In Wisconsin, if you are hit by a car while riding your bicycle, there may be an issue involving what percentage at fault you were. Generally, any recovery you obtain at trial will be reduced by the amount you are determined to be at fault. (Note, this is a general rule and there are exceptions).

The question is, what if you are bicycling without a helmet. Should your damage award be reduced because you didn't have a helmet on?

Answer-most likely no. See Wis. Stat. 895.049. Although the statute addresses motor vehicles, it would likely apply to a bicycle as well because bicyclists are not required to wear helmets in Wisconsin. SEE MY ARTICLES ON HOW TO PROPERLY FIT A BICYCLE HELMET AND HOW A HELMET PROTECTS YOU IN AN ACCIDENT. (CATEGORIZED UNDER BIKE HELMETS ON THE RIGHT).

895.049 Recovery by a person who fails to use protective headgear while operating certain motor vehicles. Notwithstanding s. 895.045, failure by a person who operates or is a passenger on a motorcycle, as defined in s. 340.01 (32), an all-terrain vehicle, as defined in s. 340.01 (2g), or a snowmobile, as defined in s. 340.01 (58a), on or off a highway, to use protective headgear shall not reduce recovery for injuries or damages by the person or the person's legal representative in any civil action. This section does not apply to any person required to wear protective headgear under s. 23.33 (3g) or 347.485 (1).

When this section applies to prohibit a reduction of damages, it necessarily also precludes a person's failure to wear a helmet from being considered a form of negligence. Hardy v. Hoefferle, 2007 WI App 264, 306 Wis. 2d 513, 743 N.W.2d 843,.

Posted by Attorney Clayton Griessmeyer-Wisconsin Bicycle Accident Lawyer. For information on helmets and head injuries for Wisconsin bicyclists, see:

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