Is there a New Mexico law that requires motorcycle riders and passengers to wear a helmet?
Yes, although New Mexico's helmet law isn't as far-reaching as those that are in place in many other states. In New Mexico, only people who are under the age of 18 need to wear a helmet while riding on a motorcycle. The law applies to passengers as well as people operating a motorcycle.
You can find New Mexico's motorcycle helmet law at New Mexico Statutes Annotated 66-7-356. (You can access the New Mexico Statutes online at http://public.nmcompcomm.us/nmnxtadmin/NMPublic.aspx.) And for more New Mexico motorcycle safety regulations and information for riders, check out the New Mexico Motorcycle Laws webpage from the New Mexico Department of Transportation.
What happens if you're involved in a motorcycle accident as a rider or passenger in New Mexico, but you were under 18 at the time of the accident and you weren't wearing a helmet? In many states, the fact that you were in violation of a helmet law would probably have a negative impact on any personal injury lawsuit you filed against another driver, even if that other driver was clearly at fault for the accident itself. That becomes even more true if you're trying to get compensation for head injuries you suffered in the accident.
That's because legal rules on shared fault in injury cases (called "comparative negligence" or "contributory negligence") will reduce the amount of money that an injured person can receive in a personal injury lawsuit if they bear some level of legal fault for their own injuries.
But in New Mexico, part of the state's motorcycle helmet law specifically states that "Failure to wear a safety helmet as required in this section shall not constitute contributory negligence." So, a helmet violation can't be used as evidence of shared fault in a New Mexico personal injury lawsuit. Learn more about shared fault rules in New Mexico injury cases in our article New Mexico Car Accident Laws.
by: David Goguen, J.D.