September 4, 2023
Motorcycle Accident

Riding a motorcycle is an exhilarating and freeing experience, especially on Alabama’s beautiful roads. However, it’s not without risks. In 2020, 72 motorcycle riders died in the state, and 1,115 suffered injuries. The age group most affected was 25 to 29-year-olds, with 221 crashes, almost 8% of motorcycle accidents in the state.

Safety should always be a priority whether you’ve just obtained your Class M license or have been riding for years. Knowing and understanding Alabama’s motorcycle helmet laws can help you become a safe and responsible rider.

Alabama’s Motorcycle Helmet Laws

In Alabama, rules and regulations regarding motorcycle helmet usage are enforced by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (LEA). According to the LEA’s Motorcycle Manual and Alabama Code 32-5A-245(a), it is unlawful for a motorcycle rider to operate their vehicle without protective headgear. This applies to motorcycle riders of all ages, whether operators or passengers.

Protective headgear for motorcyclists must also meet the state’s minimum design and durability standards (32-12-41). The headgear must be a helmet specifically designed for motorcyclists. It must be made of durable, non-shattering materials and feature a shock-absorbing cradle, padding, and an adjustable chin strap.

Are There Any Exceptions to the Helmet Law?

According to the Alabama Code, the only exception to the motorcycle helmet requirement is for riders and passengers inside an enclosed cab (32-5A-245(c)). Examples of closed-cab vehicles include cabin bikes and specific sidecar bike models, some of which feature a fully enclosed side cab.

What are the Possible Consequences of Not Wearing Your Helmet?

Failing to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle in Alabama is unsafe and against state law. Beyond the potential legal penalties, being involved in an accident while riding a motorcycle without a helmet can harm your chances of obtaining compensation.

Legal Penalties

Failing to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle in Alabama is a misdemeanor (32-12-44). Possible penalties include a fine of up to $100 and a sentence in jail, hard labor, or both for up to 180 days.

Potential Additional Consequences

Alabama is a pure contributory negligence state. In a traffic accident, any party found to be at fault, even with 1% of responsibility, is barred from claiming damages from other parties. This can have major consequences for motorcycle riders seeking a settlement for injuries caused by another’s negligence. 

If you don’t wear your helmet, it increases your risk of more serious and costly injuries. It also demonstrates that you were not following traffic laws at the time of the accident. The other party’s insurance company may be able to use your lack of a helmet against you, claiming you are partially at fault for the collision and your injuries.

When an insurer can prove that not wearing a helmet led to injuries, such as a concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI), it disqualifies you from receiving any damage award.

Importance of Wearing a Helmet

Helmets are essential, life-saving protective gear for any motorcycle enthusiast. Whether you are a rider or a passenger, wearing a helmet can prevent or reduce the risk of injury or death in a collision.

When choosing a helmet, select a DOT-approved model to protect your head and comply with Alabama law. You can recognize DOT-approved helmets by checking for the DOT sticker. Certified models made after May 2013 should say “FMVSS No. 218 Certified.”

Your DOT-approved helmet can offer protection against the following:

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Helmets protect your skull by absorbing the crash’s impact, whether the asphalt, a car, or another structure. According to CDC motorcycle safety statistics, wearing a motorcycle helmet reduces the risk of sustaining a head injury by 69%.
  • Skull and jaw fractures. A high-quality, DOT-approved helmet with a full-face design provides 360° protection to your head. It can shield your skull and jaw from hard impacts and reduce the risk of fractures.
  • Facial and eye injuries. Quality motorcycle helmet visors are made of durable, non-shattering, impact-resistant materials. Their role is to prevent shards and debris from damaging your face and eyes.
  • Neck and spine injuries. While motorcycle helmets primarily shield the head, they also provide partial protection to the neck and reduce the risk of cervical spine injury.

Contact The Vance Law Firm Injury Lawyers Today

Riding a motorcycle is a thrilling adventure, but it comes with responsibilities. At The Vance Law Firm, we urge you to prioritize your safety. Wear a DOT-approved helmet every time you ride, not just because it’s the law, but because it could save your life.

If you’ve been in a motorcycle accident, our Alabama motorcycle attorneys can help you navigate the legal implications of helmet usage and get the maximum compensation possible. We have over two decades of experience with Alabama motorcycle accident claims and will use our legal skills to your advantage.

Contact us today for a free case review. Ride safe, ride smart, and let us stand by your side on the road to a fair settlement.

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