Does Kansas have a motorcycle helmet law?

Question

Does Kansas have a motorcycle helmet law?

Answer

Yes, although Kansas’s law isn’t nearly as broad as the so-called “universal” helmet laws that have been passed by many states. Those laws apply to all motorcycle riders, regardless of their age. In contrast, in Kansas, only riders and passengers who are under the age of 18 are required to wear a motorcycle helmet.  

The specific language from Kansas’s motorcycle helmet law says: “No person under the age of 18 years shall operate or ride upon a motorcycle or a motorized bicycle, unless wearing a helmet which complies with minimum guidelines established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.”

You can read the full text of Kansas’s motorcycle helmet law (although there isn’t much more to it than what’s excerpted above) at Kansas Statutes 8-1598. For in-depth information on motorcycle safety requirements and tips for riders in Kansas, check out the Kansas Motorcycle Operator Manual from the Kansas Department of Revenue.

So, that’s what Kansas law has to say about helmet use by motorcyclists and passengers.   But what if you get into a  motorcycle accident and you weren’t wearing a helmet? There could be financial consequences in any lawsuit you decide to file, and that’s true even if the crash was the obvious fault of another driver. That's because Kansas follows a “comparative fault” rule in personal injury cases where the plaintiff (the injured person) is said to share some amount of blame for their own injuries.

If a civil jury decides that your failure to wear a helmet amounted to negligence -- and they could make such a finding even if you were over 18 and not legally required to wear a helmet -- any compensation you receive will be reduced by a percentage that is equal to your share of blame (a jury would also make a fault apportionment after weighing the evidence). To learn more about these shared fault rules, check out our article on Kansas Car Accident Laws.

by:  David Goguen, J.D.

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