With sunny and warm weather all year-round, motorcycles are a popular choice for daily transportation and commuting in Arizona. However, riding a motorcycle also comes with its fair share of risks. Indeed, each year, there are dozens of fatal Arizona motorcycle accidents, and hundreds more are injured in these collisions. Like seat belts, helmets have been shown to significantly reduce the chance of serious or fatal injury during an Arizona traffic accident. However, helmets cannot prevent all injuries. Thus, the question often comes up whether someone’s failure to wear a helmet can impact their ability to recover from the other motorists responsible for causing the collision.
When it comes to evidence of an accident victim’s decision not to wear a helmet, Arizona courts liken the situation to a motorist’s failure to wear a seat belt. In Arizona, the law provides limited circumstances under which evidence of an accident victim’s failure to use a seat belt is admissible. Even when such evidence is admissible, it is only relevant to certain questions. For example, Arizona courts have adopted the doctrine of comparative negligence, which considers whether a plaintiff’s damages should be reduced based on the plaintiff’s own negligence. Along those lines, Arizona law states that a plaintiff’s failure to use a seat belt is relevant to whether the accident victim acted reasonably to minimize their injuries. However, this evidence is only allowed if the opposing party can show that the accident victim’s injury would not have occurred, or would have been lessened, had the seat belt been used. Otherwise, evidence of seat belt non-use is inadmissible.
Arizona law treats an accident victim’s failure to wear a helmet in the same manner as a failure to wear a seat belt when considering the evidence in personal injury claims. Thus, if the defendant can prove that an accident victim’s injuries would have either been prevented or lessened had they been wearing a helmet, evidence of the victim’s failure to wear a helmet may be admissible. However, this evidence still would not bar a personal injury claim.