Safely owning and operating a motorcycle is a big responsibility, no matter where you live, and each state has laws regulating motorcycle ownership and usage. This guide to Washington state motorcycle laws will help you better understand the current laws.
If these laws are unclear to you, or if you would like to file a case against someone who disobeyed any traffic law, a Washington motor vehicle accident lawyer can assist.
Washington State Laws Governing Motorcycles
- All motorcycles must have rearview mirrors, a horn, a muffler, a headlight, a taillight, a license plate, and turn signals.
- If a motorcycle does not have a windshield, the rider must wear eye or face protection.
There are a few rare exceptions to these rules, such as if you are driving an antique motorcycle as part of a show or competition.
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Washington State Laws Regarding Motorcycle Safety
One of the best things you can do to protect yourself while riding a motorcycle is to wear a helmet. The state’s motorcycle helmet law can be found in RCW § 46.37.530(1)(c). It requires helmet usage for any person riding or operating a motorcycle. There are no exceptions based on age or experience. If you are on a motorcycle, you must wear a helmet.
The only situation where motorcyclists do not have to wear helmets is when the bike comes equipped with a steering wheel, seatbelts, and some form of enclosed seating.
Here are other safety laws to bear in mind:
- According to the Washington State Department of Licensing, all motorcyclists must have a motorcycle permit or a motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s license to operate a motorcycle in the state.
- RCW § 46.61.502 forbids motorcyclists from using “intoxicating” substances before driving.
- RCW § 46.61.672 forbids motorcyclists from using a “personal electronic device” while driving.
- RCW § 46.51.575 requires motorcyclists to park parallel to the curb. The wheel closest to the curb cannot be more than one foot away from it. The same law also allows more than one motorcycle to occupy a parking space, as long as they do not “exceed the boundaries” of the space.
Washington Laws Regarding Motorcycle Passengers
As previously stated, motorcycle passengers are bound by the same helmet laws as motorcycle operators. Additionally:
- RCW § 46.61.610 requires all passengers to ride in seats specially designed for them. They may not sit on a rack, the bike handlebars, or anywhere aside from a seat.
- Per the same law, a passenger can only ride a motorcycle if the bike is designed to carry passengers.
- RCW § 46.37.530(1)(d) forbids children under age five from riding on a motorcycle.
These laws protect both motorcycle riders and the people around them; overloading a motorcycle or using it for something other than its intended purpose can cause the bike to lose control, leading to a crash.
Washington Laws Governing Motorcycle Insurance
Per RCW § 46.04.332, motorcycles are legally categorized as motor vehicles in Washington. They are therefore subject to the same insurance laws as motor vehicle owners, including the following:
- RCW § 46.30.020(1)(a) states that all motor vehicle owners must have coverage that will allow them to pay damages in the event of an accident. This coverage usually comes in the form of liability insurance.
- This same law mandates that a driver carry proof of coverage whenever they drive because they must be prepared to show this proof to any law enforcement officer who asks to see it.
- RCW § 46.29.090 sets the minimums for insurance coverage: $25,000 for each injured party, $50,000 for each accident, and $10,000 for property damage.
Not carrying sufficient insurance will not prevent someone from suing you if you cause an accident. Instead, the accident victim would have the option of suing you personally, and you may have to pay their expenses out of pocket.
Furthermore, anyone who does not carry insurance and proof of insurance violates state law. They are therefore subject to prosecution.
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Motorcycle Accident Lawyers Understand Washington State Laws
This guide to Washington state motorcycle laws is intended to be a helpful starting point for those who have or are thinking about purchasing a motorcycle. It cannot replace advice given by a motorcycle accident attorney who is familiar with your situation. This is especially true if you intend to sue someone after a motorcycle accident.
Motorcycle accident attorneys in your area will be familiar with the most up-to-date versions of all laws that could apply to your case, including the laws regulating:
- Motorcycle use and ownership
- How much time to file a lawsuit after an accident
- Under what circumstances you have the right to file an insurance claim or lawsuit
- How much and what kinds of compensation you might be entitled to recover
Once your personal injury lawyer has explained the applicable laws to you, they can help you make a plan for recovering the compensation you deserve. They can:
- Collect evidence of the at-fault party’s role in causing your injuries
- Send a demand letter to the liable party’s insurer
- Meet with the insurer to negotiate the amount of money you need based on your financial, physical, and mental injuries
- Take the liable party to court if you cannot get a fair pretrial settlement
If you were injured while obeying Washington state’s motorcycle laws, you may be eligible for compensation from the at-fault party’s insurance company. A Washington law firm can tell you how to get that money.
Filing a Motorcycle Accident Case in Washington State
Van Law can be your guide on motorcycle laws in Washington state and help you seek fair compensation after a traffic accident. Contact us for a free, confidential case review from a member of our team. We can help with personal injury and wrongful death cases.
Don’t wait to call; your time to file may be running out! Contact us today and let our legal expert earn you the compensation and justice you deserve.
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