According to AmericanCyclist.com, the state of New York requires motorcyclists to wear helmets on and off-road. The large majority of motorcyclists in New York accept and follow the helmet laws, but they can often take those laws for granted.
There is a reason that helmets are mandatory in the state of New York, and a quick look at some statistics will instantly show why helmets are so important.
Helmets Help Save Motorcyclist Lives
According to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, there were 4,792 total motorcycle crashes in the state of New York. It was revealed that 476 of those accident victims were not wearing their helmets, and 99 of those motorcyclists were killed or seriously injured.
It is hard to say if any of those 99 people could have been spared if they had been wearing helmets, but the thousands who were wearing helmets and walked away from their accidents would argue that the helmet laws are effective.
When you compare the fatality numbers between motorcyclists who were wearing helmets and those who were not, you find something startling. Nearly three percent of motorcyclists who wore helmets died in their accidents, and that percentage remains consistent for the motorcyclists who did not wear helmets. So what could be going wrong? New evidence suggests that helmet designs may not be as effective as manufacturers would have us believe.
A Hawaiian Motorcycle Lawsuit
Aaron Aloya is a Hawaiian motorcyclist who was recently awarded $1.3 million in a settlement over an accident he was in with a car. The settlement he won was from the car driver and the driver’s employer (who owned the vehicle), but it is interesting to note that Aloya has a pending lawsuit against the helmet manufacturer that is set to be heard in 2016.
Aloya’s suit is a product liability suit, which means that he does not feel the helmet he was wearing did enough to protect him. In Hawaii, motorcyclists are only required to wear helmets when they are under the age of 18, so Aloya was taking extra safety precautions wearing his protective gear that could have very well saved his life. But, despite still being alive, Aloya feels that the design of the helmet was insufficient to protect him from the brain damage he suffered.
What Can We Learn?
In states like Hawaii, where there are no helmet laws for adults, there are also no standards for helmets to follow. Manufacturers, in these instances, create their own standards. While most manufacturers tend to follow the accepted safety standards used in states that do have helmet laws, some manufacturers cut corners to put out a product that generates more profit.
Does Aaron Aloya have a case? It is tough to tell because of Hawaii’s lack of a standard for adult motorcycle helmets. But this case just shows how important it is to not take any of your motorcycle safety equipment for granted, and how surviving a motorcycle crash might not be enough. If the manufacturer of your safety equipment used cut-rate specifications, then you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.