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Massachusetts Bicycle Helmet Laws and Their Impact on Personal Injury Liability

Massachusetts is among the growing number of jurisdictions that require bicyclists and motorcyclists to wear helmets. Policymakers designed these laws to increase road safety and protect vulnerable road users from serious injuries. In addition to traffic citations, those that violate Massachusetts’ helmet laws may suffer serious brain injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), helmets save nearly 2,000 lives every year. Additionally, helmets reduce the likelihood of head injuries by nearly 70%. However, it is essential to note that bicycle injury victims who failed to wear a helmet may still hold a negligent motorist liable for their injuries and damages.

Under Massachusetts law, bicyclists and bike passengers 16 years old and younger must wear an approved helmet. Approved helmets are those that meet the Consumer Product Safety Commission safety standards. Additionally, cyclists should ensure that they wear their helmets correctly. A narrow exception to this rule applies if the passenger rides in a trailer or sidecar that protects the rider’s head.

Bike injury victims must understand that not wearing a helmet does not automatically preclude a biker from holding other parties responsible for the injuries they suffeed in an accident. Specifically, the law states that the other party cannot use a biker’s helmet usage as evidence of contributory negligence in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. However, a rider\’s failure to wear a helmet may result in a reduction in the amount of damages they are able to obtain, if the defendant can prove that the motorcyclist\’s failure to wear a helmet contributed to their injuries.

For example, a local news source recently provided an update on a fatal Harvard Square bike accident. Witnesses reported a bike accident around the Harvard Square MBTA Station. A preliminary investigation determined that a tractor-trailer was headed west away from Harvard Square when he collided with the bicyclist. Tragically, the biker was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident and has only recently been identified as a 55-year-old man. It is unclear whether the biker was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, but an investigation remains ongoing.

Although defendants may not use helmet use as evidence as comparative negligence, they may use other evidence of the biker’s negligence. For example, the defendant may use evidence that the bike rider was unsafely crossing through traffic; they were not using the appropriate bike lane, or did not have lights on their bike. It is important to speak with an attorney so that you understand your rights if you are a cyclist that has  been injured in a Massachusetts bike accident.

Have You Been Injured in a Massachusetts Bike Accident?

If you or someone you love has recently suffered serious injuries as a result of a Massachusetts bicycle accident, contact the knowledgable attorneys at the Law Offices of Barry Feinstein and Affiliates P.C. The attorneys at our law firm have over 25 years of experience advocating on behalf of Massachusetts injury victims against big insurance companies, negligent government entities, and at-fault motorists. We have successfully represented claimants for injuries stemming from bike accidents, car and truck collisions, defective products, incidents of medical malpractice, and slip and falls. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated Boston personal injury attorney, contact us at 800-262-9200. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our services unless we can help you recover for your injuries.


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