Is there a Kentucky law that requires motorcycle riders and passengers to wear a helmet?
Yes, although it isn't the sort of "universal" helmet law that is in place in a lot of states. In Kentucky, only a few categories of motorcycle riders/passengers are required to wear a helmet.
Specifically, a helmet is required in Kentucky for 1) anyone who is 21 years of age or younger and is operating a motorcycle or riding on a motorcycle as a passenger, 2) any person who is operating a motorcycle under a "motorcycle instruction permit," and 3) any person who is operating a motorcycle and who has held a valid motorcycle operator's license for less than one year.
You can read the full text of Kentucky's motorcycle helmet law at Kentucky Revised Statutes section 189.285. For more information on motorcycle safety regulation and tips for riders, check out the Kentucky Motorcycle Manual from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
What happens if you violate Kentucky's motorcycle helmet law? You'll almost certainly be issued a traffic citation and be ordered to pay a fine. But if you're involved in a motorcycle accident, it could end up costing you even more. If you file a personal injury lawsuit, even if the other driver is found to be at fault for causing the accident, any damages award you get could be reduced.
That's because Kentucky follows a "comparative negligence" rule when the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit (the person seeking compensation for injury) is also partially to blame for their own injuries. And if you're riding a motorcycle without a helmet and you get into an accident, a jury could certainly deem you partially to blame for your injuries. That's especially likely if you're seeking compensation for head injuries. Learn more about shared fault rules in Kentucky injury cases in our article Kentucky Car Accident Laws.
by: David Goguen, J.D.