Massachusetts is among the growing number of jurisdictions that require bicyclists and motorcyclists to wear helmets. Policymakers designed these laws to increase road safety and protect vulnerable road users from serious injuries. In addition to traffic citations, those that violate Massachusetts’ helmet laws may suffer serious brain injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), helmets save nearly 2,000 lives every year. Additionally, helmets reduce the likelihood of head injuries by nearly 70%. However, it is essential to note that bicycle injury victims who failed to wear a helmet may still hold a negligent motorist liable for their injuries and damages.
Under Massachusetts law, bicyclists and bike passengers 16 years old and younger must wear an approved helmet. Approved helmets are those that meet the Consumer Product Safety Commission safety standards. Additionally, cyclists should ensure that they wear their helmets correctly. A narrow exception to this rule applies if the passenger rides in a trailer or sidecar that protects the rider’s head.
Bike injury victims must understand that not wearing a helmet does not automatically preclude a biker from holding other parties responsible for the injuries they suffeed in an accident. Specifically, the law states that the other party cannot use a biker’s helmet usage as evidence of contributory negligence in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. However, a rider’s failure to wear a helmet may result in a reduction in the amount of damages they are able to obtain, if the defendant can prove that the motorcyclist’s failure to wear a helmet contributed to their injuries.