West Virginia’s motorcycle helmet law is classified as a universal helmet law. This means it applies to all motorcycle riders, regardless of age or experience level. There aren’t any exceptions to this law, so all riders should always have a helmet on while traveling in the state.
Understanding the helmet law is crucial for anyone riding a motorcycle in West Virginia for reasons related to both legal compliance and personal safety.
West Virginia’s universal helmet law
Under West Virginia law, all motorcycle operators and passengers must wear a helmet that meets safety standards set by the Department of Transportation (DOT). The law is designed to enhance safety for motorcyclists and reduce the risk of serious injuries, including those to the neck or head or fatalities in the event of a crash.
In addition to wearing a helmet, motorcycle riders must wear eye protection unless their motorcycle is equipped with a windscreen. This helps protect riders from debris and other hazards that could impair their vision while riding.
Impact on personal injury claims
Using a helmet reduces the severity of head injuries in motorcycle crashes. While failing to wear a helmet doesn’t prevent a motorcyclist from filing a claim if they’re struck by another vehicle, it can impact their claim in significant ways.
West Virginia follows the principle of comparative negligence, which means that the percentage of fault assigned to a victim reduces the amount of compensation that the victim can receive for contributing to the cause of their injuries. If a motorcyclist isn’t wearing a helmet and suffers head injuries, the other party may argue that the rider’s failure to wear a helmet contributed to the severity of the injuries. This could potentially reduce the amount of compensation the motorcyclist can recover.
Ultimately, motorcycle crash personal injury claims are complex matters. As such, injured motorcyclists should work with someone who can assist them in determining how the factors in their case may impact the outcome. Because West Virginia has a two-year statute of limitations, a case must be filed quickly after a wreck.