NY Biker Dies at Anti-Helmet Protest: Hit Head With No Helmet

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on July 07, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A motorcyclist was taking part in a helmet protest over a NY helmet law when he died.

Philip Contos, 55, went over the handlebars of his Harley Davidson, hitting his head on the pavement, after he hit his brakes, reports ABC News.

He was later pronounced dead at the hospital, ABC News reports. And, he would have survived the accident if he was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, said a medical expert to ABC News.

The helmet protest was organized by American Bikers Aimed Toward Education, known as ABATE, according to ABC News. The group lobbies for motorcycle freedom and awareness. In mandating that all motorcyclists must wear helmets, it's limiting a motorcyclists' freedom, according to ABATE.

According to the ABATE website, they believe that the decision to wear a helmet should rest solely with the adult rider, reports ABC News.

Helmets can be extremely helpful, however, when it comes down to safeguarding one's life when riding motorcycles. Wearing a helmet that is up to federal standards can reduce the chance of fatality in an accident by more than 40%, said Jim Hedlund of the Governors Highway Safety Association to the AP.

Some states have mandatory helmet laws, like New York's, which require riders to wear helmets. Failure to wear a helmet may not only result in injuries or death to the motorcyclist, but can also reduce an injured motorcyclist's ability to recover damages in a lawsuit.

A driver or an opposing motorcyclist can raise an issue of contributory negligence if the motorcyclist was not wearing a helmet.

While the helmet protest over the NY helmet law resulted in tragedy, it also isn't the first time that helmet laws have been challenged. Legally, helmet laws have been challenged in court - but they have generally been upheld as constitutional.

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