Does Wyoming have a law that requires motorcycle riders to wear a helmet?
Yes, but it doesn't apply to everyone, just minors (anyone under 18 years of age) who are operating a motorcycle or riding on one as a passenger. A number of states have passed “universal” helmet laws which cover anyone riding on a motorcycle, but Wyoming is not one of them.
Wyoming Statutes section 31-5-115, which sets out a number of safety regulations that apply to the operation of motorcycles on the state's highways and streets, states:
“No minor shall operate or ride nor shall the operator permit a minor to ride upon a motorcycle unless he is wearing protective headgear securely fastened on his head, and of a type which complies with standards established by the [director of the Wyoming Department of Transportation]. This subsection does not apply to persons riding within an enclosed cab nor to persons operating or riding a moped. This subsection only applies to motorcycles used on public highways, streets and thoroughfares.”
So, a minor can be cited for a traffic violation in Wyoming for failing to wear a helmet while riding (or riding on) a motorcycle, and the operator of a motorcycle could also be cited if their passenger is a minor and is not wearing a helmet. But that may not be all you need to worry about if you get into a motorcycle accident and you're not wearing a helmet.
Even if the accident is the clear fault of the other driver, if you file a personal injury lawsuit over the accident and the case makes it to trial, be prepared for the jury to penalize you for not wearing a helmet (even if you weren't a minor and weren't required to wear one under Wyoming law).
That's because Wyoming follows a “comparative fault” rule in personal injury cases where the injured person bears some legal blame for their own damages, and this rule may apply to reduce any compensation you could receive for head injuries after a motorcycle accident, if you weren't wearing a helmet.
To learn more about how shared fault rules might affect a vehicle accident case in Wyoming, check out our companion article Wyoming Car Accident Laws.
by: David Goguen, J.D.