Do You Still Have a Case if You Choose to Forego a Motorcycle Helmet?
Iowa is one of three states that does not have a motorcycle helmet law in place, and while many bikers celebrate this fact, it is a fact that can cause more harm than good. Helmets, like laws, are in place to protect people, and it is universally accepted that they are successful in their purpose. Because of this, even if Iowa does not have a helmet law, motorcycle accident victims may discover that they have a hard time recovering compensation for their injuries. If you were involved in a motorcycle accident in Iowa and if you were not wearing a helmet, your best chance at recovering a monetary award is to hire a skilled motorcycle accident lawyer. Reach out to Noyes Law Office, P.C., to discuss your case today.
Factors That May Affect the Outcome of Your Case
Of course, just because you were not wearing a helmet at the time of impact does not mean that you will not be compensated for your damages. The insurance adjusters and, if applicable, a judge and jury, will consider many factors of your motorcycle accident case before coming to a decisive conclusion. Some factors that will come into play include:
- Comparative Negligence: Iowa adheres to a comparative negligence theory, which means that an accident victim can be held partially liable for his or her injuries. For instance, if a vehicle hit you from behind while you were making a left turn, the driver will share some portion of responsibility for the accident. However, if the driver can prove that you failed to use the proper arm signal, and therefore did not know that you intended to turn, you may be held partially liable for the accident as well. So long as the other driver is found to be 51 percent of more liable, you can still recover damages. However, your compensation will be reduced by the amount of fault assigned to you. So, if you are found to be 30 percent liable for the accident, your settlement amount will be reduced by 30 percent.
- State Law: Yes, Iowa is one of three states that does not have a law in place regarding helmet use, but does that mean Iowa bikers should forego a helmet entirely? We say no. Insurance adjusters follow their own set of rules, and while they are required to abide by state law as well, they can insist that a helmet should have been worn. It is universally accepted that helmets protect people, an acceptance that may supersede the injured person’s right to compensation.
- Medical Pay Insurance: Though Iowa is not a no-fault state, it does allow drivers to purchase medical pay insurance, which is insurance designed to cover the cost of medical expenses regardless of fault. As a motorcycle rider, this is smart coverage to have—especially if you insist upon not wearing a helmet. However, medical pay insurance does not cover the cost of property damage, lost wages, or pain and suffering. Moreover, it comes with a cap.
- Here, it’s also important to understand that Iowa allows for a right of subrogation in regards to medical pay insurance if the insured has been “made whole” for their losses [Ludwig v. Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co., 393 N.W.2d 143 (Iowa 1986)]. Specifically, the insurer may pursue compensation from any award as reimbursement for costs it incurred due to medical bills. As such, this will significantly impact any ultimate compensation amount obtained by an injured motorcyclist.
Of course, other factors that will come into play include whether or not the other driver owed you a duty of care, whether or not the other driver was following the rules of the road, and whether or not your injuries are severe enough to warrant compensation.
Retain the Help of an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Iowa’s laws of the road are a bit more lenient than those of other states, but that is not necessarily a good thing. Both the lack of insurance requirements and lack of helmet laws may make it difficult for accident victims to recover compensation for their injuries, and in some instances, impossible. For this reason, your best defense begins with the right coverage and protection.
However, as they say, hindsight is 20/20, and if you are reading this post accident, you want to know what you can do to recover compensation for your existing injuries. To learn more about your options, call Noyes Law Office, P.C. to schedule your free and private consultation today.