It’s still possible, though not a guarantee, that you obtain damages after a motorcycle accident despite not having worn a helmet. Even though Virginia is one of the few states with a universal helmet law, which means that emergency responders could ticket helmetless riders in an accident, compensation might still be available. That’s because a separate law applies to helmet non-use in civil cases.
Helmet or no helmet, a Richmond personal injury lawyer must prove negligence if the victim is to obtain compensation. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses like medical bills and non-economic losses like pain and suffering.
Motorcycle Wreck Injuries
Crash helmets significantly reduce motorcycle accident-related head injuries. But helmets don’t eliminate these injuries altogether. In fact, some of the most serious motorcycle wreck wounds affect other parts of the body.
Broken bones and excessive blood loss are common in motorcycle wrecks. So is internal bleeding from punctured organs as well as organ failure as a result of physical trauma.
How a Lack of Helmet May Affect a Civil Claim
Legally and practically, motorcycle helmets are a lot like seat belts. Virginia law requires operators to use both devices. Furthermore, both devices significantly reduce the risk of injury. However, none of these things matter in a civil claim.
According to Va. St. § 46.2-1094, “Failure to wear a seat belt is not admissible as evidence of negligence, mitigation of damages, and no counsel is allowed to comment on the use or non-use of a seat belt at trial.”
Note that this law also prohibits insurance company lawyers from even mentioning the seat belt issue. In most other states, the insurance company can at least bring up seat belt non-use, and jurors may assign whatever weight they want to this failure.
By extension, failure to wear a motorcycle helmet is irrelevant as well. It’s also a forbidden topic. Usually, a Richmond personal injury lawyer makes a pretrial motion to exclude such evidence from the trial. Given the law’s very clear wording, most judges grant these motions.
A Claim’s Settlement Value
To determine a claim’s settlement value, attorneys generally consider the facts of the case, the injuries sustained, and the probability of winning the case at trial. In most motorcycle wreck claims, the injuries are very severe and the chances of winning at trial are very high, assuming the other driver was negligent.
Some civil matters settle almost immediately. Most, however, must go through the legal process. Insurance company lawyers have years of experience when it comes to dragging out the claims process.
Other factors sometimes affect the settlement value. For example, some victims want to resolve these claims as quickly as possible so they can move on with their lives. So, attorneys usually reduce their financial demands in these situations.
Lack of a motorcycle helmet usually does not affect your injury claim. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Richmond, contact Geoff McDonald & Associates, P.C. You have a limited amount of time to act.