In the early spring of 2021, Jeff Kincaid** was enjoying a nice Saturday afternoon in Kentucky on his motorcycle when he was unexpectedly and violently struck by the driver of an SUV. The SUV was stopped at a sign while waiting to turn left on a four-lane road. Jeff was traveling westbound on the four-lane road when the driver of the SUV negligently pulled out in front of him and crashed into his motorcycle. The severity of the impact caused Jeff to be thrown off the motorcycle. As a result, Jeff suffered a skull fracture, facial fracture, right ankle fracture, and right shoulder fracture with a rotator cuff tear. He was immediately transported to the ER via ambulance and admitted for surgery on his shoulder and treatment of his other injuries.
The Kentucky Court of Appeals has ruled in an unpublished opinion that a helmet is not an integral part of a motorcycle for purposes of uninsured motorist benefits. This issue was decided on in the case of Stallard v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. The case involved a motorcycle owner who was injured in an accident while riding with a group of other bikers. The man was riding in the center of a group of about two dozen motorcyclists when the group of riders suddenly slowed. As the man attempted to avoid an accident with another motorcycle, he sustained serious injuries when another motorcyclist’s unsecured helmet bounced into his tire.
When the motorcycle accident occurred, the motorcyclist carried uninsured motor vehicle (UM) insurance. Since the injured man was not hit by another vehicle, however, the motorcyclist’s insurer denied his insurance benefits claim. After that, the injured rider filed a lawsuit against his insurance carrier in Jefferson County Circuit Court.
In response, the insurer filed a motion for summary judgment, claiming it was not required to provide benefits under the terms of the policy because the motorcyclist was not physically struck by another vehicle, nor was he injured by an integral part of another vehicle. The hurt rider countered that he should be compensated by his UM insurer because a motorcycle helmet is an integral part of a motorcycle. The trial court sided with the insurance company and granted summary judgment in favor of the insurance carrier.