When helmets come off, motorcycle accident medical claims rise

Summer is finally here. As a result, many bikers will be traveling throughout the Northwest and across the country on their motorcycles simply for the joy of riding. However, bikers should be advised that new research has confirmed what many bikers have had to learn the hard way. The Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) has determined that when bikers fail to wear helmets, they sustain greater injuries and subsequent medical bill balances when they are involved in motorcycle accidents as compared to bikers who wear helmets and are involved in collisions.

The recent insurance industry study focused on the ways in which medical claims were affected in Michigan during the year following repeal of the state’s mandatory helmet law. Medical claims tied to motorcycle accident injuries rose by between 22 and 34 percent during this period, depending on whether certain variables were adjusted for or not. Bikers were injured more substantially and required more medical care generally following the helmet requirement repeal.

The HLDI’s chief research officer emphasized that “The cost per injury claim is significantly higher after the law changed than before, which is consistent with other research that shows riding without a helmet leads to more head injuries.” This landmark study is the first to explore the link between helmet law repeal and injury severity as opposed to straight fatality statistics.

The evidence clearly indicates that bikers benefit substantially from helmet use. No matter where you choose to travel this summer, please wear a helmet. Some states may not require that you wear one, but failure to do so does not only lead to a higher risk of death, it also contributes to a rate of more significant injury should you become involved in a motorcycle accident during your travels.

Source: Insurance Journal, “Motorcycle Injuries Rise After Helmet Laws Weakened: Study,” Joan Lowy, June 17, 2013

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