Does Minnesota have a helmet law for motorcycle riders and passengers?
Yes, although it does not apply to motorcycle riders and passengers of all ages, only those who are under the age of 18. Specifically, Minnesota Statutes section 169.974 states “No person under the age of 18 shall operate or ride a motorcycle on the streets and highways of this state without wearing protective headgear that complies with standards established by the commissioner of public safety.”
(Get details on helmet requirements and more from the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety.)
What if you’re under 18 and you get into a motorcycle accident while you’re violating the helmet law in Minnesota? If you end up filing a personal injury lawsuit against another driver, any damages award that a jury gives you could end up being reduced.
Why? Because like a lot of states, Minnesota follows a “comparative fault” rule when an injured person files a lawsuit but is partially responsible for the underlying accident -- or for their injuries. It’s very possible that violation of a helmet law could add up to negligence, and that’s especially true if you’re seeking compensation for head injuries. (Learn more about Minnesota’s shared fault rule in our Minnesota Car Accident Laws article.)
Let’s look at an example to illustrate how this rule works in practice. Let’s say you’re in an accident where another driver runs a stop sign and strikes your motorcycle. You suffer head injuries and other bumps and bruises. After a trial, the court awards you $10,000 in damages, but also finds that your violation of Minnesota’s helmet law makes you 40 percent responsible for your own injuries. In that case, you’d receive only $6,000 (the $10,000 award cut by your 40 percent share of fault).
by: David Goguen, J.D.