How much do you know about Georgia's helmet law?

When it comes to motorcycle helmet laws, it may surprise people to learn that there is a veritable patchwork of regulations across the 50 states. Indeed, 19 states have what are known as universal helmet laws, meaning all motorcycle operators and passengers must wear a helmet, while 28 states have laws requiring helmets for specific classes of riders. The remaining three states have no laws relating to helmets whatsoever.  

Interestingly enough, a lawmaker in neighboring Florida recently introduced a measure that, if passed, would make Florida the 20th state with a universal helmet law, effectively repealing a 2000 exemption allowing riders to go helmetless provided they are over 21 and carry a certain level of insurance coverage.

While it remains to be seen what kind of reception this measure will receive in the Sunshine State, it naturally raises questions about what the law says here in Georgia.

What type of helmet law is in place in the Peach State?   

Georgia has had a universal helmet law in place requiring both operators and riders -- regardless of age, experience, insurance coverage, etc. -- to wear helmets since 1969.

In fact, the law provides that riders must wear a helmet that "complies with standards established by the commissioner of public safety," meaning that the stylish replica helmets worn by so many riders probably aren't legally compliant.

Have attempts to repeal the state's universal helmet law ever been made?

Yes. In fact, Rep. Tom Kirby (R-Loganville) introduced a measure, House Bill 797, just last year calling for motorcyclists over the age of 18 to be exempt from wearing a helmet, but leaving the requirement for underage operators in place. As evidenced by the foregoing discussion, it failed to pass.

What happens if a Georgia motorcyclist isn't wearing a helmet and is involved in a crash caused by a negligent motorist?

Above all else, it's important to understand that helmetless motorcyclists injured in crashes caused by the recklessness of another are in no way prevented from pursuing personal injury lawsuits seeking damages for the harm they've endured.

However, it's also important to understand that Georgia does have what is known as a "comparative negligence" rule, such that any recovery at trial could be reduced by a percentage that the jury feels accurately reflects the degree to which a plaintiff's own negligence (i.e., not wearing a helmet) was responsible for the underlying accident/injury.

If you have been seriously injured in a motorcycle accident and would like to learn more about your options for pursuing justice, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional. 

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