What Are Arizona’s Motorcycle Helmet Laws?
By Zachary Mushkatel on July 1, 2019
With year-round warm weather, miles of desert roads and beautiful landscapes, it should come as no surprise that Arizona is one of the most popular states for motorcyclists. However, not all motorcyclists understand our state’s helmet laws. For instance, does Arizona require all or just certain riders to wear helmets? Does the state require other safety equipment? Can the lack of helmet use affect your personal injury claim if you are hurt in a motorcycle accident? The following takes a closer look at those questions.
Only Young People Must Wear Helmets in Arizona
In Arizona, only motorcycle operators and passengers under the age of 18 are required by law to wear helmets. In recent years, lawmakers have proposed making helmet use mandatory among motorcycle riders of all ages. Most recently, in 2019, lawmakers introduced HB 2246. The bill would require all riders to wear helmets. However, a rider could pay a fee in order to be exempt from the proposed requirement.
While only those under age 18 must currently wear helmets, Arizona requires all riders, regardless of age, to wear some form of eye protection. They can wear protective glasses or goggles, or they can have a transparent face shield on their helmet.
Why Should You Wear a Motorcycle Helmet?
Motorcycle riders ages 18 and older do not have to wear a helmet in Arizona. However, even if you are not required by law to wear one, it is highly recommended that you do so for the sake of safety. Several years ago, an analysis by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determined that motorcyclists that wear helmets actually have a 37 percent greater chance of surviving an accident than motorcyclists who do not wear one.
Riders can choose from several different types of helmets, including full-face, open-face and skull cap helmets. These helmets can protect riders from head and facial trauma in an accident. They can also protect them from the sun, wind, bugs and other debris while they ride. Most safety experts recommend that riders wear Department of Transportation (DOT)-approved helmets which fit the rider’s head properly. For smaller heads, some helmets provide foam inserts which allow them to fit snugly. A helmet should always have good ventilation and be bright so that other drivers on the road can see the motorcyclist.
Other Recommended Safety Gear
A motorcycle helmet is not the only type of gear that can help motorcycle operators and passengers to avoid serious injuries in a crash. Riders should also wear the following:
- Jacket – The jacket should be made of sturdy material like leather or Kevlar. The jacket should also be bright and visible to others on the road. A jacket can protect you from getting hurt by rocks and other objects that fly into you while riding. It can also protect you from friction burns, or “road rash,” if you get into an accident and hit the pavement. Typically, a motorcycle jacket is cut longer than other types of jackets, and it is roomier. They also have tighter seals around the wrists and neck for added protection.
- Gloves – A thick pair of gloves can protect your hands and wrists if you get into a crash. Gloves can also give you comfort while you are riding.
- Pants – You should never wear shorts or sweat pants when you ride a motorcycle. Instead, you should wear pants made of leather, Kevlar or some other sturdy material. At the very least, you should wear a pair of heavy jeans.
- Boots – A pair of boots can give you a good grip on foot pegs, protect you from rocks and other objects and prevent burns due to exposure to hot metal. You should never wear dress shoes or sandals when you ride.
Compensation for Motorcycle Accidents in Arizona
If a motorcycle rider suffers injuries in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, the rider may be eligible to recover both economic and non-economic damages and should speak to a motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible. Economic damages include payment of out-of-pocket costs such as medical expenses, lost wages and property damage as well as the loss of future income and benefits. Non-economic damages include compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, disfigurement and the loss of enjoyment of life. In the worst accidents, where a motorcycle rider loses his or her life, the family of the victim may seek damages for wrongful death. Those damages may include compensation for reasonable funeral and burial costs and the loss of a loved one’s support and companionship.
Arizona follows a pure comparative negligence rule in personal injury cases. Under this rule, a person’s damages can be reduced based on his or her degree of fault. For example, if you were injured in a motorcycle accident with $100,000 in damages, and you were found to be 10 percent at fault, your damages would be reduced by 10 percent to $90,000.
Insurance companies often raise comparative negligence during settlement negotiations with motorcycle accident victims. An insurer may claim that because a motorcyclist was not wearing a helmet at the time of a crash, the motorcyclist’s own negligence contributed to his or her injuries. The insurance company may completely disregard the fact that the motorcyclist was legally entitled to ride without a helmet under Arizona law.
Because insurance companies will look for ways to avoid paying full compensation to victims – or any compensation at all – you should work with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney after you have been involved in a crash. An attorney will know how to protect your rights and interests when dealing with an insurance company. The attorney can aggressively counter an insurance company’s attempt to shift undue blame to you.
Get Help from a Phoenix Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident in the Phoenix area, you may be eligible to recover compensation, regardless of whether you were wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. At Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC, we can thoroughly investigate your case, deal with the insurance companies and help you to pursue all compensation that you are entitled to receive. To learn more about how we can assist you, call or reach us online today. We will provide a free consultation about your case in Glendale or Peoria.
Zachary Mushkatel is an Arizona native who earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona in 2001 and his law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in 2004. After serving as a public defender, he entered into private practice and, ultimately, joined forces with Mathis Becker to form the law firm known today as Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC. In addition to criminal law, Mushkatel practices civil litigation, with a focus on estate litigation and personal injury cases. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce and Sun Valley Lodge, and he is an executive officer and member of the Board of Directors for the West Maricopa County Bar Association.