautions to help mitigate your risk of motorcycle crash injury.

Injuries Resulting from Motorcycle Accidents

Not only do the size of motorcycles make them more prone to damage when they collide with other, larger vehicles on the road, but motorcycles also offer far less protection for their drivers if and when they are involved in a crash. Because motorcycles only weigh about one-quarter as much as many cars, and far less than that when comparing them to vehicles like semi-trucks, what might seem like a “minor” collision for most vehicles can be deadly for motorcycles.

Motorcyclists can be thrown, crushing, dragged, and more when involved in an accident, with no airbags or protective vehicle interior to halt their motion. This means their injuries have the potential to be even more grave, especially to their head if they collide with the ground or another object while not wearing a helmet. There’s still a chance of suffering injury while wearing a helmet, but without a helmet, there’s a massively increased risk of drivers suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI), which can lead extensive bodily harm or death.

TBIs can cause brain damage that can lead to blindness, paralysis, loss of regular bodily functions, coma, and death in the most severe cases. And while these types of injuries can’t always be completely eliminated through the use of a helmet, according to the National highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcycle helmets are on average 67% effective in preventing these types of brain injuries for those drivers involved in a crash. Lawful or not, it’s a wonder any motorcycle driver would choose to not wear a helmet if it could mean that much of a difference for their well-being.

Tips for Avoiding Motorcycle Accidents

The very first tip may come as no surprise: always wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle. No matter the distance, time, or speed you’re traveling, it is always wise to don a helmet for your ride to make sure your head is protected. You never know what might happen on the road between your current location and your destination, no matter how short the distance.

Because of their small size and quick maneuverability, motorcycles are often more difficult for drivers on the road to notice. They get stuck in a car’s blind spots more easily or can seem to hide behind other vehicles or objects before seeming to “appear out of nowhere.” This makes them more prone to being cut off or hit, even by the most cautious and courteous of drivers.

But whether you wear a helmet or not, you can help protect yourself as a motorcycle driver by always obeying traffic laws and speed limits. Also use extra precautions when making maneuvers such as switching lanes, making turns, or pulling out of parking lots. Take your time, assess the traffic around you thoroughly, and give plenty of signal or warning of your intentions when you can.

What to Do if You’re Involved in a Motorcycle Accident

Before even getting on your bike, it’s crucial to make sure you have the insurance coverage you need to protect yourself. Again, the no-helmet law even states that you can only ride without a helmet if you also have proof of health insurance, but Missouri law also requires motorcyclists to carry a minimum of $25,000 worth of coverage in uninsured motorist coverage as well. This can help you in cases of something like a hit and run or a collision with a driver without insurance. But severe injuries like TBIs will often require medical care that exceeds what your vehicle insurance policy may cover, so it’s also wise to make sure you have an adequate health insurance policy in place as well.

If you are involved in an accident while riding your motorcycle, whether you’re wearing a helmet or not, understand that you still have the right to receive the care and potential compensation you deserve. You should treat your motorcycle accident as you would any other type of vehicle accident by first receiving the medical treatment you need for any injuries suffered. Then be sure to gather as much evidence as possible, primarily photos, videos, and medical records and bills. File a claim with your insurance provider to get the coverage you need to address both your injuries and other damages, such as to your motorcycle. If your policy doesn’t provide enough coverage, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the party responsible for the accident.

If your insurance provider isn’t offering the coverage you believe you’re entitled to, or you’re interested in filing a lawsuit for the accident, it’s wise to seek the assistance of a personal injury attorney or motorcycle accident lawyer. Working with someone who specializes in or has a history of working with motorcycle accident victims is key, as these types of cases consist of nuances that often make them different from regular car accident cases. And this is especially true when considering how Missouri’s no-helmet law may come into play.

Take Action Against the Rise in Motorcycle Fatalities

The increase in motorcycle deaths in Missouri is alarming, and it’s essential to know your rights and options if you’ve been affected. At Finney Injury Law, we are committed to advocating for the victims and families impacted by these tragic accidents.

Contact us today for a free consultation. Our experienced team is here to provide the support and legal guidance you need to pursue justice and compensation. Don’t wait—reach out now and let us help you navigate this difficult time and work towards a safer future.

Posted Under: Motorcycle Accident, Personal Injury

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