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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Using Hands-Free Devices While Driving: Safe or Dangerous?
We all know distracted driving is dangerous. But in our eternal quest to increase our productivity through multitasking, we continue to engage in various types of distracting behaviors. Fortunately, the marketplace is flooded with tons of hands-free devices like Bluetooth cell phones and even voice command navigation and cell phone features built right into the center console of your car. But new evidence indicates using hands-free devices while driving is not as safe as we first assumed.
How dangerous is using your phone while driving?
According to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), sending a text message keeps your eyes off of the road for four to five seconds. Traveling at 55 miles per hour, this is enough time to drive across an entire football field.
During the time that your eyes are off the road, a pedestrian may step into your path or the driver in front of you may slam on her brakes.
Talking on the phone causes inattention blindness, an inability to stay in the lane, and a slower response and reaction time, according to the National Safety Council (NSC) in its report Understanding the Distracted Brain.
Are hands-free devices really safe to use?
Intuitively, we assume that hands-free devices, such as a Bluetooth headset for your cell phone, are safer to use while driving than traditional cell phone usage. After all, although it is illegal to talk on your cell phone in many states, those same states make exceptions for hands-free conversations. However, hands-free technology may not actually be safe.
According to the NSC, drivers are four times more likely to get into an accident while using a cell phone. Furthermore, they argue that there is no difference in this risk between traditional cell phone use and hands-free use. This is because talking on a cell phone limits your ability to focus on the road.
For example, the NSC claims that activity in the part of your brain that processes moving images decreases by up to 33 percent while you are talking on a cell phone. Furthermore, drivers who are speaking on a cell phone have a narrower field of view than those who are not distracted. This means that even if your hands are both on the wheel, you could still be involved in an accident.
And it is not just hands-free phone conversations that are dangerous. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety states that voice-to-text messaging through the car’s dashboard or Bluetooth system can actually be more distracting for drivers than traditional texting by hand.
And the distraction does not stop once you end your text. Mental distractions can linger for up to 27 seconds after sending a voice text.
Myth Busted: Hands-Free Technology is NOT Safe
It is not just the NSC and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety that agree hands-free technology is not safe to use. The MythBusters team set out to discover whether hands-free cell phone use is actually safer than regular cell phone use while driving.
In two separate studies, one with the hosts of the show driving on a closed obstacle course and the other with multiple drivers operating cars within a high-tech driving simulator, the results were the same: driving while using hands-free cell phone technology is equally as bad as driving while talking on a hand-held phone.
Contact Max Meyers Law if You Were Hurt in a Crash
Now that you know hands-free technology is not as safe as we initially thought, keep this in mind as you and your loved ones get behind the wheel. Whenever possible, postpone your calls until you can pull over to the side of the road or you reach your destination. Taking this precaution could save your life.
Regardless of the cause of your accident, if you or a loved one suffered injuries in a car accident, contact a car accident attorney at Max Meyers Law, PLLC at 425-399-7000 to set up your initial consultation today.
Should I sign a medical release from the insurance company?
Your medical records are likely to be key evidence in your Kirkland accident case, so it is no surprise that the insurance company wants to see them. You can expect both your own insurer and the other driver’s insurance company to ask for them soon after filing a claim. Before you share them, though, you should consider discussing your case with an attorney who is well-versed in Washington State personal injury claims. Signing a medical release form can hurt your case, so you must handle it carefully.
If you need help with a medical release or have other questions about your Kirkland accident claim, let the staff at Max Meyers Law PLLC go to work for you. Call us today at 425-399-7000 to schedule a time to discuss your case with Max.
What is a medical release form?
There are federal and state laws in place to keep your medical records private, so the insurance company cannot simply call your doctor and ask for them. Instead, it must request that you make them available by signing a medical release.
It is important to note that this release will likely not specify which records the insurance company can access. Instead, this release is usually a standard form that grants the insurance company access to your full medical history and any associated documents in your file. While the insurer will eventually need access to your medical records related to treatment for any accident injuries, giving it access to all your health history and other records is rarely a good idea.
How could signing a medical release hurt my case?
Allowing the insurance company access to your complete health history will never increase the compensation available for your claim. The insurer’s investigators will pore over your files and look for any possible way to reduce your payout or deny your claim.
For example, a high school football injury suffered more than a decade ago might come back to haunt you if it affects the same body part as your recent car accident injury. One of the most common reasons that insurance companies deny claims after seeing medical records is because of “pre-existing injuries.”
In some cases, not providing access to your medical records may also hurt your case. When it comes to your own insurance company, your policy is a contract between you and the insurer. You must uphold your end of the deal to get what it promises to pay out. The fine print of your policy may say you have to offer access by a certain time or provide medical records for a specific number of years before the accident.
How should I respond to a request for a signed medical release?
The best way to handle a request for a medical release is to give us a call. Our staff has extensive experience with the insurance industry. We review each client’s insurance policy to determine exactly what his/her obligations are and when. Once we have this information, we can ensure the insurance adjustor receives the records required while still protecting our client’s right to privacy.
We can also help with requests from the at-fault party’s insurer. There are a number of different methods we can use to limit the records available. Options include drafting a medical release that strictly limits access to the records. In a best case scenario, this gives the insurer a short period of time to look at records that pertain to treatment of accident-related injuries only.
Our preferred method is to request the records ourselves. We then provide copies of any pertinent documents to the insurance company, along with any other evidence to support the claim. This allows us to control the insurance company’s access directly.
Max Meyers Law: Kirkland Personal Injury Attorney
Washington State personal injury lawyer Max Meyers and his staff have a history of taking on insurance companies. We fight for our clients, getting them the compensation they deserve for their injury damages.
Call Max Meyers Law, PLLC today at 425-399-7000 to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
How do I pay medical bills before my personal injury claim settles?
When you sustain a serious injury, the bills start mounting rapidly. Even relatively minor injuries can result in thousands of dollars in medical bills. Severe and catastrophic injuries can mean tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars. You will also probably have to take time off work to recuperate from your injuries, placing additional stress on your finances.
You can recover your medical expenses and other losses with a personal injury claim, but it could be some time before your case concludes and you get your settlement check or award. Some cases take a couple of months, while more complicated cases could take years. Bill collectors are quick to start hounding you for payment. Learn how to pay medical bills before your personal injury claim settles here.
If you have funds assessable in savings or liquid investments, you can opt to pay for your medical expenses outright. You can simply replace the assets when your case settles and recover your losses.
Remember to keep a record of all the payments you have made and share the information with your lawyer. Bills and receipts will serve as proof of your financial losses for the insurer or court.
Personal Injury Protection Coverage
Most people do not have the cash or savings to pay for all their medical bills. However, if you have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage on your auto policy, you can file a PIP claim to cover your medical bills until your accident case settles. PIP covers the medical bills and a portion of lost wages for you and your passengers, regardless of who was at fault.
Check your policy, or speak with your insurance agent or attorney to see if you have PIP and what your policy limits are. PIP policies range from $10,000 to $35,000.
If you do not carry PIP coverage, but you live with a family member who does, you can use his/her coverage to cover your injuries.
Note: If you use your PIP and you win your personal injury case against the other driver (defendant), the defendant is not off the hook. The defendant or his/her insurer will reimburse your insurer for the PIP payments it made on your behalf.
If you carry private or employer-sponsored health insurance, you can use it to cover your needs until you get your settlement award. You might still have to pay for your deductibles out-of-pocket.
Keep in mind, though, that when your injuries are the result of another party’s negligence and you win a personal injury case against that party (the defendant), your health insurance company will likely seek reimbursement for all the payments it made on your behalf. This is called subrogation. The idea is that because the defendant caused your injuries, s/he should be ultimately responsible for paying for your medical bills, not your health insurance company.
So, if your health insurance company paid for $10,000 in medical care for your accident injuries, it will seek recovery for $10,000 when you win your case. Our team can explain how this process works and help you protect your settlement from insurance companies.
Agreement with Medical Provider
Sometimes, medical providers will be open to working out a deal with patients and hold off on billing until a personal injury claim settles.
Max Meyers will be happy to talk to your doctor’s office about your case and inquire about an agreement.
As a last resort, you may elect to apply for pre-settlement funding from a private lender. Pre-settlement funding (also referred to as lawsuit loans), is essentially an advance on your personal injury claim settlement. It can help you stay financially afloat and pay your bills until your check arrives.
The downside to this type of loan is that the interest rates are typically very high. Lenders take a substantial risk with borrowers because they are counting on the case to settle in the borrower’s favor. The high-interest rate is proportionate to their risk.
For more information about personal injury claims or for a free consultation with an injury lawyer in Washington, call Max Meyers Law today at 425-399-7000.
Can I file an injury claim with minimal vehicle damage?
The absence of vehicle damage should not impair your ability to collect an injury settlement. However, many insurance companies deny injury claims because the vehicle damage is not consistent with the claimant’s injuries. While insurance companies are within their right to question your injuries if there was little vehicle damage, some injuries can occur without vehicle damage. If you are having trouble recovering compensation from an injury claim with minimal vehicle damage, Max Meyers can help.
Call a Kirkland car accident lawyer at 425-399-7000 for help with providing the right evidence to prove your right to a settlement.
Does my vehicle have to show damage on the outside?
No, a well-built bumper in a rear-end collision might show no signs of damage. However, the force of the impact could cause internal damage to your bumper, trunk, and even wheel alignment. Most manufacturers use a foam and steel core to make their bumpers and then cover it with an external plastic shell. This plastic shell will take the brunt of the impact, pushing the plastic back into the foam.
Plastic is pliable, and a dent can easily pop back into shape on its own, leaving little to no signs of impact. However, the interior core could suffer damage and therefore reduce your protection in a later, more serious accident.
It is important to have a mechanic inspect your vehicle for hidden damage and include his/her report in your claim.
How can I be injured if my vehicle has no damage?
Today's vehicle manufacturers are designing smarter cars, capable of reducing damage in crashes. The addition of crumple zones and reinforced impact areas help a vehicle sustain less damage when another car hits it. However, even if your vehicle does not show outward signs of damage, the contents within — you and your passengers — can suffer serious injuries in a collision.
When a moving object such as a car comes to an abrupt stop, the items inside do not stop at the same moment. Therefore, upon impact, your body continues to move forward. This movement can cause whiplash, back injuries, and much more.
If the force forward is great enough, you could also suffer bruises and damage to your chest and abdomen from where the seat belt holds you back. If the airbags deploy, the bag force could injure your face, head, or arms.
How can insurance companies deny my injury claim for lack of vehicle damage?
Even though property damage should have no effect on your injury claim, insurers can and will use any excuse to deny your claim.
It is not right, but unless the insurer is acting in bad faith (e.g., committing deceptive practices, failing to uphold duties, etc.), it is likely not violating any rules.
What can I do to preserve my injury claim?
The insurance company might claim your injuries are pre-existing and could not have occurred from the car accident. If this is the case, your medical evidence should be able to prove them wrong.
We can collect your medical records from before the accident and compare them with your post-accident diagnosis. Additionally, doctors can sometimes determine how old an injury is by looking at scar tissue or scans of the area. When necessary, we can bring in medical experts to testify on behalf of your claim.
You should also make sure to call the police and have them investigate the scene to create a police report. If there are witnesses, their testimony could help prove how the accident occurred and verify that there was an impact between your vehicle and the other vehicle.
When You Are Injured, Do Not Take No for an Answer
The insurance companies will not pay out for a claim unless they have to. If you do not pursue your settlement with solid information and evidence of your right to injury damages, you will likely lose the compensation you deserve. Max Meyers Law is here to help Seattle residents avoid this situation, no matter how little damage is visible on their vehicle.
Call a car accident lawyer at 425-399-7000 to discuss your options during a free consultation.
What is a structured settlement in a car accident case?
A structured settlement pays an injury victim the compensation from his/her claim over time instead of in a single lump sum. Some injury victims opt for a structured settlement in a car accident case, while others end up with one through a court order.
Before you choose a structured settlement, or if the court ordered one in your case, there are a number of things you need to know about how this will affect your pay out.
At Max Meyers Law, we can help you understand the pros and cons of a structured settlement, and ensure you structure your settlement in a way that works for you and your family. Call our Kirkland office at 425-399-7000 to schedule a time to discuss your case with Washington State car accident lawyer Max Meyers.
Why do some injured parties use structured settlements in Washington State car accident claims?
Most victims receive car accident settlements in a lump sum payment. This type of payout offers the victim and his/her family quick access to a lot of money they likely need, but it also has a number of drawbacks. With an influx of cash, families often struggle to budget funds for long-term care and many run out of money long before the victim receives all the care s/he needs.
While you can choose your payment type, courts often order structured settlements when the victim is a minor. Because car accident settlements should cover the ongoing care costs of the victim, it is important to ensure the money is available when care is necessary. A structured settlement offers a steady influx of funds to cover these costs, without the family having to budget the money or worry about theft or fraud.
What does Washington law say about structured settlements?
Washington State offers protection for accident victims who receive structured settlements through the Structured Settlement Protection Act. This law requires a court review of any proposed structured settlement, and a number of mandatory disclosures, including:
- A schedule for payments, including amounts and dates of transfer
- The value of each payment, known as the “discounted present value”
- Amount of any up-front cash payments
- Any expenses stemming from the annuity
Many people worry about paying taxes on a Washington State personal injury settlement. However, this is not a concern you should stress about. Both a lump sum settlement and a structured settlement from a Kirkland car accident claim are tax-free. The compensation from most personal injury cases is non-taxable according to federal law.
Note: Compensation for lost wages is taxable.
Do I need a lawyer to help me with my structured settlement?
It is difficult to weigh all of the factors that come with taking a structured settlement, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. You will also need to consider how to design the structure to best suit your family’s current and future needs.
You will receive a part of your settlement immediately, to cover your current bills and to pay your attorney. Then, a broker will pay out the remainder of your settlement over a set time period, such as 20 years or the life of the victim. These payments typically come monthly.
Not every month has to be the same amount, though. Structured settlements offer a lot of leeway to include predictable expenditures. This allows you to build in options for things like replacing a wheelchair, paying for your child’s college tuition or other needs. However, it is important to design your settlement in a way that works well for your family. Once the structured settlement is in place, you cannot alter it.
For this reason, you should have a lawyer with structured settlement experience help work out the various complexities that come with a structured settlement.
Max Meyers Law: Your Kirkland Structured Settlement Lawyer
At Max Meyers Law, we can work with you to determine if a structured settlement is right for you. Our Kirkland car accident attorney can ensure you see the full picture of your family’s current financial situation and anticipate your future needs. Lastly, we can negotiate a structured settlement agreement that is fair and equitable.Call our office today at 425-399-7000 to schedule a time to meet with Max Meyers, and discuss your Washington State car accident claim.
Can I change lawyers in the middle of my car accident case?
Yes. If you are not satisfied with your attorney, you have the right to schedule a consultation with another attorney, switch lawyers or even drop your lawyer all together and represent yourself. However, just because you can drop your attorney, represent yourself, or change lawyers in the middle of a car accident case does not mean it is always a good idea.
For example, at Max Meyers Law, we would never suggest that you represent yourself in a car accident case where you stand accused of contributory fault.
There may be a time, though, when you need to consider switching lawyers. There is no doubt that navigating through a personal injury case is stressful, and emotions often run high. Disagreements are bound to happen between attorneys and their clients.
But if you cannot communicate with your lawyer, or if you would prefer someone with a different outlook on your claim, then you may need to consult with a different Kirkland car accident attorney. There is no doubt that having the right representation can impact the outcome of your claim.
Are there rules and regulations that protect me if I switch attorneys?
Washington State law gives you the right to change lawyers at almost any point during your car accident case. We encourage you to communicate your concerns with your lawyer as clearly as possible, and attempt to work out any differences before considering making a change. However, sometimes a change is necessary.
If you opt to switch lawyers, the Rules of Professional Conduct state that your former attorney must still act in a way that protects your best interests. This includes maintaining all of the protections required in an attorney-client relationship such as confidentiality. If the attorney violates any of these rules, s/he may face sanctions from the Washington State Bar, and could even lose his/her right to practice law in the state.
What happens with my case file?
Under Washington State law, all of the documents associated with a car accident claim belong to the client who is paying for the legal services. This means that you retain your file if you ask your lawyer to withdraw from your case.
Some attorneys may make this process more difficult than others, but most will forward all original papers and other documentation to your new attorney as soon as possible.
How will I handle paying attorney’s fees?
Since most lawyers handle Washington personal injury claims on a contingency basis, paying your attorney typically happens when your claim settles. This does not usually change when you swap attorneys. Your new attorney should arrange to pay your first attorney any money due after you win compensation.
How much you owe your original attorney depends on a number of factors, including:
- How many hours of work s/he put into your case
- The fee agreement you signed
- Whether you paid a retainer
- Any unethical behavior on his/her part, or other defenses
Depending on why you changed lawyers, we may be able to help you negotiate a lower payment to your first lawyer or work with you to keep you from paying any additional expenses above and beyond what you expected to pay. It is also important to note that if you paid a retainer, your lawyer should refund any unused portion at the time you ask them to withdraw from the case.
How could this affect my car accident case?
The biggest downside to switching lawyers is that it often prolongs the case. It takes time for the new lawyer to learn about your case, any negotiations, and any motions the first attorney already filed. For this reason, it may not be the best time to switch right before a court date.
At the same time, though, having a lawyer who fits your personality and understands your needs is an important part of walking away with a fair and just settlement in your case.
If you question the quality of your representation and having an open and frank discussion with your attorney has not changed anything, it may be time to schedule an appointment with Kirkland personal injury lawyer Max Meyers.
Max Meyers Law: Kirkland Car Accident Attorney
Car accident lawyer Max Meyers and his team at Max Meyers Law understand the important role a lawyer plays in guiding their clients through the car accident claims process. Having the wrong lawyer on the case increases stress, and can leave the accident victim and their family feeling doubtful about securing a just settlement.
We want you to feel reassured and taken care of during the entire process. You can reach our Kirkland office to schedule a free consultation today at 425-399-7000.
Who is at fault for a texting while walking accident?
Distracted walking is a bigger problem than most people think. Many would not think twice about walking while texting, reading, listening to music, or balancing a package; however, these behaviors can lead to devastating walking while texting accidents. While most people think the driver is at fault in a pedestrian accident, liability can be more complicated if the pedestrian was distracted.
Who is liable if a car hits a distracted pedestrian?
Liability will be different in every distracted pedestrian accident. The actions of each party will result in one of three liability situations.
A distracted pedestrian and a focused driver.
A focused driver who is driving within the limits of the law might not be liable for the accident if the pedestrian did not give the driver enough time to stop.
The driver must be able to prove s/he was not driving impaired, distracted, or dangerously.
A distracted pedestrian and a distracted driver.
When distractions affect the pedestrian and driver, both parties might share the liability. Sharing liability does not mean you cannot recover compensation. To recover the most damages in this situation, you must prove the driver was more distracted than you were.
A distracted pedestrian and a reckless, aggressive, or drunk driver.
Even though the pedestrian in this example was distracted, the insurance company could find the driver more at fault because s/he willingly engaged in dangerous behavior.
The pedestrian will need to prove the driver was aware of the danger s/he posed. To hold the driver completely liable, the pedestrian would have to prove the accident would have happened even if s/he were not distracted.
For example, if the driver ran a red light and hit a distracted pedestrian while crossing at an intersection (when the pedestrian had the right-of-way), the insurer or court might find the driver totally liable.
Why are distracted pedestrians a problem?
When we think about distractions on the road, most people tend to go directly to drivers. While driver distraction is a significant problem on our roads, distracted pedestrians are also a cause for concern.
When a pedestrian is distracted, s/he is unaware of their surroundings, which can lead to dangerous actions and decisions. For example, a pedestrian with loud music playing through his/her headphones might not be able to hear approaching traffic or sirens and step into the road without noticing a nearby vehicle.
Even though pedestrians can maneuver easier than vehicles, if they step too closely into the path of a vehicle, the vehicle might not have time to stop. The faster a vehicle goes, the longer it takes the vehicle to stop. Additionally, a fast-moving vehicle will hit a pedestrian with more force and cause more serious damages.
How can I protect my right to recovery if I was injured while walking while distracted?
You are entitled to compensation for your injuries as long as you are not totally at-fault for the accident. Washington State's pure comparative negligence laws allow each driver to be majorly at fault and still recover compensation.
Therefore, even if your distraction was the main cause of the accident, as long as the insurance company finds you 99 percent at fault or less, you will still be able to collect the remaining percentage as a settlement.
For example, if the insurance company finds you to be 75 percent at fault and your insurance settlement is for $100,000 you would still be able to collect the remainder — 25 percent or $25,000 — as your compensation.
While $25,000 seems like a lot of money, pedestrian accident injuries can quickly top that. For this reason, you will want the insurer to find you played as little role in causing the accident as possible.
The insurance adjuster will assess your degree of fault based on the evidence you provide to support your claim for damages. In a pedestrian accident, your evidence might include:
- Police reports
- Photographs or video of the accident
- Eyewitness or expert witness statements
- Medical records
When you work with a Washington pedestrian accident lawyer, you have the advantage of working with a professional who knows the ins and outs of the injury claims process. Max Meyers Law provides free, no-obligation consultations to injured pedestrians seeking information about their rights to recovery.
Call us at 425-399-7000 to learn about how we can help your claim.
Can not wearing a seat belt affect my accident injury claim?
Most likely no. Not wearing a seat belt should not affect your injury claim, even though it will likely lead to more severe injuries. Learn more here.
Do I have to wear a seat belt in Washington State?
Yes. In Washington State, the law requires everyone to wear a seat belt. Passengers under 16 must either wear a seat belt or be secured in a child restraint device.
If you are not wearing a seat belt at the time of your accident in Washington State, you have broken the law. In addition to breaking the law, you have likely contributed to your injuries. In many cases, this would be enough to prove comparative negligence.
What is comparative negligence?
Comparative negligence is a way of apportioning money damages based upon the fault of the people who were in the accident. If, for example, the other driver ran a red light and caused the accident, s/he will take the blame. However, if you were speeding or texting at the time of the collision, you might take some of the blame.
In this case, the insurer might assign the other driver 90 percent and you 10 percent. This means you can only recover 90 percent of your settlement (e.g., $90,000 if you asked for $100,000).
Also, depending on the state, you might have to be less at fault than the other driver to recover damages. However, because Washington State follows a contributory fault rule, drivers can be 99 percent at fault and still recover damages. However, as we mentioned above, your proportion of fault will decrease your settlement amount.
So, if not wearing a seat belt is against the law, why does it not affect my claim?
In many states, contributing to the accident or to your injuries will decrease your settlement or bar you from recovering anything. In Washington, however, the law is a little different.
Although the law requires everyone in a moving vehicle to wear a seat belt, the law specifically prohibits using the failure to do so as proof of negligence.
RCW § 46.61.688(6) states, “Failure to comply with the requirements of this section does not constitute negligence, nor may failure to wear a safety belt assembly be admissible as evidence of negligence in any civil action.”
While this prohibits insurers from using it as negligence, you can be sure that the other party’s insurer will do whatever it can to reduce your settlement. For this reason, you need an attorney with experience defending accident victims against insurance companies.
Where can I get help with my claim?
First, we want to note that you should always wear a seat belt when driving or riding in a car. However, if you were not wearing your seat belt at the time of your accident, you are still entitled to compensation. Contact Max Meyers Law PLLC today to schedule a consultation and see how we can help you win your case.
Call us today at 425-399-7000.
What if my damages exceed the at-fault driver's insurance coverage limits?
Accidents can lead to serious — and expensive — injuries. While you can recover compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurer, most drivers only carry minimum car insurance coverage. If your accident-related damages exceed insurance coverage limits, you may have other options to pay for your damages.
Depending on your unique circumstances, these options can include:
Underinsured Motorist Protection
Underinsured motorist protection (UIM), not required under Washington State law, will cover what the other driver’s insurance coverage will not. UIM can pay for your damages that exceed the at-fault driver’s liability coverage, up to your policy’s limit.
Remember than UIM is optional. If you did not purchase it, or you did not choose a high enough amount of UIM coverage (in most cases, your UIM coverage will need to be higher than the other driver’s liability coverage to collect compensation), this coverage will not help.
Your Personal Injury Protection Coverage
Personal injury protection (PIP) is another optional coverage available to drivers in the State of Washington. PIP coverage, available between $10,000 and $35,000, can help pay some of your damages, including medical bills and lost wages.
If you do not have PIP coverage, but someone in your household does, you can use his/her coverage to pay for your injuries.
The Driver’s Umbrella Liability Policy
Some people have an umbrella liability policy as additional coverage with their insurance. If the driver has an umbrella policy, you can use it to recover damages that exceed his/her automobile liability coverage.
It is important to note that the driver’s insurer will not make this information readily available. Some investigation may be necessary.
The Driver’s Employer
Another possible option is making a claim against the driver’s employer. If the at-fault driver was on the job, whether in a company car or not, you might be able to hold the employer liable for some or all of your damages under the concept of vicarious liability company will defend against your claim aggressively; we will fight for you to get the full amount you deserve.
Your Health Insurance Policy
You might also be able to use your health insurance if you have exhausted all other options. Before relying on your health insurance, check your policy to ensure that it does not specifically exclude car accident injuries.
Note: In many cases, your health insurance company will expect you to pay back whatever costs it covered from your accident.
A Third Party
In some cases, more than one person is responsible for an accident. If there is another liable party in your accident, such as another driver, the government entity in charge of road maintenance, or a manufacturer responsible for a defect, you may be able to recover compensation from that party.
The Driver’s Personal Assets
If you did not purchase UIM or PIP coverage, do not give up hope. You can file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to obtain a judgment. If the driver has substantial assets, this could be worthwhile.
We can determine whether filing a suit would be beneficial in your situation.
There are multiple options for recovering compensation if your damages exceed the at-fault driver’s liability insurance coverage limits. These options can be tricky to navigate.
A lawyer can help you explore these various options and choose the path that is best for you. It may be possible to pursue more than one of these options, depending upon the facts of your case.
Where can I get help determining my options?
Even though your insurer should be working for you, this is rarely the case. Recovering the compensation you need from your own insurer can be just as difficult as recovering it from another insurer. But you are not alone.
If you or a loved one was injured in an accident and the other driver’s insurance will not fully cover your damages, you need the advice of a Kirkland auto accident attorney. At Max Meyers Law PLLC, we will determine your options, negotiate with your auto or health insurance company, or represent you in court if we believe that is the best option for your case.
Call us today at 425-399-7000 to schedule your free consultation to discuss your case.
Is Washington a no-fault car insurance state?
No. Washington is not a no-fault state. Washington State is a comparative fault state, meaning the fault of all parties involved in a car accident comes into play when determining compensation for damages. However, Washington State residents have the option to add no-fault personal injury protection (PIP) car insurance coverage to their policy.
Why would a driver want PIP insurance coverage?
Ten thousand dollars of PIP insurance coverage is the minimum amount of PIP coverage you can add to your standard Washington State car insurance policy.
This insurance covers injuries to yourself and your passengers in the event of an accident, regardless of who was at fault. PIP coverage will pay your medical bills as you seek treatment, and some policies might cover wage loss benefits for severely injured persons.
What happens if I only have the minimum PIP coverage amount or rejected PIP coverage?
If you only have the $10,000 PIP coverage and your damages go beyond that limit, or you do not have PIP coverage, you might have these options for additional recovery.
Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is an optional type of coverage that can help cover your damages if the other driver does not have insurance, does not have high enough limits, or flees the scene.
If you have exhausted all of your options, you can turn to your health insurance. Check your policy to see whether it excludes car accident injuries as many policies do.
Note: In many cases, your health insurance will want you to pay back what it covered if you win a settlement.
Depending on your degree of fault in the accident, you may have a third option of filing a claim with the other driver's insurance.
Will I still be able to file a claim against the other driver if I use no-fault benefits?
Yes, the PIP benefits pay immediate costs of medical care and wage loss when applicable. You will still be able to file a claim with the other drivers' insurance policy; depending on the limits of the driver’s policy and how responsible for the accident s/he is, his/her insurance will first reimburse your PIP insurance for the costs your policy covered.
Continuing to pursue a claim against the other driver when s/he is majorly at fault is important if you suffered catastrophic injuries.
PIP limits start at $10,000 minimum and go as high as $35,000. However, many injuries cost well beyond $35,000 in hospital care, rehabilitation, and long-term or permanent care. Therefore, the other drivers' insurance will need to cover the costs that your PIP insurance does not cover.
Where can I get help with filing a car accident claim?
When you work with a Washington car accident attorney, you have the benefit of the attorney's knowledge and experience with accident claims to help you make the best decisions for your situation.
Contact Max Meyers Law to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation regarding your options for compensation after a car accident: 425-399-7000.
How do I know if my teen is ready to drive alone?
One of the things that causes parents to worry the most is when their teens start driving. It is difficult to be objective about whether your teen is ready to drive alone. You can take the subjectivity out of the equation by walking through the following questions:
1) Has your teen completed the Washington state graduated driver program?
While Washington State’s graduated driver licensing (GDL) program does not prohibit teen drivers (with a valid license, not an instruction permit) from driving alone (except at night), it is best to ensure your teen has completed the GDL program before sending him/her off on her own.
2) Does your teen understand the importance of safe driving?
Many teenagers view driving as a sign of their independence and as a way to have fun away from their parents. If your teen sees driving as merely a joyride and does not appreciate the gravity of the harm that can come from his/her negligent actions, your teen is not ready to get behind the wheel alone.
3) Does your teen check his/her cell phone when driving?
Even if it has a hands-free mode, the safest practice is for your teen never to use his/her cell phone while driving. It can be a distraction, and with his/her limited amount of practice time behind the wheel, your teen might not be prepared to handle a sudden emergency driving situation if s/he is distracted by talking on the phone while driving.
While your teen likely will not use his/her phone while in the car with you, look at where s/he places the phone. Is it in his/her lap or tucked away in the center console? Where s/he places the phone might give you an idea of whether s/he will use the phone when driving alone.
Note: Under Washington State’s GDL laws, it is illegal for drivers with intermediate licenses to use a cell phone, even in hands-free mode.
4) Does your teen always use his/her seat belt, whether as a driver or a passenger?
Wearing seat belts saves lives and reduces the severity of injuries. If your teen does not wear a seat belt every single time s/he is in a car, regardless of whether s/he is a driver or a passenger, s/he does not demonstrate a sufficient appreciation for the harm that can occur in a car accident.
5) Does your teen follow safety rules consistently?
Does your teen consistently follow all relevant safety rules while driving, or does s/he cut corners on following safety rules? Many teens find safety rules to be boring and unnecessary things that get in the way of their having fun. A teen with this mindset is not ready to drive solo.
6) Does your teen tend to speed when driving?
Speed is one of the leading factors in fatal accidents involving teen drivers. If your teen has a “lead foot,” s/he may not be ready to drive alone. With the limited amount of time s/he has spent behind the wheel, s/he does not have the experience needed to handle sudden crises at high speed.
7) Does your teen make good decisions?
Poor decision-making can have irreversible consequences when behind the wheel. It is better to wait until your teen consistently shows good decision-making skills before allowing him/her to drive solo.
8) How emotionally mature is your teen?
Teens tend to be all over the board in this subject. If your teen acts more grown up, it might be appropriate to allow him/her to drive alone. If not, it would be best to wait until your child has had time to mature, rather than risk a serious accident.
9) Have you been a good role model for your teen driver?
Regardless of what you have told your teen about safe driving habits, what kind of example have you been to your teen? Do you text while driving? Do you use your cell phone in standard mode, instead of hands-free mode? Do you always wear your seatbelt and consistently follow safety rules? Our children are more likely to do as we do, and not as we say.
Before you let your teen get behind the wheel alone, check out these tips for teen driving.
Who is at fault for an accident if one driver is turning right and one is turning left onto the same road?
It depends on many factors, such as which driver had the right of way and whether any drivers were disobeying other traffic laws at the time of collision. To determine who was liable for your accident, consider the following situations:
Who is liable for an accident when the left turning driver had a green left turn signal?
When the driver turning left is doing so in compliance with a green left turn arrow, that driver has right of way. RCW § 46.61.050 requires drivers of all vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians to obey any and all official traffic control devices. This means that if a driver made a right on red against a driver turning left on green, s/he will be liable for violating traffic laws and causing an accident.
Note: This does not, however, allow the left-turning driver to plow into the right-turning driver. A left turning driver must yield to a driver who is already in the intersection or who cannot stop in time per RCW § 46.61.055. If a driver turning right, on red or green, is mid-turn, the left-turning driver must wait until s/he has 100 percent clearance before making the turn.
Who is liable if the left turning driver had a green light, but no turn arrow?
RCW § 46.61.185 provides that a left turning driver must yield right of way to any vehicle that is coming from the opposite direction, especially if that oncoming vehicle is already in, approaching the intersection, or clearly plans to turn right.
This means that if both parties have a solid green light, the driver turning right will have the right of way. However, the right-turning driver should always check for left-turning drivers before entering the intersection. And in no situation should the right-turning driver begin a turn if s/he sees the left-turning driver beginning to turn.
Who is liable if the left-turning driver had a red light or stop sign?
Of course, if the left-turning driver ran a red light or stop sign, s/he would be at fault (per a violation of RCW § 46.61.050). If the left turning driver came to full stop at the stop sign, and then proceeded as legally required, s/he would not be at fault.
If both drivers at a four- or two-way stop began the turn at the same time, fault would depend on which driver arrived first. For example, if the right-turning driver arrived at the stop before the left-turning driver, s/he would have the right of way to turn.
Can both drivers be at fault for an accident?
Yes. It is possible for both drivers to be at fault in an accident. For example, if a left turning driver saw the right-turning driver approach the intersection and turned anyway, s/he would be at-fault. However, if the right-turning driver turned even though the left-turning driver’s intentions were clear, s/he might share liability.
Both drivers might also share liability if both disobeyed traffic laws such as running a red light, or if both were distracted or intoxicated at the time of collision.
Where can I get help with my accident?
As you can see, when both drivers are making turns at the time of the accident, things can get complicated. You can count on the insurance companies to deny any liability and accuse the other driver of being at fault. And because the law can be murky and has many exceptions, these claims can be difficult to prove.
You do not want to handle this type of accident claim on your own. The Kirkland car accident lawyers at Max Meyers Law PLLC will evaluate your claim and fight the insurance company to get you everything you deserve. If the insurer is disputing liability, we will work with accident reconstruction experts to determine which party had the right of way during your collision.
Call us today at 425-399-7000 to schedule your free consultation and discuss your case.
Should I save damaged personal property in a car accident?
Yes. You might be able to recover compensation for certain damaged personal items, depending on how the accident occurred. Saving your damaged personal property will allow you to recover more compensation for your accident-related damages and can also help you prove fault.
What damaged property can I recover compensation for?
You might be able to recover compensation for any personal property that sustains damage. This might include:
- Cell phones
- MP3 players
- Any other electronic devices
- Work equipment (e.g., power tools, cameras, etc.)
- Anything else of value
What will I have to prove?
You must be able to prove the other driver was at fault, that your property sustained damage, and that the accident in question damaged the property.
To prove the damage, you will need to be able to show the condition of the property before and after the accident.
You will also need to establish the value of the property at the time of the accident.
Note: Even if you are able to prove the property’s actual value, the insurer will likely try to pay you as little as possible.
How can I prove the value of my damaged property?
If you have taken photos of your valuable personal property, you will want to include them with your claim as proof of the condition of your property before the accident.
If you took photos of where the items ended up in the crash, this can be very helpful in proving that you did not damage the property yourself (e.g., dropping your phone walking to your car and cracking the screen).
This will help counter an argument from the insurance company that the property was already damaged or in substandard condition prior to the accident.
How you establish its value depends on what the property is.
Purchase receipts can be useful in establishing both ownership and original value. It is possible to find previous model years of some items for sale online. This can help you establish the current market value of your items if it is not brand new.
Laptop computers, tablets, cell phones, and other portable electronics depreciate quickly (you will likely recover much less than you paid); however, if you registered them with the manufacturer, this can help determine the item’s value before the damage.
Many insurers will refuse to grant compensation for damaged personal property. For more information on what policies might pay to repair or replace your property, read our blog post here.
Where can I get help recovering compensation for my damaged personal property?
Recovering compensation for damaged personal property in a car accident will not be easy. But that does not mean it is impossible. With the help of a determined car accident attorney, you might be able to recover compensation for your damaged property and other accident-related expenses. For more information on how to recover compensation, call Max Meyers Law today at 425-399-7000 to schedule your free consultation.
How can I improve visibility in the rain?
When driving in the rain, visibility is one of the most important factors to avoid a motor vehicle crash. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), weather conditions were the critical reason for an estimated 58 percent of the motor vehicle crashes attributed to environmental factors:
- Fifty percent caused by slick roads
- Four percent caused by fog, rain, or snow
- Four percent caused by other weather-related conditions
Driving in the rain increases the risk of an accident because the roads are wet and it reduces visibility. You cannot do anything about the roads being wet, but there are steps you can take to improve your visibility.
Make sure you have good wipers that do not scrape or catch on the surface of your windshield. If you have a wiper for the rear window of your vehicle, check it too. Replace any wipers that are worn out and not effectively clearing your windshield.
Windshield Wiper Controls
The best wiper blades in the world will not do you any good if your windshield wiper controls are not working. Properly functioning controls are an essential piece of safety equipment for your vehicle. If your wiper controls begin to malfunction, immediately take your vehicle in for repair. Weather can be unpredictable, and having broken wiper controls is an unacceptable risk.
Several companies make rain repellant products for vehicle windshields. Read the reviews of several products, then choose one that seems to be a good product for your climate and environment.
Your vehicle headlights are vital for your safety. They illuminate your driving path and they help other drivers see you. If you are driving with old headlights that have become dull, you may struggle to see in front of you and other drivers may not see you as well in rainy conditions. Check these factors in particular to make sure your headlights are in good working order:
- Brightness – How well do they light your path?
- Distance – How far down the road can they illuminate?
- Haze – Do you have build-up on the surface of your headlights?
If your headlights are no longer sufficiently doing the job, you can replace the bulbs. Even if only one bulb is not working well, replace the bulbs in both headlights at the same time. This is an inexpensive safety upgrade.
If your headlights are covered with a dull build-up, try removing the build-up to improve performance. There are many products on the market for removing the build-up and then sealing the headlight covers to protect against future build-up.
In some rainy conditions, your high beams might cause glare and reflection, especially if there is fog with the rain. If this is the case, consider using your low beams if they provide sufficient illumination.
The defogger for your windshield and your rear window need to be working properly to prevent your windows from fogging up and obscuring your view. If your defoggers are not working correctly, take them in for repair right away.
If you have been injured while driving in the rain because of another driver’s negligence, contact a car accident lawyer at Max Meyers Law PLLC for help. Call us today at 425-399-7000 to set up your free consultation.
Who has the right of way in a crosswalk: a driver turning right or a pedestrian in the crosswalk?
It depends. There is no one simple law that answers this question. It depends on multiple factors and multiple rules. The bottom line is that neither party has an absolute right of way at all times.
I crossed in a crosswalk. Did I have the right of way?
Not necessarily. Pedestrians must follow certain rules of the road, just as the vehicles do [RCW § 46.61.235].
This means that pedestrians do not have the right to step out into traffic and expect vehicles to come to a screeching halt. Consider this: a driver is halfway through making a right turn on red when you see that you have a walk signal. Do you have the right of way? Likely no, because you must still wait for the driver to finish his turn before entering the roadway. If you step in front of his car simply because you have the walk sign, you are violating R.C.W. § 46.61.235.
You also do not have the right of way if you crossed against a crossing signal.
You do have the right of way if you had the walk signal and began crossing before a driver started his turn.
I was already walking across the street when the car began turning. Did I have the right of way?
Whether you have the right of way in this situation depends on whether you had the walk signal and whether the driver was turning on red or green.
In either case, a driver must stop when a pedestrian is in the crosswalk that is in the lane in which the driver is driving, and any other lane of traffic on that half of the roadway [RCW § 46.61.235]. The driver must remain stopped until you have left the roadway.
This is true even if you were crossing against a walk signal. However, if you are injured in a pedestrian accident, you will likely share liability as you were disobeying traffic signals.
I crossed outside of a crosswalk. Did I have right of way?
Not likely. When a pedestrian is crossing a road at any place other than in a crosswalk, the pedestrian must yield right of way to all vehicles that are on the roadway, according to RCW § 46.61.240.
If a pedestrian jumps out into traffic in the middle of a block, the driver is not likely to be liable if he could not stop in time to avoid hitting the jaywalking pedestrian. However, under RCW § 46.61.245, drivers must “exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway.”
The statute also gives right of way to drivers turning right when:
- A pedestrian crosses an intersection diagonally unless specifically authorized
- A pedestrian crosses in violation of a sign or signal prohibiting crossing at a particular location
I crossed in an unmarked crosswalk. Did I have the right of way?
In many cases, there are four crosswalks at an intersection. This is true regardless of whether the crosswalk has painted lines or nothing at all.
Determining whether you had the right of way in an unmarked crosswalk is more complicated because there may not be walk signals. Pedestrians have the right of way in a crosswalk; to determine whether you had the right of way, you need to consider whether he turned on red or green and whether he had enough time to stop after you entered the roadway.
Do pedestrians or drivers of emergency vehicles have the right of way?
Pedestrians must yield right of way to emergency vehicles per RCW § 46.61.264.
A pedestrian can be liable for failure to yield right of way to a right turning emergency vehicle. However, if the pedestrian was already in the crosswalk when the emergency vehicle began its approach, the emergency vehicle must wait for the pedestrian to finish crossing.
Where can I get help after a pedestrian accident?
As you can see, right of way laws concerning right turns and pedestrians in crosswalks are complex. If you have been injured in an accident involving a pedestrian in a crosswalk, seek the advice of an auto accident attorney. These accidents often involve serious, even catastrophic injuries. At Max Meyers Law PLLC, we will evaluate your claim and explain your legal rights.
Call us today at 425-399-7000 to schedule your free consultation.
Who is liable for my injuries if I was a passenger in a car accident?
When you are a passenger in another's vehicle, you run the risk of being involved in a serious car accident. Even if the driver of the vehicle you are in is the safest driver you know, other negligent drivers or unavoidable hazards can occur that will leave you uncertain about your recovery. If you are a passenger in a car accident, you might not have any idea where to turn; we can help.
What do I do first?
The first step in these cases is to determine who was at fault for causing the accident. Through police reports and evidence from the crash site, the insurance companies and your lawyer will determine which of the following is true:
- The driver of the car you were riding in was negligent and caused the accident.
- The other driver’s negligence caused the accident.
- Both drivers involved caused the accident.
- An outside hazard (e.g., nature, animal, road damage, etc.) caused the accident.
With this information, you can establish liability and seek damages from the applicable source.
When should I file a claim with the insurance of the driver of the car I was in?
Accidents caused by your driver's negligence such as driving while intoxicated or distracted will fall under your driver's car insurance. If the insurance company does not consider you an insured member of the driver's household, you can file a claim for compensation through his/her bodily injury coverage.
If you are a member of his/her household and covered by his/her insurance, you will need to use your personal injury protection or medical benefits coverage to cover your injuries.
When should I file a claim with the other driver's insurance?
Accidents caused by the other driver’s negligence will make that driver and his/her insurance company liable for your injuries. Your lawyer will file a claim for damages against that driver's bodily injury coverage and seek compensation through any other applicable optional coverage.
How do I file a claim if both drivers are liable for the accident?
Your lawyer can review both drivers' insurance policies to determine which one will provide you with the most coverage. You will start with a claim under the policy with the highest coverage.
If the claim is insufficient and your lawyer can prove a greater extent of damages, you might be able to file a claim against both insurance policies.
Do I have to file a claim with my car insurance?
Car insurance claims can take a long time to negotiate and resolve. If you have car insurance of your own, you can opt to have your medical benefits policy (also known as MedPay) cover your medical bills. Not all policies have medical benefits, and your policy might not cover the full extent of your damages.
If your MedPay policy does not cover all of your damages, you are still entitled to file a claim with the liable driver's insurance, or even your driver's medical benefits. However, filing multiple claims will not entitle you to more damages than apply to your claim. Once one insurance pays part of your damages, the other insurance companies will reduce additional claims by that amount.
In some cases, your insurer may want to recover what it paid from your settlement with the at-fault driver (e.g., if your MedPay coverage paid $5,000 in medical bills, it will likely expect to receive that $5,000 from your settlement).
How can I protect my right to recover damages after a car accident?
Make sure you collect the contact and insurance information for all parties involved, including your driver. You should also collect as much information about the accident as possible; take pictures, write down eyewitness information, etc. With this information, your lawyer can begin determining the best course of action for your recovery.
Insurance claims can be very difficult to handle. Remember that the insurers (both the at-fault driver’s and your own) are businesses and will do what they can to reduce your settlement. For this reason, you should never agree to a recorded statement until you have spoken with us.
Max Meyers Law PLLC is a Kirkland law firm that helps passengers seek compensation for their injuries. Do not let the insurance companies coerce you into a low settlement.
Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with attorney Max Meyers and learn about your rights to a fair settlement: 425-399-7000.
Who is liable for blind spot accidents?
Car accidents are on the increase in Seattle. Many of these accidents occur when one driver hits a car in his blind spot. The driver who merged into his blind spot will likely argue that he is not at fault, so that raises the question, who is liable in blind spot accidents? Is it the driver of the car in the blind spot or the driver who merged into the blind spot?
What is a blind spot?
A blind spot is an area around a vehicle that the driver cannot see. This can be in different locations, depending on the type of vehicle involved, and the type of vehicle in the blind spot.
Who is at fault in a blind spot accident in Washington?
While most people check carefully — looking in their mirrors or turning their head to look at the sides of their car — to ensure nothing is in their car’s blind spots, not everyone can see everything. But does that mean a driver who does not see a car in his blind spot gets off scot-free?
Usually, no. In most cases, the driver who merged into the blind spot will be liable. This is because, under Washington State law [RCW § 46.61.140], no driver shall change lanes until he has “first ascertained that such movement can be made with safety.”
If a driver hits a driver in his blind spot, he has likely not ensured that he could make the move safely, thereby behaving negligently.
However, the driver in the blind spot might be liable in a few cases. If the blind spot driver was attempting to pass on the right, he might be liable if he was illegally passing. (Drivers can only pass on the right in certain situations.)
If the driver was illegally passing, that means he likely violated RCW § 46.61.115. Violation of this — and of any — statute is negligence per se, which will establish breach of duty (discussed later).
The driver in the blind spot might also be liable if, while the other driver was attempting the overtake him, the blind spot driver sped up to keep the driver on the left from doing so. Under RCW § 46.61.110, the driver being overtaken from the left must yield to the overtaking driver.
If the driver on the left determined that there was enough room to pass safely, but the other driver sped up at the last minute, the other driver might be liable.
In some cases, drivers might share liability. For example, if a driver merges into his blind spot and hits a driver who sped up at the same time, both drivers might share liability.
While liability for a blind spot accident seems cut-and-dry, it is not always the case. We will investigate and reconstruct your accident to determine exactly how it happened and who was at fault.
How do I prove liability?
To have a valid claim, you must be able to prove that the other driver was behaving negligently. This requires proving the driver had a duty to drive safely and obey laws; that he breached that duty; that the breach was the direct cause of your injuries; and that you suffered measurable damages. Evidence you might need to provide to establish negligence includes:
- Photos of the vehicles (the angle of the vehicles will help to prove liability)
- Surveillance video
- Eyewitness testimony (another driver may have seen the driver merge without looking)
- Testimony from expert witnesses such as an accident reconstructionist
Where can I get help with my blind spot accident claim?
If you have been injured in an accident involving a blind spot, you need a Kirkland blind spot accident lawyer on your side. These cases can be difficult to prove, and the insurance company of the at-fault driver will likely deny liability.
With Max Meyers Law PLLC on the case, you will have a lawyer with the resources and ability to stand up to the insurance company and fight for you. Call our office today at 425-399-7000 to schedule your free consultation.
How can I prove the other driver was texting at the time of the car accident?
Texting is one of the most dangerous things a driver can do behind the wheel, yet countless people text and drive on our streets. When these drivers cause accidents, their victims deserve compensation. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to prove the other driver was texting at the time of your accident.
If you have been in a car accident in which the other driver was texting at the time of the accident, you need to have a personal injury lawyer evaluate your case and help obtain the evidence you need to prove your case. Call Max Meyers Law at 425-399-7000 for help today.
Is texting and driving illegal in Washington State?
Yes. Washington State law prohibits the use of handheld cell phones while driving in RCW § 46.61.667, and specifically prohibits texting while driving in RCW § 46.61.668. There are some exceptions, such as for authorized emergency vehicles and calls for help by ordinary people who are not emergency responders.
If a driver reads, writes, or sends a text message on a wireless device, even if at a stop light or stuck in traffic, the driver has violated Washington State law.
The driver might deny texting, claiming that he was instead merely using his cell phone. Since Washington state law prohibits the use of cell phones (whether texting or talking) while driving unless the wireless device was being used in hands-free mode (i.e., using a headset, an earpiece or a speaker), this tactic is unlikely to be successful as a defense.
What should I do at the scene of the accident to prove my case?
There are several things you can and should do at the scene of the accident to preserve your claim against the driver who was texting:
- Notify the law enforcement officer at the scene that the driver was texting. The officer can take the cell phone as evidence under certain circumstances. (Note: Only do this if you saw the driver texting. Officers will likely not appreciate unfounded accusations.)
- Get the contact information of all possible eyewitnesses who may have seen the driver texting.
- Look around at the scene for any surveillance cameras that might help prove your case.
What should I do after the accident to prove my case?
After the accident, you should work with a car accident lawyer to locate and obtain all the evidence you can. For some types of evidence, your lawyer might have to use a subpoena to force the person or company to give you the evidence.
The driver's cell phone carrier is unlikely to provide the phone records voluntarily. Your lawyer might have to use a subpoena through the court to get the driver's cell phone records and to obtain surveillance camera footage from locations surrounding the scene of the accident.
Make sure to get eyewitness testimony early on, as memories can fade over time.
Make sure you get a copy of the police report. Note whether the police report mentions any use of cell phones or of text messaging by any of the drivers or passengers in the vehicles.
If the police report addresses this important issue, you and your lawyer need to discuss it. It can be very helpful if the police report identifies the cell phone service provider of the driver who was texting at the time of the accident. If it does not, there are other ways for your lawyer to obtain the necessary records.
Evidence You Need for Your Case
Car accident cases involving a texting driver need standard types of evidence typical in car accident cases, as well as some types of evidence that are unique to these cases. These can include:
- Police report information on cellphone usage and carrier
- Eyewitness testimony
- Cell phone service provider records
- Surveillance camera footage
It can be complicated and time-consuming to obtain the evidence you may need to prove that the other driver was texting at the time of the accident. Expect the insurance company to make it difficult to get the records you need, especially if the records do, in fact, show that the other driver was texting.
Dealing with the insurance company, especially if you were injured or sustained extensive property damage, can be just too much to handle.
You do not have to deal with it alone.
If you were in an accident with a driver who was texting at the time of the accident, you need to be in good hands to get the evidence required to prove your case. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer, call Max Meyers Law at 425-399-7000 today.
Do I need a lawyer for my motorcycle accident?
As a motorcyclist in Washington, you must follow state law and local ordinances regulating the operation of motorcycles, required protective gear, insurance guidelines, and more. Given the complexity of these cases and the serious injuries bikers often sustain in accidents, you owe it to yourself to hire a Washington motorcycle accident lawyer who not only is familiar with these laws, but has a track record of getting results for clients.
Injury Risk, Allegations of Contributory Negligence Highlight Need for Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Motorcycling can be a thrilling and adventurous way to travel, but also more dangerous in general than auto travel. Because little stands between you and an impact in the event of a collision, severe injuries such as brain damage, road rash and spinal cord injuries can result.
That creates significant financial burden for accident victims and their families. Attorney Max Meyers will account for all of the damages you sustained and will fight to obtain the greatest financial recovery for you. Failure to account for all your short and long-term damages can leave you struggling to pay your medical bills and make up for time lost from work.
There is also the matter of contributory negligence to consider [RCW 4.22.005]. This is a common challenge that motorcyclists encounter in the claims process.
Under Washington law, your financial recovery can be limited or denied according to your own degree of fault (your contributory negligence) for the accident. Motorcyclists often face allegations of blame for not wearing a motorcycle helmet or defendants may make false, stereotypical claims that the motorcyclist was driving recklessly.
Whether you were partially or totally (or not at all) at fault in an accident is a question of fact – meaning, the insurer, court or jury will review the evidence and testimony and make a decision based on that. Make sure you have an attorney who can help counter allegations of contributory negligence and demonstrate that the defendant is to blame for all or most of your damages.
What Makes a Good Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
So what qualities should you look for in choosing the right motorcycle accident attorneys? He should of course be familiar with local and state motorcycle laws.
But this is not enough – he should have experience applying and working with those laws in actual cases like yours and using those laws to gain results. Your attorneys must be familiar with motorcycle accidents, ranging from minor to catastrophic injuries. He needs to have the required knowledge and resources to thoroughly investigate your accident and identify all your damages, both present and future.
Furthermore, your attorney should be familiar with the local courts and procedures. Even better, he should be familiar with the local judges, as the judge assigned to your case can also have an impact on your chances for success and it is important for your attorney to be familiar with that judge’s likes and dislikes.
Some Questions to Ask When Selecting an Attorney
So what sort of questions could you ask to see if an attorney is right for you? Just a few suggestions:
- How long have you been an attorney?
- How long have you been handling motorcycle accident cases?
- Will I have to pay you during my case, or do I only pay you if I get a financial recovery?
- What resources do you have to thoroughly investigate my accident and identify all of my damages?
- How long do these cases usually take?
- What kind of results have you been able to obtain in cases like mine?
- Do you have any references from past clients?
- Are you familiar with the local courts and judges?
The legal system is complex and it is best not to gamble with your legal rights or opportunity to obtain financial recovery for your injuries. Contact Max Meyers to set up a consultation with a personal injury attorney with experience dealing with local and statewide motorcycle laws. Call us now at 425-399-7000 or fill out our contact form.
In the meantime, check out our free eBook, Motorcycle Accident Secrets Unlocked.
How to Get a Motorcycle License in Washington State
To get a motorcycle license in Washington state, you need to visit an approved motorcycle training school and complete one of two riding assessments.
Option #1: Pass a Knowledge and Skills Test
Your first option is to pass a knowledge and riding skills test. The knowledge portion of this test will simply measure your understanding of the state’s driving laws and how to safely operate a motorcycle. Questions may include:
- How to swerve correctly
- What to do if your tire goes flat while riding
- How a passenger riding your motorcycle should be positioned
The riding skills portion will require you to put your knowledge to action by demonstrating your ability to legally and safely operate your motorcycle.
This skills assessment includes the following five tasks:
(Note: you can click on each of the riding skills tasks to see a brief demonstration.)
After passing your knowledge and riding skills test, you will be given a green score sheet, which you will then need to take to a Washington State licensing office within 180 days to claim your motorcycle license.
Option #2: Take a Motorcycle Safety Course
Your second option for acquiring a motorcycle license in Washington is to successfully complete a motorcycle safety course at an approved motorcycle training school.
This safety course includes the knowledge and riding skills tests. Once you have passed the course, you will receive a course completion card, which you will need to take to a licensing office within 180 days to claim your motorcycle license.
Additional Motorcycle Licensing Requirements in Washington
The Washington State Department of Licensing expressly states that additional steps are required to secure your motorcycle license if you meet any of the following criteria:
Under 18 years of age
Riders under the age of 18 must pass an approved rider course and receive parental permission to take the course before they can apply for a motorcycle endorsement.
Valid out-of-state motorcycle license or endorsement
New Washington residents with an out-of-state license need to follow these five simple steps to receive their Washington motorcycle license:
- Establish residency in Washington
- Choose between a standard or enhanced driver license
- Check if you can pre-apply online
- Visit a local driver licensing office
- Get your motorcycle license
Non-resident stationed here on military duty
Non-residents must successfully complete a state-approved safety course at a motorcycle training school or military base.
Once you have passed the course and applied for a Washington driver’s license, you will have 180 days to bring your completion card to a licensing office to get your motorcycle endorsement.
Washington resident stationed in another state on military duty
Washington residents living out of state must complete and pass:
- An approved Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) course
- A Basic Rider Training course (if in Idaho or Oregon)
- Motorcyclist Safety Program Training (if in California)
After completing the required assignment, gather the following documentation:
- Copy of your Washington driver license (both sides)
- Copy of your course completion card (both sides)
- Proof of active duty military status
- Notice of Surrender form for an Enhanced Driver License (EDL) – if you have an EDL, you must surrender it to get a motorcycle license
You will need to send a letter requesting a motorcycle endorsement, along with this supporting documentation and a small fee, to:
The Washington State Department of Licensing
646 Okoma Drive Suite E
Omak, WA 98841-9515
Permit Requirements and Restrictions for Permit Holders
Any rider who is at least 16 years of age and has a valid Washington State driver’s license can apply for a motorcycle permit after successfully passing a motorcycle operation knowledge test.
Riders under 18 must have a parent or guardian sign a consent form. After receiving a permit, it will be valid for 90 days.
To renew your permit for an additional 90 days, you will need to visit a licensing office and pay a renewal fee. In order to renew your permit, you must meet these requirements:
- Passed the knowledge test within the past 180 days
- Had no more than on permit in the past five years
If you need a third permit, bring documentation of your enrollment in a motorcycle training course to the licensing office.
Note: It is important for permit holders to remember that while riding a motorcycle on a public roadway in Washington State, it is against the law for them to carry passengers or to ride while it is dark.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do I Need a Motorcycle License to Ride a Moped?
A: You do not need a motorcycle license to operate a moped in Washington State. Only a valid driver’s license.
Washington State Legislation RCW 46.20.500 states that any person 16 or older, who holds a valid driver’s license of any class issued by the state, “may operate a moped without taking any special examination for the operation of a moped.”
Q: Do I Need a Motorcycle License to Ride an Electric Bike?
A: You do not need a motorcycle license to operate an electric bike in Washington State.
Washington State Legislation RCW 46.20.500 states that, “no driver's license is required for operation of an electric-assisted bicycle if the operator is at least sixteen years of age.”
Important Notice for Unlicensed Motorcyclists
Remember: It is illegal to operate a motorcycle in the state of Washington without a valid license or permit. For more information on how to get your motorcycle endorsement or permit, please visit the Washington State Department of Licensing website.
However, if you are ever in an accident without a license, it may not mean you are at fault. You can still file a claim even if you do not have a valid motorcycle license.
Simply call Max Meyers Law now at 425-399-7000, or toll-free at 888-230-4970 for help after an accident. Also download our free guide, Motorcycle Secrets Unlocked for more on motorcycle accidents and insurance claims.