Motorcycle safety demands that riders wear helmets to protect their heads from brain injuries in the event of a crash. But a defective, novelty, or non-certified motorcycle helmet does not provide the protection a biker needs to prevent a traumatic brain injury, a spinal cord injury, or other devastating disability.
If you or your loved one suffered a catastrophic injury while wearing a motorcycle helmet, the Newsome Melton law firm can determine whether you have a viable case to pursue against the helmet’s manufacturer or distributor. Call us today at 888-808-5977 to schedule a free legal consultation.
Motorcycle Helmet Defects Pose Safety Risks
According to federal government estimates, the number of deaths on motorcycles in 2015 was nearly 29 times the number in cars, per mile traveled. Motorcycle deaths had begun to decrease in the 1980s, but rose to their highest levels in 2008. In 2016, motorcycle fatalities returned to around 5,000 deaths that year.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety notes that helmet use is paramount, because head injuries are common in fatal motorcycle crashes. Research shows that helmets are about 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle deaths and about 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries.
Because serious head injury is common among fatally injured motorcyclists, helmet use is important. Helmets are about 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle deaths 2 and about 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries. A total of 4,976 motorcyclists died in crashes in 2016. Motorcyclist deaths had been declining since the early 1980s but began to increase in 1998 and continued to increase through 2008. Motorcycle deaths accounted for 13 percent of all motor vehicle crash deaths in 2016 and were more than double the number of motorcyclist deaths in 1997.
A defective or non-compliant motorcycle helmet may fail in myriad ways in a crash: a chin strap, fastener, or buckle may loose or the helmet may crack on impact, increasing the likelihood of a biker suffering a concussion, a brain hemorrhage, a skull fracture, or other serious injury.
At Newsome Melton, we can determine if your motorcycle injury was caused a product defect and how the defect contributed to an injury. Out legal team has years of experience handling complex product liability cases. We will thoroughly investigate your case and hold the manufacturer responsible for your injuries.
Federal Safety Standards for Motorcycle Helmets
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) requires all motorcycle helmets sold in the United States to meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 218.
FMVSS 218 defines the minimum performance levels motorcycle helmets must meet to protect a rider’s head and brain in a crash. FMVSS 218, finalized in 1997, also establishes a series of tests that helmets must pass to receive DOT approval. The tests ensure that a helmet:
- Stays on the rider’s head during an accident
- Protects the head from impact shock
- Protects against skull fracture and brain injury
Despite the regulation, motorcycle crash-related fatalities have remained disproportionately high, compared other motor vehicle crash fatalities because of the high number of motorcyclists wearing sub-standard motorcycle helmets, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has noted. The agency’s annual National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) has consistently shown that in states where helmet use is required: between 8 and 27 percent of the motorcycling community wears novelty helmets.
Novelty motorcycle helmets do not meet FMVSS 218 requirements, yet are sold as riding equipment and worn by bikers. These plastic-shelled, lightweight helmets feature weak chin straps, and soft foam padding—or no padding at all. Novelty helmets do not effectively protect a biker’s head in the event of a crash.
In 2013, the DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revised rules to require specific labeling on motorcycle helmets. In announcing this new regulation, NHTSA noted that uncertified helmets had failed all or almost all of the safety performance requirements during testing it had performed in 2007, because they lack the ability to absorb impact energy during a motorcycle crash. Further, the agency reported that computer simulations of head impact tests showed a 100-percent probability of brain injuries and/or a skull fracture for the person wearing a novelty helmet who is involved in a crash. NHTSA instituted the requirements to make it harder for novelty helmets manufacturers and sellers to mislead consumers
The new regulation required:
- A DOT sticker on the outside back of the helmet with letters, “DOT,” to certify the helmet meets or exceeds FMVSS 218
- Labels on the inside of the helmet that show the product meets the standards of private, standard-setting, non-profit organizations such as Snell Memorial Foundation or the American National Standards Institute
- Manufacturer’s labeling on or inside the helmet with the manufacturer’s name, model, size, month and year of manufacture, construction materials, and owner’s information
In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published a notice that it would be proposing more upgrades to FMVSS 218. The improvements included the addition of a specific ‘‘motorcycle helmet’’ definition in the regulations, and more performance requirements by adding dimensional and compression requirements and tests that would identify non-compliant helmets. In announcing its proposal, NHTSA said that “continued high levels of motorcycle related fatalities, the ongoing use of novelty helmets by motorcyclists and the poor performance of these helmets in tests and crashes” prompted it to clarify that novelty helmets are non-compliant.
Proving Your Defective Helmet Claim
During our investigation, we can help you determine whether your helmet is an uncertified, unsafe novelty helmet, or meets federal safety standards. To support your product liability claim. We must show that:
- Your motorcycle helmet had a manufacturing or design defect.
- The helmet manufacturer had inadequate safety warnings or improper labelling.
- You were using your helmet as intended by the manufacturer.
- You were injured because of the defective product.
Once we establish liability, we will file a claim against the manufacturer, distributor, or other parties involved in your case. Our legal team handles all aspects of your case so that you can spend time recovering from your injuries. We strive to negotiate a settlement out of court, but if the responsible parties refuse to offer fair compensation, we may file a lawsuit and resolve the case in court.
Motorcycle accidents can result in a range of long-term and life-altering permanent injuries, such as paralysis, spinal cord injuries, facial injuries, and head injuries, costing thousands of dollars in ongoing medical expenses.
If you suffered serious injuries, you may be entitled to recover compensation for:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Physical therapy
- Prescription medication
- Loss of past and future wages
- Medical mobility devices
- Funeral expenses
As an injury victim, you are also entitled to seek compensation for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, permanent disfigurement, and lost enjoyment of life.
We give our full attention to each case — no matter how complex — to develop a legal strategy that delivers justice to victims injured by unsafe and defective products.
Because we work on a contingency basis, you do not have to pay for our service unless we win compensation in your case.