Does West Virginia law require motorcycle riders and passengers to wear a helmet?

Question

Does West Virginia law require motorcycle riders and passengers to wear a helmet?

Answer

Yes. West Virginia is one of many states in the U.S. whose legislatures have passed a “universal” helmet laws. This kind of statute requires both the operator and any passenger to wear a helmet when riding on a motorcycle.

What does West Virginia’s motorcycle helmet law say, exactly? Here’s the relevant language: “No person shall operate or be a passenger on any motorcycle or motor-driven cycle unless the person is wearing securely fastened on his or her head by either a neck or chin strap a protective helmet designed to deflect blows, resist penetration and spread impact forces.”

You can read the full text of West Virginia’s motorcycle helmet law at West Virginia Code section 17C-15-44. And for detailed information on motorcycle safety, rider licensing, and much more, check out the Motorcycle Operator Manual from the West Virginia Department of Transportation.

What if you get into a motorcycle accident in West Virginia and you weren’t wearing a helmet? Putting aside health and safety issues, there could be financial consequences in any personal injury lawsuit you decide to file, even if the accident was the obvious fault of another driver. That’s because, if a civil jury decides that your failure to wear a helmet amounted to negligence, any compensation you might receive could be reduced under West Virginia’s “modified comparative negligence” law. To learn more about shared fault rules in West Virginia vehicle accident cases, check out West Virginia Car Accident Laws.

by: David Goguen, J.D.

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