Atlanta Bicycle Helmet Laws
Although the helmet laws applicable to bicyclists in Atlanta are generally lax for adults, they are considerably stricter for children. In addition, an adult responsible for supervising a child may be held criminally liable if they fail to ensure that the child is wearing a helmet while bicycling, as mandated by state law.
Depending on the circumstances of a biking collision, failing to adhere to the bicycle helmet laws in Atlanta could have significant consequences. A seasoned Atlanta bike accident lawyer could discuss with you about how these regulations may or may not impact your particular case.
What Are Atlanta’s Helmet Laws?
Atlanta’s helmet laws describe the required headgear for those operating a bicycle in Georgia. Specifically, Official Code of Georgia §40-60-296 mandates that no person under the age of 16 can ride or be a passenger on a bicycle on a highway bicycle path or sidewalk without a helmet. If someone is over the age of 16, there is no specific requirement for them to wear a bicycle helmet in Atlanta.
The legislature defines a qualifying helmet for the purposes of bicycle safety as a piece of protective headgear which meets or exceeds the impact standards for bicycle helmets set by the American National Standards Institute. Bikers to whom this helmet law applies must also wear their approved helmet properly, meaning it is a good fit and is seated securely on their head with the straps fastened under their chin.
Also, it is important to note that no bicycle can be rented or leased to anyone under the age of 16 without an accompanying protective helmet, unless that person is in possession of a helmet at the time of the rental or lease. The purpose of this rule is to ensure that entities and companies that sell or lease bicycles to children are not just bicyclists out onto the roads unprotected, but are instead ensuring that every user has the proper protective head gear in the event of an accident.
Legal Ramifications for Not Wearing a Bicycle Helmet
Strictly speaking, there are no legal ramifications for an adult who does not wear a helmet while biking in Atlanta, since they are not required by law to wear helmets under any circumstances. However, if an adult is the guardian of or has supervision over a child and allows that child to operate a bicycle without a helmet, they may face criminal charges.
Specifically, O.C.G.A. §40-6-297 provides that a parent in Atlanta could be charged with a misdemeanor for failing to equip their child with a bicycle helmet. In the eyes of the state legislature, it is very important for people who have children under the age of 16, or who are the guardian of a child in that age range, to make sure they are wearing an approved bicycle helmet.
The Impact of Helmets on Atlanta Bicycle Accident Cases
Wearing a helmet is the best way to help protect riders during a bicycle accident because it mitigates the severity of the impact if a rider is struck by a motor vehicle. Hitting your head on the street or sidewalk could have profound physical complications and consequences, including concussion, traumatic brain injury, or paraplegia.
However, experienced bicycle accident attorneys also know that wearing a helmet can be crucial when it comes to civil litigation following an accident. In addition to their effect on physical safety, the impact that helmets can have on Atlanta bicycle accident cases should not be underestimated.
Contributory Negligence for Failing to Wear a Helmet
Under Georgia law there are no legal ramifications for not wearing a helmet in terms of contributory negligence. If an accident victim violated any legal provision with respect to the operation of a bicycle, the Official Code of Georgia expressly states that such a violation does not constitute evidence of negligence per se or contributory negligence per se. In personal injury cases, there are not a lot of implications if someone did not wear a helmet, provided that they are over the age of 16.
Even though it is legal in Georgia for adults to not wear a helmet while riding a bicycle, it could still have a dramatic effect on their civil case against another negligent party because of how it impacts the opinions of civil jury members. When deliberating a bicycle accident case, one of the primary facts in a juror’s mind is going to be whether the plaintiff was wearing a helmet, much like how they would focus on whether the plaintiff in a car crash case was wearing a seat belt.
Wearing a helmet is not a statutory factor in civil recovery, but it is a soft factor. It is helpful to wear a helmet to avoid or minimize injuries, and the severity of somebody’s injuries from not wearing a helmet could later impact any civil case they decide to pursue.
How to Tell if a Bike Helmet Is Defective
Defective bike helmets may not provide proper protection in a crash, leading to more severe injuries that a functioning helmet might have prevented. One way to tell if a helmet is defective is if there are bubble bursts inside.
If there are bubble bursts, it means the structural integrity of the helmet is compromised in some way. Bubble bursts are often extremely tough to detect, so it is important for riders to perform a careful review of all their safety equipment, including their helmet, before riding. Some other indications of a defective helmet include:
- Helmet has cuts, scrapes, or cracks;
- Straps are torn or detached;
- Straps do not fasten properly; and
- Foam in the helmet is falling out or had to be re-glued.
Atlanta Bicycle Helmet Laws Should Be Taken Seriously
Even though it is not legally required for persons over 16 years of age to wear bicycle helmets in Atlanta, it is always a good idea for anyone riding a bike to wear proper head protection. Many bicycle accidents result in severe injury, and head trauma to an unprotected rider is often incredibly damaging and can even be fatal.
If you have any questions about bicycle helmet laws in Atlanta, a lawyer from our team is prepared to answer them for you. We could also offer clarification about your legal options in the event of a crash caused by someone else’s negligence, so do not hesitate to reach out to our firm today.