Motorcycle Helmet Laws in South Carolina

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Motorcycle helmet laws in South Carolina are straightforward. In South Carolina, motorcycle operators and their passengers are only legally required to wear helmets if they’re under 21.

Once South Carolina residents reach or surpass this age, they can use their judgment to accept or mitigate the risks of severe personal injury. At David R. Price, Jr., P.A., we want locals to know how the wrong choice could keep them from getting compensation after being hit by negligent drivers.

Are You or Your Motorcycle Passengers Under the Age of 21?

By law, all motorcycle riders under the age of 21 must wear a helmet when these vehicles are in operation. This remains true whether you’re driving a motorcycle, riding as a pillion passenger, or simply taking a brief jaunt down the street.

Moreover, if your motorcycle lacks a windscreen that meets the minimum standards of the Department of Public Safety (DPS), you must additionally wear eye protection in the form of goggles or a face shield. Whether or not a motorcycle has a DPS-approved windscreen, all helmets must have:

  • Reflectors on both sides
  • Secure chin straps (or neck straps)
  • A seal of approval from the DPS

Helmet specifications for motorcycle riders under 21 years old in South Carolina

Safety standards for motorcycle helmets are ultimately determined at the federal level. These are defined by the DOT Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 218. As such, every motorcycle helmet manufactured domestically or imported and sold domestically meets this standard.

Thus, if you are under the age of 21 and are wearing any properly fitted motorcycle helmet you’ve purchased in the U.S., you will have met the legal requirements for helmets in South Carolina. All helmets adhering to the federal standard receive a seal of approval from the DPS.

How Not Wearing a Motorcycle Helmet Can Impact Your Personal Injury Claim

A total of 18 states throughout the U.S., along with Washington D.C., currently have universal motorcycle helmet laws in place. With these, ALL motorcycle operators and passengers must wear helmets, regardless of age or riding experience. Although South Carolina’s motorcycle helmet laws do not make it legally necessary for people over 21 to don helmets, this does not absolve people from the important responsibility of protecting themselves.

Failure to wear a helmet could be considered negligence if you get into a serious motorcycle accident. Since South Carolina recognizes comparative negligence, failing to mitigate the known risks of motorcycle riding can work against you in any personal injury claim involving a motorcycle accident in which no helmet was worn.

South Carolina Is a Comparative Negligence State

In South Carolina, compensation for personal injury claims is awarded based on “modified” comparative negligence. Comparative negligence acknowledges that a single party may not be solely responsible for an even resulting in injury. Just as a driver who turns left without yielding the right of way, the driver that person collides with with may be distracted or speeding.

Under South Carolina’s modified comparative negligence system, accident victims can only claim and recoup damages if their share of negligence or fault is 50 percent or less. No damages will be awarded if you are determined to be more than 50 percent at fault for your injuries. Given that failure to wear a helmet can be accounted for as negligence when this fact is accounted for in your claim, it could be enough to prevent you from recovering compensation.

Contact a Greenville Motorcycle Accident Attorney

Motorcycle accidents are often devastating. Since motorcycles lack the protections provided by cars, trucks, SUVs, and crossovers, motorcycle operators and their passengers who are involved in collisions are more likely to suffer traumatic brain injuries, permanent scars, disfiguring injuries, maiming injuries, and more.

At David R. Price, Jr., P.A., we can help you get the fair compensation you deserve, even if the importance of wearing a motorcycle helmet is something you’ve only realized in hindsight. Get in touch with us today to schedule a consultation appointment.

South Carolina Motorcycle Helmet FAQs

Are there legally acceptable excuses for not wearing a motorcycle helmet?

If you are under the age of 21 and riding on or operating a motorcycle, you are legally required to wear a helmet at all times. You should choose an alternative mode of transportation if you are medically unable to wear a helmet. Irrespective of your age, no legitimate reason for not wearing a motorcycle helmet will prevent your decision from being counted as intentional negligence.

Why aren’t people over the age of 21 legally required to wear helmets in South Carolina?

The law assumes that motorcycle riders and passengers who are at least 21 years old are responsible enough to determine for themselves whether to take this basic, life-saving measure. However, people over the age of 21 are not any less likely to sustain traumatic brain injury (TBI) or other serious injuries when involved in auto accidents without helmets.

What if my claim has been denied due to failure to wear a helmet?

Even if you weren’t wearing a helmet during your motorcycle accident, when you work with David R. Price, Jr., P.A., we can review the circumstances of your case and can potentially correct errors in the calculation of negligence that may make seeking compensation a viable option.


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