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Motorcycle Accidents and Protective Clothing

Can You Recover Damages If You Weren’t Wearing Protective Clothing?

Motorcycle Accidents Involving Roadway HazardsOne common recommendation to minimize the risk of serious injury on a motorcycle is to wear protecting clothing—helmet, gloves, boots, pants, and a durable long-sleeved shirt or jacket. Many affordable options are available—you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on leathers. But say it’s summer, and you’re only going around the corner to the store. Do you really need to wear all your protective gear?

Unfortunately, accidents can happen at any time. Statistics consistently show that the largest number of motor vehicle accidents happen within a mile from home. So what happens if you get on your bike without safety gear and are injured in an accident caused by someone else’s carelessness? Can that person avoid liability for your injuries on the grounds that you wouldn’t have been injured if you had been wearing appropriate safety gear? Well, maybe.

Here’s how it works. In a personal injury claim, recovery is typically based on the legal theory of negligence, which requires you to show the following:

  • that the defendant failed to act as a reasonable person would;
  • that the failure to act reasonably caused an accident; and
  • that you suffered actual losses as a result.

The defendant can argue that you also failed to act as a reasonable person would, and are therefore somewhat responsible for your injuries, because you wouldn’t have suffered road rash to your hands and arms if you’d been wearing gloves or a long-sleeved jacket. New Jersey, like most states, applies the legal concept of comparative negligence, which requires the jury to determine the degree to which you were responsible for your injuries. Under the New Jersey rule, if you were more than 50% responsible for your own injuries, you cannot recover anything. Accordingly, if the jury determines that your failure to wear protective clothing was the primary cause of your injuries, it may be difficult to recover for your losses.

Contact the Law Offices of David J. Karbasian, PC

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