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Motorcyclist Killed in Skagit County Crash

By Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. on June 10, 2014

A 56-year-old man was killed in a Washington motorcycle accident when his vehicle slammed into a highway guardrail. According to KOMO news report, the fatal motorcycle crash occurred along State Route 20 at an on-ramp to the southbound I-5 in Burlington. Officials say he was unable to negotiate the curve and went off the road and across both lanes before striking the guardrail. Investigators say that his helmet was not the type approved by the Department of Transportation. He died at the scene.

It is unclear from the report if the victim could have survived had he been wearing a DOT-approved motorcycle helmet. Not all helmets are created equal and many are simply not strong enough to prevent catastrophic or fatal injuries. Under Washington law, all riders must wear a helmet that has been certified as meeting the standards of the United States Department of Transportation (DOT). These helmets have an easy to recognize sticker on the back as well as on the inside.

According to the Washington State Patrol, helmets that are not certified are little more than novelties that are unable to protect you in the event of an accident. Certified helmets cannot prevent all fatal head injuries, but they can greatly reduce the severity of the trauma suffered in a crash. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 1,829 motorcyclist lives were saved in 2008 by motorcycle helmets. Another 823 riders could have been saved if they were properly helmeted.

Here are a few tips to help you get the right helmet:

  • Find the right size. You want a helmet that rests comfortably on your head and fits your specific head shape. Have a knowledgeable seller assist you if you have a long oval, intermediate oval, or a round oval head, as it will affect the type of helmet you should get. From there, you can adjust the fit with replaceable cheek pads and liners.
  • Get the right type of helmet. There are different types of approved motorcycle helmets. Which one you will need depends on if you prefer to focus on safety or comfort and if you ride on dirt or only the roadway.
  • Consider safety ratings. Even among approved helmets, there are some that are safer than others. Some are designed to absorb energy while others specialize in puncture protection.

Getting the right helmet is only the first step to staying safe. Make sure you also wear proper long-sleeve and long-leg pants to protect your skin, take a rider safety course to freshen up on your skills and always practice safe riding habits. If you are ever injured while riding, or if you lose a loved one in a fatal crash, please do not hesitate to research your legal options. Contact an experienced Seattle car accident lawyer who can provide you with information about pursuing your legal rights.

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