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Is Evidence of an Accident Victim’s Failure to Wear a Helmet During a Texas Motorcycle Accident Admissible?

pexels-alexas-fotos-2156246-300x196When a plaintiff brings a Texas personal injury case following a motorcycle accident, various types of evidence are often discussed during the case. Plaintiffs will face all kinds of questions designed to reduce a defendant’s liability. Was either of the parties under the influence of any kind of substance? Did the weather cause slippery or dangerous conditions? Was the victim taking all the necessary safety precautions and wearing a helmet?

In a landmark Texas Supreme Court opinion, the court overturned 40 years of precedent and reversed rules that previously precluded evidence involving a plaintiff’s failure to wear a seat belt. Previously, the court had held that such evidence was inadmissible because it would reduce a claimant’s ability to recover for the injuries they sustained in an accident based on actions that did not contribute to the accident. However, in a change of heart, the court decided that evidence of use or non-use of seat belts would now be admissible for the purpose of apportioning liability in such claims.

Upon further analysis, the Texas Supreme Court’s opinion does not simply or only extend to seat belts. It held that relevant evidence of use or non-use of seat belts, and relevant evidence of the claimant’s pre-occurrence, injury-causing conduct is admissible. Because of the broad nature of pre-occurrence, injury-causing conduct, attorneys may now have the opportunity to submit evidence that motorcycle accident victims suing for damages in civil lawsuits were not taking full safety precautions by choosing not to wear a helmet.

Evidence in these cases can only be admitted when the court determines that it is categorically relevant to the case. Evidence is only relevant if the non-use of a seat belt or helmet caused or contributed to the plaintiff’s injuries. In its opinion, the Texas Supreme Court acknowledged the potential need for expert testimony in order to establish the relevance and thus causation of such evidence. However, the court also acknowledged that expert testimony may not be necessary in every case. Essentially, the question is whether the plaintiff’s failure to wear a helmet resulted in additional or worsened injuries. If so, the evidence may be admissible.

The determination of whether seat belt or helmet non-use evidence is admissible at trial is a critical one. If admitted, this evidence may reduce a plaintiff’s compensation award significantly. Thus, it is crucial for motorcycle accident victims to reach out to a dedicated personal injury lawyer for assistance with their claim.

Do You Need a Texas Personal Injury Attorney?

If you or someone you know has suffered serious injury or death resulting from a Texas motorcycle accident, contact the lawyers at Carabin Shaw. Our experienced Texas personal injury attorneys skillfully work on all types of personal injury cases and can provide guidance and support for your claim. We will work tirelessly to get you the compensation you deserve and make the journey towards recovery one you can navigate without any unnecessary stress. We handle all types of personal injury cases, including slip and fall accidents, instances of medical malpractice, and wrongful death claims, among others. Contact us to set up a free consultation today at (800) 868-1260.

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