Virginia Motorcycle Helmet Laws

In Virginia, anyone riding a motorcycle (whether a driver or a passenger) must wear a helmet that meets the standards set forth by the Department of Transportation.

There are a few other standards that you could meet, but the federal DOT standard is what other states require, so that complies with Virginia law as well as other laws. If you live in Virginia and have the desire to drive anywhere else, it makes the most sense to get a helmet that is federal DOT-approved.

If you have further questions or concerns, call today to schedule a consultation with an experienced Virginia motorcycle accident attorney.

How a Helmet Can Protect You

A helmet is the most effective way to protect you from injury in a motorcycle accident. Head injuries are the most common cause of fatalities for motorcycle riders and helmets are effective at reducing brain injuries and death. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles has stats available on their website about helmet safety. Helmets are about 30% effective in preventing death and about 67% effective in preventing other brain injuries. That’s extremely good, considering that most of these accidents occur at high speeds.

Additionally, someone who is not wearing a helmet is much more likely to suffer a fatal head injury than someone who is wearing a helmet, because motorcycles don’t protect you the way that cars do. There is not an outer metal frame to protect you, which is why it’s extremely important to try and protect yourself by wearing a helmet.

How Failing to Wear a Helmet Impacts a Virginia Motorcycle Accident Case

Failing to wear a helmet is a problem because you have a duty under Virginia law to mitigate your damages. If you don’t do that, the defense can argue you failed to mitigate your damages. That can be a defense for them, specifically regarding the question of causation.

Anytime you have a negligence case, you need to prove that:

  1. There is duty to you;
  2. That the other driver breached that duty;
  3. That you were injured as a result; and
  4. That your injuries were caused by the breach of the duty.

It boils down to three basic elements which are liability, damages, and causation. Causation is the problem.

Example of Causation

If you have a roofing job that was done on your house negligently and you noticed that your roof is leaking, you can’t just sit there while the damage keeps accruing to the point where it rots the foundation. You can’t just sit there and cash in on more and more damages. Once you’re aware of your damages, you have to take action to limit those or fix them.

The same thing applies in personal injury actions with your injury. Once you know you’re injured, you have to take care to cure yourself from those injuries. You also have to exercise reasonable care to prevent injuries. If you receive a ticket for not wearing a helmet, that is likely not going to be admissible in court, but it would be looked at as a failure to mitigate your damages.

Contributory Negligence in Virginia

Contributory negligence is a rule in Virginia that says that a defense that if you cause or contribute to your injuries that – and that’s a complete bar to recovery. A lot of people will cite contributory negligence as “the 1% rule,” because if you’re even found to be 1% at-fault that is a complete bar.

The fact that you’re not wearing a helmet is not itself contributory negligence, but it can harm your case. It also makes it much harder to show the causal relation between negligence and your injuries, so the defense attorney is going to argue that what really caused the extent of the injury is the failure to wear a helmet.

Call and retain the services of a Virginia motorcycle accident attorney to help you argue against the other party and their attorneys.