Were You Injured Because Of Someone Else's Negligence? Browse Our FAQs

In addition to coping with a lot of stress and frustration, personal injury cases also come with a lot of questions. Here are some of the questions we hear the most at Max Meyers Law.

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  • Should I provide all of my medical records to an insurance adjuster after a truck accident?

    medical records release form

    If you have been injured in a serious Washington semi-truck accident, you will eventually have to speak to an insurance adjuster. While insurance adjusters are hardworking professionals who may have genuine sympathy for your circumstances, they are nonetheless trained negotiators who represent the interests of their employers. If you try to speak to an adjuster without an attorney, they could pressure you into signing away your medical records and your rights.

    Why Insurance Adjusters Ask to See Medical Records

    When private automobiles and semi-trucks collide, the consequences are often catastrophic for the occupants of the smaller vehicle. Since semi-truck-related accidents always have the potential to cause debilitating injuries, trucking companies are required to purchase and carry high-limit liability insurance. If you or a loved one has been injured in a semi-truck crash, you will most likely have to pursue compensation through the insurance company.

    Once the insurance company has been informed of the accident, they may dispatch an adjuster to investigate the crash and collect information related to your injuries. Adjusters typically need access to your medical records to assess your injuries and calculate the case’s value. However, the adjuster should only be allowed to see the records relating to your semi-truck accident—not your entire health history.

    Insurance Adjusters Use Pressure Tactics to Get Extra Information

    The adjuster will almost certainly need access to your accident-related records. However, they might try to ask you for additional information—information they do not need and to which they are not legally entitled. When you initiate a claim, the adjuster might ask you to:

    • Recount your memories of the accident
    • Provide a recorded statement
    • Visit a physician of their choosing for a medical examination
    • Sign a medical records release

    The adjuster might say that compliance is the best way forward—and that if you do not follow the insurance company’s commands, you may receive a delayed settlement.

    Adjusters Can Use Your Words Against You

    Insurance adjusters do not ask for this additional information because they want to help you. Adjusters are beholden to their employer, the insurance company. And the insurance company, like most businesses, is a for-profit enterprise; its main objective is to protect its profit margins. Insurance companies have many strategies for protecting their profits. Unfortunately, these strategies often come at semi-truck accident victims’ expense. They might:

    • Use your own words against you. If the adjuster asks you to provide a recorded statement, they are effectively on a fishing expedition—hoping that you will provide too much information, which could be used to downgrade the trucking company’s liability.
    • Use your health history to devalue your claim. While the insurance adjuster needs to understand your accident-related injuries, they should never be afforded unbridled access to your health history. One of the insurance industry’s favorite tricks is attributing injuries their clients caused to pre-existing medical conditions. If the adjuster is allowed to peruse your records, they could find a way to blame your truck accident injuries on something else.
    • Use your circumstances to push a premature settlement. Even if you have good health insurance, a serious semi-truck accident could push you to the brink of financial ruin. You might find yourself responsible for the costs of an ambulance ride, as well as expensive deductibles and co-pays. The adjuster might offer you a fast and easy settlement to help ease your worry—a settlement accounts for your immediate needs but does not include the money you need to replace lost income, pay for physical rehabilitation, or compensate for your emotional pain and suffering.

    A Washington Semi-Truck Attorney Could Safeguard Your Rights

    If you have been injured in a serious Washington semi-truck accident, you may be only months, weeks, or days from financial ruin. Max Meyers Law believes that nobody should have to bear the financial burden of another person’s bad mistake. You should not be forced to wade through the insurance company’s red tape just to secure a fair settlement. We can help you stand up to the adjuster, protect your rights, and fight for the best possible recovery. Please send Max Meyers Law a message online or call us at 425-399-7000 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.

  • Is car insurance required in Washington State?

    hand filling out insurance claim formWashington requires that every road-legal vehicle be insured. However, compared to other states, Washington has low mandatory coverages. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Seattle-area automobile accident, you might have to look beyond the other driver's insurance policy for compensation. 

    Washington's Comparative Fault Law

    Washington is not a no-fault insurance state. Instead, Washington has a comparative fault doctrine, meaning that the fault of all parties in a car accident is considered when determining damages. If your own negligence contributed to a crash, then your potential compensation could be reduced by a percentage proportionate to your level of fault. 

    Car Insurance Requirements in Washington State

    Almost every state in the country requires that automobiles be insured, and Washington is no exception. State law mandates that every motorist has coverage of at least: 

    • Bodily injury liability coverage: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
    • Property damage liability: $10,000
    • Underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
    • Underinsured motorist property damage coverage: $10,000 per accident
    • Basic Personal Injury Protection (PIP): $10,000 per accident

    Optional Car Insurance Coverages

    Washington's minimum coverage amounts are sufficient to cover the costs associated with minor to moderate injuries, as well as some medical procedures. However, simply purchasing the lowest-price policy does not guarantee that you will be afforded the resources you need to recover after a serious automobile accident. You could bolster your protection by adding features such as:

    • No-fault personal injury protection, which allows you to make medical claims on your own policy regardless of whether you were at fault for the accident.
    • Collision insurance, which can help pay the cost of a car repair or replacement.
    • Comprehensive insurance, which provides protection if your vehicle is ever damaged by a cause other than a collision, such as hail, fire, or vandalism.
    • Rental reimbursement, which could cover the costs of a car rental if yours is ever damaged or destroyed in an accident.
    • Underinsured motorist additions, which provide additional compensation if you are injured by a motorist who is either uninsured or has inadequate coverage.

    Your Options for Compensation After a Washington Car Crash

    Washington's pure comparative fault law allows motorists to:

    • File a claim against the other motorist's insurer, even if you were partially or mostly to blame for the accident.
    • File a claim with your own automobile insurance company, if you purchased additional no-fault personal injury protection coverage.
    • File a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault motorist, with any potential award or settlement to be reduced proportionately to your own level of fault.

    What Happens When Insurance Isn't Enough

    Washington, like most states in the country, makes automobile insurance mandatory. While mandatory policies are supposed to protect motorists if they are injured in an accident, insurance companies are still for-profit enterprises. Unfortunately, insurers do not generate a profit when they pay the maximum amount of compensation to every deserving driver, regardless of how seriously they have been injured. Consequently, insurance adjusters often look for any reason to devalue or deny a claim. They could:

    • Ask you to provide a recorded statement, and then use your own words against you.
    • Argue that your injuries were caused by a pre-existing condition.
    • Claim your negligence contributed more to the accident than it really did.

    Insurance companies frequently contest claims and are often unwilling to negotiate in good faith with automobile accident victims. But despite what the insurance company might want you to think, you do not have to give in to heavy-handed pressure tactics and coercion.

    Your Potential Damages After a Washington Automobile Accident

    Max Meyers Law could help you obtain a fair, equitable settlement, even if the insurance company has already tried giving you the silent treatment. We could investigate the circumstances and causes of your accident, building a compelling, evidence-based case for compensation against anyone whose negligence may have caused or contributed to your injuries. This could include:

    • The other motorist
    • A negligent business
    • The City of Seattle or a municipal corporation
    • A car manufacturer
    • An automotive parts maker

    We could negotiate damages for:

    • Your past, present, and anticipated medical expenses
    • Physical rehabilitation
    • Lost income
    • Diminished earning potential
    • Emotional pain and suffering
    • Loss of enjoyment
    • Disfigurement
    • Disability

    Washington does not currently cap the amount of economic damages you could receive after an automobile accident, meaning that you could get as much money as you need to begin moving past a serious, Seattle-area car crash.

    Contact Max Meyers Law Today

    Max Meyers Law could fight for your rights, whether in insurance negotiations or before a judge and jury. Please send us a message online or call us at 425-399-7000 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation as soon as possible.

  • Can car accident damages include physical therapy expenses?

    car accident victim getting physical therapy treatment

    Even minor car accidents have the potential to cause devastating injuries. You might find yourself saddled by medical debt but unable to work, depriving you of the income you need to keep yourself out of dire financial straits. Fortunately, Washington law allows victims to claim compensation for medical expenses and other losses, including anticipated costs. If your doctor believes that you need physical rehabilitation to rejoin the workforce, Max Meyers Law could help you secure the legal recovery you need to resume normal living.

    Paying for Physical Therapy After a Washington Car Crash

    Washington is a fault state. When someone causes a car accident, they—or their insurance company—must pay for the other motorist’s damages. A claim for damages could cover:

    • Past, present, and future medical expenses
    • Prescription medication co-pays
    • Physical rehabilitation

    Insurance Companies and Physical Rehabilitation

    Every Washington driver must have an automobile insurance policy. While you might expect that the other driver’s insurer will cover your accident-related expenses, you should never forget that insurance companies are for-profit businesses. Oftentimes, they are more interested in protecting their profit margins than providing a fair recovery. They employ many different tricks, tactics, and strategies to devalue car crash claims. So, even if your doctor says that you need physical rehabilitation, the insurance company might try to evade responsibility by claiming:

    • You were responsible for the accident. Even if your car accident claim seems open-and-shut, the insurance company might demand evidence that the other driver’s negligence caused the collision. If you show them a police report, surveillance footage, or other seemingly irrefutable evidence, they might still try to argue that you were at least partially responsible for the crash—and that they do not have to pay you the full amount to which you would otherwise be entitled.
    • You don’t really need physical therapy. Car insurance companies do their own math when deciding how to value automobile injury claims. Needless to say, this math usually relies on the opinion of their own medical experts, who might review your files and say that physical rehabilitation is not “medically necessary.”
    • Your injuries were not caused by the crash. If you do not contact an attorney immediately after an accident, the at-fault motorist’s insurance company might peruse your social media accounts, ask for medical records access, and even try to speak to your doctor. If they can find any way to construe your injuries as “pre-existing,” they will refuse to pay for your physical therapy.

    Protecting Your Rights After an Injury

    Insurance companies are notorious for devaluating car crash-related injuries. However, Washington law is clear-cut: you should never have to pay for an accident you did not cause. You could protect your legal recovery by:

    • Seeking immediate medical attention. Even if you do not believe you were seriously injured in the accident, you should still make an appointment with a medical professional. A physician could help identify and treat injuries you already have. If they believe you need physical rehabilitation, you will be able to show the insurance company that the doctor believes physical therapy is a necessity.
    • Document your symptoms. You could create a pain journal or other record to document any symptoms you experience after a serious Washington car crash. Ideally, your pain journal will include regular entries detailing your medical symptoms, physical feelings of pain, and any prescription or over-the-counter medications you are taking to alleviate it.
    • Speaking to an attorney. Insurance companies know that most car crash victims do not understand Washington’s complicated medical claims process. Even if they present you with a settlement offer, it might not account for your physical therapy and other anticipated expenses. They may even refuse to negotiate with you, citing a never-ending list of excuses. However, attorneys are familiar with the insurance industry’s tricks. We do not let our clients get bullied. Max Meyers Law could handle all of your communications with the insurance company, collecting, compiling, and analyzing the evidence needed to get you fair compensation.

    Do You Need a Better Settlement? Contact Max Meyers Law Today

    Max Meyers Law is a people-focused practice. Our dedicated team of Washington attorneys seeks to understand our clients’ needs. When we take a case, we stick up for our clients’ rights—and have the results to show for it. You do not need to bear a life-long burden of pain: please send Max Meyers Law a message online or call us at 425-970-8822 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation as soon as possible.

  • I suffered abdominal trauma in a pedestrian accident. Can I recover damages?

    technician giving abdominal ultrasound to pedestrian victimAbdominal trauma is a common injury in accidents involving force. Unfortunately, it's also a difficult condition to detect because there may be any of several internal organs involved and because symptoms don't always show up right away. But if abdominal trauma is not treated, it can become life-threatening. If you're a pedestrian who is struck by a car, motorcycle, or even a bicycle, you could also suffer abdominal trauma, whether from the impact of the collision itself or being knocked to the pavement. If your accident occurred due to someone else's negligence, you might be able to recover damages to cover your treatment.

    What Is Abdominal Trauma?

    Abdominal trauma refers to any injury to any of the organs in the abdominal cavity due to force—for example, the stomach, intestines, liver, spleen, and/or pancreas. The abdominal cavity also houses other important structures like the aorta (the main blood vessel leading from the heart) and the kidneys. Any sudden impact to the abdomen can compress one or more of these organs, pushing them out of place or causing direct bruising, tearing, or internal bleeding.

    Because the abdominal cavity is relatively small, even a minor injury to one of these organs can have serious consequences. When an organ is damaged, it may leak blood or other fluids into the abdomen. This can cause inflammation and swelling (known as peritonitis), which can lead to sepsis—a potentially life-threatening condition caused by infection. The particular danger with abdominal trauma is that the symptoms may not appear for hours or even days after an accident. For that reason, it's important to be seen by a medical professional immediately following a pedestrian accident—not just to check for immediate injuries but also to monitor you for signs of trouble after the fact.

    Possible Indicators of Abdominal Trauma

    Since abdominal trauma can damage any of a number of organs, the symptoms of trauma can be wide and varied, as well. That being said, there are some common indicators that abdominal trauma has occurred. If you experience any of the following after a pedestrian accident, seek medical attention immediately:

    • Persistent or worsening pain in the abdomen
    • Swelling or bloating in the abdomen
    • Low blood pressure
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Blood in the stool or urine
    • Difficulty urinating or passing stool
    • Shortness of breath
    • Dizziness or lightheadedness
    • Loss of consciousness

    Detection and Treatment of Abdominal Trauma

    If your physician suspects the possibility of abdominal trauma, they will likely order a CT scan or other imaging tests to check for internal bleeding, bruising, or organ damage. They may also order these tests as a pre-emptive measure in cases where you suffered a direct, severe blow to the abdomen—for example, in a pedestrian accident with a car. If abdominal trauma is found, you will likely be admitted to the hospital for treatment or observation. Treatment options for these types of internal injuries are basically limited to the following:

    • Monitoring you (to see if the wounds heal on their own or if you get worse)
    • Administering antibiotics to treat or ward off infection
    • Blood transfusions (if hemorrhaging is evident)
    • Surgery to repair or remove damaged organs or vessels

    Who May Be Liable for Your Injuries

    If you were hit by a car, bicycle, or motorcycle while walking normally on the sidewalk or crossing at a marked or unmarked intersection, the driver of the vehicle is likely liable for your injuries. Even if you were not in a crosswalk and did not have the right-of-way, drivers have a reasonable duty of care to watch out for pedestrians. If a driver didn't see you because they were speeding, texting, intoxicated, or otherwise negligent, they may be held responsible for damages. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, other parties might also be held liable—for example, the municipality where the accident occurred (if the accident was caused by a pothole or other hazard in the roadway) or the vehicle manufacturer (if a malfunction caused the driver to lose control).

    How an Attorney Can Help

    If your pedestrian accident was caused by someone else's negligence, you might be able to recover damages for treatment of abdominal trauma and other injuries, as well as loss of income, pain and suffering, and other damages. A skilled personal injury attorney can conduct a thorough investigation to determine who is at fault and help you hold the responsible parties accountable. The Max Meyers Law Firm has many years of experience with pedestrian injury accidents in Washington state. Contact our offices today to schedule a free consultation—or call us at 425-399-7000.

  • Should I sign a release of claim form after a car accident?

    man signing general release of liability formWhen you're injured in a car accident and the at-fault party's insurance company offers you a settlement, it usually comes with a requirement to sign a Release of Claims form before the insurance company will issue the check. In Washington State, this form is also known as a "Settlement and Release of Claims Agreement." Signing it might seem like little more than a formality—and you may feel tempted because, after all, you need the money. But the ramifications of a Release of Claims form are quite important, and if you sign too quickly, you could be robbing yourself of significant compensation.

    What Is a Release of Claims Form?

    A Release of Claims form is a document that releases the other motorist and their insurance company from liability and any further legal obligation with regard to your injuries. By signing it, you effectively agree not to pursue any further damages related to the car accident in exchange for the settlement check. In plain English, it means once you sign the form and receive your settlement, that's all the money you'll get for your injuries.

    In one sense, the Release of Claims seems reasonable enough. It simply means that once you've agreed on a settlement, the defendant is protected from you coming back and suing them again and again. But what if the settlement offer isn't enough to cover your total costs? What if your recovery incurs more expenses after the fact that you didn't anticipate? By law, the at-fault driver is still responsible for paying those expenses—but if a Release of Claims form is already signed, you've waived your rights to collect any more money. So in that sense, it can be a very dangerous document, especially if the insurance company tries to settle quickly. An overeager insurance company that presents you a Release of Claims form is usually trying to push you into accepting less money than your injuries are worth, then legally blocking you from coming after them for more.

    Why You Shouldn't Be Rushed Into Signing a Release of Claims

    When you have no income because you're unable to work and your medical bills are piling up, it's perfectly understandable to feel pressured to sign the release and get your money quickly. But here's why that's not a good idea:

    • You may not know the full extent of your injuries. You can't anticipate any possible complications that might arise or extended treatments that might be needed.
    • There may be long-term repercussions from your injuries. Some types of injuries can trigger other health problems that may not surface for years.
    • You don't know about your future income. Your injuries could potentially hinder your ability to work for the long term, and your settlement may need to account for that possibility.

    A settlement that is truly fair will take into account not only your current needs but also your anticipated future needs, not to mention the more intangible losses incurred by pain and suffering, psychological trauma, loss of consortium, and more. Bottom line: if you sign a Release of Claims form too quickly, you could end up being severely under-compensated for your injuries.

    Never Sign a Release of Claims Form Without the Advice of Your Attorney

    Granted, at some point, you'll likely have to sign a Release of Claims form before getting your check. The key is in knowing when it's safe to sign it—and the best person to tell you when you have a fair settlement is an experienced personal injury attorney. That's why we highly recommend that you never sign a Release of Claims before having an attorney review your settlement offer to help you decide whether or not it's in your best interests to sign, whether further negotiations are needed, or whether you need to go to court.

    The Max Meyers Law Firm can advise you on what constitutes a fair settlement for your case, and we can help you get the full amount of compensation you deserve. Contact our offices to schedule a free consultation or call us at 425-399-7000.

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  • How will I pay for my child’s reconstructive surgery after a dog bite?

    child petting strange dog through fenceDog bites in children are unfortunately quite common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in the U.S., and 800,000 of those require medical treatment. The Humane Society of the United States estimates that half of those victims are children.

    If your child is unlucky enough to get attacked and injured by a dog, you may be concerned about how you’re going to pay for the reconstructive surgery that is often necessary. The medical bills can pile up before your child’s personal injury settlement comes through, and you might find yourself worrying about how things are going to work out. The good news is, you have options.

    What is reconstructive surgery, and why is it necessary after a dog bite injury?

    Dog bites sometimes cause serious injuries, which may include deep lacerations, puncture wounds, bone fractures, etc. These injuries can leave significant scars and deformities if not corrected surgically—and for a child, these injuries can deeply impact them psychologically and physically as they get older. Reconstructive surgery helps correct the deformities and reduces or eliminates scarring to restore wholeness and prevent significant complications later.

    Paying for Your Child’s Reconstructive Surgery Before the Settlement Comes in

    In Washington State, dog owners are liable for the injuries caused by their dogs, but even personal injury settlements often take time to come through as attorneys and insurance companies contend over settlement amounts. Your child obviously can’t wait for the settlement to have reconstructive surgery, so here are some ways to get the costs covered until your case is resolved:

    • Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance. PIP (or “no-fault”) insurance is typically the first line of defense in covering initial costs for an injury. If you’ve purchased PIP insurance that covers dog bites, that insurance should kick in up to the no-fault limit to help cover your child’s medical expenses.
    • Health insurance. For whatever PIP insurance doesn’t cover, your own health insurance may have provisions to cover the initial costs of treatment for your child, even if someone else is liable for those costs. If this is the case, the insurance provider will typically be reimbursed out of your settlement.
    • Medical liens. The State of Washington allows healthcare providers to place a medical lien on your insurance or personal injury claim. This lien enables them to give your child the care they need knowing they will eventually be reimbursed for their services and costs. While the term “lien” may be scary, note that a medical lien is placed not against your personal property; it’s dependent on the compensation you eventually will receive for your child’s injuries.

    Why You Need to File a Personal Injury Claim

    Even if you have PIP insurance or health insurance, these may not be sufficient to cover the total cost of reconstructive surgery or other healthcare expenses—nor will they cover other types of loss such as lost wages, cost of in-home care, etc. Additionally, you might not be able to benefit from a medical lien unless it’s guaranteed by a personal injury claim. Filing a claim helps ensure you’ll be able to get reimbursed for any costs paid out of pocket—plus, it reimburses you for intangible losses like pain and suffering that no amount of insurance can cover.

    How Our Washington Dog Bite Lawyer Can Help You

    No matter how cut-and-dried your case may appear, insurance companies sometimes drag their feet and look for excuses not to pay claims. Even the victim’s own PIP insurance may attempt to deny claims based on a technicality. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you navigate the complicated process of filing a claim, negotiate for the best settlement possible, and, if necessary, fight to make sure your own insurance meets its obligations. An attorney can also help facilitate medical liens or other remedies to help you cover the costs of your child’s care while you’re waiting for your settlement to be finalized.

    Let the Max Meyers Law Firm help you get the compensation you need to help your child become whole again after a damaging dog bite. Contact our offices to schedule a free consultation or call us at 425-399-7000. We have been proudly servicing dog bite injury and personal injury clients throughout Bothell, Kirkland and the surrounding areas.

  • Can I be compensated for the paid time off I had to take after my car accident?

    computer keyboard with paid time off keyIf you were injured in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, chances are you’ve had to take time off from work even if your injuries weren’t that severe. If your company provides the benefit of paid time off (PTO)—e.g., sick days, vacation days, and personal days—you might have had to use some or all of this PTO. Perhaps you didn’t even use all of it on your hospital stay or time recovering at home; you may have used PTO for other things related to your accident, like arranging a rental car, dealing with insurance companies, and meeting with your attorney. You’re entitled to claim lost wages in your personal injury claim—but are you allowed to recover your PTO even though you were paid for that time?

    The answer is yes. Here’s how and why.

    “Lost Wages” Includes Other Forms of Compensation

    When you’re injured and can’t go to work, you lose out on both income and benefits you could be earning if it weren’t for your injuries. Your lost wages include the benefits that would have been available to you had you not been injured—which includes your paid time off. A personal injury claim is designed to help you recover all forms of loss incurred by your accident, including the loss of benefits at work. Even though you may have been paid for some of your time off work, it’s still considered a loss because you wouldn’t have used that PTO if not for the accident.

    Winning your personal injury claim won’t get those benefits back—in other words, your company isn’t going to put those paid days back into your “PTO bank” so you can use them again. (That’s another reason why it’s a loss.) However, your settlement can include reimbursement for the dollar value of the PTO you used related to your accident—and you’re well within your legal rights to include it in your claim.

    How Paid Time Off Is Valued

    How do you calculate the value of your PTO when including it in your claim? In many cases, the answer is simple: Whatever amount you’re paid for a day’s work, that’s the value for every day of PTO you had to take. So if you’re paid $150 a day, and you had to take five paid sick days and 14 vacation days, you can add $150 x 19 days, or $2850, to your claim.

    However, in many cases, your daily wage isn’t the only consideration when figuring out the actual amount of loss incurred by taking your PTO. For example, if you receive commissions or bonuses on sales, you might not have had the opportunity to make those commissions and bonuses because you were not at work. Your PTO likely only covered your “base pay” in those instances, so your attorney will want to include in your claim an estimate of the additional amount you would have received in commissions or bonuses had you not been forced to take your paid leave.

    Why You Need an Attorney

    Since the recovery of lost wages is an area that’s not always clear-cut, insurance companies are likely to try to push back on claims that include PTO. They may argue, for example, that you were paid for that time or that you didn’t really need to take those personal days. It’s best to talk with an experienced personal injury attorney who can advise you on how to include PTO in your claim for lost wages. A good attorney will be able to overcome the objections involved and make sure you receive the full value for those lost benefits in addition to other lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, etc.

    Paid time off can temporarily “soften the blow” to your finances, but it won’t stave off financial difficulty forever. The sooner you get an attorney involved after your injury accident, the sooner your attorney can get to work on your claim so you can recover your losses as quickly as possible. The Max Meyers Law Firm helps injury accident victims in Washington State get the settlements they need and deserve to get their lives back on track. Contact our offices to schedule a free consultation or call us at 425-399-7000.

  • What do I do if I’m in a truck accident and receive internal injuries?

    Truck accidents often lead to internal injuries.Internal injuries don’t often manifest right away, but they can quickly deteriorate into serious situations if they are left untreated. Let’s discuss what to do to protect yourself after a trucking accident, what to watch for, and how an attorney can help if you are, in fact, injured internally. 

    Get Medical Help Immediately—and Call a Lawyer

    The first thing to do in the aftermath of a truck accident is to seek medical help as soon as possible—even if you think you aren’t injured or your injuries are minor. Any major impact like a crash can resonate throughout your body, and the jostling can damage your internal organs the same as it can break an arm or leg. Symptoms may not be apparent for hours or even days after an accident, but if it goes undetected, an internal injury could become dangerous very quickly.

    The very next thing you should do is contact an experienced personal injury attorney. Proving liability depends on the available evidence—and evidence tends to fade with time. A good attorney will know how to approach the evidence to determine fault. They will also know the right questions to ask, including what is needed for a proper diagnosis of your injuries, so they can calculate how much you should receive in damages.

    Types of Internal Injuries You May Suffer in a Truck Crash

    Your body contains many internal parts, any of which could be injured by a major impact like a truck crash. These injuries can occur by direct penetration (e.g., debris puncturing your body) or simply by the blunt force of the sudden stop. Some of the most common internal injuries include:

    • Broken ribs. Fractured ribs aren’t just painful—they can also be dangerous. Broken ribs afford less protection to your vital organs (i.e., heart and lungs), and severely damaged ribs can also send bone parts into these organs.
    • Punctured/collapsed lung. A sharp impact can puncture a lung, which sends air out of the lung into the chest cavity. If the lung collapses, you could struggle to get enough air and eventually suffocate without treatment.
    • Injured organs/internal bleeding. Any of the soft organs inside your body could be bruised or lacerated in a truck accident. Damage to the liver, kidneys, or spleen is quite common in these crashes. Left untreated, the internal bleeding could cause you to go into hemorrhagic shock.
    • Abdominal aortic aneurysm. One common internal injury with severe collisions is an abdominal aortic aneurysm, in which the stomach presses against the aorta (a primary artery) and causes it to enlarge through the accumulation of blood. Left untreated, this aneurysm can be fatal.
    • Brain bleeding. An impact to the head, or even the jostling of the brain inside the skull, may damage brain tissues and cause unseen bleeding, which may restrict oxygen to the brain and/or cause permanent brain damage.

    Liability for Internal Injuries in Trucking Accidents

    With accidents involving trucks, liability may rest with one or more parties, depending on the circumstances causing the crash. These may include:

    • The at-fault truck driver 
    • The trucking company 
    • The manufacturer of the truck or parts manufacturers 

    Whoever is liable, the at-fault party may be responsible for paying for the costs of your medical treatment and recovery from your internal injuries, as well as additional damages for lost wages, pain and suffering, etc.

    How an Attorney Can Help You 

    While it can be hard to prove who is at fault in a truck accident, it’s even harder for an injured victim to do so on their own. Your ability to get your full compensation may depend on how quickly you get an experienced truck accident attorney involved. A good attorney will investigate the accident to determine who is liable, calculate the losses you’ve incurred, and work aggressively to make sure the responsible party pays those damages. 

    If you’re injured in a truck accident in Washington State, the legal team at Max Meyers Law can help you receive the settlement you need and deserve. Contact our offices to schedule a free consultation or call us at 425-399-7000.

     

  • Can I recover bicycle accident damages if I suffer a joint dislocation?

    Bike accident joint dislocationDislocated joints are quite common in bicycle accidents. While they might seem like a minor injury that can quickly be remedied by putting the joint back in place, the truth is that joint dislocations can cause lasting repercussions—and the damage is sometimes permanent. If someone else is at fault in your bicycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation.

    Signs of Joint Dislocation

    Joints are connection points between two bones. When one or more of the bones is forced out of its normal place in relation to the bone it’s connected to, we refer to that as joint dislocation. This usually happens when a blunt force impact pushes the bone out of place, and it involves stretching or snapping of the ligament that connects the two bones. 

    A person with a joint dislocation will experience intense pain, swelling, and inability to move the area around the dislocated joint. On some occasions, the bone may quickly pop back into place. At other times, a physician may have to move the bone back into the joint.

    Shoulder dislocations are most common in bicycle accidents, but dislocations in the fingers, knees, elbows, ankles, and even hips are also frequent. You can often (but not always) identify a dislocated joint when the joint looks visibly deformed or out of place. Other signs of dislocation include intense pain, swelling, discoloration around the joint, or an inability to move the limb affected. 

    How Joint Dislocations Happen in Bicycle Accidents

    Joint dislocations in bicycle accidents are usually caused by direct impact to the joint which blasts the bones out of their usual position. They can also happen in the arms and shoulders when a bicyclist puts their arm out to break their fall—or in the legs or hips when the cyclist hits the ground in an awkward way. 

    What to Do If You Suffer a Joint Dislocation in a Bike Crash

    If you suspect you’ve got a joint dislocation, seek medical attention as soon as possible to reduce the possibility of permanent damage to the joint. Don’t try to put the joint back in place yourself as you may cause more damage, and don’t assume you’re okay if the joint automatically pops back into place—if the joint was dislocated, you’ve likely experienced some tissue damage. Seek help from a physician to put the joint back into its correct position and evaluate any damage that may have occurred.

    You Can Recover Damages If Someone Else’s Negligence Caused Your Injury 

    A dislocated joint is considered an injury even if the joint pops back into place. As such, if you experience a joint dislocation in a bicycle accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you should be able to file a personal injury claim to be compensated for the cost of your recovery. Your possible compensation may include:

    • Medical expenses. This may include treatment for both the joint dislocation and any additional injury or trauma you experienced.
    • Cost of additional care and treatment. This may include physical therapy and any costs incurred by hiring help while you are immobilized, as well as any ongoing treatments or therapies if permanent damage occurs.
    • Lost wages. If your injury keeps you from working, even temporarily, you are eligible for compensation for the loss of income.
    • Pain and suffering. In addition to medical costs, this can help make up for the physical pain and mental anguish caused by your injury.

    How a Lawyer Can Help You 

    If you’ve suffered a joint dislocation, it’s important to talk with an experienced bicycle injury lawyer. Even if you believe your injuries are minor, you could still experience complications that limit your mobility and lessen your quality of life. 

    A good attorney can explain your legal rights, review the details of your case, and help you recover the full amount of damages to which you’re entitled. The legal team at Max Meyers Law has extensive experience with bicycle injury accidents in the State of Washington. Contact our offices to schedule a free consultation.

     

  • Can I represent myself after a car crash in Washington?

    Think twice before representing yourself. Under Washington State law, you always have the right to represent yourself in civil actions, including personal injury cases. However, it's not usually wise to do so, especially if you are pursuing damages after being injured in a car crash. 

    Between determining fault, calculating damages, and negotiating with insurance companies, personal injury cases are complex matters that require the help of someone with extensive legal experience to obtain a fair settlement. Let's discuss some important reasons why you should consider hiring an attorney to represent you in a personal injury claim.

    An Attorney Can Get You a More Generous Settlement

    Washington is a comparative fault state, which means the damages you can recover are reduced by your percentage of fault. This means determining who is at fault—and by what percentage—can be very complicated and contentious. Determining how much to ask for in damages is equally complicated. 

    If you attempt to navigate these issues on your own, chances are you'll wind up with a far lower settlement than you need or deserve. While you will have to pay the attorney to represent you, their fee comes out of the settlement—and the amount of your settlement will typically more than make up the difference for what you would have received on your own.

    An Attorney Knows How to Handle the Insurance Companies

    One of the most difficult aspects of a personal injury claim is negotiating with insurance companies—and chances are you'll be no match for them on your own. Insurance adjusters are under pressure to reduce or deny claims, and they are very good at making their settlement offer sound like the very best they can do. Furthermore, insurance companies know how to word their questions in a way that they can often use your answers to minimize your claim if it goes to court. 

    A skilled personal injury attorney understands how the insurance companies work and how to negotiate with them to get the settlement you deserve. Being able to refer the insurance company to your attorney can save you from saying something that could be used to weaken your position legally.

    An Attorney Knows When to Negotiate—and When to Litigate

    Insurance companies are not always willing to settle. Many of them will refuse offers that seem fair, only to turn around and pay more when the case goes before a judge. At the same time, if you litigate your case and the insurance company can prove you were partially at fault, you could actually wind up with a lower settlement with additional court costs to pay. This is why it's important to have an attorney determine whether you need to take your claim to court or if it can be resolved through negotiations with the insurance company. A good attorney knows when a settlement offer is fair, and when it makes more sense to take your case to court.

    An Attorney Can Help Defer Your Medical Bills

    Washington State does not require drivers to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. If you don't have PIP, or if your PIP coverage runs out before your case is resolved, you could be facing collection actions for your unpaid medical bills. An experienced attorney can often step in on your behalf with your insurance company or medical providers to make deferred payment arrangements until your case is settled.

    Get the Peace of Mind You Deserve

    While you have the right to represent yourself in your own personal injury case, hiring a car accident attorney provides you with a whole set of additional resources and skills that, in the end, will improve your chances of a more generous settlement. Having an attorney will also give you much greater peace of mind knowing the legal piece is being covered while you focus on recovering from your injuries. 

    The legal team at Max Meyers Law understands the complexities of helping you get a fair personal injury settlement in Washington. Let us help you get the full amount to which you're entitled under the law. Contact our offices to schedule a free consultation or call us at 425-399-7000.

  • What if the truck driver who caused my accident injuries was speeding?

    Speeding is a common cause of truck accidents.Speeding is one of the biggest causes of commercial truck accidents. According to the FMCSA, speeding plays a role in about 23% of large truck accidents. If you have been injured in an accident caused by a speeding truck, the actions you take now can have a dramatic effect on the compensation you receive—which is why it’s important to contact an experienced truck injury accident attorney as soon as possible.

    Why Do Truckers Speed?

    If speeding trucks present so much danger on the roadways, why do truck drivers speed? There are a variety of reasons, but the most common include the following:

    • Pressures of the job. Truckers are often paid by the mile or by the job. The more miles they fit into their schedule, the more they are paid. Sometimes, the trucking company pays a bonus to drivers who deliver ahead of schedule. These pressures often cause truckers to speed.
    • Running behind. Trucking companies often place their drivers under grueling deadlines for delivery. If the trucker is running behind schedule, they may speed to make up for the lost time.
    • Distracted driving. Truckers drive for long stints, often down many miles of open road. The driver’s mind may wander due to distraction or fatigue, and they might not realize how fast they are going.

    How Do Speeding Truckers Cause Accidents?

    Truckers who speed are more likely to be involved in an accident for several reasons. These include:

    • Longer stopping times. A fully-loaded semi requires about 40% more road to come to a stop than a passenger vehicle moving at the same speed. In real numbers, a loaded semi driving at 60 mph must travel farther than the length of a football field to come to a stop. Speeding truckers often don’t have enough room to make sudden stops, increasing accident chances. 
    • Less time to react. The faster a vehicle travels, the less time the driver has to respond to sudden changes on the road—thus increasing their likelihood of being involved in an accident.
    • Less control over the vehicle. Speeding makes it more difficult for a trucker to maneuver the truck. Making too fast of an adjustment or attempting to take a turn too quickly can cause them to lose control of the truck.

    What Kinds of Injuries May Result?

    With trucking accidents, it’s not just about how fast they drive—it’s also how much distance is covered in the same amount of time. A truck moving at 60 miles per hour will cover 20% more ground than one driving at 50 mph. That means that if you were hit by a speeding tractor-trailer traveling 60 mph instead of 50 mph, there would be 40% greater impact force—resulting in far worse injuries. For this reason, the sheer mass and momentum of truck-involved accidents are more likely to cause severe injuries than accidents involving two passenger vehicles. 

    Broken bones, severed limbs, and traumatic brain injuries are quite common in these collisions, as are internal injuries caused by the sudden impact of the truck. Serious injuries such as these can involve expensive surgeries and long recovery times. In some cases, the physical damage may be permanent and require a lifetime of care.

    Recovering Damages in a Speeding Truck Accident Case

    As a truck accident injury victim where the truck was at fault, you should be able to claim significant damages that include compensation for your treatment and recovery, lost wages, pain, and suffering, etc. However, liability can be challenging to prove in trucking accidents. Even if the driver was obviously speeding, the driver’s negligence may not be the only factor. If the trucker was under undue pressure from his employer—or not properly trained—the trucking company may share some liability. In some cases, the truck manufacturer may also share responsibility.

    An extended investigation may be required to determine shared liability. The insurance companies for all these entities may haggle over who is responsible for what percentage of the damages. It requires a skilled truck accident attorney to deal with these variables so you receive a fair and timely settlement. The legal team at Max Meyers Law has plenty of experience helping truck accident victims in Washington to receive the full compensation to which they’re entitled. Contact our offices to schedule a free consultation.

  • How do I obtain a police report for my car accident in King County, Washington?

    Request a copy of your car accident police reportIf you've suffered broken bones, burns, or other serious injuries in a car accident in King County, Washington, the police report of the accident likely contains key evidence that you will need in order to file a personal injury claim. If you don't obtain a copy of this report, your claim could be significantly weakened. Fortunately, the State of Washington makes it relatively simple to obtain a copy.

    Why You Need a Police Report

    For any vehicle accident resulting in injury or property damage over $1,000, the State of Washington requires each person involved to file their own accident report to the Department of Motor Vehicles if the police do not come out and investigate. However, the people involved in a car accident may not remember exactly what happened leading up to or during the crash. Unless the forensic evidence is conclusive, this can quickly become a case of one driver's word against the other. 

    For this reason, you should always call 911 to request police response to any accident involving injuries. The police will then investigate and file a report. This report will be an authoritative account of what the police say actually happened based on an investigation of the scene and a review of witness accounts. This document can serve as key evidence to support your personal injury claim.

    The police report will include the following information:

    • Date, time, and location of the accident
    • Descriptions of the cars involved
    • Identification of the people involved
    • Descriptions of damage done and injuries sustained
    • Details that indicate which driver was negligent, if the evidence is clear
    • Details on possible traffic infractions or criminal charges (e.g., speeding, texting while driving, DUI)
    • Any citations issued for traffic violations

    How to Get a Copy of the Police Report

    You might assume that for any accident you're involved in, receiving a copy of the police report would be automatic—but it's not. While police reports are public, the police make these reports for their own purposes—essentially as documentation for possible traffic violations or criminal charges. If you intend to file a personal injury lawsuit, you'll need to request the police report. 

    Police reports are generally available within four days of the accident. The easiest way to obtain a copy is to go online to the searchable State Police database and request it. You can view the report for free, but we recommend paying the small fee to download and print a hard copy of the report. 

    If local police responded to the crash, you may request a copy of the police report from them directly. However, most people find it easier just to get it from the State Police website.

    Won't I Get a Copy of the Report at the Accident Scene?

    No, you won't. If you are handed anything by police, it's likely to be a simple Exchange of Information form. The actual police report won't be filed until after the police leave the accident scene.

    Why You Need More Than Just the Police Report

    The police report is an important piece of evidence, but it is not the only piece. To build a compelling personal injury case, you'll need evidence from multiple sources. This may include photos/videos of the accident scene, eyewitness accounts, etc. Additionally, the police report may not be as definitive in proving fault as you might like. 

    For best results, you should always contact an experienced personal injury attorney to help with your claim. A good attorney will be able to correctly interpret the information on the police report and combine it with other key evidence to build a strong case.

    The legal team at Max Meyers Law has extensive experience with King County injury accident cases, and we know how to compile and present the evidence in a way that helps you receive maximum compensation for your injuries. Contact our offices to schedule a free consultation.

     

     

  • How will I pay my bills if I hurt my leg in a bike accident?

    Compensation for bike accident leg injuryNot only can leg injuries be painful and involve long recovery times, but they may also result in lost income if you can't work because of your condition. One of the biggest concerns bike accident victims have is how they will cover these costs and pay their bills.

    The good news is that if your bike accident was caused by a negligent or reckless driver, you may be entitled to monetary damages to cover your accident-related expenses.

    Common Leg Injuries From Bicycle Accidents

    The physics of bicycles make leg injuries quite common when accidents happen—and some leg injuries can be quite serious. These may include:

    • Broken bones. Broken bones are easily the most common type of injury in a bike accident. They can range from hairline fractures and simple breaks to multiple fractures and compound fractures.
    • Crushed feet and/or ankles. Your feet contain 26 distinct bones and 30 joints, not to mention dozens of muscles. If your foot or ankle gets pinned under debris in an accident, it may be crushed, resulting in multiple injuries to the bones and connective tissues that could require numerous surgeries to repair.
    • Torn knee ligaments. Ligaments are the connective tissues inside your knee, and knees are particularly vulnerable in bike accidents. Torn ligaments are quite painful and usually require surgery.
    • Soft tissue injuries. All the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your legs are subject to possible injury in a bike crash. Some of these injuries can heal on their own, while others may require surgery and extended physical therapy to heal.
    • Road rash. Skin contusions resulting from scraping the leg against the pavement may seem like a mild injury compared to others, but road rash often leads to infections which can complicate the recovery process.

    Damages Associated With Leg Injuries

    Leg injuries from bike accidents often result in extensive costs, reduced income, and a lowered quality of life, all of which you may be able to recover as damages in a personal injury claim. These costs may include:

    • Current and future medical expenses. Not only do you have the immediate expenses of treating your injuries (including hospital stays and surgery), but there may be additional surgeries to repair extensive damage, plus the costs involved with physical rehabilitation and even basic home care if you're unable to get around. You can claim damages not just for your current medical bills, but also your estimated future bills.
    • Loss of income. If your injuries prevent you from being able to work at all, or if they force you to take a lower-paying job because of months (or even years) spent recovering from your injury, you can claim lost income damages. If you were planning on saving money for retirement and your injuries cut short that career line, you might be entitled to those damages as well.
    • Pain and suffering. Physical pain is difficult enough to deal with, but the emotional distress that comes with suffering from a serious injury can be devastating. If your injuries left you in physical or emotional pain, this lowers your quality of life, and you may be entitled to additional compensation as a result.

    Why You Need an Experienced Lawyer 

    If you don't pursue legal action against the driver who caused the accident, you run the risk of having to pay out of pocket for your own recovery. Don't assume you are at fault or that you have to take care of your own bills. A good personal injury attorney may help you recover damages and even arrange to have your medical bills paid in advance of your settlement, so these costs aren't hanging on your shoulders while your case moves forward.

    The legal team at Max Meyers Law can help. Contact our offices to schedule a free consultation or call us at 425-399-7000.

     

  • What Types of Long-Term Effects Are Possible For a Child Who is Involved in a Car Accident?

    Children often suffer long-term car accident injuries.Anyone who has lived through a car accident knows that the experience will stay with you forever. This is especially true for those who experience a collision at a young age when the risk of long-term physical and psychological injury is especially high. Though every individual’s story is unique, our experience helping clients has revealed some commonalities in the types of long-term injuries experienced by children after a car accident.

    Physical Injuries

    Even minor collisions can produce a wide range of injuries for children, from simple cuts and bruises to permanent impairments which require life-long accommodation and medical support. For this reason, it is essential that any child who is involved in a car accident is seen by a medical professional, even if there are no immediate symptoms of injury.

    Among the most tragic injuries which children experience after a car crash are:

    • Brain injuries. Because their brains are still developing, it is difficult to predict how a traumatic brain injury (TBI) might affect a child over the course of their entire life. However, an analysis of medical data reveals that children who suffer even mild TBIs may have long-term impairments to their intellectual growth and physical abilities. 
    • Neck and spine injuries. Children are more susceptible to “cervical acceleration-deceleration injuries”—more commonly known as whiplash—which can result in life-long neck and back pain, permanent cognitive impairments, and even paralysis. Children under the age of eight are far more likely than older children or adults to experience a spinal injury that is undetectable by X-ray or CT scan, putting them at even greater risk for life-long impairments following a collision.
    • Broken bones or organ damage. Because their bodies are smaller and lighter, children are more likely to be violently thrown around the passenger compartment during an accident. This increases the risk of broken bones or damage to internal organs following an accident, particularly since their bones are not as dense or strong as adults. Though they frequently heal with routine medical attention, these injuries can result in long-term pain.
    • Scarring. Contact with debris like broken glass or jagged metal during the collision can create serious wounds which may leave a scar. Friction injuries—such as when the skin comes in contact with the pavement—and burn injuries resulting from a car accident can damage the skin permanently, leaving a child with limited mobility and disfiguring scars.

    Psychological Injuries

    Children who experience a car accident are vulnerable to a number of mental issues. Certainly, those patients left with life-long cognitive or physical impairments are at a greater risk of experiencing depression in response to their changed circumstances. TBI can also result in permanent alterations to personality and emotional well-being due to physical injury to the brain, which highlights the way physical injury and mental injury resulting from an accident are interconnected.

    Some children show symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (also known as PTSD) following a collision. This can result in sleep disorders as well as crippling anxiety. When the accident in question resulted in the death of another individual, children are particularly vulnerable to the experience of survivor’s guilt. The child, consciously or subconsciously, may feel remorse or shame for having lived through an accident when others did not. This experience can be especially harsh when the individual who died was a parent, sibling, or someone close to the child.

    The Road to Recovery

    It is essential that a parent whose child is injured following a car crash contact a top-rated, trial-tested attorney with experience fighting for injured children. In Washington State, a child under the age of 18 cannot bring a lawsuit on their own behalf, so it is up to you as the legal guardian to retain an attorney willing to stand alongside your family and demand the full and fair compensation that will secure the support your child needs now and in the future.

    Contact our offices today to schedule your free consultation. When you speak with us, make sure to request your copy of our free book Car Accident Secrets Unlocked to learn more about how to protect and provide for your family following an automotive accident.

     

     

  • Who Is At Fault When a Student Driver Causes a Car Accident?

    student driver being instructed by a driving tutor trying not to crashEarning a driver’s license is a rite of passage for young people, but before they hit the road on their own, new drivers need to enroll in a driver’s education program. In theory, those instructors help novice drivers understand the rules of the road, learn to operate their vehicles, and develop safe driving habits. 

    While this support is an essential part of learning to drive, it also presents a unique legal question: If a student driver causes an accident during their driver’s ed training, who is responsible for that accident? There are several possibilities.

    The Student Is at Fault

    To receive a driver’s license in Washington State, regardless of age, the applicant must pass an accredited driving course and log 50 or more hours of driving practice with a licensed adult. During that supervised drive time, the student driver is developing their skills and understanding, so it is unreasonable to expect them to have the same abilities as an experienced driver.

    However, a student driver, even at the earliest stages of their education, is still expected to follow traffic laws, obey signs and signals, and drive responsibly. When a student driver behaves recklessly or carelessly, and that behavior causes an accident, that student driver is responsible for any accident or injury that follows. 

    Exceeding the speed limit, ignoring stop signs, becoming distracted by screens or conversation, or “goofing around” are all examples of behaviors that commonly result in accidents by student drivers. When these actions cause a collision, that student driver should be held responsible. Student drivers may not have car insurance, but most young drivers will be covered by their parent or guardian’s insurance.

    The Instructor Is at Fault

    Every teacher should maintain a safe learning environment, even if that “environment” is a four-door compact filled with teens. When instructing novice drivers, the instructor is expected to provide the experience and “extra set of eyes on the road” to support that young driver as they learn and protect other motorists from rookie mistakes. If that instructor does not maintain that due diligence, they may share some—or all—of the responsibility for an accident caused by the student in their care. 

    For instance, if a driving instructor is busy texting a friend while the student driver is behind the wheel, that instructor is behaving negligently and may share the blame for any accident which could have been avoided had they been attentive to their student. A driver’s ed teacher who dozes as their students drive, who fails to demand focused and orderly behavior from all students in the car, or who turns away from the road to strike up a conversation with someone in the back seat is similarly negligent, making them partially or wholly responsible when their student causes an accident.

    The Driving School Is at Fault

    The school itself may share the responsibility for an accident if it can be shown that they were negligent in one or more areas:

    • Maintenance. Driving schools are responsible for maintaining their vehicles. If an accident was caused by mechanical trouble (e.g.: flat, under-inflated, or bald tires; malfunctioning front or indicator lights; engine or brake failure), the school itself could be held responsible for that accident.
    • Hiring. When a business hires an employee, there is an expectation that they have taken reasonable steps to verify that the employee is qualified for that position. If it is shown that a driving school hired an instructor who did not hold the proper certifications, or who had a record of negligence in previous positions, the school could be held responsible for an accident that occurs during that instructor’s time with students.
    • Oversight. The legal concept of vicarious liability states that a business can be held responsible for the reckless or negligent behavior of its employee if that behavior occurred during business hours and within the scope of their job description. Therefore, if it can be shown that the driving school did not train their instructors sufficiently, or did not intervene with an instructor whose behavior they knew (or should have known) to be reckless or negligent, the school itself may be held responsible for creating an unsafe environment for their students and other drivers.

    All of the Above

    Washington State’s comparative negligence laws allow for more than one individual to share legal responsibility for an accident, which means that a student driver AND their instructor AND their driving school could ALL be at fault. Because determining liability can be complex and contentious, if you or someone you love has been injured in an accident with a student driver, it is essential that you hire an experienced attorney willing to fight for full and fair compensation for your damaged vehicle, medical expenses, lost wages or employment, as well as pain and suffering.

    Contact our offices today to schedule a free consultation so you can learn how the legal team at Max Meyers Law can help you win justice and peace of mind. When you call, be sure to request a copy of our free book Car Accident Secrets Unlocked, so you can learn more about how to protect yourself both on the road and off.

  • What are the most common types of bicycle accidents in Washington?

    Get help with your bike accident personal injury claim. Every bicyclist in Washington State has their favorite stretch of road: taking the hills on Bainbridge Island, racing the waves along Elliott Bay Trail, or soaking in the scenery all along the Bay to Baker Trail. Even though every rider has their preferred route, we all share a common love for fresh air, a generous tail wind, and life on two wheels.

    Unfortunately, life on two wheels also comes with common dangers which every rider—from bicycle messenger to triathlete-in-training to cross-town commuter—will face. Understanding common accident types, where they happen, and what to look out for will keep you safe and rolling this cycling season.

    Common Accidents on Open Roads

    One common type of accident on the open road is sideswiping—which occurs when a bicycle rider and a car are sharing a lane of traffic when the car veers toward the cyclists, either driving them off the road or hitting the cyclist with the side of their vehicle. A similar accident type occurs when a car which is traveling at a higher rate of speed hits a cyclist from behind when overtaking the rider.

    In each of these open-road accident types, the cause is frequently distracted driving. Drivers in cars and trucks who take their eyes off the road to send a text, check their map, or take a bite from their drive-thru lunch may not see a bicycle rider until it is too late. Alcohol and drugs also increase accident risk.

    Common Accidents at Intersections and Crossings

    Though bicycles are considered road vehicles in Washington State, it rarely seems as if cyclists are treated equally at intersections and crossings where traffic signals and right-of-way rules dictate behavior. The speed of impact in these accidents is usually (though not always) slower than open-road accidents, so they may seem less likely to cause injury, but statistics show that even low-speed collisions between cars and bicycle riders can cause serious injury and death, especially when a cyclist strikes their head on the vehicle or pavement during the accident and suffers a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

    Frequently, motorists fail to even see bicycles at intersections or other crossings, or forget to consider the bicycle as having the same right of way that cars have, resulting in an accident. For instance, cars turning left across oncoming traffic are required to yield to oncoming traffic, but frequently drivers don’t see—or believe they can “beat”—a bicycle rider travelling straight through the intersection in the opposite direction, and the bike and car collide when the driver pulls into the cyclist’s path. Similarly, drivers turning right at an intersection may not notice a cyclist directly to their right and turn directly into the rider or otherwise block the cyclist’s path—resulting in a crash.

    Here again, distracted driving is often the cause, though another cause is “biker blindness”, in which drivers become so focused on other motorists at an intersection that they completely ignore bicyclists around them.

    Common Accidents with Parked Cars

    It may seem paradoxical at first, but some of the most damaging accidents between bicycles and cars happen when the car is not even moving at all.

    When a car parallel parks on a city street, for instance, the driver may forget to check their surroundings before opening their door into traffic. That is bad luck for the car door if a semi happens to be passing at that moment, but it is terrible luck for the cyclist coasting downhill when a car door opens directly in front of them. Cyclists who are “doored” make up only two percent of all bicycle/car accidents nationwide, but in large cities like Seattle, as many as one in four accidents are the result of “dooring”.

    What Should I Do If I Am in an Accident on My Bike?

    Regardless of whether your accident occurs in the city or on a trail, on the open road or in a parking lot, the first thing every cyclist must do if they have been involved in an accident is seek medical attention. Serious injuries, including TBI and spinal trauma, may not show symptoms for hours or even days, so seek treatment even if you do not feel hurt. This treatment will also establish your injuries at the time of the accident, which may be important when seeking compensation for medical care or lost wages caused by a negligent driver.

    The next thing to do after being injured by a negligent driver while riding your bicycle is contact an experienced bicycle accident attorney in Washington. Contact our offices today to schedule a free consultation to learn how Max Meyers Law can help protect your rights, secure full and fair compensation for your injuries, and get you back on the road again. Be sure to ask for a copy of our free book: Bicycle Accident Secrets Unlocked to learn more.


     

  • What does a motorcycle endorsement mean in Washington State, and why do I need one?

    A motorcycle endorsement is a legal requirement in Washington State.Motorcyclists are required to have a motorcycle endorsement to ride legally in Washington State. Getting that endorsement may be a hassle, but motorcyclists who ride without the endorsement put themselves at risk both on the road and off.

    What Is an Endorsement?

    A motorcycle endorsement is a special designation added to a Washington State driver’s license to certify that an individual has proven they understand how the rules of the road apply to motorcycle riders and that they are competent to ride their motorcycle on Washington’s roads and highways.

    The motorcycle endorsement, also referred to as the 2W endorsement, requires a cyclist to pass four tests: two written exams covering motorcycle knowledge and two evaluations of motorcycle driving skills. If a motorcycle rider wants to use a side-car attachment, a stabilizing conversion kit, or a motorized trike, that rider needs to earn their 3W endorsement, which includes a single written exam followed by a single driving test.

    Motorcyclists under the age of 18 must earn their endorsement by completing an approved motorcycle safety course and passing the tests at the end of that class. Riders who are older than 18 do not have to take the course and may sign up to take the test at any approved motorcycle training school.

    What Are the Penalties for Riding Without an Endorsement?

    It is illegal to operate most two- and three-wheeled cycles without an endorsement. Some mopeds do not require one, but it is the cyclist’s responsibility to check whether their vehicle requires an endorsement: any bike or trike with an engine larger than 50cc OR which can travel at speeds above 30 m.p.h. requires the proper 2W or 3W endorsement to operate on the road.

    Motorcyclists who are pulled over on vehicles like this without the proper endorsement face a fine of $386 or more; in addition, their scooter, motorcycle, or motor-tricycle can be impounded by law enforcement. Washington State also requires all motorcycle drivers and their riders, even those on vehicles with engines smaller than 50cc, to wear a helmet every time they get on the road.

    How Does a Lack of an Endorsement Affect My Personal Injury Claim? 

    It is important to remember that Washington is a comparative negligence state, which means that the fault or blame for an accident can be shared between the motorists involved in an accident if it can be shown that the actions of each rider contributed to the accident. Because it is illegal to operate a two- or three-wheeled vehicle without the proper endorsement, investigators could interpret that behavior as negligent. This means that the motorcyclist may be considered partially at fault for the accident because they were driving without proof that they understood motorcycle laws and regulations or evidence of driving competency for their vehicle.

    This is especially worrisome for motorcycle riders who were injured in an accident that was caused by another driver, because the lawyers for that other driver will argue in court that their client should not be held liable for the motorcyclist’s injuries because that rider was not properly licensed. Even if the court determines that the motorcyclist was not the primary cause of the accident, opposing lawyers may attempt to use comparative negligence to decrease or eliminate the amount of compensation their client must pay the injured motorcyclist.

    In addition, because the injuries sustained by motorcyclists are frequently severe, and therefore expensive to treat, insurance companies may attempt to deny payment to an injured motorcyclist by arguing that driving without a motorcycle endorsement shifts responsibility for the injuries to the motorcycle rider.

    What Can I Do If I Have Been Injured Driving a Motorcycle Without the Proper Endorsement?

    Do not let traffic investigators, opposing counsel, or an insurance company bully you out of the compensation you deserve. Contact our offices to schedule your free consultation to learn how the legal team at Max Meyers can help you.  When you talk with our staff, be sure to request our free book: Motorcycle Accident Secrets Unlocked to learn more about how to protect your rights as a motorcyclist in Washington State.

     

  • When I choose an attorney to represent my bicycle injury case, what do I look for?

    Hire an experienced bike accident lawyer today. Every year in the United States, thousands of bicyclists are injured—and hundreds killed—in traffic accidents. For those injured cyclists and their families, finding the right attorney to represent their interests with investigators, opposing counsel, insurance companies, and the court is essential if they hope to get full and fair compensation for their injuries or losses.

    But how are people supposed to find the right lawyer to represent them in a bicycle injury case? Follow this simple checklist to find someone right for you:

    Look for Experience

    Every lawyer receives training that might allow them to practice different types of law, such as family law, criminal defense, or personal injury. Receiving an introduction to the subject in law school is no match for years of trial-tested experience in court, however. Further, laws regarding traffic, roads, and bicycles are different from state to state, so it is essential to find an attorney who is licensed and routinely practices in the state where the injury occurred. When researching an attorney to represent your bike accident case, be sure to find someone with experience fighting—and winning—for cyclists in Washington State.

    Look for Courage

    When you select an attorney to represent your interests, you need someone who will not back down—someone who is willing to go to court and fight hard to get their client the fair judgment and generous compensation they deserve. Some lawyers are nervous about going to trial where they will have to go toe-to-toe with legal representation for the defendant or from big insurance companies; they may even encourage their client to accept a small settlement to avoid the courtroom. Make sure the attorney you choose has a reputation for not accepting anything but the full and fair compensation their client deserves, even if it means going to court.

    Look for Good Communication

    Though a good bicycle accident attorney has years of experience representing injured cyclists, you probably do not have a lot of experience being an injured cyclist. It is essential, then, that your attorney takes the time to explain the law fully, honestly evaluate the strength of your case, listen to your thoughts and concerns, and stay in contact as your case proceeds. Do not settle for a big-name firm that will not return your calls or high-powered lawyers who don’t listen to your needs. Get someone who is ready and willing to be present and support you at every turn along the way.

    Look for Confidence

    Following a bicycle accident, an injured cyclist faces a great deal of uncertainty. Will their injuries heal? Who is going to pay for their medical treatment? When will they be able to return to work? How can they afford an attorney and everything else at the same time?

    When you choose an attorney to represent you, look for someone willing to stand behind their promise to fight hard for your interests. When a lawyer charges their clients hundreds of dollars per hour to represent them with no guarantee that they will win, that client may end up owing thousands of dollars in fees even if they lose in court or settle for less than what they deserve. Look for an attorney who is willing to share the burden and the risk with their clients by accepting a fee for their work only if their client wins in court.

    Look for a Winning Record

    Injured cyclists deserve good communication, experienced representation, and a confident partner when they look for an attorney to represent them, but the thing an injured cyclist needs most from their attorney is a win. When looking for someone to represent your bicycle personal injury claim, look for someone who can show you real, trial-tested results for clients for whom they stood up, fought hard, and won big.

    Look No Further

    Max Meyers Law has represented bicycle riders who were injured while riding, and they have won judgments and earned big settlements for those clients—an established firm with a winning record.

    Fighting for the rights of bicyclists is more than a profession for Max Meyers, it is a personal mission. Meyers is an accomplished cyclist himself, taking part in the 200+ mile Seattle-to-Portland Bicycle Classic, cycling up Mount Rainier for 10,000 of total elevation gain, and pedaling across Washington, throughout the United States, and beyond. His commitment to injured cyclists is rooted in his passion for cycling. He even collected his best insights into bicycle safety, bicycle law, and legal recourse for injured bicyclists into a free book: Bicycle Accident Secrets Unlocked.

    If you or a loved one have been injured while bicycling in Washington State, and you believe your injuries were caused by the neglect or recklessness of another, contact our offices in Kirkland or Bothall to schedule a free consultation to learn how Max Meyers can work for you. 

     

  • Who is at Fault When a Vehicle Hits a Pedestrian After a Collision With Another Vehicle?

    Determining fault for an accident can be complex. Determining who is at fault when a vehicle is involved in a chain-reaction collision that results in pedestrian injury is complex and will likely involve first responders, official police or transportation investigators, insurance adjusters, and legal representation for the individual motorists. Anyone—drivers, cyclists, or pedestrians—involved in a chain-reaction or multi-vehicle collision that resulted in serious injuries or fatalities is wise to retain legal representation to protect their interests during the investigation and any legal proceedings which may follow.

    When Is the Driver at Fault?

    If our theoretical driver was driving recklessly, exceeding the speed limit, driving under the influence, and ignoring traffic signals, they are likely to be assigned all of the liability for the accident and will be held responsible for the injuries sustained in the chain reaction that accident caused.

    Common examples of grossly negligent traffic behavior include:

    • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
    • Excessive speeding
    • Ignoring traffic laws and traffic signals

    If the driver was intoxicated and driving 20 miles over the speed limit before losing control, striking a car, veering off course, and finally hitting a pedestrian in the crosswalk, it is clear that they are guilty of gross negligence. Even if that individual claims they were not responsible for the pedestrian’s injuries because they would not have hit the pedestrian had they not hit the car first, judges and juries would see that the driver’s negligence caused both the initial accident and the pedestrian’s injuries.

    When Is Another Driver at Fault?

    Even though the pedestrian’s injuries were directly caused by the impact with the hit vehicle, that driver may share only some of the blame—or none at all— if it can be argued that another driver’s negligence is what led to the initial collision.

    Say our theoretical motorcycle, car or truck driver is traveling within their lane, obeying all traffic signals and laws, and moving just under the posted speed limit. As the cyclist or driver approaches an intersection, another car, hypothetically traveling on the same road in the opposite direction and 20 miles above the speed limit, makes a sudden left turn across traffic without signaling. They strike the law obeying driver as they move through the intersection and send the vehicle into the crosswalk where it strikes a pedestrian.

    In this case, the hit vehicle may have hit the pedestrian but, legally, that driver did not cause the pedestrian’s injuries. Instead, the injured victim and their attorney must seek damages from the other driver whose grossly negligent behavior caused the accident which caused their injuries.

    When Are Both Drivers at Fault?

    Comparative negligence allows for the possibility that more than one driver may contribute, in varying degrees, to the same accident. Therefore, they may share some portion of the responsibility and restitution.

    If, for example, a motorcyclist was exceeding the speed limit as they drove through the intersection before being hit by the car making the illegal turn, a judge or jury could decide that the actions of the motorcyclist “slightly contributed” to the accident, even though the driver of the car was mostly to blame. In this case, the pedestrian and their attorney must negotiate with both the driver and the cyclist to receive compensation for their injuries.

    When Is the Pedestrian at Fault?

    Contrary to popular belief, pedestrians do not always have the right of way. This is another complexity of comparative negligence: if the pedestrian behaved in a way that was negligent of their own safety, a judge or jury could determine they share a portion of the responsibility for their own injuries.

    For instance, if the pedestrian was crossing the street in the middle of the block rather than the crosswalk, lawyers for the driver’s insurance company may argue that the pedestrian voluntarily put themselves at risk and is therefore partly responsible for their injuries. In that case, even if the jury determines the driver to be primarily at fault, they will decrease the compensation the at-fault driver must pay by an amount they determine is equivalent to the extent to which the pedestrian’s negligence contributed to the problem.

    Get Help From an Experienced Attorney

    As a pedestrian, your best hope for full and just compensation is to contact an established, experienced attorney to represent your interests during the investigation of the accident, the negotiation with insurance companies, and the argumentation in court. Contact our offices online or call 425-399-7000 to schedule a free consultation to learn how Max Meyers can work for your rights and well-being following an accident, no matter how complex.

     

  • Is a Bicyclist Considered a Pedestrian?

    Bicyclists on bike path

    We have a lot of people who commute to work and ride bikes for recreation in the state of Washington.  One question that comes up in conversation is around whether a bicyclist is considered a pedestrian or a vehicle?  This can be a tricky question to answer! 

    A better question to ask is if someone who is riding their bike has the right to ride on the street, ride on the sidewalk, or both?  Are they held to the same helmet and traffic laws as motorcycle riders?  Are they treated with the same rights as pedestrians?  And if they are recognized as both a pedestrian and a vehicle how do you determine when and where to treat them as each?

    State and City Guidelines

    As you can see, this is a tricky question to answer.  Most states do look at bicyclists as both pedestrians and vehicles depending on the situation.  It is important to know the rules of the road if you are a cyclist in Washington state.  The laws can vary by county and even cities, so make sure you are familiar with the laws for the areas in which you will be riding.

    Washington provides that every city and town may by ordinance:

    • Regulate and license the riding of bicycles and other similar vehicles upon or along the streets, alleys, highways, or other public grounds within its limits;
    • Construct and maintain bicycle paths or roadways within or outside of and beyond its limits leading to or from the city or town;
    • Establish and collect reasonable license fees from all persons riding a bicycle or other similar vehicle within its respective corporate limits; and
    • Enforce ordinances by reasonable fines and penalties.

    (Source: Wash. Rev. Code §§35.75.010; 35.75.030; 35.75.040)

    Bicycle Treated as a Vehicle

    If a bicyclist is riding on the street, they are viewed and treated much like a vehicle would be.  They are required to observe the rules of the road by adhering to signaled turns, traffic signs, and are also are required to have lights, reflectors, and helmets.  There are some areas in Washington state where roads are closed to bicyclists and alternate routes to sidewalks or bike trails are provided. 

    In Washington, bicycles are vehicles according to the statute that defines vehicles and a person riding a bicycle has all of the rights and duties of a driver of a vehicle under Chapter 46.61 of the Revised Code of Washington, except for special regulations specific to bicycles and those provisions that by their nature can have no application. (Source: Wash. Rev. Code §§46.04.670; 46.61.755)

    Bicycle Treated as a Pedestrian

    The general rule is that if a bicyclist is riding on a sidewalk, then the cyclist is treated like a pedestrian would be.  If a bicyclist is in a crosswalk, then a driver is supposed to yield to a cyclist.  A person riding a bicycle is allowed to ride on the sidewalks along with pedestrians, though there may be some areas with signage that states otherwise or has lanes that are dedicated to bike traffic and foot traffic.  Seattle does allow bicyclists to ride on the sidewalk.  If a bicyclist is riding on the sidewalk, they are required to travel “at a rate of speed no greater than is reasonable and proper under the conditions existing at the point of operation.”  Washington state law states:

    RCW 46.61.261

    Sidewalks, crosswalks—Pedestrians, bicycles, personal delivery devices.

    (1) The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian, bicycle, or personal delivery device on a sidewalk. The rider of a bicycle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian on a sidewalk or crosswalk. A personal delivery device must yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian or a bicycle on a sidewalk or crosswalk.

    (2)(a) If a person is found to have committed an infraction under this section within a school, playground, or crosswalk speed zone created under RCW 46.61.440, the person must be assessed a monetary penalty equal to twice the penalty assessed under RCW 46.63.110. The penalty may not be waived, reduced, or suspended.

    (b) Fifty percent of the moneys collected under this subsection must be deposited into the school zone safety account.

    Specialized Laws for Bicyclists

    Because bicycle riders can be treated as both a pedestrian and/or a vehicle, many states have laws that are in direct relation to the bicyclist.  One example of this would be that it is a common requirement that a bicyclist keeps to the far right of a lane at all times unless they are getting ready to make a left turn.  A new safety law was passed in Washington state effective January 1, 2020 which states that Washington drivers must give cyclists and pedestrians three feet of space, or more, if passing them on the road.  Here is what drivers need to know about this law:

    • If there are two or more lanes, drivers must move out of the right lane to pass a cyclist.
    • If there is only one lane in each direction, drivers must slow down and give the cyclist at least three feet of space.
    • If there is one lane in each direction, but not enough room to pass, the driver must move into oncoming traffic when safe to do so.

    Another example is that there are instances where a bicyclist can run a red light (if no other vehicles are approaching the intersection) because they are not heavy enough to trigger the sensors to change the light at a traffic intersection. 

    Bicycles are allowed to ride in the “bus only” lanes in Seattle, which other vehicles are not allowed to use.  They are also allowed to ride two abreast on the roads. 

    Helmets are also required to be worn by minors in many states, even though adults may not be required to do the same.  Washington does not currently have a state law that requires helmet use, however some cities and counties DO require helmets. 

    There are also many states that require bicyclists to use safety lights if they are out riding in the dark or at night so that other drivers and pedestrians are alerted to their presence and can clearly see them.  You may have also heard a bicyclist riding down the sidewalk when all of the sudden you hear “on your left” shouted at you by the cyclist.  In many areas it is required that a bicyclist say this to announce they are passing another pedestrian and to help avoid a collision. 

    Bicyclists and Law Enforcement

    One of the unique things about treating a bicyclist like the driver of a vehicle is that a bicyclist does not need a driver’s license.  A bicyclist is also not required to have insurance in order to ride a bike.  Because of this, law enforcement is usually pretty laid back about traffic laws when dealing with a bicycle rider. 

    Sadly, many law enforcement officers are also unclear about traffic laws when it comes to bicyclists.  Often times when a car hits a bicyclist, the cyclist is usually treated as a pedestrian instead of a vehicle driver. 

    Bicycle riders usually want to know about any penalties they may face if they break a traffic law while out riding.  It is common for a bicyclist to ignore traffic lights and stop signs while they are riding out on the roads for a couple of reasons: 

    • The first reason is that bicyclists often think that everyone can clearly see them out on the roads and will yield to them. 
    • The second reason is that bicyclists may think that traffic lights and stop signs do not apply to them. 

    If a bicyclist is caught not following these rules of the road, then they can be issued a ticket by law enforcement.  As mentioned above, a bicyclist is considered to be a vehicle while they are riding on the roads and they are subject to the same laws and violations.  If a bicyclist receives a ticket it can potentially affect and go against their driver’s license if they have one. 

    There are other laws a bicyclist can be cited for as well, including the operation of a bicycle under the influence (DUI/DWI), or speeding.  Any of these violations can go against their driver’s license, lead to fines and citations, and even jail time. 

    Duties Drivers Have to Bicyclists on the Road

    There are special rights of bicycles that require duties placed on drivers to protect cyclists out on the road.  Here are some of the duties place on drivers regarding bicyclists:

    • Motorists must stay a safe distance to the left of a bicyclist when passing
    • Drivers are prohibited from making abrupt turns in front of a cyclist
    • Motorists must yield to oncoming bicyclists when making left turns
    • Drivers must share the road with bicyclists and exercise caution when changing lanes
    • Vehicle occupants must check for passing bicyclists before opening their door

    Car Insurance Purposes

    A new Washington court case in December 2020 defined bicyclists as pedestrians when it comes to insurance policies.  Why is this important?  Because when a pedestrian (and now a bicyclist) are hit by a negligent car driver, the bicyclist’s medical bills will be paid by the car’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage.  This is a special rule just for bicyclists and pedestrians and does not apply to car versus car accidents.

    The attorneys at Max Meyers Law understand the issues that are important to bicyclists.  If you have been in a bicycle accident, we can help to protect your rights.  If you or someone you know has been in a bicycle accident, please give us a call for a free consultation today at 425-399-7000