Many of the most serious injury cases involve motorcycle accidents. Due to the high-speed capabilities, and minimal shielding of motorcycles, a crash can cause traumatic brain injury, spinal damage, and other severe injuries. Yet, many of these injuries can be prevented by following basic motorcycle riding safety practices like wearing helmets. For this reason, Virginia motorcycle helmet laws were put into place for the safety and protection of riders.
What Are Virginia Motorcycle Helmet Laws?
Virginia’s Motor Vehicle Code requires that all motorcycle riders and passengers must wear a helmet at all times when riding. Specifically, Virginia Code § 46.2-910 also states that any person operating a motorcycle needs to wear a face shield and safety goggles or glasses or have their bike equipped with a safety glass or a windshield.
In addition, Virginia’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) states that motorcycle drivers and passengers must wear helmets that meet or exceed the standards set by either:
- The Snell Memorial Foundation
- The American National Standards Institute, Inc., or
- The U.S. Department of Transportation
Thus, helmet violations in the state of Virginia can cover a broader range of conduct than most may realize, including:
- Wearing the wrong types of helmets (for instance, those that don’t meet safety standards and specifications)
- Having the driver wear a helmet, but not a passenger (or vice-versa)
- Selling motorcycle helmets that don’t meet safety standards in the state of Virginia
There are exceptions under Virginia motorcycle helmet laws, such as when a person is traveling less than 15 mph or when participating in a motorcycle parade organized by Virginia’s Department of Transportation or local municipalities. However, it’s always best to keep yourself fully protected at all times whenever riding, even for short trips.
Wear Your Motorcycle Helmet — Helmet Laws Save Lives
Virginia’s mandatory helmet laws were created and enacted for the protection of motorcycle riders and passengers. For this reason, violating helmet safety rules is not merely a matter of possibly getting fined or cited — it’s a matter of personal safety, and can even be the difference between life and death.
Helmets are the single most important piece of safety equipment a motorcyclist can wear. Consider the following statistics from the DMV:
- Motorcycle helmets are about 67 percent effective in preventing serious brain injuries
- Unhelmeted riders are 40 percent more likely to suffer a fatal head injury than riders who wear helmets
- Overall, helmets are around 29 percent effective in preventing motorcycle deaths
Basically, every study of motorcycle crashes points to the same thing: if you ride a motorcycle without a helmet, your chances of surviving a crash are severely lessened. Why take the risk? It’s up to you to ensure your own safety when it comes to motorcycle riding.
Motorcycle Helmet Tips for Maximum Safety
Not all motorcycle helmets are the same. They can vary in terms of style, design, function, purpose, and other factors. Many may meet the standards set forth by Snell or the Department of Transportation, but not all of them do.
The following motorcycle helmet tips will help ensure your safety in selecting and using one:
- Know what to look for in a helmet — do your research before shopping
- Be sure you have a proper fit; try before you buy
- Opt for maximum protection (not all helmets protect the entire head or face)
- Upgrade your helmet if it’s getting old (5 years is the recommended replacement time)
- Get a new one if it’s been in an accident or in any way damaged — structural damage could affect the helmet’s ability to protect you
- Have a spare in case you or a passenger needs one
In particular, certain types of motorcycle helmets only cover the top portion of the head. These are called “half-helmets” and don’t cover the face, eyes, chin, or bottom part of the head. While these may have a style that can be appealing, they offer much less protection than full helmets.
Though the choice is yours, bear in mind that a half-helmet + goggles combo is typically less safe than a helmet that covers the entire face and head.
Virginia Helmet Laws and Damages in an Accident Case
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident caused by the negligence of another, you may be entitled to significant compensation for any damages you experience. These can cover:
- Hospital bills, including medication, surgery, therapy, and other costs
- Lost wages and a loss of the ability to generate income
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
- Various other losses
On the other hand, if you weren’t wearing a helmet at the time of your crash, it could have consequences for your case. The state of Virginia has laws that may affect a person’s ability to claim damages in an injury case, if they contributed in any way to their own injury (such as not wearing a helmet while riding). You may need to consult with an injury attorney if you have questions about damages or other nuances of Virginia law.
Lastly, be aware of state helmet laws when traveling cross-country. There are variations in motorcycle helmet laws by state.
Get in Touch With an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Motorcycle accidents are among the most serious types of vehicle crashes. They can involve very severe injuries and in many instances, can result in fatalities. This is why Virginia motorcycle helmets have been created — to help provide stronger protections for the riders themselves.
If you or someone you know has been in a motorcycle crash, you may need legal representation to help with your case. Technical details like filing deadlines, rules of evidence, and building a case are best handled by experienced lawyers and legal professionals.
At the Brain Injury Law Center, our attorneys have decades of experience advocating for the rights of victims who have been injured through no fault of their own. We are the premier law firm in the U.S. dedicated to representing brain injury victims and their survivors.