New Jersey Helmet Laws
Approximately 2,500 motorcycle accidents occur in New Jersey alone every year, contributing to 70 fatalities and 2,000 injuries. According to data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, a rider without a helmet is 50 percent more likely to suffer a fatal head injury than a rider with a helmet. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that forty-eight states—including New York and New Jersey—have enacted some type of motorcycle helmet law to increase rider safety.
Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi are proud to represent the injured throughout New Jersey. Since opening our doors in 1974, we have been committed to the highest standards of excellence in personal injury litigation. Our million-dollar and multi-million-dollar settlements have earned us inclusion in the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, of which fewer than 1 percent of U.S. lawyers are members. Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi was named to U.S. News and World Report’s Best Law Firms list of 2015, and Michael Maggiano and Christopher DiGirolamo have received the highest possible ratings as car accident attorneys by the AVVO Lawyer Ratings service.
We are prepared to investigate your claim and fight to hold the negligent party accountable for their actions. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury in a motorcycle accident, contact us to discuss your legal options. Call (201) 585-9111 or contact us online to schedule your free and confidential consultation today.
What Does New Jersey Law Say About Motorcycle Helmets?
Motorcycle helmet use is governed by New Jersey Public Law 39:3-76.7, which applies to riders of all ages: “No person shall operate or ride upon a motorcycle unless he wears a securely fitted protective helmet of a size proper for that person and of a type approved by the federal DOT.” Therefore, all motorcycle riders in New Jersey are required to wear a helmet.
However, when it comes to a personal injury case, it’s not so black and white. While it is more difficult to collect damages after an accident when you weren’t wearing a helmet, it’s certainly not impossible. If you were involved in an accident and weren’t wearing a helmet, the location of the injuries comes into play. Helmets are designed to protect you from head and neck injuries, so if your injuries were not in that area, use of a helmet may be irrelevant. For example, say you were riding your motorcycle on the highway without a helmet when another driver, who was under the influence, swerved into your lane and hit you. If you suffered a broken arm, broken ankle, and road rash, you could certainly have a personal injury claim against the other driver—and have a good chance of collecting damages. In this case, the use of a helmet would not have prevented your injuries.
Compensation in a Personal Injury Case
All personal injury cases revolve around the idea of negligence. In legal terms, “negligence” means the failure to use reasonable care in doing something. For a driver, this could mean swerving between lanes while trying to change the radio station. For a manager at a retail store, this could mean seeing a dangerous spill on the floor and not doing anything about it.
Essentially, you must ask the question “If presented with the same circumstances, would a reasonable person have acted the same way?” If the answer is no, the other party could be negligent.
A successful personal injury case requires proving three things:
- You were injured. This encompasses both physical injuries and emotional injuries, such as ongoing anxiety or post traumatic stress disorder.
- The injury was caused by someone else’s negligence. This is where the discussion of negligence comes into play. It is not enough to prove that you were injured; you must prove that someone acted negligently, leading to your injury.
- The defendant’s negligence was the direct cause of your injuries. In certain situations, like driving on the interstate, there were probably a number of things going on at the time of the accident. You must prove that the other person’s conduct—not anything else going on—was the cause of your injuries.
Personal injury lawsuits deal with “damages,” the legal term for financial compensation for an injury. The vast majority of personal injury cases involve compensatory damages, which are awarded to compensate the injured person for losses caused by the negligent party. Compensatory damages in a personal injury case could include:
- Current and future medical treatment: includes hospitalization costs, ongoing treatment expenses, rehabilitation costs, and any expected future medical expenses
- Lost wages: compensation for wages lost while out of work due to the accident, as well as decreased earning capacity in the future if the injuries will continue to affect the victim
- Property damage: compensation for damage to the victim’s car, clothing, or other personal effects as a result of the accident
- Loss of enjoyment of life: covers loss of enjoyment of day-to-day activities, recreation, hobbies, and exercise
- Pain and suffering: the physical and emotional pain caused by the incident, including the pain of the physical injuries and ongoing emotional trauma
- Emotional distress: the psychological effects of an injury, such as anxiety, sleep loss, or fear (typically awarded in severe accidents)
- Wrongful death: compensation for the family or estate of someone killed by a negligent person
There is no cap on compensatory damages in the state of New Jersey. In other words, you are eligible to recover the full amount of damages, so long as you can prove the monetary value of your losses. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you put a value on intangible losses, such as pain and suffering or emotional distress, so you can receive full compensation in a lawsuit.
It is important to keep in mind that the statute of limitations for New Jersey personal injury cases is two years. This means that you must file your personal injury claim within two years of the accident. Failure to do so means forfeiting your day in court and, most likely, forfeiting your right to compensation.
Contact a New Jersey Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Motorcycle accidents commonly result in catastrophic injuries, permanent disability, and an ongoing need for medical care. Your life can be turned upside down, and our motorcycle accident lawyers can help you make things right. The experienced attorneys at Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi have experience litigating multi-million dollar motorcycle accident claims, and they will make sure you and your family get the full compensation you deserve. Call (201) 585-9111 or contact us online to schedule your free and confidential consultation.