Many states in the U.S., including North Carolina, have strict laws against motorcyclists riding without a helmet. Authorities have tried to emphasize how important it is for motorcyclists to wear helmets because the helmet serves as effective protection in the event of a motorcycle accident. A helmet helps to reduce head injuries, leading to fewer fatalities from accidents.
Despite the best efforts of state agencies to convince riders to wear helmets, there are people who still do not obey the law. Such a response has forced many states to implement mandatory helmet laws. If the motorcyclist violates those laws, there will be legal consequences. Riding without a helmet and getting involved in a motorcycle accident may be considered negligence, and the negligent rider may have forfeited any right to compensation based on that behavior. Helmets are also mandatory for motorcycle passengers in many states.
However, states that have implemented mandatory helmet laws face certain issues when the offender is being punished. The laws only impose a criminal penalty. However, the laws fail to clearly define the details of how the law was violated. In the event of an accident involving a rider without a helmet, it may be difficult to determine exactly how negligent that motorcyclist was. A case of negligence may only be proven if there has been an injury or property damage as a result of the motorcyclist not wearing a helmet while riding.
Sometimes, not wearing a helmet may be treated in the same manner as other instances of negligence, such as speeding or failing to use turn signals on the road. If failure to wear a helmet leads to injuries to the rider, it may be considered a similar cause of injury that may limit the recovery process.
Source: FindLaw.com, "Helmet Laws and Motorcycle Accident Cases ," Accessed on July 24, 2015