Do You Have to Wear a Motorcycle Helmet in California?

The laws regulating the use of safety equipment vary from state to state. Many Californians wonder about the laws and statutes relating to motorcycle helmets in the Golden State.

Put simply, motorcyclists in California are legally required to wear a helmet when 

operating their vehicle. Motorcycle passengers must also wear appropriate headgear to ride legally. 

Failing to wear a helmet while riding on or driving a motorcycle could result in a ticket and a fine. Also, if you are involved in a motorcycle accident while not wearing a helmet, you might not be able to recover the financial compensation you would otherwise be owed.

Understanding Motorcycle Helmet Laws in California

The state statutes related to motorcycle helmet usage are found in California Vehicle Code 27803. This regulation requires all motorcycle passengers and drivers to wear a helmet. There are no exceptions to this rule.  

According to this law, drivers and passengers of motorized bicycles must also wear protective headgear. Only certain helmets meet the regulatory requirements outlined in this piece of legislation.  

For instance, the helmet must fit the user’s head appropriately. Helmets that are too big or overly tight are not legally permitted. Also, the helmet must be held on the wearer’s head with straps.  

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), protective helmets saved the lives of more than 1,800 motorcyclists and passengers in a single year. While research has consistently shown that helmet use decreases the potential for injuries, some states do not require them. 

Wearing a helmet lowers the probability of: 

  • Skull fractures
  • Hematoma and intracranial hemorrhaging
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • Brain contusions
  • And more 

Some states in the country require only underaged passengers to wear protective headgear. In fact, California is one of only a few states to require helmets for all motorcycle drivers and passengers. 

California police officers will routinely stop motorcycle riders who are not wearing appropriate safety gear. After being pulled over for failing to wear a helmet, bikers may be given a ticket for up to $250.  

When combined with other traffic violations, the price of a ticket for failing to wear a helmet could be much higher. California police might choose to impound the motorcycle if you were also speeding or maneuvering recklessly. 

The Potential Impact on a Motorcycle Accident Claim

Beyond the legal ramifications, failing to wear a motorcycle helmet could impact any accident claim that you file. Breaking a traffic law, such as wearing a helmet, is grounds for the civil courts of California to reduce the compensation you can recover following a collision. 

Consider the following example. Suppose that you are involved in a crash but are not wearing a motorcycle helmet. Because your head is not protected, you sustain a traumatic brain injury resulting in massive medical bills and lost wages from missed work. 

Even if the other driver was the reason you experienced the collision, they might use the “comparative negligence” defense against you. In the State of California, defendants may be less financially liable if the victim is partially responsible for the harm that they suffered. 

In this case, the defendant might claim that your brain injury occurred because you failed to wear a helmet at the time of the accident. Since you were breaking the law by not wearing a helmet, this defense is likely to be successful.  

California operates on a “pure comparative negligence” approach to tort claims. In other words, the financial recovery you can secure will be reduced by the percentage that reflects your responsibility for the crash. 

No matter the circumstances of your motorcycle accident, it is critical to consult with a legal expert to seek the money you are owed.

Contact Our Motorcycle Accident Law Firm in Los Angeles, CA

If you were injured in an accident in Los Angeles, CA or you lost a loved one and you need legal assistance, please contact us to schedule a free consultation. One of our motorcycle accident lawyers in Los Angeles at M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers will get in touch with you soon.

M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers – Los Angeles Office
4929 Wilshire Blvd Suite 960,
Los Angeles, CA 90010
(855) 599-2987

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