As specialist motorcycle accident solicitors we are asked to advise our clients daily on how the court will deal with their claim for the damage to their helmet.
Since the introduction of compulsory law to enforce the wearing of helmets the reduction in the prevalence of serious brain injury has been dramatic and is to be welcomed. Helmet technology has improved beyond all measure fuelled by research in the area of Formula 1, Moto GP and other sports and industries where the wearing of head protection is compulsory.
Helmet prices have tapped in to this technology and now most helmet suppliers have a range of protection from twenty pounds to five hundred pounds depending on your budget and your desire to look exactly like Rossi.
When a motorcyclist has a non-fault motorcycle accident and is thrown to the floor or his helmet collides with any hard object, safety advice dictates that the helmet must be replaced. A lot of manufacturers advise replacement every two years or so in any event but most will only replace every three to five years.
Motorcycle Helmet Damaged
So how does the law deal with damage to helmets from motorcycle and scooter accidents? Well the conundrum arises when you consider that the court when faced with assessing the loss caused to an accident victim will look first at the value of the destroyed asset immediately prior to the accident. Clearly the bike you bought for ten grand two years ago has suffered depreciation and you would be lucky to persuade an engineer to give you half of that in his obligatory report as that is what it would have sold for on the day of your sorry mate I didn’t see you incident.
So if we applied the same logic to a claim for damage to a helmet then the Marquez replica you got for Chrimbo that cost ‘er indoors half a grand would only be reimbursed for its value immediately before the accident. So what is that value?
All bikers know that a second hand helmet is worth nothing. Unless you can vouch for every second of that helmet’s life you are literally putting your neck in a noose. A previous accident or even just a drop from hand height can damage the shell of a helmet and fatally flaw its integrity. So second hand helmets are worthless but the court will not award you nothing as clearly you have suffered a loss from your motorcycle collision.
At Lampkin & Co we insist on insurers replacing a helmet with a like for like at full value as we argue that the loss to our motorcycle accident victims is that they will have to now go out and buy a brand new similar helmet. The times we have to face disputes from penny pinching insurers that the helmet was old and therefore there should be some deduction for betterment are incalculable.
At the outer extremes of this argument we may advise our client to concede a little ground for example if we are dealing with a 20 year old helmet that was battered anyway and has no similar replacement but the principle remains that we are strong on our contention that if following a serious motorcycle accident all helmets must be replaced with a similar new one and the client compensated at full value.
Mark Lampkin, Motorcycle and Scooter Accident Lawyer