Virginia law requires all motorcycle riders and passengers to wear a helmet. According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, motorcyclists and their passengers must wear an approved motorcycle helmet that meets or exceeds the standards and specifications of the Snell Memorial Foundation, the American National Standards Institute, Inc., or the federal Department of Transportation. But what if you were hurt in a motorcycle accident and you were not wearing a helmet? Can you still file a claim to cover your injuries?
Virginia code § 46.2-910 says, “Failure to wear a face shield, safety glasses or goggles, or protective helmets shall not constitute negligence per se in any civil proceeding.” In simple terms, while Virginia law does require the use of a helmet, any motorcyclist who wasn’t wearing one is not automatically considered at-fault. While there may be other severe consequences of not wearing a helmet and other safety gear, you should still be able to file an insurance claim to make up for the cost of your injuries.
What is a Pure Contributory Negligence State?
Virginia is a “pure contributory negligence” state. That means the victim cannot have the slightest percentage of blame for the accident and must prove their acts did not contribute to the accident, and that the other party is 100% to blame. You cannot be at-fault for even 1% of your accident, or you will likely not be eligible to receive any money. But failing to wear a helmet does not mean you are at fault.
Can the Lack of a Helmet Hurt Your Case?
The lack of a helmet may affect you in two additional ways. First, it is a fact that helmets are 29% effective in preventing motorcycle deaths and about 67% effective in preventing brain injuries, according to the Virginia DMV. In addition, you are 40% more likely to suffer a fatal head injury if you are not wearing a helmet in comparison to a helmeted driver.
Second, your lack of a helmet might cause you complications in court and reduce the amount of money you may be able to receive. While the other driver may have caused your accident, the defense may argue that your injuries would not be so devastating had you been wearing a helmet. So, for example, if you suffered a broken leg and spine damage and also had a TBI (traumatic brain injury), the defense may argue that the TBI could have been avoided by the proper use of head protection and may deny payment for your long-term TBI rehab treatment.
What Can I Do if I Wasn’t Wearing a Helmet But Still Want to File a Case?
The bottom line –you need an experienced, motivated motorcycle accident lawyer to help you navigate this complicated situation. If you have been hurt in a motorcycle accident in Virginia, contact the Johnson Law Firm, PC and schedule a time to get your case evaluated. We have handled countless motorcycle accident cases and can help you put together your claim to hopefully recoup compensation for your injuries.