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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Is the vehicle owner liable for loaning the vehicle to the person who caused my accident?
If the driver who caused your accident was driving a borrowed car, determining who is responsible for covering the cost of your injuries is not always straightforward. It is often the driver himself, although in some cases you may be able to find the vehicle owner liable, thanks to a concept known as negligent entrustment.
If you suffered serious injuries after an accident with a borrowed car, a Washington State car accident attorney can ensure you target the proper party. Call Max Meyers Law PLLC today for a free case evaluation: 425-399-7000.
What is negligent entrustment?
Negligent entrustment occurs when the owner of a vehicle loans it to an irresponsible party who any person exercising a normal level of caution would recognize as a risk to the safety of others on the road. For example, if a vehicle owner loans his car to someone without ensuring the driver borrowing the vehicle has a valid license, a clear driving record, and is sober, he may be liable for any accidents the driver causes.
What does the Washington State laws say about these accidents?
Under RCW § 4.04, any damage done by a reckless or incompetent driver piloting a borrowed vehicle may fall on the shoulders of the car’s owner if any reasonable person could have recognized the danger the driver posed to others.
In other words, if the car owner should have foreseen the accident or other issues stemming from driver negligence, the car owner is liable for injuries sustained in your crash.
When is the car owner responsible?
Under the concept of negligent entrustment, the car owner is liable when:
- The driver was incompetent
- The owner knew he was incompetent
- The owner loaned him the car despite knowing this
- The driver was negligent, causing the crash and your injuries
For example, if a vehicle owner knows that the driver has had a few drinks but still loans the car to him, he will be liable if that driver causes an accident. On the other hand, if the driver hid his drinking and the owner never knew that he was intoxicated, the owner may not be liable.
The owner may also be liable if he loans his car to someone with a known history of aggressive driving and accidents.Max Meyers Law PLLC helps Washington State car accident victims file insurance claims, negotiate settlements, and pursue other legal options when necessary to ensure clients get the compensation they need. If you have medical bills, rehabilitation costs, lost wages or other accident-related expenses, we can help you get money to pay for these damages. Contact us today at 425-399-7000 to learn more.
Is a driver who violated a traffic law automatically at fault?
While we expect all drivers to treat us with care and obey all traffic laws, some drivers break laws and cause accidents. While some states consider breaking traffic laws in an accident “negligence per se,” Washington State law says that just because the other driver was speeding, ran a stop sign, ignored a traffic signal, failed to yield, or violated another traffic law does not mean he is always automatically at fault.
Even though this seems unfair, traffic laws still play an important role in establishing duty of care, and you can submit these violations as proof that will support the driver’s breach of that duty.
Are there exceptions to the law?
Washington State still follows negligence per se when the at-fault driver broke a law relating to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This includes all local ordinances, county statutes, state laws, or even administrative rules.
In short, this means that a driver automatically breached his duty of care and acted negligently if he received a citation for drunk driving or a related violation. You will, however, still have to prove this caused the accident that led to your injuries in order to claim compensation.
Let us consider an example: if the driver ran a red light and hit you while you were driving through the intersection, the other driver is not automatically at fault for the accident. However, if you are able to prove that the driver passed out and ran the red light, you will be eligible to receive compensation for your injuries.
Note: Do not think that just because the driver was intoxicated that he was 100 percent at fault. If the driver can prove that you were speeding through the intersection, you may be partially at fault which would reduce your compensation amount, e.g., if you are 10 percent at fault, you compensation would be 10 percent less.
Can attorney Max Meyers help me win the compensation I need?
Max Meyers Law PLLC is a Washington State personal injury firm that helps car accident victims get the compensation they deserve to cover crash-related damages. If you need help getting money to pay for medical bills, rehabilitation, ongoing healthcare costs, lost wages and other expenses, call one of our car accident attorneys.Contact us today for a free, no obligation case evaluation: 425-399-7000. We can file a claim, gather evidence, manage communications and negotiations with the at-fault driver’s insurer, and even file a lawsuit if necessary.
When is a vehicle manufacturer liable for a car accident?
We trust the manufacturers of the cars on our roads have designed and produced them with safety in mind and have adhered to high quality standards. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and negligent manufacturers can create dangerous situations if they sell defective or dangerous vehicles. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your accident, you may be able to hold a vehicle manufacturer liable for your injuries.
Manufacturer Liability Laws
The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) § 7.72.030(1) states, "a product manufacturer is subject to liability to a claimant if the claimant's harm was proximately caused by the negligence of the manufacturer in that the product was not reasonably safe as designed or not reasonably safe because adequate warnings or instructions were not provided."
This law places liability on manufacturers if they sell a dangerously designed vehicle or fail to include proper warnings or instructions for use in an owner’s manual. Warnings may include stickers placed on various areas such as behind the sun visors where they warn about front seat airbags.
An example of defective liability is if the design of your vehicle model put the engine too close to the power steering lines. As the car runs, the engine heats up, and the lines melt, causing a loss of control. If this resulted in a crash and you can show evidence that the melted wires caused you to lose steering control, you may be able to hold your vehicle's manufacturer liable for that design flaw.
RCW § 7.72.030(2) adds to the manufacturer's liability by stating that a manufacturer may be liable for damages caused by a vehicle that was, "not reasonably safe in construction." This means that even if the manufacturer designed the car to be safe, if it did not assemble it properly at the factory, you can hold the manufacturer liable for your vehicle’s defects from production.
Strict Liability in a Dangerous or Defective Vehicle Claim
The laws hold product manufacturers to a higher standard of liability than your average person. This law, known as strict liability, allows you to hold the manufacturer liable without having to present proof that the manufacturer was negligent. Strict liability laws came about to make filing claims against big manufacturers easier on claimants.
To be eligible to receive compensation, you must prove three things:
- The vehicle was unreasonably dangerous due to the design, manufacture, or delivery of the vehicle at the time of purchase.
- The defect caused an accident while you were using the vehicle in a normal and safe manner.
- You did not “substantially modify” the vehicle from its factory condition.
Using a vehicle in a normal and safe manner means you were following all applicable traffic laws and the accident would not have occurred but for the defect. A substantial modification would be modifying a part of the vehicle that is integral to how the vehicle performs, such as the engine.
Filing a Defective Vehicle Claim Against a Manufacturer
While strict liability does make it easier to file a claim, the manufacturer may be successful in defending against your claim if it had already started a recall for the defect before the accident. The manufacturer may claim you failed to heed prior warnings and correct the problem, which would make you liable for your injuries.
Fighting vehicle manufacturers on claims of dangerous or defective vehicles is difficult to do alone. A Washington car accident attorney can help you prove that the cause of your accident was a manufacturer and not personal negligence.
Contact Max Meyers Law today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation regarding your potential claim: 425-399-7000.
Personal Injury Claims: Settling vs. Going to Trial
You have just received your personal injury settlement offer. Do you accept it and settle or go to trial? You need to consider many factors when making that decision. Even if you believe it is enough to cover all your expenses, run it by a personal injury lawyer from Max Meyers Law PLLC before accepting.
What factors should I consider?
While there is no easy formula to decide what settlement offer to accept or decline, there are many factors that you need to consider when evaluating an offer. These include:
- The prognosis for your recovery: Has your doctor been able to give you a close idea of what the extent of your injuries are?
- The likely long-term costs and care that will be required: Are there any complications from your injuries that require ongoing care?
- Lost wages: Did you consider past, present, and future lost wages?
- Lost opportunities and non-medical costs: Have you considered these and landed on a tangible amount?
- Pain and suffering: Did you consider the emotional effect your injuries have had on you and your family?
Answering these questions should lead you to a minimum acceptable settlement. Keep in mind that the goal of a settlement is not to punish the responsible party, but to help make you whole again. Always check with a lawyer before signing anything; he can help ensure you considered everything.
Risks and Rewards of Taking Your Case to Trial
While a settlement is a guaranteed resolution of claims, going to trial is a gamble. And as with every gamble, there are significant risks and rewards.
Settling means that the case comes to an end and parties release each other from future or further claims. This may be an appealing option because it provides a guaranteed amount of money much sooner than a trial. Just remember that accepting a settlement means that you cannot go back later and ask for more money if there are complications you did not consider.
When considering taking your case to trial, there are a few factors you need to take into account:
- How much risk are you willing to take? In other words, even if the potential for a greater recovery exists after a trial, is the stress and waiting worth it to you? Can you wait or are you in dire financial straits?
- Is the settlement offer reasonable and fair? The insurance company regularly offers a low figure in hopes that you will not consider everything listed above and just accept the offer. Remember that a trial costs both parties, but you may receive a much higher payout if you take the risk. Run the offer by a lawyer before signing.
- Is the insurer attempting to blame you for your injuries? Is the insurer refusing to pay because it says you were at fault for your injuries? If so, trial might be your best option.
- What is the likelihood of future problems that may not be known yet? Did you fully consider all costs and potential complications?
If you think that all of this sounds rather overwhelming, you are not wrong. That is why leaving the negotiation of a settlement and potential lawsuit is best left to a professional. Remember to never sign anything before running it by a lawyer. Contact Max Meyers Law PLLC for help today at 425-399-7000.
Can I report aggressive drivers in Seattle?
We have all been on the road when we see the car in front of us weaving in and out of traffic, narrowly avoiding other cars and not seeming to care whether he misses or not. And chances are we have all written it off and gone about our day. But is there something we can do about it? Can we report aggressive drivers? Do the police even care?
Yes, you can report aggressive drivers and Washington State really wants you to. The Washington State Police (WSP) is so devoted to keeping the roads safe that it created the Aggressive Driving Apprehension Team whose sole purpose is getting drivers who exhibit aggressive behaviors off the road.
What behaviors should I report?
Aggressive driving can consist of many different behaviors, but a few behaviors to be alert for include:
- Speeding (especially through construction or school zones)
- Cutting other drivers off
- Speeding up to get through traffic lights at intersections/running red lights
- Refusing to yield the right of way
- Making threatening or obscene gestures to others on the road
- Texting and driving
- Driving while impaired
Does WSP need any information from me?
If you encounter a driver exhibiting the above behaviors on the road, call 911 immediately. Try to identify the color, make and model of the vehicle, any identifying characteristics, license plate number, the location you saw the vehicle, and which way it was headed.
Be sure to do this safely. Do not distract and endanger yourself or others attempting to gather this information. Pull over and call 911 when it is safe to do so. Never follow the aggressive driver in an attempt to confront him or gather more information.
In the event that there is no immediate issue but you realize that there has been a problem in the past, you can still make a report to your WSP district office.
For past incidents, you will need to identify, in addition to the details described above, the approximate dates and times that you have observed the behavior. If there is a consistent time that you have seen a certain car, make note of it. Be prepared to discuss the incidents in detail. Your testimony will be important in keeping Washington drivers safe.
In any event, if you or your loved one suffered injury in an accident caused by an aggressive driver, speak with a car accident lawyer to protect your interests. Contact Max Meyers Law PLLC at 425-399-7000.
How does Washington State define aggressive driving?
Washington State defines aggressive driving as when an individual commits “two or more moving violations” likely to endanger people or property. The definition also includes a “single intentional violation that requires a defensive reaction of another driver.” Essentially, this means that if a driver commits two or more traffic violations that may injure others or commits one act to require another driver to react in a defensive manner, e.g. swerving to avoid.
So what kind of behaviors does Washington State consider aggressive driving?
As stated above, Washington State considers actions that may endanger others aggressive driving. These may include:
- Driving while impaired
- Driving while distracted
- Following too closely
- Disregarding traffic signs
- Passing improperly
- Weaving through traffic
- Accelerating to lights
- Honking or flashing headlights
- Using vulgar language or signals
- Making threatening gestures
- Braking excessively
- Driving to impede another
Any of these indicators alone shows a lack of concern for the safety of the offending driver, his or her passengers, and the rest of the people on the road. In combination, not only are they dangerous, but they can in fact be deadly.
Why does it matter?
Because aggressive driving is a factor in so many accidents, knowing how Washington State defines it will help you in an accident claim. If an aggressive driver caused your accident, you can use his reckless and aggressive driving to show negligence and establish liability.
For example, if you were following all the rules of the road (driving within the speed limit, using your turn signals, paying attention) and a driver cut you off and you rear-ended him, if you saw him behaving erratically, you can use that to prove that he was at fault.
If you can prove the other driver was at fault in your accident, he may have to pay for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc.
Note: In certain cases, such as if a driver intentionally ran you off the road, you may be able to sue for punitive damages, which a judge awards to “punish” the defendant and deter any further malicious wrongdoing,
If you or someone you care about sustained injuries in an accident caused by an aggressive driver, it is important to take action quickly. Be sure to speak with a Seattle car accident attorney about filing a claim for your injuries. Contact Max Meyers Law PLLC at 425-399-7000.
Can rideshare partnerships with Uber and Lyft reduce drunk driving?
There is no doubt that reducing the number of drunk drivers on the roads is a public health goal. One innovative approach involves rideshare partnerships between state and local governments and private rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft. It is a well-known fact that people tend to drink more on holidays, which is why it is perhaps not very surprising that these partnerships focused, in part, on New Year's Eve.
What are the partnerships?
The Washington Traffic Safety Committee (WTSC) used this approach and teamed up with Uber, on New Year’s Eve 2016, for its Target Zero initiative to put a stop to traffic deaths and injuries by 2030. The Washington State Patrol supplied extra DUI checkpoints from November 1 to January 1 as part of the initiative and Uber offered first-time riders $20 off their ride.
The City of Seattle built on WTSC’s Target Zero initiative and teamed up with Lyft and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) as part of its Vision Zero initiative with the same aims. The partnership started December 30, 2015 and runs throughout 2016.
What are the benefits?
The most important benefit of these initiatives is that they save lives, however, what makes them appealing is the direct benefit for customers. They receive a discount and they get home safe. In addition, the initiatives keep impaired drivers off the road by both giving impaired revelers an incentive to stay off the roads and by forcing rideshare drivers to stay sober.
Moreover, if a discounted Uber or Lyft ride and ensuring the safety of others is not enough incentive, riders save themselves from a DUI, which can include fines, jail time, and a license suspension. They also save themselves from having to fund an Ignition Interlock Device, which can cost $50-$100 a month.
Even though WTSC’s partnership with Uber seems to have only been for one night, remember that the City of Seattle’s partnership continues and Lyft is still offering $10 off five rides during 2016. The city also plans to expand the partnership to include other companies.
Regardless of what each initiative offers, they both have one common and that is to get Washingtonians home safe. However, not everyone is going to follow these recommendations. If you or someone you love suffered injuries in an accident caused by a drunk driver, contact a car accident attorney at Max Meyers Law PLLC at 425-399-7000 today.
Should I report a minor car accident in Seattle?
Minor fender benders happen every day, often with little or no damage to the vehicles themselves, much less the occupants inside them. So, for these minor inconveniences, do you really need to call your insurance company and report the minor car accident? The answer, in every case, is yes.
Why should I report minor car accidents?
Think of your insurance policy as a contract with the insurance company. They, for example, promise to pay you certain benefits if you are in an accident. And you, on the other hand, promise things as well. And one of the things you promise to do is to let them know if you are in an accident. Therefore, from that perspective alone, you need to preserve your relationship and coverage by letting them know about the accident. You should also be sure to report the accident to the at-fault driver's insurer as well to ensure they are aware of the situation.
In addition, you should also always call the police, even if the accident was a minor fender-bender in a parking lot. Getting a police report is a critical step in the investigation and determination of fault, if that is in question. It is also a great way to gather evidence showing the extent of damages.
What are the risks of not reporting?
You take two big risks not reporting a minor car accident. The first is not collecting key evidence that you can use to prove potential injuries. Even though you may not feel any injuries, many soft-tissue injuries do not show symptoms until 24 to 48 hours after impact. Adrenaline may also hide other injuries. (Always have a doctor check you out after any accident; this can help prove the connection between the accident and any injuries.)
The second risk is that your insurance company does not have the option to investigate and gather facts about the accident, which would help you in an injury case. Your insurer may also drop you for breach of contract (not reporting an accident).
The bottom line is that not reporting the accident is not worth the risk of violating your insurance contract or losing irreplaceable evidence. You may not need the services of a car accident attorney if the injuries themselves are minor, but you will definitely want the protection of insurance in any event. If you do find that the circumstances are complicated or injuries appear over time, contact Max Meyers Law PLLC at 425-399-7000.
Is the driver making the turn always at fault for a left turn motorcycle accident?
“Right of way" laws exist to make it clear what each person’s obligation is when proceeding through. If you or someone you care about suffered injuries in a left turn motorcycle accident, you need the help of an attorney to know what your rights are. Contact Washington car accident attorney Max Meyers Law PLLC today.
What does Washington law say about right of way?
Washington state statute § WPI 70.02.01 states that any driver intending to turn left at an intersection "shall yield the right of way" to any oncoming car or other vehicle approaching from a reasonable distance.
However, the right is not absolute. The statute goes on to say that, "The duty to exercise ordinary care to avoid collisions at intersections rests upon both drivers." However, the statute clarifies, that it is the left-turning driver's primary duty and responsibility to maintain "a fair margin of safety at all times."
So what does this mean in all practicality? It is clear that the liability for a left-hand turn would usually rest on the driver making that turn. So, for example, if the driver did not have his turn signal on and the oncoming motorcyclist had no way of knowing that the driver intended to turn, this would support liability on the part of the driver.
However, on the other hand, if the motorcyclist was traveling while intoxicated or otherwise impaired and simply failed to pay attention to the driver's turn signal, he may be liable for the accident.
What evidence would be relevant in such a case?
Sometimes fault is straightforward; other times it is complicated and highly contested. Evidence to support the determination of which party was responsible for the accident may include:
- Witness statements
- Surveillance video
- Testimony from drivers and passengers
So what should you do?
Left turn motorcycle accidents can be serious and the injuries sustained can be severe. But you also need to recognize that the legal issues involved can be complex and more than you should try to handle by yourself.
If you or someone you care about was hurt in a left turn accident, contact Max Meyers Law PLLC at 425-399-7000 or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation.
What is reckless driving in Washington State and how do I prove it caused my accident?
Reckless driving in Washington State is defined as driving that is “in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons” using the road. The law also includes a disregard for property as a characteristic of reckless driving. A person who operates a motor vehicle in this manner is guilty of reckless driving. These offenses are considered misdemeanor offenses, and are punishable under the law.
To prove that reckless driving caused your car accident, you must provide evidence that can include:
- Red light and speed camera footage
- Police reports
- Investigation reports
What kinds of behaviors are included in the term “reckless driving?”
The term “reckless driving” could include a range of driving behaviors that range from driving at excessive speeds to negligent lane changes. Reckless driving can also include:
- Running red lights
- Making turns without using appropriate turn signals
- Driving under the influence of alcohol
- Distracted driving
Can I hold a motorist liable if he is guilty of any of these behaviors?
If a motorist is guilty of just one of these behaviors, a court may not necessarily find that he was guilty of reckless or negligent driving. You may have to establish that the motorist indulged in more than one of these behaviors.
Merely running a red light may not suffice; however, if you are able to establish that the person was driving under the influence of alcohol and ran a red light, your chances of establishing liability are much higher. A court may not consider speeding by itself as reckless driving. However, a court could consider driving at excessive speeds that are almost guaranteed to result in an accident as reckless driving.
In addition, a person could be driving at posted speeds, but could still be guilty of reckless driving if he was driving at a pace too high for the current traffic, and weather conditions. Therefore, it is important to investigate the accident and the other motorist’s driving at the time thoroughly in order to clearly establish the role of reckless driving in causing your accident. Discuss how to establish liability in your reckless driving accident claim with a car accident lawyer.
How can I get help after an accident?
Reckless driving accidents are typically high-impact accidents that result in devastating injuries. If you believe your accident was caused by reckless driving, speak with car accident attorney Max Meyers at Max Meyers Law PLLC at 425-399-7000 or fill out our online contact form, and learn if you have grounds for a claim to help you recover damages for medical expenses, lost income and other damages. After an accident, download our free eBook, Car Accident Secrets Unlocked for any questions you may have.
If I use my PIP insurance, will my insurance go up?
Many people wonder if their insurance will go up after an accident. Your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance rate should not increase purely because you use the coverage. In Washington State, insurance rates can only increase if you were at fault in an auto accident. For instance, if you were involved in a car accident, and investigations found that you were legally intoxicated at the time of the accident, the insurance company is likely to consider you as being at fault. In a case like this, your insurance rates could likely increase.
What is Personal Injury Protection?
PIP coverage is insurance coverage that will cover your medical expenses and lost income when you are involved in an auto accident. It is not mandatory to purchase Personal Injury Protection, but it is highly recommended that you do so.
If I am at fault in an accident, how much will my PIP rates increase?
How much your PIP rate increases really depends on the company. The company may increase your rates even if this was the very first accident on your record. In Washington, all insurance companies must file their insurance rates with the insurance department, and must also include clear definitions of how they will increase rates when they choose to do so.
Typically, most insurance companies will comply with the Insurance Services Office standard, and may increase insurance premiums according to the schedule. However, rate increases can differ widely from insurer to insurer.
Some insurance companies may slap you with a higher insurance premium for a moving violation, while other insurance companies have policies that will only increase insurance rates when you have been involved in a “chargeable” accident. These are accidents for which your insurance company has paid out a significant amount in damages. If your car is expensive to insure, and you are involved in an accident, you might find your premiums increasing substantially.
Talk to a car accident lawyer to learn what kind of insurance rate increases you can expect after an accident. For advice about insurance companies and what to expect after an accident download our eBooks “Car Accident Secrets Unlocked”, “Bicycle Accident Secrets Unlocked”, and “Motorcycle Accident Secrets Unlocked”.
Understanding how your PIP coverage works can be frustrating. If you have questions about the coverage that applies to you after an accident, call 888-230-4970 or schedule a free consultation to speak with an attorney at Max Meyers Law PLLC.
Bicycle/Pedestrian Accidents: Who is liable if a bicyclist struck a pedestrian?
Liability for a bicycle/pedestrian accident works the same as any other type of accident in Washington state. Pure comparative negligence rules mean that each party involved in an accident between a bicyclist and a pedestrian will have their degree of fault assessed and their right to recovery reduced accordingly.
In an accident where a bicyclist hits a pedestrian, each party is potentially liable for the crash. Therefore, each party must present evidence to prove the other party was more at fault for causing the collision than the other.
Proving Liability if You are a Pedestrian Who Was Hit By a Bicyclist
Pedestrians are required to use sidewalks when available and must obey all traffic signals. Bicycle accident statistics show that if you were lawfully on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk when the bicycle hit you, you might be able to claim that the bicyclist negligently entered the area where you were lawfully walking.
Proving liability for a bicyclist's negligence is a matter of showing that his or her reckless behavior caused the accident. For example, if you could prove the bicyclist was distracted from the path in front of them because he or she was engaged in texting on a cell phone, you could claim that he or she neglected to watch where they in the road and struck you as a result.
Proving Liability if You Are a Bicyclist Who Was Hit by a Pedestrian
While it may seem unlikely, pedestrians can do severe damage to bicyclists as well. If a pedestrian steps out abruptly into the path of a cyclist, there's often little time for that cyclist to slow down and avoid a collision. In a case such as this, the bicyclist would have to prove that there was no way s/he could have stopped in time to prevent the pedestrian and that the pedestrian's negligence of watching where s/he was walking caused the accident.
Again, distractions such as cell phones are often the cause of pedestrians causing bicyclists to crash. Therefore, it is important for both bicyclists and pedestrians to remain alert and focused on the path (and potential hazards) in front of them at all times.
A Washington, Personal Injury Attorney Can Help You Prove Liability
Proving liability in a bicycle/pedestrian accident is all about gathering enough evidence to prove your claim.
A Kirkland pedestrian and bicycle accident lawyer can gather this evidence.
- Photos of the accident scene
- Photos of your injuries
- Witness statements
- Police reports
Just because there was no car involved doesn't mean you can't sustain severe injuries in this type of transit accident. Before you talk to the insurance company, or if you don't have insurance to cover your damages, talk to an attorney about your options for recovery. Contact Max Meyers Law to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation regarding your potential claim: 425-399-7000.
What is the definition of pedestrian?
Many people know that pedestrians must follow certain rules when walking along roadways, but what is the definition of pedestrian?
Section 47.04.010 (23) Revised Code of Washington defines a pedestrian as, “Any person afoot or who is using a wheelchair, power wheelchair … or a means of conveyance propelled by human power other than a bicycle.”
It is important to note that cyclist are not treated as pedestrians and are subject to a different set of regulations while on the roadways. However, individuals on skateboards and roller skates are treated as pedestrians.
Why the Definition of a Pedestrian Is So Important
Why is it important to distinguish between pedestrians, bicyclists, and motor vehicle drivers? Each class of individual using the roadways and walkways (driver, pedestrian, bicyclist) must follow certain rules applicable to them. These laws dictate who can cross the street when, who was right-of-way, etc., so everybody stays safe.
And in the event of an accident, knowing who handled following which rules can help establish which party was negligent and liable for the pedestrian crash.
The Washington Administrative Code Section 504-14-940 details rules applicable to pedestrians while on the roadways. Among these, pedestrians must follow traffic control signals, vehicles must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, and more. Pedestrians should be familiar with jaywalking rules, right-of-way, and other laws applicable to them as well as vehicles.
If a pedestrian violated a rule of the road – such as suddenly leaving the curb – then the pedestrian may be liable for an accident that this causes. But if a pedestrian was in a crosswalk when a vehicle overtook another car that was stopped for the pedestrian, and in doing so struck the pedestrian, then that driver may be liable.
Know the Pedestrian Laws and Call an Attorney if You're in an Accident
We are all pedestrians at some point throughout the day. Know the laws. Whether you are walking down the street, in a wheelchair, on a skateboard or roller skates, you are subject to traffic controls signals if they are in place. And if you cross the street you must do so in the designated crosswalk. If you are crossing the street in a crosswalk that does not contain a traffic signal, you have the right-of-way, as long as you enter the street/intersection with enough time for an approaching vehicle to see you and safely stop.
If another party caused an accident that injured you in Seattle, call Max Meyers Law at 888-230-4970 to set up a consultation about your case.
What causes single-vehicle motorcycle accidents?
The most common causes of single-vehicle motorcycle accidents include speeding, alcohol and drugs, bad road conditions, and malfunction. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), of the 4,668 fatal motorcycle accidents in the U.S. in 2013, 22 percent were single-vehicle motorcycle accidents with a fixed object.
A 22-percent fixed object collision rate eclipses the other types.
- Eighteen percent fatal accidents caused by passenger cars
- Fourteen percent for light trucks
- Four percent for large commercial trucks
Their two wheels and light weight increase the odds that a motorcycle will skid, slide, or topple; commonly called “lay-downs.”
Lay-downs are most frequent under these conditions.
- During poor weather (rain, ice, high winds)
- On curved streets and road,
- With inexperienced riders
The NHTSA views motorcycle crashes to be caused (or related) to the biker speeding if they were either charged with a speeding, or if police mention speeding in their accident reports as a contributing factor by the biker: either driving too fast for traffic or road conditions, or exceeded the posted speed limit.
Its 2013 report listed biker speeding as the cause in 34 percent of fatal crashes; again, the largest category when compared to the others.
- Passenger car drivers driving above the posted limit (32 percent)
- Light truck speeders (18 percent)
- Large commercial truckers (eight percent)
Alcohol and Drugs
In fatal crashes in 2013, The NHTSA concluded that motorcycle riders involved in all crashes had higher percentages of “substance” impairment than any other type of motor vehicle operator (27 percent).
- Passenger car drivers (23 percent)
- Light-truck drivers (21 percent)
- Semi trucks (two percent)
Bad road conditions and sudden road hazards also contribute to a large number of bike wrecks. Often, obstacles such as tree branches and items that fall into the street from other vehicles; and even confusing road signs, can cause experienced riders to suddenly react and lose their “biker balance” – sending them into an uncontrollable skid.
In any event, those responsible for the road obstacle; or careless drivers who cause single bike accidents, may be held liable for injuries suffered by the motorcycle rider.
A failure of the bike or problems with a motorcycle part can make it impossible to operate safely the bike. Defects like braking and steering problems can increase the risk of a motorcycle accident. The Honda brake recalled in 2011, and 2013 come immediately to mind. But faulty replacement parts or poor repair services can also send a motorcycle careening out of control.
High Performance Bikes
The NHTSA also mentioned that even though high performance “racing” bikes (Sport and Supersport models) make up a small percentage of the total number of motorcycles on the road, they account for a disproportionately larger percentage of bike accidents.
The NHTSA notes increases in fatal accidents with bikes that have larger engines over those with smaller ones. And a US Department of Transportation report in 2001 suggested the death rate among riders of high-performance motorcycles could be as much as twice that of conventional motorcycle riders.
For a motorcycle accident lawyer after a crash in Washington State, contact Max Meyers Law at (888) 230-4970.
I was in a motorcycle accident without license. Can I still recover damages?
It is against the law to ride a motorcycle in Washington State without a valid motorcycle license (unless riding with a valid permit, with which motorcyclists may not ride after dark or while carrying passengers).
However, your lack of a valid permit or license may not mean that you’re automatically at fault for a motorcycle accident, nor does it ultimately impede your right to recover damages. Here’s what you need to know if you’re in a motorcycle accident and don’t have a license.
Who was at fault?
If the accident was 100 percent your fault, then you may be barred from recovering damages. If the accident was less than 100 percent your fault, then Washington State’s comparative negligence laws permit you to recover damages.
However, motorcycle law also reads that your amount of damages diminishes in proportion to your percentage of the blame. In other words, you can file a claim, but if you were 15 percent at fault, then your damages award will be reduced by 15 percent.
Even if you weren’t riding your motorcycle with a valid license at the time of the crash, the accident could still have been the fault of the other driver. If the collision would have occurred regardless of having a motorcycle license or not, you’ll need to prove it.
To prove the fault of the other driver, you’ll have to demonstrate that the driver was doing something negligent that lead to the crash. Types of negligence may include this list.
- Running a red light
- Following too closely
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Driving too fast for the conditions
You will need to collect evidence to prove negligence. Types of evidence that you should collect to substantiate your claim include the following listed.
- Photographs of the accident scene/physical damage
- Police reports
- Witness testimony
- Driver Blood Alcohol Content results
- Video/camera footage
If you can prove that the other driver was at fault, then you have the right to recover damages.
How a Motorcycle Accident Attorney Can Help
Even if you believe that the other driver was at fault, an insurance company may try to pin the responsibility for the accident on you based on the fact that you didn’t have a motorcycle license at the time of crash.
For assistance in building a defense to this claim, call a Washington State motorcycle accident attorney at Max Meyers Law PLLC. For help in dealing with the insurance company, filing a claim, or proving fault, contact the motorcycle accident lawyer now at 425-399-7000.
What are override and underride truck accidents?
An override accident occurs when a semi-truck or any other large commercial vehicle runs over a passenger vehicle, crushing it beneath it. An underride truck accident occurs when a passenger car collides with the rear or side of a truck, sliding underneath it. These accidents are quite common, and many of them prove fatal. In fact, an estimated 55 percent of all fatal truck accidents are underride collisions, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Causes for Override and Underride Accidents
Override – There are a lot of possible contributing causes of override accidents. In many cases, the truck driver miscalculates the distance between the truck and passenger car or simply tailgates and doesn’t provide enough space to stop in time. Poor weather and road conditions can affect the driver's visibility and cause the truck to skid, which can also cause an override accident. Defects in the truck’s brakes or tires can contribute to an accident as well.
Underride – Likewise, there are several factors that can cause an underride accident. Drivers who tailgate obviously put themselves at risk, but sometimes a truck may turn or stop without warning. In many cases, the driver simply doesn’t see the truck. This is a huge problem at night, when the bed of a truck can remain completely invisible until the driver is right up on it. Trucks are required by law to have reflective tape along the side of the trailer to increase visibility, but the tape often gets worn or dirty and does little good. Plus, most trucks lack underride guards, which could do a world of good in preventing these types of serious collisions.
Damages in Serious Truck Accidents
The front of most passenger cars stands 30 inches or less. The trailer of a semi sits 45 inches high. So when a car collides with the back or side of a truck, it can instantly slide right under, crushing the front of the car and the occupants. The injuries are generally catastrophic -- if not fatal -- and the damages are substantial.
If you were hurt in an underride or override accident or if your loved one was killed in one, you will want to speak to an attorney immediately about your case. There are steps you and your lawyer must take to preserve your claim. If you reside in Washington, you are welcome to call our truck accident lawyer at Max Meyers Law for a consultation. We will review your case, determine if negligence contributed to the accident, and then help you seek compensation for damages via an injury or wrongful death claim against the liable party.
Contact us today for a free consultation at 425-399-7000 or fill out our online contact form.
Cell Phone Policy for Truck Drivers: Proving a Mobile Phone Caused Accident
Truck drivers who text while driving are 23.2 times more likely to be involved in a “safety-critical” event, e.g., crash, near-crash, lane deviation, etc. than drivers who refrain from texting, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
As such, the FMCSA, the agency that regulates the trucking industry, provides detailed cell phone policy for truck drivers. When a driver violates the rules and subsequently causes a crash, the victim (or family) can file a claim to recover damages so long as they can prove the violation.
FMCSA Mobile Phone Use Rules
The federal rules regarding cellphone use for commercial truck drivers is simple and straightforward: truckers are banned from using any type of handheld device while operating their rigs. They are permitted to use voice-activated functions and one-touch features to initiate, answer, or terminate a call, but they cannot hold the phone or press more than one button.
They are also prohibited from texting while driving or doing any of the following activities on their device.
- Reading texts or sending texts
- Instant messaging
- Accessing a webpage
“In short, the rule prohibits unsafely reaching for a device, holding a mobile phone, or pressing multiple buttons,” provides the FMCSA.
How to Prove a Truck Driver’s Violation Caused Your Accident
Using a cell phone while driving a truck constitutes negligence. In order to file and win a truck accident claim, you’ll need to be able to show that the driver was negligent (using a phone) and that the negligence is what caused your truck accident.
Proving this can be a tricky task. Your lawyer can help you collect evidence to support your case. S/he can send a letter of spoliation to the truck company to preserve evidence and/or subpoena the driver’s phone records. The records will indicate if the phone was in use at the time of the accident.
In some cases, you might be able to use the following to prove your claim.
- Eyewitness testimonies
- The truck driver’s cab cam footage
- Accident reconstructionists
Taking the First Step to Recover Your Damages
The first thing you’ll want to do is consult a truck accident attorney in your area who can review your injury or wrongful death case and get to work on proving your claim. It’s important to act quickly because 1) there’s a time limit on when you can file a claim, and 2) truck companies tend to “lose” evidence if they don’t quickly receive a letter of spoliation. Also, the sooner you file a claim, the sooner you can receive your much needed settlement check.
For help in Washington, call truck accident lawyer Max Meyers. Call today at 425-399-7000 for a free consultation or fill out our contact form.
Should I take a Quick Settlement my Injury Accident Claim?
Many insurance companies will misinform consumers and trick them into believing that receiving a quick settlement is somehow a good thing after suffering injury in a Washington car accident.
Insurance Companies Count on Your Stress
When you’re injured in an accident through no fault of their own, medical bills can add up quickly, as can lost wages from missing time at work. The financial stress can quickly become overwhelming. Insurance companies use your stress to their advantage by offering a “quick settlement” to lure the injury victim into settling a car accident claim. Insurance companies also count on some folks thinking "I don't want to take advantage" or "I just want my ER medical bill paid."
The problem with this is you may not know the full extent of your damages a couple days or a week after the wreck. More serious injuries sometimes don’t become apparent right away (like injuries to a disc in your spine) and it can take weeks or months after the wreck for your doctor to figure out exactly what’s wrong and why you’re not recovering as quickly as expected. However, once an accident victim agrees to settle their personal injury claim it cannot be reopened!
Settling your claim before all of the potential injuries and damages have been discovered risks having more issues come up down the road that won’t be compensated. What if you need surgery down the road? The insurance company knows and is why they are moving quickly. They know if you accept a quick settlement you are likely not receiving full fair compensation for all losses you have suffered in the crash.
Paperwork isn’t always required to form a settlement. If the insurance gives you an injury settlement check and you deposit it, that can be taken as your consent or agreement to settle or close the claim altogether, even though you signed no paperwork.
What Are Your Legal Options - Call For A Free Consultation
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in an accident in Washington State, attorney Max Meyers and the team at Max Meyers Law PLLC can help get your life back on track. Attorney Max Meyers operates on a contingency fee basis, which relieves the financial stress of affording a quality lawyer. If we do not recover compensation for you, you don’t owe attorney fees.
Call for a Free Consultation 888-230-4970.
I was hit by a stolen car, who will pay for my car repairs and medical bills?
This is a nightmare situation!! Normally the insurance for the car that hit you covers your damages, EXCEPT when the vehicle is stolen and the thief causes an accident with you. In this situation there is almost always no insurance available from the at-fault vehicle. If the thief had his own car insurance that could cover you but in all likelihood he has no car insurance of his own either.
What do you do?
You are going to have to lean heavily on your own auto insurance policy. Your insurance premium won't increase because you were not at fault, so don't hestitate to get your insurance involved early. If your rates do go up, contact the Washington Insurance Commissioner and file a complaint.
If you have collision coverage then your car repairs will be paid by your insurance company. You will have to pay for your deductible. But it's better to pay a few hundred dollars instead of a few thousand. If you have no collsision insurance coverage, unfortunately you will be left footing the bill yourself.
If you have PIP insurance your medical bills will be paid under that coverage up to 10,000 or 35,000 depending on the coverage you purchased. If you exceed the PIP coverage or have no PIP, then your health insurance will have to cover your medical bills to treat your accident injuries. Again, you will have to pay the deductibles and co-pays that apply. If you have neither PIP or health insurance, then there is one last resort option, Washington Crime Victims compansation program.
The Washington Crime Victims program is designed to help victims of violent crimes not be financially ruined by medical expenses and other associated expense suffered. In auto accident cases, if you were hit by a thief in a stolen vehicle or a DUI driver you would likely qualify for coverage. If you qualify, the program will pay some or perhaps all of your medical bills. This can be a huge blessing in a very bad sitaution. However, the Crime Victims program has a limited yearly budget. Once the budget for a year runs out then no more claims are paid. If you have an accident case where crime victims may help it's important to apply as soon as poosible.
Pain & Suffering
Hopefully you purchased lots of unisured motorist (UM insurance) on your own auto insurance policy. This coverage is designed to cover situations like this when the at-fault vehicle and/or driver have no insurance. UM insurance in essence steps into the shoes of the at-fault driver and provides insurance as if the at-fault driver was covered. UM insurance will cover all medical bills, lost wages, and other harms and losses (i.e. pain & suffering) up to the limit you purchased. However, UM insurance only pays one time so it's important to complete all injury treatment and make sure you are fully healed before talking settlement with the UM insurance adjuster. UM insurance doesn't pay medical bills as you treat or lost wages when you are home recovering, PIP does this.
If you find yourself dealing with all of these issues, you may benefit greatly from talking to a experience attorney who knows all the ins and outs of situations like this. Do yourself a favor and call attorney Max Mayers at 888-230-4970 to find out what your legal rights are before dealing with all of the items discussed above.
You may also find Max's book "Car Accident Secrets Unlocked" helpful as well.
After a Kirkland motorcycle accident do I need to call my insurance company if the accident wasn’t my fault?
Yes! Most insurance policies require you to report a motorcycle or motor vehicle accident within a certain amount of time of the accident. This time frame is usually no more than 72 hours. You need to do this even when the accident isn't your fault. Your failure to do so can result in the insurance company denying your claim for repair of your bike, payment of your medical bills or any other payments you may have been entitled to if you made a timely report of loss.
You may not realize certain things following an accident are designed to going through your insurance first and then be repaid later by the at-fault driver's insurance company. This is most common in PIP insurance when dealing with medical bills, but is also common for repair bills.
The biggest reason to report is in case the at-fault driver has no insurance or not enough insurance to cover all your medical bills, lost wages and any other harms and losses. In this scenario you may have uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist coverage on your motorcycle insurance design to help in this kind of situation. When your medical bills exceed the at-fault driver's insurance you need to make a underinsured motorist claim or you'll have to pay those bills yourself. It's insurance coverage you bought just in case of this kind of worst case scenario, which unfortuanely is all to common in mototcycle accident cases.
In addition to contacting your insurance company, you should also contact a Kirkland motorcycle accident attorney, so that you can learn what your rights are before signing anything or speaking with the at fault driver's insurance company. A good first step is to order our book "Motorcycle Accident Secrets Unlocked."