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Motorcycle Biker Who Protested Helmet Law Killed While Riding Without Helmet


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7/9/2011
Gerry Oginski
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An ironic accident recently has shed some light on the controversy over motorcycle helmet laws. A motorcycle rider protesting the state helmet laws crashed and died. He was not wearing a helmet. Authorities and doctors claim the man would still be alive had he been wearing a helmet.

The accident occurred near Route 11 in LaFayette, NY at 1:30pm on June 2. Philip Contos, 55, hit the brakes on his motorcycle, but lost control. He was sent flying over the handlebars of his 1993 Harley Davidson. Contos then skidded on the pavement and was still alive when emergency crews arrived. He was pronounced dead after he was transported to Upstate University Hospital.

Contos was involved that day in a protest with his group, American Bikers Aimed for Education (ABATE) of Onondaga County. The group believes in the safety inherent in motorcycle helmets, but they believe the freedom of choice should be left to the discretion of bikers who know the risks at hand. Despite the loss of life, ABATE representatives remain undeterred. They point out that in 11 years of protesting, this is the first incident of injury.

Police are investigating why Contos's motorcycle spun out of control and whether the protest had violated the parameters of the "parade" for which they obtained a license to ride without helmets.

This tragedy is ironic because of how this man died and what he'd been protesting earlier that day. While it is true that helmets do not prevent all types of injuries, they provide a specific level of protection if you fall and injure your head. If you recognize and accept that risk and yet still choose to drive a two wheeled vehicle at a high rate of speed knowing there is a distinct possibility you could fall and severely injure your head, doesn't it make sense for motorcyclist to wear a helmet?

There are times when people are injured or killed because they disregard the risks associated with a dangerous activity. The injured victims, in that instance, have little recourse when trying to bring lawsuits against manufacturers of the product that may have caused the injury or a state or local municipality that contributed to the injury. A common defense is that the injured victim, knew there were inherent risks, recognized them and accepted them.

While not all risks are recognized or related to a particular dangerous activity, the question for an experienced personal injury attorney who evaluates such a case is whether those risks were open and obvious and also whether the victim knew about them prior to engaging in this particular activity.

If you would like more information about how negligence and accident cases work in the state of New York, I encourage you to explore my educational website http://www.oginski-law.com. If you have legal questions,  I urge you to pick up the phone and call me at 516-487-8207 or by e-mail at [email protected] to answer your questions. That's what I do every day. I welcome your call.


Category: Car Accidents


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