How Does Helmet Use Impact My Motorcycle Accident Case?
Motorcyclists suffer a higher rate of traffic fatalities than those in conventional passenger vehicles. Per WTOP, the state of Virginia had a sharp increase in motorcyclist deaths in 2019, with fatality numbers higher than in each of the four years prior. Due to the increased risks faced by motorcyclists, many states have implemented laws regarding the use of helmets. If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident in Virginia, you may wonder how your helmet use could affect your case.
Virginia Motorcycle Helmet Laws
Under Virginia law, motorcyclists and their passengers must wear helmets that meet federal Department of Transportation safety standards. The statistics support this law. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that motorcycle helmets saved approximately 1859 lives in 2016, and an additional 802 lives could have been saved if all riders and passengers wore helmets. The use of helmets reduces a rider’s risk of death by 37% and their risk of head injury by 69%.
Duty to Mitigate Damage
If you were not wearing a helmet at the time of your motorcycle crash, that fact could change the outcome of your personal injury case. Virginia law states that you must mitigate your damage, so you have an obligation to limit the extent of the damage caused by a motor vehicle accident. This is done by wearing your seatbelt, wearing a helmet on a motorcycle, and practicing defensive driving. When you choose not to wear a helmet, the other side could argue that you failed in your duty to mitigate damage.
While this will impact your case if it turns into a personal injury lawsuit, it can also affect your negotiations with the insurance company if the case settles out of court. Negotiations occur before a claim turns into a lawsuit, and once the insurance adjuster finds out that you were not wearing a helmet, they will use that fact to dispute liability and either decrease your settlement amount or refuse to settle at all.
Proving Damages and Liability
In a personal injury case, you have to prove that the other party was negligent. This involves demonstrating that the other party had a duty to you, that they failed in that duty, that you were consequently injured, and that your injuries were caused by the other person’s failure. This process becomes much more complicated when the victim of the crash was not using a helmet at the time of the accident.
While you may still be able to prove that the other party failed in their obligation to drive in a safe and reasonable manner, it is challenging to prove that your injuries were caused by their negligence. The other side’s insurance adjuster or legal representation may argue that your injuries were made much worse by your choice not to wear a helmet. Even if you sustained serious injuries during the crash, the insurance company may offer a minimal settlement and allege that your choice not to wear a helmet limits their liability.
When you are in this position, it is very difficult to fight back against the insurance company and secure a fair settlement on your own. You need an experienced attorney who has successfully handled motorcycle accident cases. They know that insurance companies are quick to place the blame on motorcyclists and they know what steps to take to give you the best chance at a fair settlement. The fact that you were not wearing a helmet during an accident should not mean that the liable driver should not be held responsible for their negligence.
If you are trying to heal from a motorcycle accident, you do not want the added stress of communicating with insurance companies. Your attorney can take care of the legal aspects of your accident while giving you more time to focus on your physical and mental health.
Let Us Help You with Your Motorcycle Accident Case
When you hire Pack Law Group for your motorcycle accident case, you get the security that comes with aggressive and experienced legal representation. We know all of the tricks that insurance companies use to prevent victims from getting the compensation they deserve, and we are ready to fight back. To schedule your free initial consultation, call us at 540-586-7225 or message us online to get started.