Does Georgia have a law that requires all motorcyclists to wear a helmet?
Yes. But Georgia's law goes a step further. Like about 20 or so other states, Georgia has passed what's known as a "universal" motorcycle helmet law, which says that a helmet must be worn by anyone who is riding on a motorcycle, whether as an operator or passenger.
Specifically, Georgia Code section 40-6-315 states that "No person shall operate or ride upon a motorcycle unless he or she is wearing protective headgear." The statute goes on to state that the helmet must comply with standards set by the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, so not just any helmet will do.
That's the law, and if you get injured in a motorcycle accident in Georgia and you aren't wearing a helmet, it could have a negative impact on any personal injury lawsuit you decide to file against the driver (or drivers) who caused the accident.
In personal injury cases where the person who filed the suit also bears some amount of blame for the accident, Georgia follows a "comparative negligence" rule. So, if your case makes it to trial, even if the jury decides that the other driver was negligent -- they ran a stop sign, for example -- the jury could also decide that the fact that you violated a helmet law makes you negligent too, especially if you're asking for compensation (damages) for head injuries resulting from the crash.
If that happens, any damages award you receive would be reduced by an amount that is equal to the share of the blame that was assigned to you. For example, let's say the jury finds that you are entitled to $50,000 in damages, but that you were also 20 percent at fault for your injuries. In that case, the court would reduce your award to $40,000 (the original $50,000 reduced by 20 percent). Learn more about shared fault rules in Georgia traffic accident cases in our article Georgia Car Accident Laws.
by: David Goguen, J.D.