Does Nebraska have a helmet law for motorcycle riders and their passengers?
Yes, and it’s the type of “universal” helmet law that applies to anyone who is operating or riding on a motorcycle (many other states have helmet laws that apply only to people under a certain age, such as 18 or 21).
Nebraska’s motorcycle helmet law says, “A person shall not operate or be a passenger on a motorcycle or moped on any highway in this state unless such person is wearing a protective helmet of the type and design manufactured for use by operators of such vehicles and unless such helmet is secured properly on his or her head with a chin strap while the vehicle is in motion.”
What about the helmet itself? Nebraska’s statute makes clear that it needs to be designed in a way that meets federal safety guidelines: “All such protective helmets shall be designed to reduce injuries to the user resulting from head impacts and shall be designed to protect the user by remaining on the user's head, deflecting blows, resisting penetration, and spreading the force of impact. Each such helmet shall consist of lining, padding, and chin strap and shall meet or exceed the standards established in the United States Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 218, 49 C.F.R. 571.218, for motorcycle helmets.”
You can read the full text of the Nebraska motorcycle helmet law at Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6, 279.
If you ride a motorcycle without a helmet in Nebraska, it could cost you more than just a traffic citation. If you end up getting into a motorcycle accident while you’re violating the state’s helmet law, even if another driver caused the accident, any personal injury judgment you receive could be reduced.
That’s because Nebraska courts follow a rule called “modified comparative negligence” when the person who files a personal injury claim (the plaintiff) is also partially to blame for his or her injuries. If the jury in your case decides that your failure to wear a helmet amounted to negligence -- which is a real possibility especially if you’re trying to get compensation for head injuries -- any damages award you receive will be reduced by a percentage that’s equal to your share of fault. Learn more about this rule in our article Nebraska Car Accident Laws.
by: David Goguen, J.D.