Does the State of Washington Require a Motorcycle Rider to Wear a Helmet?

Motorcycle helmets save lives, and state law requires motorcycle riders to wear them. However, there are specific requirements regarding what actually constitutes an approved motorcycle helmet. Here, we want to review Washington’s motorcycle helmet law and discuss what characteristics an approved helmet must have.

What the State Law Says

When examining RCW 46.37.530, that it is unlawful for any individual to “to operate or ride upon a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or moped on a state highway, county road, or city street unless wearing upon his or her head a motorcycle helmet…” with an exception for when the cycle is considered an antique or when it has various types of other safety equipment prescribed by law.

Why Wearing a Motorcycle Helmet is so Important

Information presented by the National Safety Council indicates that motorcycle helmets saved more than 25,000 lives between the years 2002 and 2017. There are currently no more recent studies available, but data suggests that helmets are estimated to be 37% effective in preventing motorcycle driver fatalities and 41% effective in preventing motorcycle passenger fatalities.

Motorcycle helmets help prevent severe and fatal traumatic brain and head injuries when motorcycle accidents occur. Unfortunately, there is a significant size and weight discrepancy between passenger vehicles and motorcyclists, so any impact between the two is likely to lead to injuries for a motorcyclist. Even though a helmet will not prevent all types of injuries, it can save a life.

Make Sure the Helmet is DOT-Approved

Motorcyclists must wear helmets that meet the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 218. Individuals can know that the helmet meets these standards if they see a sticker indicating as such on the outside of the helmet or inside of the helmet. However, there are many helmets that are considered “novelty helmets” that do not meet safety standards, but these helmets may have fake DOT labels that lead individuals to believe they are safe.

We encourage motorcycle riders in Washington only to purchase helmets from reputable brick-and-mortar or online retailers, but be wary of major online retailers that operate with third-party sellers.

Should You Contact an Attorney?

Motorcyclists who sustain injuries caused by the negligent actions of other drivers should reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. When a skilled Seattle personal injury lawyer gets involved in the case, they can take the steps necessary to hold the at-fault party accountable for their actions. This includes examining every aspect of the claim, communicating with all parties involved, and filing insurance claims or personal injury lawsuits.

These claims can be complicated, and motorcycle accidents can occur in a variety of ways. An attorney will handle every aspect of the claim on behalf of their client, including handling the up-front and out-of-pocket costs related to the case.

Injured motorcyclists may be able to recover various types of compensation for their losses. This compensation can include medical expenses, lost income if they cannot work while recovering, property damage expenses, as well as various types of pain and suffering damages.