Does Texas have a helmet law for motorcycle riders and their passengers?
Yes, although Texas has not passed the "universal" type of helmet law that is on the books in many states (and which requires that a proper helmet be worn by anyone who is riding on a motorcycle. Let's look at what Texas's motorcycle helmet law has to say.
You must wear a helmet in Texas if you are under the age of 21 and you are operating a motorcycle or riding on one as a passenger, or if you are over 21 and you don't meet one of the two exceptions outlined below.
You are not required to wear a motorcycle helmet in Texas if you are at least 21 years old and 1) you have successfully completed an approved motorcycle operator training and safety course, or 2) you are covered by a health insurance plan that provides medical benefits for injuries incurred as a result of a motorcycle accident.
You can read the full text of Texas's motorcycle helmet law for yourself online at Texas Transportation Code section 661.001.
It's important to note that you can be liable for a violation of Texas's motorcycle helmet law in a few ways. First, you're obviously liable if you're not wearing a helmet when the law requires you to wear one (you're under 21 or don't qualify under the requirements discussed above, in other words). But you can also violate the law by operating a motorcycle on which a passenger isn't in compliance with the law. In that situation, you and the passenger could both be cited.
For more details on motorcycle safety regulations and licensing in Texas, check out theTexas Motorcycle Operator's Manual from the Texas Department of Public Safety.
What if you get into a motorcycle accident in Texas, and you file a personal injury lawsuit against another driver who you think caused the crash? Let's add the wrinkle that you weren't wearing a helmet, and now you're seeking compensation for head injuries. In that situation, a Texas civil jury could decide that your failure to wear a helmet amounted to negligence, and that you share some level of blame for your injuries. As a result, any compensation you receive will be reduced by a percentage equal to your share of fault, according to Texas's "modified comparative negligence" rule in personal injury cases. Learn more about Texas's shared fault rules and other laws in our Texas Car Accident Laws article.