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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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 Kirkland car accident 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
450 3rd Ave W, Suite 100
Seattle, WA 98119
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.
Download our free guide, Motorcycle Secrets Unlocked for more on motorcycle accidents and insurance claims. If you've suffered injuries from an auto accident, contact our offices today or call us at 425-428-6052 to schedule a free consultation, we have proudly servicing clients throughout Bothell, Kirkland, and the surrounding areas.
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 Kirkland 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 Kirkland 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 while 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 Kirkland 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 Kirkland personal injury lawyer Max Meyers Law PLLC today.
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 Kirkland 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 or schedule a free consultation to speak with a Kirkland auto accident attorney at Max Meyers Law PLLC. 425-399-7000
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 425-399-7000 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 425-399-7000.
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.