Legally, you don’t have to carry insurance as a cyclist. You also don’t need to wear a helmet, even though you could potentially get hurt in traffic. After a crash, you can potentially bring a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage.
If they don’t have insurance or if you suffer severe injuries that leave you with major expenses, you may need to go to civil court and pursue a personal injury claim against the driver. Will the fact that you didn’t wear a helmet impact your right to request financial compensation for your injuries?
Not wearing a helmet won’t have caused the crash
Choosing whether or not to wear a helmet is largely a personal decision. While many people feel strongly about the benefits of bicycle helmets, other people are quick to point out that manufacturers don’t even design them to protect people’s heads from car crashes. Regardless of your personal beliefs about the efficacy of a helmet in protecting you or saving your life in a wreck with a car, having a helmet on does not cause a crash nor will it prevent a crash.
Under Washington law, someone facing a personal injury lawsuit can defend themselves by claiming contributory fault on the part of the other party. Essentially, they can claim that the other party helped cause the crash. When such claims are successful, the court will reduce what the plaintiff received by the percentage of false they have for the incident.
While not wearing a helmet may arguably influence the severity of the injuries, it will not make you at fault for the crash itself. If the driver tries to blame you for the motorcycle wreck, they will need proof to support their claims that you were partially at fault.
Are you being as safe as possible on the road?
No one likes to think about the possibility of a catastrophic injury. Most cyclists won’t ever have to worry about getting struck by a vehicle and the injuries that such an incident could cause. Unfortunately, bicycle crashes can be expensive when they do occur and can cause severe injuries with tens of thousands of dollars in medical and income consequences for the cyclist.
Investing in good safety equipment, keeping your bike well-maintained and learning defensive biking skills can all reduce your risk of getting hurt in a bicycle collision.