Virginia Motorcycle Safety Laws

There are many steps which can be taken to ensure safer motorcycle usage, and to prevent a rider from being considered at fault in an accident. Consult with a Virginia motorcycle accident attorney about the safety measures that can be taken and how they can impact your case.

Safety Measures to Prevent Motorcycle Accidents

A motorcycle rider should always inspect their bike. They should make sure that their lights are working, including their headlight, their taillight and their turn signal, all precautions to make sure they are visible on the roadway.

It is also advisable for an individual to wear reflective clothing or to put reflective tape on their motorcycle boots or their motorcycle jacket. This again helps create visibility in lower light situations. Reflective clothing can eliminate the risk of driving at dusk, before all headlights are being used, and ensure sure that the rider is visible to everyone on the roadway.

It is also very important for the rider to use their turn signal when they are changing lanes as well as when they are making turns, and for them to ride defensively, especially in the more populated areas where traffic moves very quickly and people tend to drive close together.

Motorcycle Helmet Laws in Virginia

In Virginia, the law requires that a motorcycle driver wear a motorcycle helmet. The best thing to do is to wear a helmet approved by the federal Department of Transportation. There are a couple of other licensing or accrediting authorities that will approve helmets that are satisfactory under Virginia law, but the federal DOT standard is best, because other states often require that standard. If someone is going to be riding into another state they want to make sure that their helmet is up to code so they will not be subject to a ticket or a fine.

In addition, it is just common sense to wear a helmet. Head injuries are a leading cause of death in motorcycle cases. The severity of a lot of these injuries can be lessened by wearing a helmet. If someone fails to wear a helmet and they are ejected from their bike, the chances of a catastrophic injury are very high.

Impact on a Case

The failure to wear a motorcycle helmet can be looked at as a failure to mitigate damages. Some defense attorneys might try to argue that is contributory negligence. However, Virginia is clear that the failure to wear a seatbelt for a passenger in a car is not contributory negligence and the same logic applies for a helmet.

A defense attorney can still argue that the rider did not mitigate their damages and that the severity of head injuries can be reduced greatly by wearing a helmet. If a plaintiff has a duty to prove all the elements of their case, they have to prove that the negligence of the other driver was actually what caused their injury.

The defense may be able to put a doctor on the stand who can show within a reasonable degree of medical probability that, had the individual been wearing a helmet, they more likely than not would not have suffered so serious an injury. In that case a judge or a jury might discount that injury altogether. It is both common sense and the law to wear a helmet. If a rider fails to do so, they might have some causation problems with their case at best or they may lose completely.

Other Safety Measures

There are some things that anybody out for a jog, riding a bicycle, or out on a motorcycle should do, such as making sure that they have identifying information readily available – not just a license or a card that has their name on it, but also things like blood type, drug allergies, or any other food allergies. For instance, if someone has a penicillin allergy, but the doctors do not know it, and they end up in a really bad accident with severe lacerations that are exposed to some kind of material that could lead to an infection, they may be given penicillin at the hospital.

Having this information would alert emergency medical technicians and first responders as well as doctors in the emergency room what drug allergies or food allergies the individual might have and help ensure that they receive the care that they need, without unnecessary harm. Likewise, if someone is in a bad motorcycle accident and loses a lot of blood, they may need a blood transfusion. In these cases having their blood type information available will increase the individual’s chances of survival.

Protective Gear

It may be wise to wear other protective clothing beyond what is required by the law. Heavy duty motorcycle boots, a leather motorcycle jacket that would reinforce wrists and elbows, things that have padding on the rider’s back or on their kidney and spleen which are common areas for injuries, would all be potentially helpful in an accident. Protective gear can really improve safety and go a long way for preventing serious injuries.

Some people also wear a body camera or a GoPro camera on their helmet. That is not going to prevent an accident from happening, but it can be used if there is a lawsuit or if there is a dispute over liability in an accident. It can be used to establish who is at fault and also to identify other potential witnesses, people that may have seen the accident, or other potential causes. Sometimes the vehicle that strikes the rider may have struck them because they were hit by another car, so they might not actually be the at-fault party. Having video footage of the accident can help increase the rider’s chances of prevailing in a claim or a trial.