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Motorcycle riders are exposed to more danger on the road than motorists because there is no protection from the elements if there is an accident. For that same reason, motorcycle riders are more likely to be in an accident since motorists may have difficulty seeing them.

Injuries from motorcycle accidents can be as serious as spinal cord damage, which could leave the biker paralyzed, or with a permanent brain injury. The medical bills that stem from such an accident can become a heavy burden for a family.  

Often, motorists are at fault when there is a collision with a motorcycle and when that is the case, motorists can be held accountable. If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident in Winston-Salem, it is important to speak with an experienced injury attorney who can help you understand your rights.

North Carolina Motorcycle Laws

North Carolina requires that all motorcycle riders wear helmets that comply with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Helmets that meet the standard will provide coverage that is specifically designed to protect the head and brain in a crash. Failing to wear an approved helmet could result in a fine at any time.

The state also requires motorcycle riders to:

  • Maintain a driver’s license with a motorcycle permit
  • Maintain minimum insurance requirements, including $30,000 in liability for one person, $60,000 in liability for all persons involved in a single accident, and $25,000 for property damage
  • Limit passengers to the number that the bike is designed to carry

A person would incur a fine of $25 and it would be an infraction if they are found not wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle in Winston-Salem. Not wearing a helmet may impact a motorcycle accident case in that potentially, jurors may attribute some degree of fault to the injured person for not wearing a helmet. In North Carolina, the consequence of that is potentially fatal to the claim because if a jury were to think that the injured person was negligent by not wearing a helmet, their claim would be precluded. They would not be able to recover money damages for their injuries.

Contributory Negligence

Compensatory damages reimburse an injured person for losses following an accident. Those expenses may include lost wages, medical bills, or vehicle repair/replacement. To be eligible for compensatory damages, however, the biker cannot be at fault for the accident or the injury.

North Carolina follows a pure contributory negligence standard for all accidents involving motor vehicles. A motorcycle accident attorney in Winston-Salem can guide a motorcyclist through the concept of contributory negligence, but basically, under pure contributory negligence, an injured person loses the right to recover any compensatory damages when they had any fault in the accident or the injury. The amount of fault that is attributable to each party does not alter that.

A rider that fails to wear a helmet may not have caused the accident. However, if any injuries sustained were the result of not wearing a helmet, which is required by law for motorcyclists in North Carolina, then that rider may be unable to recover damages under contributory negligence. Under the same statute that requires motorcycle riders and occupants to wear helmets, it addresses the question of negligence or contributory negligence. Basically, the law says it is not negligent per se or it is not automatically negligent to not wear a helmet. It would still be a question of fact for the jury to answer but it is not automatically negligent.

Working with an Attorney

Since motorcycles lack many of the safety features present in automobiles, many people often have a presumption that the biker was reckless. An unrepresented person may never overcome that presumption, even if fault is with the motorist.

Being involved in a motorcycle accident can be a traumatic experience and the aftermath can be overwhelming for many people. That is why it is imperative to contact an experienced Winston-Salem motorcycle accident lawyer who can help you navigate through this difficult process, provide sound advice as to your next steps, and fight for the compensation you deserve.