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Title: Is my Spanish lid causing me a problem with my claim?

Date: 11 December 2013

Question

I read your column “Must I wear a suit of armour” with interest. My issue is similar but relates to the helmet I was wearing when I had an accident in June. I would be grateful if you could let me know what you think of this. The helmet as a gift which a friend bought in Spain. I had no idea it was not road legal – the police say it had no kitemark. When I came off I knocked my head and have since had migraines, dizzy spells and a slight twitch. I have been to see a neurologist who has linked these symptoms to my accident but the solicitors for the van driver who hit me claim that I am not able to claim compensation due to my illegal helmet. Is this correct?

Anonymous

Answer

By law you must wear a safety helmet when riding a motorcycle on the road. All helmets worn on UK roads must either:
• meet British Standard BS 6658:1985 and carry the BSI Kitemark
• meet UNECE Regulation 22.05
• meet a European Economic Area member standard offering at least the same safety and protection as BS 6658:1985, and carry a mark equivalent to the BSI Kitemark.
So the issue you need to obtain evidence on is whether or not your helmet satisfied the Spanish rules, carried their equivalent of a kitemark and prove that the level of protection afforded matched or exceeded the British standard. If you can do so there will be no contributory negligence or reduction to the compensation you receive as the helmet was lawful.

If the helmet is deemed not to have satisfied the British standard then the court can make a reduction to the compensation you receive if it is shown by the Defendant and accepted by the judge that had you been wearing a legal helmet you would not have sustained a head injury or that its effect would have been lessened. If this is likely to be an issue your neurologist expert (or a neurosurgeon) will need to deal with this in his/her evidence.

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