Is there a motorcycle helmet law in Oregon?
Yes, and Oregon is similar to other states that have passed "universal" helmet laws, in that both the operator of a motorcycle and any passenger must wear a helmet when riding on a motorcycle in the state. But Oregon also extends liability to the operator of a motorcycle if a passenger isn't wearing a helmet.
Here are the details.
First, Oregon Revised Statutes section 814.269 makes it illegal for a person to operate a motorcycle without wearing a helmet: "A person commits the offense of failure of a motorcycle operator to wear a motorcycle helmet if the person operates a motorcycle and is not wearing a motorcycle helmet." Pretty straightforward.
Next, Oregon Revised Statutes section 814.275 requires passengers to wear a helmet while riding on the back of a motorcycle: "A person commits the offense of failure of a motorcycle passenger to wear a motorcycle helmet if the person rides as a passenger on a motorcycle and is not wearing a motorcycle helmet."
Finally, Oregon Revised Statutes section 814.280 puts the operator of the motorcycle on the legal hook for "endangering" a passenger who is not wearing a helmet: "A person commits the offense of endangering a motorcycle passenger if the person is operating a motorcycle and the person carries another person on the motorcycle who is not wearing a motorcycle helmet."
If a motorcycle operator or passenger violates any of these laws in Oregon, they are said to have committed a Class D traffic violation.
What if you get into a motorcycle accident in Oregon and you weren't wearing a helmet? Putting aside health and safety issues, there could be financial consequences in any personal injury lawsuit you decide to file, even if the crash was the obvious fault of another driver. That's because, if an Oregon civil jury decides that your failure to wear a helmet amounted to negligence, any compensation you might receive could be reduced. To learn more about shared fault rules in Oregon vehicle accident cases, check out Oregon Car Accident Laws.
by: David Goguen, J.D.