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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Does Washington State Have a Bicycle Helmet Law?
In Washington, state bicycle laws do not require cyclists to wear a helmet. However, many counties and cities make it illegal to ride a bike without one. In Orting, for example, all bike riders under the age of 17 must wear a helmet. In Poulsbo, you have to wear one if you are under 18. Washington bike riders of all ages must wear helmets in:
- Bainbridge Island;
- Gig Harbor;
- King County, including Seattle;
- Pierce County, including unincorporated areas;
- Port Angeles;
- Port Orchard;
- University Place;
- Vancouver; and
- At all military installations.
King County passed its bicycle helmet rule in 1993. The original requirement did not include Seattle until 10 years later when the county updated its statute.
If Bicycle Helmets Are Not Required in My Area, Should I Wear One?
Head injuries are common in wrecks involving helmetless bicyclists. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends bike riders of all ages use helmets on every ride to reduce the risk of head and brain injuries. According to the CDC, more than 1,000 bike riders died in America in 2015. Nearly half a million cyclists suffered injuries.
According to a 2015 report, the only consumer product that injures more children than bicycles are motor vehicles. A 2016 report stated that bike helmets reduce the risk of a severe head injury by almost 70 percent. Helmets also cut down on the number of fatal head injuries by 65 percent.
Aside from the safety benefits, there are numerous reasons to wear a bicycle helmet. A helmet can protect you from weather conditions while improving your ability to see what is in your path. A brightly colored helmet can make it easier for motorists to see you, which can prevent an accident with an inattentive driver. It is essential to buy the right helmet before you or your child starts riding.
Are There Legal Consequences for Not Wearing a Helmet?
Failure to wear a helmet in a city or county that requires it subjects you to the penalties the regulation imposes. The penalties may vary, but the typical punishment is a monetary fine.
There is another risk you take as a helmetless bicyclist. If you sustain injuries in a bike accident and you were not wearing a helmet, you may not be able to recover as much compensation, regardless of whether your locality requires helmet use. If you engaged in a dangerous activity—such as riding a bicycle without a helmet—that made your injuries worse than they would have been if you had been acting in a prudent manner, the other party may argue that you were partly at fault for your damages.
Being partly at fault triggers Washington’s rules on comparative negligence. Under comparative negligence, you can still recover some damages even if you were partly at fault for an accident. The comparative negligence rule will reduce the amount of money you get proportionally by the amount of your fault.
To be partly at fault, you do not need to have helped to cause the accident itself. If your actions exacerbated your injuries, you may not receive full compensation. this is true even if the other person was 100-percent responsible for causing the wreck.
Be aware, however, that the other side cannot assign partial fault to you if your injuries had nothing to do with your failure to wear a helmet. For example, if you suffered a broken arm after a car struck you and threw you from your bicycle, your failure to wear a helmet should not impact your compensation. Since a helmet would not have protected you from a broken arm, it is irrelevant to those damages.
How Does Comparative Negligence Work in Washington?
Washington is a “pure” comparative fault state, which means that you can be up to 99-percent responsible for an accident and still get compensation for your injuries, although you will not receive the full value of your damages. Some states follow “modified” comparative fault and ban a person who is more than 50 percent at fault from getting any compensation. Washington does not follow that approach. If you were 50-percent at fault, you would receive half of your damages.
How Can I Get Help If I Was in a Bicycle Crash?
At Max Meyers Law, we understand the issues that are important to bicyclists and we can help after a bike accident. We will work hard to protect your rights, even if you were not wearing a helmet at the time of your crash. Call us today at 425-399-7000 to set up a free consultation.
How Much Is a Bicycle Accident Settlement Worth?
Because every situation is unique, there is no fixed settlement amount for a bicycle accident. There are, however, predictable factors that will affect settlement value. Here are six important factors that can impact the amount of compensation you could receive in your bicycle accident settlement:
- Initial medical bills. If you have minor injuries, you probably have relatively low medical bills, but severe injuries can stick you with a mountain of medical expenses, including bills for ambulance transportation, emergency room fees, surgical fees, hospital stays, and more. Your medical bills factor into your total financial recovery.
- Initial lost wages. When you suffer injuries, you will probably miss some time from work while you recuperate. This time away from the job might be a few days, or it could be weeks or even months. Whatever the case, lost wages due to missed work are recoverable in your settlement.
- Continuing medical treatment. Some people recover entirely from just their initial medical treatment. Others, however, may need additional medical procedures to achieve their previous level of functioning or to get as close to that point as possible. If you need ongoing medical care after the initial treatments, you can also get compensation for these expenses. Make sure your lawyer is aware of all the problems you are having and whether your doctors have recommended additional procedures or therapy. Do not agree to settle before you fully understand your prognosis.
- Loss of earning potential. If you cannot perform all the tasks you could before your bicycle accident, you might not be on the same income trajectory anymore. If you make less money than you once did, it could add up to a substantial loss over time. For example, a 30-year-old who earns $10,000 less every year because of her injuries could lose $400,000 or more over the course of her remaining working life.
- Disability. If your injuries leave you unable to support yourself through gainful employment, you have a disability. This level of impairment will be a significant factor in the value of your accident claim. And if your disability renders you in need of assistance for the ordinary tasks of daily living, the amount that you pay for housekeeping and personal care help can be part of your compensable damages.
- Comparative fault. So, what happens if you are partly at fault for your bicycle accident? You can still get money for your injuries, but the settlement amount will decline proportionate to your percentage of fault.
How Does Comparative Fault Work in Washington?
Washington is a pure comparative fault state. Comparative fault means that, even if you were negligent, you could get some compensation as long as someone else was partly responsible for the accident.
The amount you get, however, will be less because of your negligence. For example, if your damages were $20,000 and you were 25 percent at fault, you will receive $15,000, which is 75 percent of $20,000.
Does Max Meyers Law Handle Bicycle Accident Claims?
Yes, we do. We got a $50,000 settlement for a bicyclist who suffered a separated shoulder from a bike crash. The bicyclist was riding to work on the sidewalk when a car came out of a condo complex driveway. The car pulled out onto the sidewalk before looking for pedestrians or bicycles. Our client, who was legally on the sidewalk, tried to avoid the car by swerving but hit the front of the car, and the impact threw him into the street.
The car driver was negligent for entering the sidewalk before stopping to check for pedestrians and bikes. The bike rider was not at fault.
At Max Meyers Law, we only handle transportation-related claims. Max is a cyclist himself who understands the challenges you face when sharing the road with cars and trucks. For your free claim evaluation, call us at 425-399-7000.
What Are Dooring Bicycle Accidents?
Dooring bicycle accidents occur when a parked motorist opens their car door and a cyclist crashes into it. Many of these accidents occur when a bicyclist actually strikes the door, but some may occur when bicyclists swerve to avoid the open door in their path. Dooring accidents, as well as other types of bicycle accidents, are responsible for thousands of bicyclist injuries every year.
If you suffered injuries in a dooring accident and believe another party is at fault, the attorneys at Max Meyers Law can evaluate your case and help you recover compensation for your damages. Call us today at 888-230-4970.
Who Is Liable for a Dooring Bike Accident?
Motorists and Passengers
According to Washington state traffic laws, motorists and passengers must not open their car doors until it is reasonably safe to do so. A motorist or passenger may be negligent and liable for a bicyclist’s dooring accident injuries for:
- Failing to be aware of their surroundings
- Failing to check for oncoming bicyclists (failing to check mirrors)
- Failing to wait until it was reasonably safe before opening their door
- Leaving car doors open for an unnecessary amount of time
- Operating their vehicles and opening their doors while distracted, drowsy or intoxicated
While motorists and passengers are responsible for looking for bicyclists in the door-zone before opening their doors, bicyclists also have a responsibility to pay attention to the road ahead and be aware of their surroundings and hazards that may pose a risk to their safety. Bicyclists also must avoid striking into a door when they have the opportunity to do so.
Even if you were partially liable for the accident, you may still be able to recover damages. However, your damages decrease in proportion to your liability. For example, if you suffered $100,000 in damages for your bike accident injuries, but you were 40 percent negligent, you will only recover $60,000 ($100,000 minus 40 percent).
Proving Liability in Dooring Accidents
Any insurance claims or lawsuits filed as a result of the dooring accident will depend on fault. So, it is vital to establish how the accident happened. To establish fault, we will consider the following evidence and use it to support your claim for damages.
- Police reports detailing how the accident occurred and whether the parties involved violated any traffic laws.
- Witness statements from those who saw the accident
- Expert statements to determine whether the bicyclist could have safely avoided the accident and whether the motorist or passenger could have seen the bicyclist
Our case must establish that the defendant was negligent (e.g., opening the car door without checking for oncoming bicyclists) and caused your accident. We must also prove the value of your damages, which may include medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. To prove case value, we may rely on evidence like:
- Medical bills and records
- Medical expert testimony regarding future surgeries or treatment
- Vocational or occupational specialists
- Evidence of lost wages
How to Prevent Dooring Bike AccidentsBicyclists and drivers can each do their part to reduce the risk of these accidents.
- Bicyclists should ride in designated bike lanes, when available
- Bicyclists should ride in the center of the bike lane to avoid opening car doors as well as moving traffic
- Drivers should check for oncoming bicyclists before opening a car door.
- Drivers should be mindful not to block bike lanes when parking their vehicle.
What To Do After a Dooring Accident
If you are in a dooring accident, call the police to report the accident. If you require emergency medical care, call 9-1-1 and request an ambulance; if you do not require emergency care, go to the emergency room or make an appointment with your doctor for an evaluation shortly after your accident.
Also take these steps after your dooring accident:
- Ask all parties involved for contact information.
- Ask eyewitnesses for contact information.
- Take photographs of the scene, if you are able to do so.
- Request a copy of the accident report.
- Follow up with medical care.
- Document the time you take off from work to recover.
- Document all the ways your injuries affect your finances, health, and other aspects of your life.
The attorneys Max Meyers Law can help you file a claim for damages if you were hurt in a bicycle dooring accident. Call us today: 888-230-4970.
Can a Bicycle Accident Lawyer Settle Without Checking With Me?
If an insurance company makes a settlement offer after your bicycle accident, your attorney is legally and ethically obligated to inform you of the offer and to check with you before accepting it. The acceptance or rejection of an offer can have a major impact on your personal injury case and ultimately determine the amount of money you will recover for your accident-related damages.
Max Meyers Law PLLC knows that while it is our job to advise our clients, it is ultimately their decision whether to accept or reject any settlement offers that come their way.
Can My Lawyer Settle My Claim Without Informing Me?
No, an attorney cannot settle a case without the client’s consent and authorization. Attorneys are required to promptly inform clients of all settlement offers, even if they seem unacceptable or unreasonable. The client must then decide whether to accept or reject the offer. Attorneys can advise clients on what to do, and help determine whether the offer is fair, based on their knowledge and experience. In the end, however, it is up to the client to decide what the next steps should be.
What should I do if my attorney settled my claim without checking with me?
If your attorney accepts a settlement offer without your consent, they have violated a fiduciary duty owed to you as their client and committed an ethical violation.
If your attorney accepted a settlement offer that you did not want to accept, you will need to take immediate action by:
- Firing your attorney and hiring new representation– If your attorney accepted a settlement offer without consulting you, they are not acting in your best interest. You are strongly encouraged to find a new attorney to represent you in all matters relating to your bicycle accident.
- Reviewing your retention contract – When a personal injury attorney agrees to represent you in your bicycle accident case, you will likely have to sign a written retention agreement that will specify the terms of your attorney/client relationship during your case, including whether your attorney has the authority to make settlement decisions on your behalf. Have your new attorney review the retention contract and other documents to make sure your attorney did not have the authority to agree to settle.
- Contacting the insurance company – When your attorney accepted your offer, the insurance company may have closed your file and written you a check for the “agreed upon” amount. That is why you need to contact the insurer as soon as possible to let them know that you did not authorize your attorney to accept the offer and that the attorney who accepted the offer no longer represents you. You should then provide the insurer with the contact information of your new attorney, so that the insurer can work directly with your new attorney to resolve the case.
- Reporting your former attorney – Your attorney violated ethical rules by accepting an offer without checking with you first and should be held accountable for their actions. Go to the state bar website to download the forms necessary to report the attorney’s wrongful conduct. The state bar can punish the attorney by suspending or revoking their license. You may also be able to file a malpractice claim against your attorney.
Attorneys are responsible for keeping clients informed regarding all aspects of the case, including settlement offers. Your attorney may think they know what is best for your case, but that does not mean they can make decisions without you. Attorneys and their clients should work together to make decisions and evaluate settlement offers. However, if there is a disagreement on how you should proceed, you have the final say.
If your attorney wrongfully settled your bicycle accident claim without your consent, it may cost you a lot of money. Additionally, you may lose faith in your attorney and feel that they do not have your best interests at heart.
Contact Max Meyers Law PLLC at 800-230-4970. We listen to our clients and work with them to make the best possible decisions to benefit their claims.
Most Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents: How They Happen & Liability
Being hit by a car is the most common cause of injury to bicyclists, reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, over 800 riders died from crashes with motor vehicles in 2015. Learn more about the most common causes of bicycle accidents, how they happen, and who you can hold liable.
Who is liable for the most common cycling accidents?
The liable party in a bicycle accident depends largely on how the accident occurred. Below, we detail the most types of bike accidents and who might be at fault:
Clipping: This occurs when the car and the bicycle are both traveling in the same direction. The car does not allow the cyclist enough distance and either sideswipes or rear-ends the rider.
The driver will be at fault if he:
- Strikes a bicyclist in the bike lane
- Did not give the rider enough space
- Uses the bike lane to park and hits the rider in the process
While the driver is at fault in many cases, the bicyclist may be at fault if she merges into the traffic lane without checking or signaling.
Dooring: Dooring happens when the driver of stopped or parked car opens his door into the path of the bicycle, striking the cyclist or causing the rider to run into the car door.
The car driver is liable when he opens his car door into the path of a bicyclist. If, however, a parked car safely has its door open away from traffic lanes and a bicyclist crashes into it due to inattention, the bicyclist is liable.
Left turn: A driver makes a left turn in front of a bicyclist heading in the opposite direction.
Bicycles have the same rights on the road as cars and trucks. Per Washington State traffic laws, a car making a left turn must yield to oncoming traffic, whether that traffic is a car, truck or bicycle. If a car making a left turn strikes a bicycle due to failure of the car to yield right-of-way, the car driver is liable. The bicyclist can be liable if the car is legally turning left on a left-turn arrow and the bicyclist runs a red light.
Side street: The car pulls out from the side street, turning left or right into the path of the bicycle. If the bicycle does not have enough time to stop, the bicycle may crash into the car. Sometimes the car will strike the bicycle broadside.
When a car pulls out from the side street into the path of a bicycle, the car driver is liable for failure to keep a proper lookout and failure to yield right-of-way. If, however, the bicyclist caused the accident by whipping in and out of traffic lanes without keeping a proper lookout, the bicyclist will be liable.
Right hook: A driver makes a right turn into the path of the bicyclist heading in the same direction.
Liability for a right hook bicycle accident will depend on the facts of the case. If the car made a right turn without checking the bike lane and without using a turn signal, the car driver would be liable. If the car is legally and cautiously turning right on a right-turn arrow at a red light, and a bicycle attempts to pass the car on the right side to run the red light, the bicyclist can be liable for the collision.
What if both the bicyclist and the car driver were negligent?
In many crashes, more than one person was negligent in causing the accident. Washington law provides a simple solution to this situation. You can recover the amount of your damages minus a proportional amount to account for your negligence. This is called comparative negligence.
Consider the following: you were riding in the bike lane when a driver opened his door in front of you. You might have had time to slow down to decrease the force of impact or potentially avoid the collision but you were looking at a text on your phone. The insurer finds you 40 percent at fault. You could only recover 60 percent of your $50,000 settlement demand ($30,000).
What is the most common point of impact in bicycle accidents?
Per 2015 NHTSA statistics, over 92 percent of the bicyclists killed by passenger cars crashed into the front of the car. Approximately 1.6 percent of the bicyclists killed by passenger cars impacted the left side of the car, while 4.4 percent made an impact with the right side of the car.
These numbers would indicate that very few of the bicyclist fatalities are the result of cars turning right or left into the path of a bicyclist who is traveling in the same direction as the car; however, this also shows that left turn collision fatalities are almost three times as common as right turn fatalities.
Large trucks, on the other hand, had much greater numbers of side impact statistics than cars. Almost 21 percent of all bicyclist fatalities in crashes with large trucks involved the bicycle making an impact with the right side of the truck. Almost 50 percent of fatalities resulted from a front impact, while approximately seven percent of resulted from left side impacts.
The higher right-side collision fatality rates are likely due to the fact that large truck drivers cannot see anything to the immediate right of them.
Get help from a Kirkland bicycle accident attorney today.
Bicycle accident claims can be complicated, especially if you suspect you might have violated one of Washington State’s bicycle laws. If you need help establishing liability or filing your bicycle accident claim, call Max Meyers Law, PLLC at 425-399-7000 today to set up your free consultation.
How much space must a driver allow a bicyclist in Washington State?
You must give a cyclist in Washington State enough room that you would clearly avoid coming into contact with the rider, per RCW § 46.61.110. While there is no specific distance required by law, the Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL) suggests that drivers give bicyclists a minimum of three feet when traveling slowly.
Is there information on space for bicyclists in addition to the Washington statutes?
The DOL provides the following guidance on drivers allowing space to bicycles:
- Cars must yield to bicycles traveling in a bicycle lane. It is not a matter of the amount of space to be given to the bicycle within the bike lane.
- Cars are not allowed to drive in bicycle lanes. Cars are only allowed to enter bicycle lanes when turning, getting into a parking space, or entering the roadway. Cars are never allowed to park in a bicycle lane.
- If a bicyclist is crossing the road on a painted or unpainted crosswalk, drivers must stop for the bicyclist until the bicyclist is on the other half of the roadway. This is the same rule as for pedestrians.
- If a bicyclist is riding on the sidewalk, a driver must yield right-of-way when driving across the sidewalk. When a bicycle is traveling on a sidewalk, the bicyclist has the same rights and duties as a pedestrian.
- A driver may not drive on the left side of the road if there is an approaching bicyclist and there is not enough space for the bicyclist to be safe. For example, a car driver wants to pass another car, but it is a two-lane road, and there is a bicycle in the left (oncoming) lane. The driver must wait until the bicyclist has gone by before initiating the overtaking of the other car.
- Bicyclists are allowed to ride on the roadway, in a bicycle lane, on the shoulder of the road, or the sidewalk, unless signs prohibit this. It is the choice of the bicyclist, not of a driver. Drivers are not allowed to force bicyclists off the road to the shoulder. They must allow them space in a lane of the roadway.
- If a bicyclist is traveling on the road and is going slower than the flow of traffic, the bicyclist must ride as close to the right side of the roadway as he safely can. Regardless of whether she is traveling at the speed of traffic, the bicyclist may move to the left before and during turns. Cars must keep a safe distance during these turns.
- A bicyclist may ride in traffic lanes either singly or two abreast. When bicycles are traveling two abreast, they are entitled to the entire width of the lane. A car may not enter the lane until it has safely passed both bicycles.
Are there any other laws bicyclists need to know?
Yes. While drivers should give bicyclists the suggested three feet of space, there are laws that bicyclists need to know to keep themselves safe and protect their rights. All bicyclists should remember these four important bicycle laws:
- Bicyclists are motorists under Washington State law. This means that they have the same rights and responsibilities of drivers.
- All King County residents must wear helmets when operating a bicycle. (Washington State does not have a bicycle helmet law, but King County adopted the law in 1993.)
- All bicyclists must signal their turns. (This video from The League of American Bicyclists demonstrates how to signal all turns.)
- Bicyclists do not have the right-of-way on sidewalks. They must always yield right-of-way to pedestrians.
Max Meyers Law PLLC: Your Kirkland Bicycle Accident Lawyers
Unfortunately, many drivers do not give bicyclists the three feet suggested by the DOL. If you or a loved one has sustained injuries in a bicycle accident that was not your fault, we can help. Call Max Meyers Law PLLC today at 425-399-7000 to set up your free consultation.
Should I hire a bicycle accident attorney?
Should I hire a bicycle accident attorney?
Proving who was at fault in your bicycle accident is one of the most important aspects of your injury claim. It can be difficult for a person without legal experience to successfully prove who was liable. That is why you may want to hire an experienced Kirkland bicycle accident lawyer before filing a claim.
How do I win my bicycle accident claim?
You will have to show that the other person was negligent in some way and that his negligence caused the crash and your injuries. Negligence is a legal concept involving a duty of care owed to others. Everyone on the road, whether they are riding a bicycle or driving a car or truck, has a legal duty of care.
That duty means engaging in responsible driving behaviors, including:
- Following the rules of the road;
- Obeying traffic signals, signs, and lane markings;
- Driving within the speed limit;
- Paying attention to the road and traffic; and
- Keeping a careful lookout for low-profile vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists.
If a driver fails in any of these duties or acts in a way that is not consistent with the cautious and prudent operation of his vehicle, he is negligent. If his negligence causes an accident, he is legally responsible for that accident.
How do I prove who was at fault for my bicycle accident?
An attorney will use credible evidence that provides information on the cause of the accident to prove fault. Police reports are one of the most common types of evidence a lawyer will use to establish who caused an accident. The testimony of the drivers, passengers, and eyewitnesses can provide information as well.
Depending on the type of fault, other evidence can be useful. Blood alcohol levels or breathalyzer test results can establish whether someone was drinking and driving at the time of the accident. Cell phone records can prove that a person was talking or texting while driving in a distracted driving accident.
Your bicycle accident attorney will evaluate your case and determine the types of evidence he needs in order to prove liability. Your lawyer knows the procedures he must follow to obtain the evidence.
What if I was partially at fault in the accident?
Being partially at fault does not prevent you from receiving compensation for your injuries, as long as the other person was also partially at fault. Your fault in the accident proportionally reduces the amount of compensation you receive for your injuries.
This is the rule of comparative negligence, which allows people to recover damages even if they had some fault in causing the accident. Since Washington is a pure comparative fault state, you can make a claim for and recover damages as long as you are no more than 99% at fault. Your negligence will reduce the amount you receive in damages.
Calculating and apportioning fault can be complex. Determining the amount of your damages is also difficult. If you have an attorney for your bicycle accident, he will handle the calculation and apportionment of fault as well as the determination of the amount of your damages.
Do I have to talk with the insurance company to settle my claim?
If you have a lawyer, you do not have to speak with an insurance company regarding your claim. Your attorney will deal directly with the insurance company and negotiate on your behalf. He will handle all of the documents and other paperwork. He will explain what the documents mean and will advise you on the amount of your settlement. He will gather the necessary evidence to prove your claim. In addition to the evidence needed to prove fault, he will also gather the evidence to prove the amount of your injuries, lost wages, and any residual harm.
For help with your bicycle accident injury claim, call Max Meyers Law at 425-399-7000 today to set up your free, no-obligation consultation.
What happens if a pedestrian is at-fault for a car accident?
If a pedestrian is at-fault for a car accident, liability will depend on the specific facts of the accident.
When might a pedestrian be liable for an accident?
Per RCW § 46.61.261, people driving cars and bicycles must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, but this does not mean pedestrians are allowed to just walk out into the path of oncoming traffic. It is illegal for pedestrians in Washington State to suddenly bolt out into the path of a vehicle when the vehicle is too close to be able to stop in time. Pedestrians must also obey all traffic control devices in Washington.
If they disobey any traffic laws, they could be liable for any accident and injuries that occur.
For example, Tom was walking on the sidewalk. He approached a crosswalk and walked into the intersection without looking both ways. He did not realize the pedestrian signal was a solid red hand and that the light was green for incoming traffic. A car proceeding through the intersection did not have time to stop and hit him. In this case, Tom will be liable for his own injuries and any injuries the driver or her passengers sustained.
Consider another example: John decided to cross the street outside of a crosswalk. He saw a car coming, but crossed anyway. The driver of the car did not have time to stop and hit John. John is liable for the accident because he was jaywalking and did not give the car enough time to stop.
These accidents can be complicated, especially when they occur in an intersection. If there is a question about liability in your accident, Max Meyers can investigate your accident to determine what party had the right of way when the accident occurred.
What if the pedestrian caused the accident but was not negligent?
It is possible to cause an accident without being negligent. Many accidents have multiple causes, not all of which necessarily involve someone being negligent.
If a pedestrian tripped over a hazard on the sidewalk and fell into traffic, both the pedestrian and the driver can hold the party that is responsible for sidewalk maintenance liable.
What if the pedestrian and the driver were both at fault?
Washington follows the rule of pure comparative fault, which means that a person’s fault reduces his damages. This is true regardless of how much the person was at fault.
For example, Jack was walking down the sidewalk talking on the phone. Without waiting for the walk signal, he stepped into the intersection. At the same time, Ron turned right on red and hit Jack.
The investigation found both Jack and Ron to be 50 percent at fault. Jack had serious injuries, with damages of $50,000. Ron was uninjured. Jack’s fault will reduce his $50,000 in damages to $25,000 to account for his responsibility for the accidents.
How will the pedestrian cover the costs of any injuries?
A pedestrian can use his personal injury protection (PIP) coverage to pay any of his own medical bills and replace any lost wages from the accident. PIP covers policyholders regardless of fault.
If the driver suffered injuries in the accident, he might need to sue the pedestrian to recover compensation for his medical bills and other accident-related costs.
Because recovering compensation can be complicated in these cases, you need a Kirkland pedestrian accident attorney to help you get the compensation you need.
A pedestrian accident attorney will investigate the accident to determine exactly how it happened. Evidence your attorney might gather includes:
- Eyewitness testimony
- Surveillance video
- Red light camera footage
- Accident reconstruction testimony
Call Max Meyers for help recovering compensation today.
If you were injured in a pedestrian accident in Washington State — either as a pedestrian or a driver — Max Meyers Law can help you recover the compensation you need and deserve. Call us today at 425-399-7000 to set up your free consultation.
Who is at fault for a texting while walking accident?
Distracted walking is a bigger problem than most people think. Many would not think twice about walking while texting, reading, listening to music, or balancing a package; however, these behaviors can lead to devastating walking while texting accidents. While most people think the driver is at fault in a pedestrian accident, liability can be more complicated if the pedestrian was distracted.
Who is liable if a car hits a distracted pedestrian?
Liability will be different in every distracted pedestrian accident. The actions of each party will result in one of three liability situations.
A distracted pedestrian and a focused driver.
A focused driver who is driving within the limits of the law might not be liable for the accident if the pedestrian did not give the driver enough time to stop.
The driver must be able to prove s/he was not driving impaired, distracted, or dangerously.
A distracted pedestrian and a distracted driver.
When distractions affect the pedestrian and driver, both parties might share the liability. Sharing liability does not mean you cannot recover compensation. To recover the most damages in this situation, you must prove the driver was more distracted than you were.
A distracted pedestrian and a reckless, aggressive, or drunk driver.
Even though the pedestrian in this example was distracted, the insurance company could find the driver more at fault because s/he willingly engaged in dangerous behavior.
The pedestrian will need to prove the driver was aware of the danger s/he posed. To hold the driver completely liable, the pedestrian would have to prove the accident would have happened even if s/he were not distracted.
For example, if the driver ran a red light and hit a distracted pedestrian while crossing at an intersection (when the pedestrian had the right-of-way), the insurer or court might find the driver totally liable.
Why are distracted pedestrians a problem?
When we think about distractions on the road, most people tend to go directly to drivers. While driver distraction is a significant problem on our roads, distracted pedestrians are also a cause for concern.
When a pedestrian is distracted, s/he is unaware of their surroundings, which can lead to dangerous actions and decisions. For example, a pedestrian with loud music playing through his/her headphones might not be able to hear approaching traffic or sirens and step into the road without noticing a nearby vehicle.
Even though pedestrians can maneuver easier than vehicles, if they step too closely into the path of a vehicle, the vehicle might not have time to stop. The faster a vehicle goes, the longer it takes the vehicle to stop. Additionally, a fast-moving vehicle will hit a pedestrian with more force and cause more serious damages.
How can I protect my right to recovery if I was injured while walking while distracted?
You are entitled to compensation for your injuries as long as you are not totally at-fault for the accident. Washington State's pure comparative negligence laws allow each driver to be majorly at fault and still recover compensation.
Therefore, even if your distraction was the main cause of the accident, as long as the insurance company finds you 99 percent at fault or less, you will still be able to collect the remaining percentage as a settlement.
For example, if the insurance company finds you to be 75 percent at fault and your insurance settlement is for $100,000 you would still be able to collect the remainder — 25 percent or $25,000 — as your compensation.
While $25,000 seems like a lot of money, pedestrian accident injuries can quickly top that. For this reason, you will want the insurer to find you played as little role in causing the accident as possible.
The insurance adjuster will assess your degree of fault based on the evidence you provide to support your claim for damages. In a pedestrian accident, your evidence might include:
- Police reports
- Photographs or video of the accident
- Eyewitness or expert witness statements
- Medical records
When you work with a Washington pedestrian accident lawyer, you have the advantage of working with a professional who knows the ins and outs of the injury claims process. Max Meyers Law provides free, no-obligation consultations to injured pedestrians seeking information about their rights to recovery.
Call us at 425-399-7000 to learn about how we can help your claim.
Who has the right of way in a crosswalk: a driver turning right or a pedestrian in the crosswalk?
It depends. There is no one simple law that answers this question. It depends on multiple factors and multiple rules. The bottom line is that neither party has an absolute right of way at all times.
I crossed in a crosswalk. Did I have the right of way?
Not necessarily. Pedestrians must follow certain rules of the road, just as the vehicles do [RCW § 46.61.235].
This means that pedestrians do not have the right to step out into traffic and expect vehicles to come to a screeching halt. Consider this: a driver is halfway through making a right turn on red when you see that you have a walk signal. Do you have the right of way? Likely no, because you must still wait for the driver to finish his turn before entering the roadway. If you step in front of his car simply because you have the walk sign, you are violating R.C.W. § 46.61.235.
You also do not have the right of way if you crossed against a crossing signal.
You do have the right of way if you had the walk signal and began crossing before a driver started his turn.
I was already walking across the street when the car began turning. Did I have the right of way?
Whether you have the right of way in this situation depends on whether you had the walk signal and whether the driver was turning on red or green.
In either case, a driver must stop when a pedestrian is in the crosswalk that is in the lane in which the driver is driving, and any other lane of traffic on that half of the roadway [RCW § 46.61.235]. The driver must remain stopped until you have left the roadway.
This is true even if you were crossing against a walk signal. However, if you are injured in a pedestrian accident, you will likely share liability as you were disobeying traffic signals.
I crossed outside of a crosswalk. Did I have right of way?
Not likely. When a pedestrian is crossing a road at any place other than in a crosswalk, the pedestrian must yield right of way to all vehicles that are on the roadway, according to RCW § 46.61.240.
If a pedestrian jumps out into traffic in the middle of a block, the driver is not likely to be liable if he could not stop in time to avoid hitting the jaywalking pedestrian. However, under RCW § 46.61.245, drivers must “exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway.”
The statute also gives right of way to drivers turning right when:
- A pedestrian crosses an intersection diagonally unless specifically authorized
- A pedestrian crosses in violation of a sign or signal prohibiting crossing at a particular location
I crossed in an unmarked crosswalk. Did I have the right of way?
In many cases, there are four crosswalks at an intersection. This is true regardless of whether the crosswalk has painted lines or nothing at all.
Determining whether you had the right of way in an unmarked crosswalk is more complicated because there may not be walk signals. Pedestrians have the right of way in a crosswalk; to determine whether you had the right of way, you need to consider whether he turned on red or green and whether he had enough time to stop after you entered the roadway.
Do pedestrians or drivers of emergency vehicles have the right of way?
Pedestrians must yield right of way to emergency vehicles per RCW § 46.61.264.
A pedestrian can be liable for failure to yield right of way to a right turning emergency vehicle. However, if the pedestrian was already in the crosswalk when the emergency vehicle began its approach, the emergency vehicle must wait for the pedestrian to finish crossing.
Where can I get help after a pedestrian accident?
As you can see, right of way laws concerning right turns and pedestrians in crosswalks are complex. If you have been injured in an accident involving a pedestrian in a crosswalk, seek the advice of an auto accident attorney. These accidents often involve serious, even catastrophic injuries. At Max Meyers Law PLLC, we will evaluate your claim and explain your legal rights.
Call us today at 425-399-7000 to schedule your free consultation.
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.