Does Maryland have a helmet law for motorcyclists and motorcycle passengers?
Yes. Like a number of states, Maryland has passed a “universal” motorcycle helmet law that requires anyone riding on a motorcycle -- whether operating the bike or riding as a passenger -- to wear “protective headgear” that is approved under standards set by the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration. You can find this law at section 21-1306 of the Maryland Transportation Code. (Access the Maryland Code online here.)
What if you are in violation of Maryland’s helmet law and you get injured in a traffic accident? Even if another driver caused the accident, will your failure to wear a helmet make you less likely to prevail in a personal injury lawsuit? In most states, the issue is at least up for grabs, but not so in Maryland.
That’s because, while the state has codified a law making helmet use mandatory for motorcyclists and their passengers, in that same statute the Maryland legislature has also made clear that the failure to abide by the helmet law can’t typically be used against an injured person in a civil case.
Specifically, Maryland’s law states that the failure of an individual to wear protective headgear may not be considered evidence of negligence; may not be considered evidence of contributory negligence; may not limit the liability of another driver or their insurer; and may not diminish recovery for damages.
In fact, Maryland’s law goes on to say that, in a civil lawsuit for personal injury after a motorcycle accident, no party, witness, or attorney may make reference to protective headgear during trial (unless the fitness of the helmet itself is at issue).
Learn more about Maryland Car Accident Laws.
by: David Goguen, J.D.