Helmet Laws in Missouri

Helmets reduce the risk of head injury and death in most motorcycle accidents, but not all motorcyclists wear them. They can get uncomfortable, for one thing, especially in hot, humid weather, and motorcyclists view the right to wear a helmet as a matter of personal choice. 

However, your decision to wear a helmet could determine the outcome of a motorcycle crash, should you be in one, as well as your right to pursue compensation for your injuries.

A reliable St. Louis motorcycle accident attorney from Schultz & Myers Personal Injury Lawyers can analyze the effect of Missouri’s helmet laws on your personal injury claim. Contact our law office today at (314) 444-4444 to request a free initial consultation.

How Schultz & Myers Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help After a Motorcycle Accident in St. Louis, MO

How Schultz & Myers Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help After a Motorcycle Accident in St. Louis, MO

Since 2010, Schultz & Myers Personal Injury Lawyers have represented accident victims against the parties that have injured them. Our St. Louis motorcycle accident lawyers have secured over $100 million in financial compensation for our clients in that time.

Should you be injured in a motorcycle accident in St. Louis, Missouri, we’ll help you by providing the following:

  • A free case evaluation so you can make informed decisions in your case
  • A law firm with over 100 years of combined experience fighting insurers and their lawyers
  • The dedication and resources needed to stand up to large insurance companies

A motorcycle accident can cause catastrophic head injuries since riders have almost no protection in a collision. Contact Schultz & Myers Personal Injury Lawyers to discuss the compensation you can seek for your motorcycle crash injuries.

How Many Head Injuries Result From Motorcycle Crashes?

According to one study regarding motorcycle crash injuries, 20-34% of motorcyclists suffer head injuries during a crash. Researchers involved in the study estimate the risk of a head injury is between 20 and 26% with a helmet and between 24 and 34% without one.

Furthermore, the Missouri Traffic Safety Compendium (MTSC) reports that 86 people were injured or killed in St. Louis motorcycle crashes in 2022. It does not state how many of these accident victims injured their heads in their crashes. But by using the study’s statistics, it can be estimated that anywhere between 17 and 29 of these accident victims likely sustained a head injury.

The MTSC also provides a breakdown of how many of these accident victims were helmeted in motorcycle crashes statewide. 

Applying the statistics based on helmet use, you can estimate that head injuries were suffered by the following amounts of people:

  • 179 to 254 unhelmeted riders
  • 185 to 241 helmeted riders

These numbers might make it seem as though the risks are roughly the same for helmeted and unhelmeted motorcyclists. However, in 2022, there were 30% more helmeted riders than unhelmeted riders. In other words, roughly 200 out of 800 unhelmeted riders suffered a head injury, while roughly 200 out of 1,100 helmeted riders did the same.

Missouri’s Motorcycle Helmet Law

In 1975, 49 states had universal helmet laws requiring all riders and passengers to wear motorcycle helmets. That number has slowly dwindled as state legislatures continue to lean toward favoring personal choice over collective safety. Currently, only 20 states have universal helmet laws, 27 have limited helmet laws, and three have no helmet laws at all.

Missouri follows the majority of the states, requiring that two classes of riders wear motorcycle helmets: 

  • Operators and passengers 25 years old and younger
  • Operators over 26 years old who have an instruction permit

Compliance requires that these riders wear a helmet that complies with U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) requirements for motorcycle helmets.

However, the state has two exceptions to its law that make it virtually unenforceable. 

For one, operators over 26 years old do not need to wear a motorcycle helmet if they have any of the following:

  • A motorcycle license rather than an instruction permit
  • Motorcycle insurance
  • Health insurance that covers any injuries they might suffer in a crash

These exceptions blow a huge hole into Missouri’s law by exempting the vast majority of motorcycle riders from the requirement.

What’s more, Missouri does not allow police officers to stop riders for helmet law violations. In other words, even if police officers see someone who falls under the law’s requirements, such as a 16-year-old helmetless rider, they cannot stop them to check their age. Instead, they must wait until the rider commits a traffic violation, if they ever do.

Risks of Riding a Motorcycle Helmetless

Missouri follows the doctrine of pure comparative negligence, which means that an injured individual’s compensation will be reduced in proportion to their share of the blame. For example, if you bear 40% of the blame for a brain injury because you failed to wear a helmet, you would only receive 60% of your damages. These rules apply even if Missouri law exempts you from wearing a helmet.

Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Skilled St. Louis Motorcycle Accident Lawyers

Motorcycle accidents can produce head injuries even when you wear a helmet, given that the vehicles provide no passenger compartment to protect you. If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury in a motorcycle accident in St. Louis, MO, Reach out to Schultz & Myers Personal Injury Lawyers at (314) 444-4444 to learn about your right to compensation.