Search Site
Menu
How Does Tennessee’s Motorcycle Helmet Law Affect an Accident Claim?

Tennessee law requires all motorcycle operators and passengers to wear a helmet that meets safety specifications. If the person is under age 21, the helmet must meet federal standards set in 49 CFR 571.218. If the person is age 21 or older, the helmet must only pass the lesser standards set in Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-9-302. Violation of Tennessee’s motorcycle helmet law is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine and up to 30 days in county jail.

However, what if a person without a helmet (or wearing a helmet that does not meet the legal standards) gets into an accident? Does failure to wear the helmet impact a motorcyclist’s injury claim? The answer is no and yes.

Under Tennessee law, failure to wear a helmet is negligence per se. However, the rider’s failure to wear a helmet is not negligence that caused the crash that led to the injuries. So, if the rider is not claiming a head injury, the absence of a helmet is not an issue in the case. But if the rider does claim a head injury, the defense can argue that failing to wear the helmet was negligence that caused his head to be injured — or at least increased the extent of the head injury. The case then becomes a battle of experts in brain injuries and crash helmet reliability. The plaintiff’s experts will argue that a helmet would have made little to no difference in the rider’s injury, while the defense experts will argue that the head injury was made at least 100 percent worse.

Why is “100 percent worse” important? Because that would mean the injured rider was responsible for 50 percent of the harm he suffered. Under Tennessee’s modified comparative fault law, the injured rider could not sue the defendant for any compensation.

Motorcycle accident litigation can be complex. If you have questions about your case, speak to a concerned attorney at Massengill, Caldwell & Coughlin, P.C. Call us today at 423-797-6022 to schedule your free initial consultation, or contact us online.

Contact us

Please fill out the form below and one of our attorneys will contact you.

Quick Contact Form

Our Office
  • Bristol Office
    777 Anderson Street
    Bristol, Tennessee 37620
    Phone: 423-797-6022
    Fax: 423-764-1179
TESTIMONIALS
  • "Myers Massengill II has represented me for the last four years in my original divorce case and in subsequent returns for other issues..." "  -Shirley Schultz

  • "When we were in crucial need of both knowledge and competency due to a legal situation, Mr. Myers Massengill of this firm spent the time we needed..."  -Geoff Stunkard

  • "Throughout my two years working with Mr. Massengill, I was treated with the utmost respect and courtesy..."  -Debbie Compton

  • "Mr. L. Carter Massengill handled my case with the utmost courtesy, efficiency and professionalism... "  -Karla Jolene Leybold

  • "Mr.Carter Massengill and staff most respectful and nicest people to help quickly resolve your legal issues and with a positive outcome..."  -Brandon Thorpe

  • "Carter's assistance in navigating the complicated path through the Disability appeals process was instrumental in her approval. We can't thank him enough."  -Scott S.

  • "Thank you for helping me win my case. "  -Jenna.

  • "I am very pleased with the service from Myers and his staff. Very professional and personable at the same time . I felt like my case mattered to them . I would highly recommend their services (and a special thank you to Pam ..you guys have been so helpful)"  -Rhonda.

  • "Carter Massengill did an excellent job helping me with my disability. He did a great job along with his assistant Sandra. Honest and helpful people to deal with. I would definitely recommend him."  -Patty.

  • "Attorney Carter Massengill is hands down one of the most trustworthy and genuine individuals you will ever meet. Rest assured that you are in good hands and that he is going to do everything in his power to take the best care of you and your case, along with expediting the process as quickly as possible. It's rare that an attorney possesses such great attributes in the sense that he is easy to talk to and when he says he is going to get something done, he does it! His office staff is the best. They know their clients and have excellent communication skills. It helps when you are going through a difficult situation. They are a great team and you would be very fortunate to have them represent you! We were able to settle out of court for exactly what we were asking for and this was with me having pre existing pain from fibromyalgia. I am extremely blessed to have hired such a wonderful attorney."  -C.M.

AWARDS & AFFILIATIONS
DISABILITY VIDEO
PERSONAL INJURY VIDEO