Does Arkansas have a helmet law for motorcyclists and their passengers?
Yes, but Arkansas isn't one of a number of states that has a so-called "universal" helmet law on the books. The helmet law in Arkansas applies only to motorcycle riders and passengers who are under the age of 21.
Specifically, Arkansas Code section 27-20-104 states that all "passengers and operators of motorcycles, motor-driven cycles, and motorized bicycles used upon the public streets and highways" must wear "protective headgear" while riding, unless they are twenty-one years of age or older.
If you're injured in a motorcycle accident in Arkansas, whether as a rider or a passenger, and you weren't wearing a helmet when the law required you to wear one, that could complicate things if you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit, even if the other driver was the main cause of the accident.
That's because, when a person who files an injury lawsuit also bears some amount of legal fault for the underlying accident, or for their injuries, Arkansas follows a rule known as "modified comparative negligence."
Under this rule, any damages award you might otherwise be entitled to will be reduced (and possibly eliminated) depending on how much blame the jury decides to assign to you. And if you are in violation of the state's helmet law, you can bet that will get some degree of liability pinned on you, especially if you're trying to get compensation for head injuries. Learn more about how shared fault works in Arkansas in our article Car Accident Laws in Arkansas.
by: David Goguen, J.D.