Are you using a motorcycle helmet that was scraped or just slightly damaged in an accident? What if you had an accident and hit your helmet on the street, but it looks OK, or maybe you just dropped your helmet? Can you reuse your helmet?
You probably value your head, so you should never reuse a helmet without having it inspected. Most motorcycle helmet manufacturers will inspect your helmet if you ship it to them.
But don’t bother if your helmet is more than 5 years old. Most motorcycle helmet manufacturers and the Snell Foundation recommend replacing your helmet every 5 years.
Helmet materials degrade over time from body oil, bodily fluids such as sweat, and cosmetics. Additionally, normal wear and tear contribute to helmet degradation. Finally, like everything else, helmet technology continuously improves. A new helmet with 5 years of advancement in technology could mean the difference between a mild traumatic brain injury and no head injury.
Can you reuse your helmet, or should you replace it?
Should you replace your helmet if you drop it? There, Snell has good news. Snell’s website states, “Generally the answer is probably not” if it hasn’t been dropped frequently or dropped from a moving vehicle and it’s a Snell certified helmet.
However, a helmet that has come in contact with the ground or another object while being worn (with your head inside) during an accident may have sustained several types of damage to different parts of the helmet. The damage can be difficult to see, which is why an inspection by the manufacturer is necessary.
Snell’s website states, “In general, the real damage comes when the helmet contacts an object with a head inside.” “The Foundation recommends that if you suspect your helmet may be compromised, then replace it. If the helmet has been involved in an impact while in use, replace it.”
A good tip from Snell is that you should buy a helmet from a local retailer rather than online to ensure a good fit which is essential for head protection. Without trying on the helmet you can’t know if it’s a good fit for your head because people with the same head size may have a different head shape, and the same size helmet from different manufacturers or models may fit differently.
A helmet should be snug and comfortable all around your head. A helmet is too big if it starts to slip off when you push the front of the helmet backward with the strap buckled. Snell states that most motorcyclists buy a new motorcycle helmet that is one size too large, so make sure that it’s snug all around your head. If it’s uncomfortably snug after 5-10 minutes of wearing, it’s too small.
The Legal Reason Not To Reuse Your Helmet After A Motorcycle Accident
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident and your helmet was damaged or scraped, we advise that you give it to your lawyer for safekeeping as evidence. Your helmet can be used as evidence to prove that your head was impacted, and together with medical records showing that you had a concussion, you may have an injury worth well in excess of $1 million!
If you reuse your helmet, it may be damaged again later and may not be possible to use as evidence for the first accident.
If you hit your head in a motorcycle accident, call 1-800-HURT-911 for a free consultation. Often, a motorcyclist who had a concussion is not even aware of that fact. We will examine your situation to see if we think you may have had a concussion which is a mild traumatic brain injury. When appropriate, we will refer you to a doctor for testing. For information about traumatic brain injury and why you should make sure that your helmet fits well, see doyouhaveTBI.com.
What You Should Know About Motorcycle Helmets – Motorcycle Safety Foundation
Confused about motorcycle helmet standards? Read this article with a comparison of Snell vs DOT vs ECE R22-05 helmet standards
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Motorcycle Attorney Phil Franckel talks about how motorcycle accidents are different
Philip L. Franckel, Esq. is the author of all articles and content on this website, one of the Personal Injury Dream Team™ Founding Partners at 1-800-HURT-911® New York, well-known for representing motorcyclists. He has a 10 Avvo rating; Avvo Client’s Choice with all 5-star reviews; Avvo Top Contributor; and is a former Member of the Board of Directors of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association. Mr. Franckel created the motorcycle awareness campaign BE AWARE MOTORCYCLES ARE EVERYWHERE®.
Founding Partner Rob Plevy, Esq.
Robert Plevy, Esq. is a motorcycle accident lawyer and one of the Personal Injury Dream Team™ Founding Partners at 1-800-HURT-911® New York. Robert began his legal career in 1993 as an Assistant Corporation Counsel defending The City of New York against personal injury lawsuits.