Virginia has several laws and statutes pertaining to motorcycle riders. Failing to comply with these laws can result in fines or even put your safety at risk. Whether you are a resident or just passing through, understanding the motorcycle laws in Virginia is crucial.
By familiarizing yourself with these regulations, you can enjoy your ride while avoiding tickets and accidents. In the event of a crash, working with a Virginia motorcycle accident lawyer who is well-versed in both traffic and personal injury law will help maximize your financial compensation.
Here’s what you need to know before riding in Virginia:
In Virginia, motorcyclists have the option to add a motorcycle classification to their existing driver’s license or obtain a separate motorcycle license. Virginia residents are required to successfully pass both written and skills tests to receive a motorcycle classification on their driver’s license.
The state provides three classes of motorcycle licenses:
- Class M includes both two- and three-wheeled motorcycles.
- Class M2 pertains to two-wheeled vehicles only.
- Class M3 applies to three-wheeled vehicles only.
Typically, a motorcycle license in Virginia is valid for eight years. For those who complete the Virginia Rider Training Program, there is an opportunity to bypass the regular knowledge test, permit, and road test processes. Presenting the completion certificate at the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is sufficient to add the motorcycle designation.
It’s important to note that there are additional restrictions for individuals under the age of 18 seeking a motorcycle permit and license.
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In Virginia, all motorcyclists must wear a helmet while riding. Riders must also wear eye protection (goggles or a built-in face shield) or have a windshield on their bike.
If you sustained head trauma while riding without a helmet, you will likely receive a citation, and an insurance company or jury could blame you for your own head or brain injury.
Required Equipment for Making Your Bike Street Legal
Street bikes need rearview mirrors and horns. They also must have the following required lights:
- A functioning brake light
- A tail light that is visible from 500 feet away
- At least one headlamp that is visible from 200 feet away
- A securely fixed license plate light that is clearly visible from 50 feet away
Your motorcycle must have brakes on both the rear and front wheels. It must also have a muffler and pass an annual safety inspection. Just like with your car, you have to register your motorcycle with the DMV and have valid insurance.
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Traffic Signal Exception
Certain traffic signals are equipped with sensors to detect waiting motorists, but due to their small size, motorcycles may sometimes go unnoticed by these sensors.
In such cases, Virginia law allows motorcyclists to proceed through the light after coming to a complete stop, checking all directions, and waiting for at least two full minutes.
If the light remains unresponsive, the motorcyclist is required to wait for a minimum of two full cycles before proceeding.
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Lane-splitting, the act of riding a motorcycle between two lanes of traffic, is illegal in Virginia. If you are involved in an accident while lane-splitting, you might be deemed at fault for the collision with another vehicle.
It’s important to distinguish lane splitting from lane sharing, where two motorcycles are side-by-side or in the same lane. Lane sharing is legal in Virginia.
While there is no minimum age for passengers, you must have adequate seating to carry someone on your bike. Virginia law requires that your seat is large enough that you don’t have to sit further forward than normal to accommodate the passenger.
Your passenger must also have their own footpegs. As the operator of the bike, you must give your passenger instructions before a ride, especially if the passenger is inexperienced.
Personal Injury Laws Affecting Motorcycle Accident Cases
If you were involved in a motorcycle accident resulting from someone else’s carelessness or recklessness, you could pursue a claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company. If a settlement can’t be reached, you could sue the at-fault party.
In most cases, you have two years from the accident date to file a civil suit, which is the next step if the insurance company doesn’t agree to an appropriate settlement. However, the circumstances of your case could alter this deadline.
As a seasoned personal injury lawyer, I always advise against providing a recorded statement to the insurance company. I also warn them that the initial offer from the insurer will most likely be too low. Once you accept it, you forfeit your right to seek any more money for this accident.
Contributory Negligence Laws
The insurance company may blame you for the crash in an attempt to deny your claim. Virginia follows a strict contributory negligence rule regarding motorcycle accidents. This system means that if you are deemed even 1% at fault for causing the crash, you lose your right to pursue compensation from the other driver.
During your initial consultation, I will provide an honest assessment of your case and tell you whether you have grounds for a personal injury claim against the other motorist.
Pursuing Damages in Virginia
As your attorney, I will carefully review police reports, witness statements, and other evidence to prove fault and the validity of your claim. My job is to protect your legal rights and fight for the maximum compensation available in your case.
I could help you seek damages like:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages (in certain situations)
- Other accident-related losses
If we decide to move forward after your free consultation, I’ll work to build a case that the insurance company can’t ignore. If negotiations are unsuccessful, I will gladly file a lawsuit and represent you in court.
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After a serious motorcycle crash, you may face a long and painful recovery, lost income from missed work, and even PTSD. Don’t let the at-fault party’s insurance company take advantage of you! I’m here to help you recover the financial compensation you deserve.
I handle cases on a contingency fee basis, so you won’t pay anything upfront or out of pocket. I only get paid when I win your case. Contact Atkinson Law today to schedule a free, zero-risk consultation.