Helmets – Legal Obligation or Legend?  

by | Mar 15, 2018 | Legal Articles & Tips, News & Research | 0 comments

Over the years many of our clients have suffered head injuries while cycling, riding motorcycles or longboards, skiing or skating.

We strongly recommend that everyone who could possibly benefit from wearing an approved helmet while engaging in sporting activities should wear one. A blow from a fall or collision can occur without warning and we have seen too many lives devastated by brain injuries to not want everyone who suffers a head trauma to have every bit of protection possible. Just like seatbelts, helmets can protect a person involved in an accident. However, it is important to be aware not every head injury can be prevented by helmet use, and a failure to wear a helmet is not always negligence.

We have observed that some people have had their claims wrongly denied by ICBC and other insurers with the explanation that the injured person’s failure to wear a helmet caused his injuries. While in some cases, a claimant can be found to have contributed to their injuries as a result of a failure to wear a helmet, the reality is that in many cases a helmet would not have made any difference to a person’s injuries.

The Scientific Situation

Extensive research into the benefits of helmet use has been ongoing since the mid 1990’s.

In general, due to limitations in current helmet technologies and materials, a trade-off exists between protecting against concussion and profound non-recoverable head injury. Most helmet standards for bicycles, motorcycles, snow sports etc. are based on helmet criteria designed to protect heads against severe or catastrophic brain injury. As a result, helmeted participants who engage in activities which may involve head impacts remain at risk for mild to moderate traumatic brain injury until either helmet designs are changed to specifically protect against concussion or new helmet designs and materials are developed which can protect against a greater range of impacts.

The Legal Situation

The Supreme Court of Canada has repeatedly stated that “It is not now necessary, nor has it ever been, for the plaintiff to establish that the defendant’s negligence was the sole cause of the injury”…. “As long as a defendant is part of the cause of an injury, the defendant is liable, even though his act alone was not enough to create the injury.”

We strongly recommend seeking legal advice from an experienced brain injury lawyer if you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury, whether that injury occurred when wearing a helmet or not.  in our firm, we work with accident reconstruction engineers and helmet design experts to determine whether the use of a helmet in a particular case would have made any difference in our client’s particular situation.