There are a lot of different laws in Mississippi that can affect motorcycle riders. One of the most important is Mississippi Code § 63-9-11, which is the Mississippi motorcycle helmet law requiring all riders to wear a helmet while operating their vehicle in case of an accident.
If you are injured in a motorcycle accident and are not wearing a helmet, it could affect your ability to receive compensation for your injuries. Therefore, if you are injured in a motorcycle accident here in Jackson, you must speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can advise you of the rights Mississippi law affords you in this instance.
Motorcycle Crash and Injury Statistics
Motorcycles are not as visible as cars and can go much faster. When motorcyclists crash, they don’t have the same protections as car drivers, so they’re more likely to get hurt or killed. Yet operating a motorcycle means that the person knows the motorcycle rules, laws, and regulations surrounding safety. Despite that legitimate assumption, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) lists the total motorcyclist deaths in 2020 as 5,579, which was an increase of 11% from 2019.
Furthermore, because severe head injuries likely result from a motorcycle crash, helmet use is fundamental in protecting the well-being of Mississippi motorcyclists. That same IIHS data shows that helmets are approximately 37% effective in preventing motorcyclist deaths when worn.
Knowing that helmets are critical in preventing death from motorcycle crashes, why is the trend of fatalities increasing? Surely, it’s not a question of motorcyclists wearing helmets; or perhaps it plays a factor. In 2020, another IIHS study showed that approximately 94% of motorcyclists in states with universal helmet laws like Mississippi actually wore helmets. Unfortunately, in states without universal helmet laws, helmet use was only 60%.
While it may seem like universal helmet laws are an initiative that all states would gladly get behind, that is not the case. Only 18 states and the District of Columbia have universal helmet laws. Mississippi mandates helmet laws for its riders. If helmet laws save lives, why aren’t they more widespread?
Mississippi’s Position on Motorcycle Helmet Laws
Mississippi motorcycle helmet laws apply to passengers and drivers of all ages. In addition, the Mississippi helmet law extends to other single-passenger vehicles, including:
- Motorized bicycles
However, that doesn’t mean that any old helmet will do. It must meet specific standards the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) set. The helmets also cannot fall into the “novelty helmets” category, which doesn’t protect the rider’s head in an accident. Riders can verify that the helmet they are considering meets the basic safety standards by looking for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) sticker.
The Mississippi motorcycle helmet law is a “primary enforcement” law, which means that police officers can pull over a motorcycle rider if they see that the rider is not wearing a helmet. The rider will then be subject to a fine; offenders are subject to a $100 penalty and possibly ten days in jail.
Another conviction could result in a $200 fine and up to 20 days in jail. A third conviction is much worse. It carries a $500 fine and the convicted rider could spend up to 6 months in jail.
So, if there is a system like this, why are so many Jackson motorcyclists still refusing to wear helmets?
Why Is Helmet Use Required in Mississippi?
The Mississippi motorcycle helmet law protects riders in case of an accident, but beyond that, they provide obvious advantages over not wearing them, including:
Head And Neck Injury Reduction
Mississippi motorcycle helmet laws are effective in reducing head and neck injuries. Wearing a helmet can reduce a motorcyclist’s risk of dying from a head injury by 37% and of suffering a traumatic brain injury by 67%.
Vision And Hearing Protection
Another significant advantage of Mississippi motorcycle helmet laws is their protection of riders’ vision and hearing. A helmet prevents dirt, insects, and other objects from getting into the rider’s eyes. It also protects the rider’s ears from wind damage.
Another less obvious advantage of Mississippi motorcycle helmet laws is that they reduce rider fatigue. Helmets and proper gear shield the rider from sunburn and windburn, which are main causes of fatigue.
Injury Claims and Motorcycle Helmets
Suppose you are a motorcyclist and suffer head or neck injuries from an accident. In that case, Mississippi’s helmet laws can significantly impact whether you can get appropriate compensation for your injuries. Here are several possibilities and their chances of recovery, depending on the scenario.
- Wearing a Helmet, Head or Neck Injury – If you were wearing a helmet and still received head or neck injuries because of another driver’s carelessness, your case would be stronger if your attorney mentioned you were wearing a helmet at the time it occurred. Doing so illustrates that your injuries weren’t worsened by anything you did. It also demonstrates how severe your injuries could have been if you didn’t wear a helmet and how dangerous the other driver’s actions were.
- Not Wearing a Helmet, State Helmet Law, Head or Neck Injury – Since Mississippi requires helmets, obtaining compensation for your injuries will be difficult if your attorney can’t mention you were wearing a helmet (because you weren’t). The defendant might even suggest that the harm you suffered was wholly caused by your failure to wear a helmet. An experienced motorcycle accident lawyer may be able to argue differently, though.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer for Motorcycle Injury Claims
Being injured in a motorcycle accident in Jackson, MS can be devastating, but whether you wore a helmet or not, you may still have the right to file an injury claim. Mississippi has laws requiring all motorcyclists to wear helmets while riding. These laws are put in place to help protect all riders from getting hurt in an accident.
When these laws are not followed, it can put everyone at risk. However, don’t allow potential negligence to go without legal repercussions. Call today for a free consultation with one of our Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC attorneys if you or someone you know has been injured in a motorcycle accident. One of our legal team’s personal injury lawyers will want to learn more about your injury incident before discussing your legal options with you.