Is there a helmet law for motorcycle riders and passengers in Alaska?
Yes. While not as comprehensive as those on the books in some states, Alaska has passed a law requiring the wearing of a helmet by anyone under the age of 18 who is operating a motorcycle. Riders who are 18 or over can’t be required to wear a helmet under Alaska law as long as they are “the holder of a license or endorsement to operate a motorcycle.” You can find this law at Alaska Statutes section 28.35.245.
And according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Alaska’s motorcycle helmet laws don’t stop there. Helmets are also required for all passengers riding on the back of a motorcycle in Alaska, regardless of how old they are, and for riders of any age who are operating a motorcycle under an instructional permit only (they’re not yet fully licensed, in other words).
So, what if you’re a motorcycle rider under 18 years of age, or a passenger on the back of a motorcycle, and you’re injured in an accident in which you weren’t wearing a helmet? Especially if you suffer head injuries, you could be in for a pretty tough fight.
Alaska courts follow a rule called “pure comparative fault” when deciding how an injured person’s case should be affected when he or she bears some amount of blame for the underlying accident.
Violation of a helmet law would certainly amount to shared blame; the only question is how much blame the court assigns to the person who violated the helmet law. Whatever the percentage of their blame is, under Alaska law any damages award will be reduced by an amount that’s equal to that percentage. (Get more information in this shared fault rule in our article on Alaska Car Accident Laws.)
So, for example, if the injured rider or passenger is found to be 45 percent to blame for not wearing a helmet, and their damages award is $10,000, they will only receive $5,500 under Alaska’s “pure comparative fault” rule.
by: David Goguen, J.D.