Washington DC Motorcycle Helmet Laws
Traffic laws have evolved over the years, particularly regarding motorcyclists. In 1963, Bell Helmets released the first full-face motorcycle helmet, the Bell Star, constructed with the same materials used in military flight and NASA astronaut helmets. Today, we know modern motorcycle helmets prevent injuries and save countless lives in accidents.
However, different states have different laws requiring safety gear while riding. It is important to understand the Washington DC motorcycle helmet laws if you intend on riding in the District. Consult the experienced motorcycle accident lawyers at Gelb & Gelb, P.C. to learn more.
Motorcycle Helmet Laws in Washington DC
In Washington DC, a motorcyclist and their passenger must wear protective helmets when the bike is in motion, according to a District of Columbia Municipal Regulation. The helmet must be approved by the Director of the Department of Motor Vehicles or the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Motorcyclists must also comply with at least one of the following:
- Equip their bikes with windscreens
- Wear goggles and face shields
- Wear eyeglasses with safety lenses
Under § 50-1651 of the DC Code, §50-1651(a) states, “[i]t shall be unlawful for any person under 16 years of age to ride roller skates, a skateboard, sled, coaster, toy vehicle, sidewalk bicycle, scooter, or any similar device without wearing a protective helmet of good fit, fastened securely upon the head with the straps of the helmet.” Additionally, the proceeding subsection notes that parents or legal guardians of any child under 16 years of age shall be liable for a $25 fine, with exceptions.
People injured in motorcycle accidents caused by someone else’s negligence should contact a skilled DC attorney like Roger Gelb to discuss the relevant laws. Legal counsel could also negotiate with the other party’s insurance carrier or file an action for compensation from the other party.
The Importance of Wearing a Motorcycle Helmet
Motorcycle accidents are often catastrophic because bikes offer little protection to riders. Head injuries are common when riders fly off motorcycles and land on the pavement. Motorcyclists may face traumatic brain injuries, cognitive loss, broken necks, cracked skulls, concussions, and paralysis. These types of devastating injuries require extensive medical attention that can be painful and costly.
If another motorist causes the accident, the injured motorcyclist may be able to settle with their insurer or file a personal injury lawsuit with help from a lawyer. The motorcyclist may be eligible for compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of consortium and companionship, disfigurement, and lost future wages.
However, if the motorcyclist was not wearing a helmet, this could impact the outcome of their case. An injured rider should consult a lawyer who knows the Washington DC motorcycle helmet rules on how these laws may affect their case.
Contributory Negligence in DC Motorcycle Accidents
When determining fault in personal injury cases, the jury decides if the injured person (the plaintiff) is partially responsible for the accident. Some jurisdictions use comparative negligence rules that determine fault between the plaintiff and defendant. Any responsibility assigned to the plaintiff will reduce their compensation award. Washington DC has adopted a contributory negligence doctrine, along with only four other jurisdictions: Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, and Alabama.
What does this mean for a motorcyclist? A defendant may argue that the injured rider did not follow the motorcycle laws in DC and contributed to their injuries by failing to wear a helmet. If this argument is successful, the motorcyclist cannot recover any compensation for their injuries. Help from a motorcycle injury lawyer at our firm will be crucial to building a strong case against arguments involving helmet laws.
Call an Attorney to Discuss DC Motorcycle Helmet Laws
Motorcycle accidents often result in catastrophic injuries, especially collisions with larger vehicles. Protective gear like helmets has been proven to prevent some injuries. In Washington DC, you are required to wear a helmet while riding.
When you are involved in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation from that person. However, if you were not wearing a helmet, recovering compensation will be challenging due to the helmet laws in DC. Regardless of your circumstances, call Gelb & Gelb, P.C. to discuss your case. Our knowledgeable lawyers understand the Washington DC motorcycle helmet laws and can explain how they may affect your case.