Does Hawaii have a law requiring motorcycle riders and passengers to wear a helmet?
Yes, but Hawaii's law isn't nearly as extensive as the "universal" helmet laws that are in place in many states. In Hawaii, only riders and passengers who are under 18 are required to wear a helmet.
You can find this law at section 286-81 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes. It states, "No person less than eighteen years of age shall operate or ride as a passenger on a motorcycle or motor scooter on any highway in the State unless the person wears a safety helmet securely fastened with a chin strap."
If you get into a motorcycle accident and you are not wearing a helmet, it could complicate things if you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who caused the accident. If your case goes to trial, the other side could convince the jury that your failure to wear a helmet amounted to negligence. This is a possibility whether or not you were violating Hawaii's helmet law. In other words, if you were over 18 and not legally obligated to wear a helmet, the jury could still decide that your failure to wear a helmet added up to negligence. (Learn more about Helmet Laws and Injury Cases.)
In Hawaii, when a personal injury plaintiff's own carelessness played a role in causing their own injuries, a rule known as "comparative negligence" applies, and it reduces any damages award by a percentage that is equal to the plaintiff's share of fault. So, if a jury awards you $20,000 in damages but finds that you were 40 percent to blame for your injuries, you would only receive $12,000. To learn more about how shared fault rules work in Hawaii -- and for details on other laws that could come into play in an injury claim after a motorcycle accident -- check out our article Car Accident Laws in Hawaii.
by: David Goguen, J.D.