New York City’s crowded streets and compressed space make bicycle riding a popular means of transportation for everyone from students to professionals. But sharing the road with larger and faster vehicles can be tricky. A distracted or careless driver can easily cause a devastating accident if he or she collides with a bicyclist, and the injuries can be even worse in the absence of a helmet.
NYC strongly encourages all bicyclists to wear properly fitted helmets when riding—but does a single mistake keep you from filing a claim against the driver or receiving all of what you’re owed? The NYC bicycle accident attorneys at Hoffmaier & Hoffmaier have the answer.
NYC Bicycle Helmet Laws
Whether the presence or absence of a helmet may affect your NYC bicycle accident case, and to what degree, depends on the circumstances surrounding the accident. But one thing is always true—you are always better off hiring an NYC bicycle accident attorney than forgoing a claim. Some bicyclists suffer needless emotional and financial hardship because of an unfounded fear that forgetting to wear a helmet may end up harming them in court more than the claim may help them. But this is simply not true.
First and foremost, helmets are only a legal requirement for children under age 14 and for commercial bicyclists. If the injured cyclist is over 14, the absence of a helmet carries no legal penalties at all (although it may contribute to “fault” for the injury as explained below). If the bare-headed bicyclist is your child or legal ward, you may be subject to a fine, but in no case will it exceed $50, whereas the value of your case may be $50,000 or much more.
NYC Bicycle Accident Laws
That being said, the presence of a helmet may be a significant factor in determining fault, which in turn affects how much you receive in damages. This is why your choice of an NYC bicycle accident attorney really matters. A skilled and experienced attorney who specializes in bicycle accidents will be able to ascertain the true level to which the helmet may or may not have affected your injuries, cutting through presumption, superstition, and bias to get to the medical facts.
New York follows a system known as “pure comparative fault,” for serious injuries that fall outside the scope of the normal no-fault laws, which means that the extent to which you are considered to be at fault for the injury directly impacts how much of the court-awarded damages you actually receive.
For example, if a car fails to yield when turning right, hits you in the crosswalk and you are awarded $100,000 in damages for the injury, but are considered to be 10% at fault for failing to look both ways, you will only receive $90,000 (90% of the total, since the driver was only 90% at fault). If, on the other hand, you’re found to be 45% at fault for your injuries, since you weren’t wearing a helmet, you will only receive $55,000.
The effects can be substantial, but the impact of a helmet on serious brain injuries is often grossly misunderstood and overestimated by inexperienced juries. Our bicycle accident attorneys at Hoffmaier & Hoffmaier can help separate fact from fiction and get you the money you need and deserve.
Call Hoffmaier & Hoffmaier Today
If you’ve been injured, don’t wait to contact an attorney. The earlier we can start on your case, the more likely you are to receive the damages your situation truly warrants. Call Hoffmaier & Hoffmaier today for a free initial consultation at (212) 777-9400.