Who Is Liable For Head Injuries If A Motorcycle Helmet Was Defective?
Despite the popularity of motorcycles, riding a bike can be dangerous due to the lack of safety features customary in automobiles such as a metal surrounding frames, airbags, and seatbelts as well as the risk of falling victim to dangers such as gravel roads, cars’ blind spots, inclement weather, and tendency for riders to engage in negligent behaviors such as speeding or driving intoxicated.1 The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that due to the numerous risk factors behind high performance motorcycles that lack enclosed vehicle protection the fatality rate for motorcycle accidents is 26 times the number of fatalities for car accidents.2 To combat the fatality rate and serious injuries associated with motorcycle accidents, helmets have become an essential safety equipment as they are 37 percent effective in preventing death and 67 percent effective in preventing brain injury.3
The Benefits of Wearing a Helmet
According to Johns Hopkins, motorcycle helmets reduce the chance for death, brain injury, and spinal injury. The helmet is comprised of four essential sections the outer shell, comfort padding, impact absorbing liner or foam, and a retention system.4 The helmet helps protect the head and spine, because of its crushable foam or liner design that when there is a crash and the helmet hits a hard surface allows the foam to crush, controlling the crash energy, and extends the head’s stopping time by about six thousandths of a second in order to reduce the impact.5 The helmet also functions to reduce wind noises, guard against weather such as visors that cut down on glare, and shields the head including face and eyes from flying objects like rock or sticks.6
Dangers and Determining Liability When a Helmet is Defective
As with any accident, any party responsible for the accident, regardless of whether it is a pedestrian, another driver, or entity, can be held liable for the damages. This means that if another driver caused a collision they can be held liable, but this does not bar recovering from a party responsible for the defective helmet which failed to protect the motorcyclist or enhanced injuries during the accident. For instance, if a motorcycle helmet is defective due to its design or manufacturing, it may be more susceptible to crack, break, or fail while a motorcyclist is using it; an accident may be caused by the distraction of a breaking helmet or it can cause an increase to the injuries by supplying extra force or creating penetrating risks from a cracked shell during an accident. If a helmet is defective, the motorcyclist may sustain a range of injuries including skull fractures, brain damages, facial injury, or death. A helmet can be regarded as defective if there was a defect in the manufacturing or an inherently dangerous design, but also if there was a failure to provide adequate warnings or instructions creating a marketing defect.7 In each of these three forms of product liability issues, there is a range of individuals who may be held liable for the losses or injuries that resulted from the defective helmet including all parties in the chain of distribution such as the product manufacturer, manufacturer of any component parts, the party that assembles the helmet, the wholesaler, and the retail store that sold the product to the consumer.8
Contact an Experienced St. Louis Personal Injury Attorney for a Free Consultation
If you have suffered head injuries during a motorcycle accident due to a defective helmet, it is important to discuss the circumstances of your injury with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help to protect your legal rights and interests. To contact a personal injury attorney for a free consultation please feel free to call the The Bruning Law Firm trial attorneys at 314-735-8100.
I represent individuals in Missouri and Illinois in all types of personal injury cases. In my short time here I have obtained a judgment for $2.5 million and settled a large class action lawsuit for a confidential amount.
I love the city of St. Louis and support it and give back whenever I can. Recently I was appointed by Mayor Francis Slay to serve on the Advisory Board for the Gateway Mall.
I am married to my lovely wife Lauren and we have two beautiful daughters, Mia and Bridget.