Many motorcyclists prefer not to wear helmets when riding to enjoy the open-air feeling. However, doing so puts them at greater risk of injury, but not just injury–they could be violating the law. Here’s what you need to know about motorcycle helmet laws in Canada.

Does Canada Have Motorcycle Helmet Laws?

Every province in Canada has motorcycle helmet laws that require both drivers and passengers to wear them while riding. There are some exceptions across provinces. For example, in Alberta and Ontario, an adult (18 or older) who is a bona fide member of the Sikh religion and wears a turban is allowed to ride without a helmet. In Manitoba, members of the Sikh religion or people riding in a legally-authorized parade may ride without helmets. However, British Columbia, Quebec, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, and Yukon offer no exceptions to the mandatory motorcycle helmet law.

Nova Scotia law says that someone can be exempted from wearing a helmet due to medical or religious reasons, but to do so, they must have a certificate from the Registrar of Motor Vehicles proving that with them whenever they’re on the motorcycle.

What Types of Motorcycle Helmets Are Required?

Not just any motorcycle helmet is required in Canada. The helmets chosen must adhere to specific safety specifications. The helmets must also be in good condition, meaning if you’ve been in an accident that damaged your helmet, it’s time to get a new one.

When choosing a helmet, Canada requires that the helmet must meet one of the following safety standards, and the helmet must also display the certification label showing which standard it meets.

  • DOT: Conforms with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 218; motorcycle helmets (USA), known as FMVSS 218.
  • Snell M2005, M2010, M2015, or M2020: Certified with the Snell Memorial Foundation 2005, 2010, 2015, or 2020 Standard for Protective Headgear for Use with Motorcycles and Other Motorized Vehicles.
  • ECE: Helmets approved via the United National Economic Commission for Europe Regulation #22.

Am I at Fault if I’m Injured in a Motorcycle Accident While Not Wearing a Helmet?

In Nova Scotia, wearing a motorcycle helmet is required by law. By not wearing one, you could put yourself at risk of being found at least partly liable for your injuries, especially if the injuries could have been prevented by wearing a helmet (such as traumatic brain injuries, head abrasions, etc.).

However, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not eligible to receive any compensation for your injuries. In Nova Scotia, personal injury cases, including motorcycle and other vehicle accidents, follow what’s called contributory negligence law. That means damages are adjusted in proportion to how much each person involved in the accident was at fault. For example, if you were injured while not wearing your helmet, but the other driver was speeding and ran a red light, hypothetically, each side would have some fault. If the court determined that your fault for not wearing a helmet made you 40% at fault for the injuries, then the damages awarded to you would be reduced by 40%. So if you were awarded $10,000, you would receive only $6,000.

This is one of the reasons it’s highly recommended that you work with an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer who understands how liability is assessed and can help you work toward a more equitable outcome.

What Should I Look for in a Motorcycle Helmet?

Besides adhering to the safety standards listed above (and making sure the helmet is clearly marked with which standard it applies to), it’s also a good idea to have the following.

  • A full-face helmet is the only helmet to protect the face.
  • Pick one in bright colors that make it easily seen in daylight or in night lighting. If you often ride after dark, adding reflective tape to all sides makes it safer.
  • Make sure it has chin straps that fit properly.
  • Used helmets aren’t recommended, as they could have been damaged in an accident without you knowing that.

What Should I Do if I’ve Been Injured in a Motorcycle Accident in Nova Scotia?

Your first step is to have yourself checked out by a doctor, even if you feel fine. There are injuries, including serious ones, that don’t present symptoms right away and worsen if left untreated. It’s vital to be examined right away to make sure this isn’t the case for you.

Then call NOVA Injury Law at 902-706-5205 to schedule a free case review. Personal injury cases can be complicated. Suppose someone was not wearing a motorcycle helmet in a province that requires them, and they didn’t qualify for an exemption in that province. In that case, it’s best to work with an experienced, knowledgeable personal injury lawyer who can build the best defense to reduce the liability of the motorcyclist.

One thing it’s essential not to do if you’ve been in an accident with a motorcycle: enter into communication with the insurance rep or the lawyer representing other parties in the accident. They don’t represent you. Because Nova Scotia follows contributory negligence (explained above), their goal will be to put as much liability onto you as possible to ensure their client pays as little as possible. They could also try to get you to sign a settlement agreement that’s much lower than you might otherwise receive. When you receive letters, emails, or phone calls from the other side, don’t respond; forward them to your lawyer instead.