Are You Required to Wear a Motorcycle Helmet in Georgia?

Motorcycle Accident Claims

Motorcycle rider wearing helmet for safety.Under Section 40-6-315 of the Georgia Code, all motorcycle riders must wear a helmet approved by the commissioner of public safety. This law includes both motorcycle operators and passengers.

Helmets help protect motorcyclists in case of an accident, and each state has the freedom to set its own requirements. While some states don’t mandate helmets, others – like Georgia – take a strict approach.

What Motorcycle Helmets Are Compliant?

Each helmet model must meet U.S. Department of Transportation standards in each of the following areas:

  • Energy absorbance – The helmet must absorb blunt shock, lowering the risk of concussion.
  • Retention – The helmet’s straps must not loosen in a crash. If someone’s helmet falls off, they are at higher risk for head injuries.
  • Penetration – Sharp objects should not be able to penetrate the head through the helmet.

Helmets with the black-and-white DOT seal meet federal standards. Before you buy a helmet, we recommend visiting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website to find test results and check for recalls.

Is Eye Protection Also Required When Riding a Motorcycle?

Goggles, face shields, and sunglasses protect a motorcyclist’s eyesight from flying debris and facial injuries. You must always use some kind of approved eye protection when riding a motorcycle in Georgia. What kind you need depends on your vehicle.

You’re not legally required to wear eye protection if your motorcycle has a windshield – though it’s still recommended. If you do not have a windshield, you must put on sufficient eye protection before your ride.

What Standards Must a Motorcycle Comply With?

In Georgia, each motorcycle must have the following components onboard:

  • Reflector – You’ll need one reflector behind your motorcycle, attached at least 20 inches above the ground. It must be visible from at least 300 feet away.
  • Blinkers and brake lights – Motorcycles need brake lights and turn signals. They must be visible from 300 feet away at all times.
  • Mirrors – You’ll need at least one mirror that gives you a 200-foot view behind the motorcycle.
  • Mufflers – Every Georgia motorcycle must have a muffler to limit noise for bystanders.
  • Lights – Your headlights and taillights must always be on while riding your motorcycle, even in bright weather.
  • Passenger footrests – If you’re riding with a passenger, your motorcycle must have a footrest for them to use. You do not need a footrest for sidecar passengers.
  • Footwear – The law requires you to wear shoes, boots, or another form of footgear while riding a motorcycle.

What Are the Fines for Not Wearing a Helmet While Operating or Riding a Motorcycle?

It is a misdemeanor in Georgia to ride a motorcycle without a helmet. If a police officer or state trooper spots a helmetless rider, they will usually issue a citation for the person to pay or contest in traffic court.

The maximum penalty for misdemeanors in Georgia is a $1,000 fine and 12 months in jail. However, this severe sentence is not usually issued for a simple helmet violation. Instead, a rider will usually pay a smaller – but still steep – fine for a no-helmet ticket. For repeat offenses, a judge might order them to take remedial coursework.

If I Wasn’t Wearing a Helmet, Can It Affect the Compensation I Might Recover?

In a motorcycle crash lawsuit, the court must determine who was responsible. They’ll use evidence from both your lawyer and the at-fault driver to answer the following questions:

  • Did either driver violate traffic laws like speeding, running a red light, or reckless driving?
  • Did the drivers have the required gear and equipment, including helmets, boots, and eye protection?
  • Were the involved vehicles well-maintained and roadworthy?
  • Was a driver distracted or intoxicated when the crash happened?

If you were not wearing a helmet during the accident, it doesn’t necessarily make you ineligible to pursue compensation unless you were 50 percent or more at fault. However, a court may still reduce the compensation you receive. An experienced motorcycle accident attorney can help protect your right to pursue full financial recovery.

What Are Some Common Injuries from a Motorcycle Accident?

Motorcycle accidents can cause serious injuries since no physical barrier separates the rider from the road. A few common motorcycle accident injuries include:

  • Road rash
  • Muscle strains and tears
  • Bone fractures
  • Back and neck injuries
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Spinal cord injury and paralysis
  • Nerve damage
  • Burns

By wearing protective gear, keeping your motorcycle well-maintained, and following traffic laws, you have the best odds of avoiding these injuries.

Is There a Deadline for Filing a Motorcycle Accident Claim in Georgia?

Georgia’s statute of limitations sets the filing period for personal injury lawsuits, including motorcycle accident cases. The court can dismiss lawsuits filed after the period ends.

Generally, you have two years from the accident date to file a lawsuit for bodily injury caused by someone else’s actions. However, some exceptions may extend or shorten this timeline. Ask your lawyer which deadlines apply to your situation.

Remember that it takes time to prepare a convincing case. Before any trial can proceed, your legal team must investigate the accident, gather supporting evidence, and try to negotiate a settlement with insurance companies. To best protect your legal rights, you should secure an attorney’s services as soon as you can after the accident.

Contact a Georgia Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

The Atlanta motorcycle accident lawyers of Butler Kahn are focused on helping Georgians who were injured by someone else’s wrongdoing get the help they need.

If you are reading this page because you or a loved one has been hurt in a motorcycle accident, we hope you are getting the medical help you need to recover. Hopefully, the information on this page has been helpful. If you’re ready to discuss your situation with us, you can call us or contact us online. There is no charge to speak with us about your case.

Picture of Jeb Butler
Jeb Butler’s career as a Georgia trial lawyer has led to a $150 million verdict in a product liability case against Chrysler for a dangerous vehicle design that caused the death of a child, a $45 million settlement for a young man who permanently lost the ability to walk and talk, and numerous other verdicts and settlements, many of which are confidential at the defendant’s insistence. Jeb has worked on several cases that led to systemic changes and improvements in public safety. He has been repeatedly recognized as a Georgia SuperLawyer and ranks among Georgia’s legal elite. Jeb graduated in the top 10% of his class at UGA Law, argued on the National Moot Court team, and published in the Law Review. He is the founding partner of Butler Kahn law firm. Connect with me on LinkedIn
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