Motorcycle crashes can have life-altering consequences. After an accident, victims often struggle to regain control of their lives and reestablish their independence. While Washington state law affords survivors the right to file a claim for compensation against the person or party who caused their accident, obtaining damages can prove unexpectedly difficult. There are three critical factors that affect your motorcycle accident claim—here’s what you should know.
Assessing Damages and Estimating Compensation in a Seattle-area Motorcycle Crash Claim
Washington has a tort-based insurance system. Under the Evergreen State’s at-fault insurance laws, accident victims may file a claim for compensation against the motorist who caused their crash. However, securing fair compensation—even in an at-fault insurance state—poses considerable challenges. It might seem you have an open-and-shut case, yet your settlement’s size and success could be contingent on the following factors.
Determination of Fault
Establishing fault after a Washington motorcycle accident is potentially difficult if there weren’t eyewitnesses and physical evidence is inconclusive. Unless the other motorist is willing to admit they made a mistake, it could be your word against theirs.
Since insurance companies are fundamentally for-profit enterprises, they often seize any excuse—no matter how minor—to devalue or deny compensation. If their client claims the accident wasn’t their fault, they could try to pressure you into accepting a lowball settlement by demanding never-ending evidence of your injuries, paid medical expenses, and other damages.
Insurance Coverage Limits
Washington state law requires any person who owns a motor vehicle or motorcycle to purchase liability insurance that meets or exceeds the following amounts:
- $25,000 for injuries or death to another person.
- $50,000 for injuries or death to other persons.
- $10,000 for property damage.
Even if you can establish that the other motorist definitively caused your Seattle-area motorcycle accident, your recovery could be limited—at least initially—by their policy limits. However, if your damages exceed the at-fault motorist’s coverages, you could still obtain additional compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.
While it may not be fair—or even particularly sensible—anti-motorcycle bias exists, and it can present a significant impediment to accident victims’ rights. When insurance adjusters, judges, and juries are impacted by anti-motorcycle bias, they may be more inclined to believe that the motorcyclist’s own misconduct caused or contributed to the accident.
Since Washington has enacted comparative negligence laws, any finding of fault—even partial fault—could chip away at an injured victim’s award, depriving them of the same compensation they need to eradicate their medical debt or replace lost income from missed work.
How a Washington Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Helps Fight for Your Rights
Insurance negotiations are rarely straightforward. However, you don’t have to entrust your physical health and mental well-being to an adjuster who may be more motivated by profit margins than your pain and suffering. A savvy Washington motorcycle accident lawyer stands up for your rights by:
- Assessing your damages. Currently, the state doesn’t cap damages available to motorcycle accident claimants. Your lawyer could help review your medical bills, total your property damage, and consult with health care professionals to determine your long-term and continuing care needs. We will only begin negotiating a settlement after we comprehensively understand the resources necessary to reclaim your independence.
- Analyzing evidence from the crash site. Your attorney is an essential ally in analyzing evidence from the accident site, such as photographs of your visible injuries or vehicle damage. If you were unable to collect evidence from the scene of the crash, we could dispatch investigators to preserve any evidence that might otherwise be lost or disposed of.
- Interviewing eyewitnesses. Eyewitness testimony can make or break a motorcycle accident claim. We provide assistance by interviewing eyewitnesses whose information you have already collected, or locating potential witnesses who may have seen the collision firsthand.
- Negotiating a fair settlement. An experienced Washington motorcycle attorney has spent years litigating claims against insurance companies and negligent motorists. Your lawyer should know what to expect going into negotiations and have the means to overcome even the most vigorous of defenses.