Does Indiana have a motorcycle helmet law?

Question

Does Indiana have a motorcycle helmet law?

Answer

Yes, but while many states have so-called “universal” helmet laws on the books, which cover all motorcycle riders regardless of their age, Indiana’s law isn’t nearly as broad. Only motorcycle riders and passengers who are under the age of 18 are required to wear a helmet in Indiana.

The applicable language from Indiana’s motorcycle helmet law (which you’ll find at Indiana Code section 9-19-7-1) reads: “An individual less than eighteen (18) years of age who is operating or riding on a motorcycle on the streets or highways shall…[w]ear a helmet that meets the standards established by the United States Department of Transportation under 49 CFR 571.218 as in effect January 1, 1979.

(Note: This law went into effect on January 1, 2015. An earlier version of section 9-19-7-1 required that motorcycle helmets meet standards set by the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles. But as of 2015, helmets must be in compliance with federal safety standards in order to be legal in Indiana.)

So, that’s what the law says about motorcycle helmet use in Indiana. But what if you get into a motorcycle accident as a rider or passenger, and you weren’t wearing a helmet? Even if the crash was the obvious fault of the other driver, there could be financial consequences in any lawsuit you decide to file. That's because Indiana 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 this rule applies in your case -- in other words, if the jury finds that your failure to wear a helmet amounted to negligence -- any compensation you receive will be reduced by a percentage that is equal to your portion of fault. To learn more about these shared fault rules, check out our Indiana Car Accident Laws article.

by: David Goguen, J.D.

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