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STATE MOTORCYCLE HELMET LAW MAY BE RESTORED

Motorcycle enthusiasts won a big victory in 2003 by having Pennsylvania's helmet law stricken. But this decision came under scrutiny after the recent accident report of a 53 old, David Robinson. He was travelling on Quarry road and as he approached a curve, his motorcycle crossed the central line and stuck an embankment. As a result, he slid for about 150 feet and his head hit the pavement resulting in a fatal injury. Though no one can say with conviction that he would have survived had he been wearing a helmet, Capt. Tom Roche said that he believes the man may have. He said he appreciates the freedom of riders being given the choice to wear a helmet but notes that incidents such as this could be prevented. Now, a western Pennsylvania lawmaker is trying to restore the law of mandatory wearing of helmets.

The current state law allows the motorcyclist to ride without a helmet if he is more than 21 years old. The rider must also have a license to operate a motorcycle for more than two years or he should have completed a motor cycle safety course approved by PennDOT. The state representative, Dan Frankel who is the lead sponsor of House Bill 945 (restore the law of mandatory wearing of helmets) has reintroduced legislation to restore the helmet law in Harrisburg. For riders under 21 years, the representative introduced a bill to provide for special license plates.

In his support, Frankel reported a study which shows the staggering costs of health care because of the serious injuries as a result of not wearing helmets. The study compared two years pre helmet law (2001 and 2002) and two years post helmet law (2004 and 2005). The head injury deaths were increased by 66% and people hospitalized due to head injury increased by 78%. Thus, the number of injuries increased much more rapidly than did the number of riders on the road. The study also showed an increase of 132% of acute-care hospital charges for motorcycle related head injuries. This doesn't include rehabilitation costs and long term care.

Motorcycle fatalities have increased from 152 in 2004 to 185 in 2006 and the main injuries that occur due to the accident include Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), spinal cord injury, broken bones and internal bleeding etc. Wearing a helmet will help to reduce the seriousness of TBI and spinal cord injury. A rider injured in a motorcycle accident can claim money for medical expenses and also file a claim for pain and suffering.

State Rep. Frank Farry, R-142, of Langhorne suggested that he would read the bill and analyze the data that shows the amount of head related injures before and after the law and then comment on the action. He feels that it would be a burden to the tax payers if the freedom of wearing helmet results in injuries and fatalities.

"This study shows an incredibly dramatic increase in head injuries and hospitalizations that exceeds the increase in the number of motorcycle riders in Pennsylvania. The implications of this for health care costs are staggering and affect everyone, through tax-funded health care, health insurance premiums and covering uncompensated care," said Frankel

The riders have a different story. About 25 bikers were taking a break from their motorcycle rides at Brian's Harley-Davidson/Buell in Middletown on Saturday. About half of them decided not to wear helmet. Two veterans who have been riding Harleys since the early 1970s suggested that the decision to wear helmet should be left to the rider. One of the riders, Bob Adler also said that wearing a helmet confuses him and he prefers to ride without helmet. He also stated that the main reason for accidents is due to cars and trucks not paying attention to motorcyclists. He added that he maintains distance between himself and cars and so stayed accident free for all the while without wearing a helmet.

With summer now here, more motorcyclists are getting their bikes out and hitting the open road. Combined with the rising gas prices more people are buying motorcycles and the roads are becoming more populated with the 2-wheelers. Unfortunately, there seems to be an underlying prejudice against motorcyclists that many times results in law investigators placing blame on riders without proper examination of the case facts.

Sadly, motorcycle accidents often result in such serious injuries that victims have difficulty managing even day-to-day tasks, are unable to work, and sometimes require long-term care. Because of the bias that motorcyclists are less responsible drivers, personal injury cases involving bikes can be extremely difficult to win.
At Rosen Louik & Perry, P.C. our experienced lawyers will fight to ensure you receive proper compensation for your motorcycle injuries. If you or a member of your family has suffered a serious injury, it is important to recover the resources you will need for medical care and other necessary expenses. We invite you to contact our Pittsburgh office for a free consultation and case review. Our personal injury lawyers will only take your motorcycle accident case if they feel it will improve your situation.

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