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Riding a motorcycle poses significant dangers that drivers of cars and trucks do not face. Unlike drivers and passengers enclosed in cars and trucks, motorcyclists have little protection in a crash. This lack of protection means motorcycle accidents frequently lead to catastrophic injuries or fatalities.

Ohio has enacted motorcycle helmet laws in an attempt to protect riders. However, even when you follow the law, you can still become the victim of a serious motorcycle collision through no fault of your own. If this happens, you need an experienced Ohio motorcycle accident attorney to stand up for your rights.

Ohio’s Motorcycle Helmet Law

Motorcycle helmet laws vary from state to state. In the US, 19 states and the District of Columbia require all riders to wear helmets. Ohio does not have a universal helmet law. However, there are some specific situations where helmets are mandated:

  • Riders under 18 must wear DOT-approved helmets no matter what type of license they have.
  • Riders who have a Temporary Instruction Permit Identification Card (TIPIC) must wear helmets. The TIPIC is a novice motorcycle license received before earning a full license.
  • Passengers must wear helmets if the rider is required to do so based on age or type of license.

Once a rider turns 18 and earns a full Ohio motorcycle license or transfers an out-of-state license, they can legally ride without a helmet. The state also does not require helmets for operating low-power cycles like mopeds or scooters under 50cc. One exception is that helmets are never mandated for off-road riding, regardless of age.

While riders over 18 may choose not to wear helmets, this decision can negatively impact injury claims if an accident occurs. The defense can argue that the rider assumed the risk of going helmetless. They may also claim that head or brain injuries would have been less severe if the rider had worn proper protective gear. These arguments could reduce compensation awards.

Why Wear a Helmet?

Helmet use is the single most effective way for motorcyclists to protect themselves in a crash. Helmets saved an estimated 1,872 lives in 2017 according to the CDC. The CDC also reports that helmets reduce the risk of head injuries by 69% and reduce the risk of fatal injuries by 42%.

Despite these statistics, some riders still resist wearing helmets because they find them uncomfortable or see them as infringing on personal freedom. However, the consequences of not wearing a helmet can be severe.

Protecting Your Brain

When a motorcycle goes down, the head is frequently the first part of the body to hit the ground or another vehicle. Without a helmet, the brain is left vulnerable to serious traumatic injury. Some common examples of traumatic brain injuries caused by motorcycle crashes include:

  • Concussions – Concussions occur when the head makes impact and the brain bounces or twists inside the skull. This can lead to chemical changes and damaged brain cells. Repeated concussions are particularly worrying as they can have cumulative effects.
  • Contusions – Contusions are essentially bruising on the surface of the brain caused by contact and bleeds. While contusions may sound minor, they can lead to dangerous swelling, fluid buildup, and cell damage.
  • Hemorrhages – Bleeding inside the skull that puts pressure on the brain can occur when blood vessels rupture due to trauma. Large hemorrhages can be deadly.
  • Diffuse Axonal Injuries – This type of injury happens when the brain shakes back and forth inside the skull, damaging axons (nerve fibers). It can disrupt neural connections and lead to coma.
  • Damage to the brain stem – The brain stem controls vital functions like breathing, swallowing, and consciousness. Damage here is often fatal.

Long-Term Consequences of TBI

Surviving a traumatic brain injury or serious head wound does not necessarily mean fully recovering. Long-term impacts of motorcycle head injuries include:

  • Memory and cognition problems
  • Communication deficits
  • Personality changes
  • Headaches, dizziness, and balance issues
  • Partial or total paralysis
  • Permanent disability
  • Vegetative state

Depending on the severity and areas affected, the damage caused by a TBI may be permanent and life-altering. Research shows that TBI can even lead to early-onset dementia. Wearing an approved motorcycle helmet reduces the force applied to the head during an accident, preventing or limiting traumatic brain injury.

Face and Neck Injuries

In addition to protecting the brain, helmets shield the face from contact with hard surfaces in a crash. Without a helmet, facial lacerations, broken bones, knocked-out teeth, and other trauma are common. Objects can even penetrate the face at high speeds, causing disfigurement or blindness.

Helmets and enclosed face shields also protect the neck from sudden, violent hyperextension and hyperflexion movements during collisions. These mechanisms frequently cause spinal cord damage or even internal decapitation when the skull separates from the vertebrae.

Long-Term Medical Care and Rehab

Because injuries like traumatic brain damage, spinal cord impairment, and amputations have lifelong impacts, motorcycle accident settlements or awards should cover long-term medical expenses. This includes things like:

  • Extended hospitalization and inpatient rehab
  • Multiple surgeries and assistive devices
  • Ongoing physical, occupational, speech, and cognitive therapies
  • At-home nursing care
  • Specialized transportation for doctor visits
  • Psychotherapy and medications
  • Home and vehicle modifications

A serious motorcycle injury can require millions in lifetime medical costs and care. Having an attorney ensures the at-fault party pays enough compensation to cover your needs.

Protect Your Rights After a Motorcycle Accident

Riding a motorcycle comes with risks, but victims of crashes have legal rights—especially when someone else causes the accident. Wearing a helmet is crucial, but it is not your only protection after a collision. Partnering with an experienced Ohio motorcycle accident lawyer helps ensure you receive full compensation so you can focus on your recovery.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle crash, contact our office today to schedule a free consultation. An attorney will review the details of your case and help you understand all your options for seeking compensation.

Visit our offices at:

  • Westerville – 4151 Executive Pkwy, Suite 355, Westerville, OH 43081
  • Mansfield – 33 S. Lexington-Springmill Rd, Mansfield, OH 44906

Or call now for a free consultation on (614) 224-4114.

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