Few feelings can compare to the rush you feel while riding a powerful motorcycle on an open road. However, before you take your bike out for a spin, you would be wise to take a minute to familiarize yourself with the Georgia helmet laws. They may just save your life.
An Overview of Georgia’s Motorcycle Helmet Laws
According to Georgia Code section 40-6-315:
“No person shall operate or ride upon a motorcycle unless he or she is wearing protective headgear which complies with standards established by the commissioner of public safety.”
This statute means that everybody who travels on a motorcycle in the state of Georgia must wear a helmet that has been approved for use by the Department of Public Safety – even if they are not driving the vehicle.
Georgia law makes some exceptions to this rule for individuals who are traveling in enclosed cabs or motorized carts. This statute also does not apply to people who are riding three-wheeled motorcycles that are used solely for agricultural purposes.
Having practiced law in Georgia for many years, the attorneys here at Hasner Law, PC, have an in-depth understanding of the state’s helmet laws. Should you have any questions about them, please do not hesitate to give us a call.
How to Tell if a Helmet is Approved By the Georgia Department of Public Safety
State law requires motorcycle riders to wear an approved helmet at all times. However, the Georgia Department of Public Safety does not produce a detailed list of the headgear that meets its statutory requirements. Instead, it states that all helmets that are compliant with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 218 are acceptable.
The easiest way for motorcyclists to tell if their chosen helmet is approved by the Georgia Department of Public Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is to take a glance at its labels. Headgear that meets all necessary safety standards feature stickers that read “FMVSS No. 218 CERTIFIED.”
Riders can also tell if a helmet is compliant with the law by taking a closer look at the following features:
The Chin Strap
To comply with state and federal safety standards, helmets must have sturdy chin straps that are attached using rivets. Helmets that have flimsy straps or straps that are attached using adhesives can come loose in a motorcycle accident. As such, they rarely receive FMVSS certification.
The Inner Lining
According to FMVSS No. 218, the inner lining of helmets should be at least an inch thick and be manufactured using sturdy foam – usually polystyrene. Riders who get into motor vehicle accidents while wearing a helmet with thinner linings often sustain severe head injuries. As a result, headgear of this nature does not meet state or federal safety standards.
The robust design of helmets that are compliant with FMVSS No. 218 can make them quite heavy. Most weigh in at approximately three pounds. Unsafe helmets, on the other hand, often weigh less than a pound.
According to federal regulations, helmets must not have any protrusions that exceed two-tenths of an inch in length. Headgear that has spikes or horns is typically classified as a novelty and is not certified for use by the NHTSA or the Georgia Department of Public Safety.
Understanding the Importance of Motorcycle Helmets
The state of Georgia has some of the most stringent helmet laws in the nation. However, it didn’t introduce these rules to make riding a motorcycle around Atlanta less enjoyable or more cumbersome. It did so to save lives and reduce the number of personal injuries sustained by motorcyclists every year.
The following statistics, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show just how essential helmets can be to the safety and wellbeing of motorcycle riders:
- In 2016, the use of helmets saved approximately 1,859 lives
- Had all motorcyclists who got into a car accident that year worn a helmet, 802 more could have survived
- Overall, the use of helmets reduces the risk of death to motorcyclists by 37 percent
- Similarly, the use of helmets reduces the risk of sustaining a head injury by 69 percent
Over the years, the lawyers here at Hasner Law, PC, have seen first-hand the difference certified headgear can make when an accident occurs. Helmets save lives – it’s as simple as that.
What Happens if a Rider Who is Not Wearing a Helmet Gets into an Accident?
If a Georgia motorcyclist gets into a collision while riding around town without wearing a helmet, they are all but certain to sustain a traumatic brain injury, such as:
When an accident causes a motorcyclist to sustain a mild blow to their head, they may sustain a concussion. As a result, they are likely to experience symptoms such as:
- Memory loss
- Ear ringing
These symptoms typically begin to subside after a few days of rest.
A Cerebral Contusion
A blow to the head can also cause a rider who is not wearing a helmet to suffer a cerebral contusion (a bruise on their brain). A brief list of some of the most common symptoms associated with injuries of this nature would include:
- Speech difficulties
- Concentration issues
- Cognitive difficulties
In most cases, cerebral contusions can be treated with nothing more than some rest and over-the-counter painkillers. However, if the bruising is particularly severe, surgery may be necessary.
The trauma inflicted upon the head during a motorcycle accident can sometimes lead to brain hemorrhages. These injuries occur when an artery bursts and causes localized bleeding in the brain.
Brain hemorrhages are often associated with the following symptoms:
- Muscular weakness
- Loss of consciousness
- Light sensitivity
Injuries of this nature are typically classified as emergencies and generally require immediate surgical intervention.
A Skull Fracture
When motorcycle riders do not wear helmets, their skull often takes the brunt of the impact when a collision occurs. As a result, many motorcyclists are brought to the hospital with fractured skulls. These fractures typically fall into one of the following four categories:
- Diastatic skull fractures
- Depressed skull fractures
- Linear skull fractures
- Basilar skull fractures
Skull fractures generally heal on their own. However, the recovery process can take several months.
A Diffuse Axonal Injury
If a collision with another road user causes a motorcyclist’s brain to shift violently inside their skull, they may sustain a diffuse axonal injury. These injuries tear and shear the fibers that connect the nerves in the brain, leaving victims with a wide range of symptoms, like:
- Loss of consciousness
- Persistent vegetative state
Individuals who suffer diffuse axonal injuries are often given steroids and forced to undergo years of rehabilitative therapy. However, full recoveries remain exceedingly rare.
Seeking Compensation for Injuries Sustained While Riding Without a Helmet
Many people believe that if a motorcyclist is injured while riding around town without wearing a helmet, they lose the ability to file suit against the at-fault party. In the state of Georgia, this is rarely the case.
Helmetless motorcycle riders are often adjudged to be partially at-fault for their accidents. However, because of Georgia’s comparative negligence laws, this does not preclude them from pursuing financial restitution – as long as they retain less than 50 percent of the blame.
Victims who are found to be somewhat to blame for their injuries simply have their compensatory awards reduced in line with the amount of fault they hold. A person who was awarded $200,000 by a jury, but was also found to hold 25 percent of the blame for their accident will only receive $150,000.
If you have sustained an injury while riding your motorcycle without a helmet, the team here at Hasner Law, PC, are always available to help you fight for compensation by:
Searching for Evidence to Help Your Case
If you would like to walk away from your lawsuit with a check in-hand, you will need to prove that:
- The other party behaved negligently or recklessly
- Their behavior caused you to sustain an injury
- Your injury is as severe as you claim
The attorneys here at Hasner Law, PC, will be more than happy to help you search for the evidence you need to prove these points.
Negotiating a Settlement Deal on Your Behalf
If you are interested in attempting to resolve your suit by agreeing to a settlement with the other party’s insurer, our legal team is ready to help you negotiate the terms of the deal. We have been negotiating settlement deals for years, so you can be confident that you will be well represented throughout the process.
Representing You in Court
Sometimes, the best way to recover the compensation you deserve is to take the opposition to trial. If your case should end up in court, our lawyers will use all of their expertise to ensure that the process runs smoothly.
Questions About the Helmet Laws in Georgia? Contact Hasner Law, PC, Today
Whether you need a motorcycle accident lawyer to walk you through Georgia’s helmet laws or help you file a personal injury lawsuit, you can always count on the team here at Hasner Law, PC. We have the experience and knowledge needed to assist you with all of your legal issues. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation at our Atlanta law offices.