Apr 01, 2024 | CHASENBOSCOLO

Bicycle Accident Claims And Helmet Laws In Virginia

If you regularly ride a bicycle, you may have questions about Virginia’s bicycle helmet laws. Does Virginia have a helmet law? Do adults have to wear bike helmets when riding in Virginia?

Virginia law isn’t very strict regarding bicycle helmet requirements. However, wearing a helmet whenever riding a bicycle is advisable in Virginia.

Wearing a helmet could significantly affect your safety if a crash occurs. If someone else causes a crash that leaves you injured, whether you chose to wear a helmet when riding might also influence your chances of receiving financial compensation.

Is It the Law to Wear a Helmet on a Bike in Virginia?

Bicycle accident helmet laws in Virginia can vary throughout the state. Virginia does not have a statewide bicycle helmet law. Instead, the law allows individual towns, counties, and cities to establish laws requiring riders under 14 to wear bicycle helmets. If such a law exists, a person who bicycles in that locality must obey the law and wear a helmet that conforms to the relevant federal safety standard.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) maintains a list of counties, cities, and incorporated towns where bicycle helmet laws are on the books. The specifics of these laws vary. For example, in some parts of the state, bicycle helmet laws only apply to town parks. In addition, some laws apply to riders under the age of 16, not 14.

Familiarizing yourself with bicycle helmet laws where you’re riding is always a good idea. You may have to pay a fine if your child breaks a bicycle helmet law. However, even if you’re riding in an area where the law doesn’t require wearing a bicycle helmet, choosing to do so is still wise.

Wearing a Bicycle Helmet on an E-Bike in Virginia

No statewide Virginia law requires bicycle operators or passengers to wear helmets when riding traditional bicycles. However, the law does require anyone operating a class 3 electric-powered bicycle to wear a helmet.

Currently, a class 3 electric bicycle uses a motor to assist in propelling a vehicle solely when an operator is pedaling. The motor on a class 3 electric-powered bicycle should stop providing assistance once the vehicle reaches a speed of 28 miles per hour.

Bicycle Accident Claims and Helmet Regulations: The Impact of Helmet Use on Injury Claims in Virginia

You may be eligible for financial compensation if you get hurt in a Virginia bicycle accident someone else causes. You can file a claim with the liable party’s insurance to seek compensation for such losses as medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other accident-related losses.

However, you may not be eligible to receive any compensation if you played any part in causing the accident. In some states, if a victim contributed to their injuries, the degree to which they did so would limit how much compensation they may receive.

Virginia is different. The 1947 case of Baskett v. Banks established Virginia as a “pure contributory negligence” state. Under Virginia’s pure contributory negligence rule, if someone contributes to their own injuries in any capacity, they will not be eligible to receive any compensation from any other party involved in the accident. This rule could have a direct impact on a bike accident claim or lawsuit involving a victim who wasn’t wearing a helmet.

How Not Wearing a Helmet Affects Your Case

Bicycle Accident Claims And Helmet Laws In VirginiaAn insurance company will look for reasons to justify denying your claim or offering less compensation than you’re seeking when you file a claim. It’s essential to remember that insurance companies are profit-centric businesses, and they are more concerned with their bottom line than with doing right by you.

Perhaps you’re seeking compensation after a bicycle wreck someone else caused. However, maybe you weren’t wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.

The insurance company might argue that your decision not to protect yourself caused or contributed to your injuries. An insurer could bolster this argument by engaging a medical professional or similar expert who might state that you would not have sustained injuries at all if you’d worn a helmet.

There is a caveat, though. If you were riding a Class 3 electric bicycle at the time of the crash, even if you didn’t wear a helmet, Virginia law offers some protection. Virginia law clearly states that failure to wear a helmet while riding this type of bicycle, even though the law requires a rider to do so, cannot constitute negligence, nor will it be a factor that should affect whether or how much compensation a victim may be eligible to receive when pursuing damages (the money a jury awards a plaintiff) in a claim or in court. The law also says that failure to wear a helmet cannot be admitted as evidence in a court case.

However, an unscrupulous claims adjuster might take advantage of the fact that a bicycle wreck victim is unfamiliar with the law. An adjuster might try to convince you to settle for less than you deserve by suggesting that your decision not to wear a helmet caused your injuries. While the law is on your side, it can be challenging to negotiate a fair settlement when an insurer is trying to shift the blame for your injuries to you.

The main reason to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle is to stay safe. That said, you should also consider how failure to wear a helmet could influence your chances of receiving compensation after a crash.

Contact a Virginia Bicycle Accident Lawyer

Whether you wore a helmet is just one of numerous factors that can affect the outcome of a case when you’ve been hurt in a Virginia bicycle wreck. Pursuing compensation in these circumstances is easier when you have representation from a qualified attorney with experience handling cases like yours.

At CHASENBOSCOLO, a Virginia bicycle accident lawyer can review your case, discuss your legal options, and help address such factors as the impact of helmet use on your claim or lawsuit. Get started today by contacting us online or calling us at (301) 220-0050 for a free case review.