Bike helmets and brain injury

Ask a Brain Injury Car Accident Lawyer: When Do I Have to Wear a Helmet?

The brain injury car accident lawyers at our law firm are often asked about bicycle and motorcycle helmet laws in BC. Common questions include “When do I have to wear a helmet?” and “What kind of safety helmet do I have to wear?” Let’s answer those questions and then discuss the important related issue of how the failure to wear a helmet can impact compensation in your ICBC personal injury claim.

When do I have to wear a helmet?

Safety helmet requirements are set out in BC’s Motor Vehicle Act. BC law requires that a safety helmet must be worn at all times while cycling on a public road or pathway  or while riding a motorcycle on a highway. The helmet requirement applies to both operators and passengers of a bicycle or motorcycle, but there are a few exemptions. For example, pedicab operators and their passengers are exempt from the requirement to wear a helmet, and some people are exempt from the bicycle helmet requirements for medical or religious reasons.  Similarly, a person who practices the Sikh religion may be exempt from the motorcycle helmet requirement.

What kind of safety helmet does BC law require me to wear?

BC law requires safety helmets to meet designated safety standards:

  • A bicycle helmet must meet one of the CSA, ANSI, ASTM or SNELL specifications.  The bicycle helmet must also meet other requirements, including that it must have a smooth outer surface and be strongly attached to a strap designed to be fastened under the chin of the person wearing it. It must also be undamaged from use or misuse.
  • An approved motorcycle safety helmet must have certification in accordance with SNELL, FMVSS or UNECE as designated protective headgear for use with a motorcycle.

Certification labels for motorcycle and bicycle helmets can be found either inside or outside of the helmet itself.

Can failure to wear a helmet impact my ICBC claim?

Generally speaking, safety helmets can be effective in preventing concussions and brain injuries.  If you were not wearing an approved safety helmet at the time of the accident, ICBC will argue that wearing a helmet would have prevented or minimized your injury. This is a legal concept known as “contributory negligence” (essentially, that you as the injured person were negligent or careless with respect to your own safety). If contributory negligence is proven, you would be apportioned a percentage of fault, with your damages being reduced accordingly. For example, if you are apportioned 25 percent of the fault, your damages would be reduced by 25 percent.

What our brain injury car accident lawyers want you to know about contributory negligence

Our brain injury car accident lawyers want you to know that the failure to wear a helmet does not lead to an automatic finding of contributory negligence. The onus is on the defendant to prove contributory negligence, which involves two considerations:

  1. Whether you failed to take reasonable care for your own protection; and
  2. Whether that failure was causally connected to the loss you sustained.

In other words, failure to wear a helmet must be shown to be a legally contributing cause of the injuries sustained. ICBC must prove that your injuries could have been avoided or mitigated if you had worn a helmet.  The determination can depend on the precise type of brain injury you sustained, and in in most cases, will require expert medical evidence.

Do you need help from a brain injury car accident lawyer?

If you sustained a head injury, concussion or brain injury as a result of a motorcycle or bicycle accident, contact Simpson, Thomas & Associates. We have considerable experience handling claims involving head injuries, concussions and traumatic brain injuries.  We will assist you by developing your claim against ICBC to get the compensation you deserve, including building your defence against an allegation of contributory negligence due to failure to wear a helmet. You or a loved one can contact us at (604) 243-2657 to schedule your free consultation with one of our team of brain injury car accident lawyers.



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