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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What does a motorcycle endorsement mean in Washington State, and why do I need one?
Motorcyclists are required to have a motorcycle endorsement to ride legally in Washington State. Getting that endorsement may be a hassle, but motorcyclists who ride without the endorsement put themselves at risk both on the road and off.
What Is an Endorsement?
A motorcycle endorsement is a special designation added to a Washington State driver’s license to certify that an individual has proven they understand how the rules of the road apply to motorcycle riders and that they are competent to ride their motorcycle on Washington’s roads and highways.
The motorcycle endorsement, also referred to as the 2W endorsement, requires a cyclist to pass four tests: two written exams covering motorcycle knowledge and two evaluations of motorcycle driving skills. If a motorcycle rider wants to use a side-car attachment, a stabilizing conversion kit, or a motorized trike, that rider needs to earn their 3W endorsement, which includes a single written exam followed by a single driving test.
Motorcyclists under the age of 18 must earn their endorsement by completing an approved motorcycle safety course and passing the tests at the end of that class. Riders who are older than 18 do not have to take the course and may sign up to take the test at any approved motorcycle training school.
What Are the Penalties for Riding Without an Endorsement?
It is illegal to operate most two- and three-wheeled cycles without an endorsement. Some mopeds do not require one, but it is the cyclist’s responsibility to check whether their vehicle requires an endorsement: any bike or trike with an engine larger than 50cc OR which can travel at speeds above 30 m.p.h. requires the proper 2W or 3W endorsement to operate on the road.
Motorcyclists who are pulled over on vehicles like this without the proper endorsement face a fine of $386 or more; in addition, their scooter, motorcycle, or motor-tricycle can be impounded by law enforcement. Washington State also requires all motorcycle drivers and their riders, even those on vehicles with engines smaller than 50cc, to wear a helmet every time they get on the road.
How Does a Lack of an Endorsement Affect My Personal Injury Claim?
It is important to remember that Washington is a comparative negligence state, which means that the fault or blame for an accident can be shared between the motorists involved in an accident if it can be shown that the actions of each rider contributed to the accident. Because it is illegal to operate a two- or three-wheeled vehicle without the proper endorsement, investigators could interpret that behavior as negligent. This means that the motorcyclist may be considered partially at fault for the accident because they were driving without proof that they understood motorcycle laws and regulations or evidence of driving competency for their vehicle.
This is especially worrisome for motorcycle riders who were injured in an accident that was caused by another driver, because the lawyers for that other driver will argue in court that their client should not be held liable for the motorcyclist’s injuries because that rider was not properly licensed. Even if the court determines that the motorcyclist was not the primary cause of the accident, opposing lawyers may attempt to use comparative negligence to decrease or eliminate the amount of compensation their client must pay the injured motorcyclist.
In addition, because the injuries sustained by motorcyclists are frequently severe, and therefore expensive to treat, insurance companies may attempt to deny payment to an injured motorcyclist by arguing that driving without a motorcycle endorsement shifts responsibility for the injuries to the motorcycle rider.
What Can I Do If I Have Been Injured Driving a Motorcycle Without the Proper Endorsement?
Do not let traffic investigators, opposing counsel, or an insurance company bully you out of the compensation you deserve. Contact our offices to schedule your free consultation to learn how the legal team at Max Meyers can help you. When you talk with our staff, be sure to request our free book: Motorcycle Accident Secrets Unlocked to learn more about how to protect your rights as a motorcyclist in Washington State.
Can I Get Sciatica from a Motorcycle Accident?
Traumatic accidents can cause sciatica. If you damage your spine or muscles in a location that compresses the sciatic nerve, you could get sciatica from a motorcycle accident.
If you are suffering from sciatica or another spinal cord injury after a crash someone else caused, a motorcycle accident attorney can help you fight for compensation for your related expenses. At Max Meyers Law, we handle motorcycle accident cases for clients throughout Washington State. Call us at 425-399-7000 for a free consultation about your claim.
How Can I Get Sciatica From a Motorcycle Accident?
Sciatica happens when the sciatic nerve gets compressed or irritated in the lower back. Since there are several nerve components that merge to form the sciatic nerve, there are multiple points in your back where damage from a motorcycle accident could result in sciatica.
Because the sciatic nerve is so large and consists of multiple nerve roots, several different types of injuries or conditions could cause sciatica after a crash.
If you break a lumbar vertebra, one of the resulting problems can be sciatica. Two common causes of lumbar fractures are serious trauma, like falls or motor vehicle accidents, and weakened spines due to underlying medical conditions. If you have osteoporosis or are taking a medication that can weaken your bones, you are at higher risk of a lumbar fracture in a motorcycle wreck.
You can develop sciatica from a herniated disc after a motorcycle crash. Other terms for this injury are:
- Slipped disc;
- Ruptured disc;
- Bulging disc;
- Protruding disc; and
- Pinched nerve.
This condition happens when the gel-like substance inside a disc in your back leaks out. The gel irritates the nerve root. Discs are the small, coin-shaped parts that act as shock absorbers between the bones in your spinal column. Many people with herniated discs experience sciatica.
If you sustain muscle strain in your lower back from the accident, the resulting inflammation can compress the sciatic nerve and cause sciatica.
You can develop sciatica from the crash long after the accident. If you form scar tissue in the lumbar region of your lower back from your injuries, the scar tissue can compress one of the nerve roots and give you sciatica.
If you develop an infection in an injured area or surgical site in your lower back, the infection can cause inflammation and can irritate the nerve root, resulting in sciatica.
How Can I Tell If I Might Have Sciatica?
With sciatica, you might experience pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in your buttocks, hips, or the backs of your legs. You might have one symptom in one area and a different feeling in another. For example, you might have pain in your lower back, hip, and back of your upper leg, and your calf might feel like pins and needles. The pain could radiate all the way down the back of your leg.
You might feel a mild ache or a sharp, stabbing pain that becomes excruciating if you sit for too long or move a certain way. Some people experience a burning sensation. Weakness in your leg muscles is another common symptom of sciatica.
If you believe your motorcycle accident caused sciatica, it is essential to seek medical treatment.
When Should I Seek Medical Treatment for Sciatic Nerve Pain After a Crash?
You should seek immediate medical attention if you have symptoms of sciatica after a crash. Untreated sciatica can cause permanent nerve damage. You might even require emergency surgery if you are experiencing numbness, muscle weakness, bladder or bowel incontinence, or sudden or severe pain.
Seeking immediate medical attention immediately will also help with the motorcycle accident claims process. If we can get a doctor to link your sciatica to your crash, you stand a better chance of proving another driver is liable for your damages. Your medical visits will also provide proof of your related treatment costs.
Are There Non-Surgical Treatments for Sciatica?
Not everyone with sciatica needs to undergo surgery. According to the Mayo Clinic, many cases respond well to non-surgical treatments, such as:
- Anti-inflammatory or narcotic pain medication;
- Steroid injections; and
- Physical therapy.
Even if you did not require surgery to treat your sciatica, our motorcycle accident team might be able to help you get compensation for these or other non-surgical treatments.
How Can I Get Help If My Motorcycle Crash Caused Sciatica?
If your doctor diagnosed you with sciatica after a motorcycle crash, the legal team at Max Meyers Law might be able to help. If we can build a strong case showing that someone else caused your accident and your injuries, we can pursue compensation for your damages. Call 425-399-7000 to get your free consultation with a member of our transportation accident team.
What Is the Average Settlement for a Motorcycle Wreck?
Every accident is unique, so we cannot estimate the value of your motorcycle wreck settlement without examining your case. But we can discuss the factors that affect the value of your case.
Recoverable Economic Damages After a Motorcycle Accident
Losses that are measurable in dollars and represented by documentation like receipts, bills, invoices, and other business records are economic damages. These can include:
- Medical expenses. We will collect the records to show all the reasonable medical costs you incurred as a result of the collision. Some examples are bills from the ambulance, emergency room, hospital, surgery, specialists, your primary care doctor, diagnostic tests, x-rays and other imaging services, lab work, prescription medications, equipment and supplies, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and ongoing medical treatment.
- Lost wages. If you missed time from work because of your injuries, treatments, and recuperation, we will seek your lost wages as part of your economic damages.
- Property damage. The cost to repair or replace your bike is an economic damage.
- Future medical treatment. If we can link them to the accident, the negligent party will be liable for future medical treatments that are necessary and reasonable.
- Decreased earning potential. Severe injuries can have residual effects that make a person no longer able to perform a previous job or require switching to a different career path. If you suffer physical or cognitive impairments that reduce the amount of money you can earn, we can work with a vocational expert and include the calculated amount of loss in your damages.
- Disability. Sometimes people are unable to work at all after a significant motorcycle collision. You may qualify for compensation for losing your livelihood, and we can work with vocational experts to determine the value of this loss.
- Long-term care. The cost of long-term care can be astronomical, particularly if you are relatively young at the time of the motorcycle wreck. We will include these expenses in your claim for damages.
- Wrongful death. If your loved one lost their life in a motorcycle accident, we can file a wrongful death action to recover compensation for this tragic loss.
Recoverable Non-Economic Damages After a Motorcycle Accident
Although non-economic damages are harder to prove, our experience in handling motorcycle crashes gives us the tools we need to determine the fair amount of compensation you should receive. Your non-economic damages can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Psychological distress, anxiety, and depression
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
Comparative Negligence Affects Settlement Value Too
Some motorcyclists may face a bias after an accident in that many view motorcyclists as reckless. If the other party alleges you contributed to the wreck, your comparative negligence could reduce the value of your claim.
For example, if the other party successfully argues you are 20 percent at fault for the wreck, it would reduce the value of your claim by 20 percent.
But First, You Must Establish the Defendant’s Liability
To recover any compensation in the first place, your claim must establish the four factors of personal injury liability:
- Duty of care. Every driver must follow the rules of the road and operate their vehicle in a safe and reasonable manner.
- Negligence. Failure to meet the standards of the duty of care is negligence. Driving while intoxicated, for example, is negligent. So is driving aggressively or running red lights and stop signs.
- Causation. Your case must prove that the defendant’s negligent actions led to your accident.
- Damages. Finally, your case must establish that you suffered physical, emotional, and/or financial damages because of the motorcycle wreck. These include the economic and noneconomic damages listed above.
If you or a loved one sustained injuries in a motorcycle accident, contact Max Meyers Law. Call us at 425-399-7000 to set up a free consultation.
Can You Get PTSD From a Motorcycle Accident?
Motorcycle accident victims can develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of the trauma they have experienced. Many people who have experienced motorcycle wrecks suffer psychological and emotional distress afterward, including physical and emotional pain and suffering, depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
How Can I Get PTSD From a Motorcycle Accident?
According to a 2009 study, motor vehicle crashes are a common cause of PTSD in the civilian population. About 25 percent of people injured in vehicle wrecks develop some degree of PTSD.
You are most at risk for this condition if:
- Another person in the motorcycle crash died;
- You had a previous violent injury;
- You feel some guilt over the wreck;
- You are female; or
- You have a history of depression.
Researchers have found no one is immune to PTSD. You can develop PTSD after a crash regardless of your education level, marital status, or injury severity.
What Is PTSD?
The 2013 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) provides the diagnostic criteria for PTSD. A person diagnosed with this condition could experience serious side effects that include:
- Persistently re-experiencing the traumatic event through such things as nightmares, flashbacks, or upsetting memories;
- Avoiding things that could trigger memories of the traumatic event;
- Feelings of isolation;
- A lack of interest in activities;
- Partial amnesia about the traumatic event;
- Feeling extremely negative;
- An inability to sleep or concentrate;
- Irritable or aggressive behavior;
- Destructive or high-risk behavior; and
- An extreme startle reaction.
To qualify as PTSD, these symptoms must last for longer than one month, and cause the patient to be unable to function at work or socially.
If you believe you might have PTSD after a motorcycle accident, contact a mental health professional immediately. It is essential that you get the help you need to minimize the effects PTSD can have on your everyday life.
How Can PTSD Affect My Life?
According to the American Psychiatric Association, the disturbing, intense feelings and thoughts can linger long after the traumatic event. This can easily disrupt your life and make it difficult for you to keep your job and maintain relationships. People with PTSD can experience divorce, depression, financial crisis, substance abuse, and other mental health challenges.
How Can PTSD From a Motorcycle Crash Affect My Settlement?
The medical experts agree that PTSD is a real phenomenon that can turn a person’s life upside down. If PTSD has negatively impacted your life, you might be able to recover emotional distress damages for those losses, in addition to the typical damages recoverable in a personal injury claim.
PTSD damages can be a hybrid of economic and non-economic losses. Your economic damages could include the cost of your PTSD treatment, lost wages, and decreased earning potential. Your non-economic damages would reimburse you for the mental anguish and emotional distress of what you are suffering. Also, if your PTSD renders you unable to ride a motorcycle again, you can recover damages for your loss of enjoyment of life.
How Do I Prove That the Motorcycle Wreck Caused My Condition?
A motorcycle accident attorney can use the records and testimony of your treatment team to build your case that the motorcycle crash caused your PTSD. These cases can be challenging because the symptoms can take time to develop. The symptoms of PTSD become evident in most people within three to six months of the wreck, but in some people, the condition surfaces even later. The more time that passes between the accident and the PTSD symptoms, the harder it is to establish a causal link. That is why it is so important that you seek professional help as soon as you suspect you might be suffering from PTSD.
Who Can Get PTSD From a Motorcycle Accident?
Motorcycle riders can get PTSD from the direct experience of sustaining a severe or life-threatening injury in a crash, but other people can also develop the condition. You are a candidate for PTSD if you were:
- A passenger on the motorcycle, even if you had no significant physical injuries;
- An occupant of a vehicle involved in or near the wreck;
- A witness to the accident as it happened;
- A person who saw severely or fatally injured victims;
- A bystander who provided assistance to people hurt or killed;
- A first responder who helped or treated the victims; or
- A loved one dealing with the traumatic aftermath of your family member’s motorcycle crash.
How Can I Get Help Recovering Damages After a Motorcycle Crash?
If you or a loved one has suffered PTSD after a motorcycle crash, call Max Meyers Law today at 425-399-7000. We will sit down with you and evaluate your claim for free, with no pressure or obligation. We can investigate your case, determine who caused the crash, and calculate the value of your associated damages. If you qualify for compensation, our legal team will help you file your claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
How Should I Prepare a Motorcycle for Winter Storage?
Putting your motorcycle away for the winter to protect it from the elements and doing the right maintenance can ensure it is ready to hit the road in the spring. Block off a few days to follow these steps and extend the life of your bike.
Should I Change the Oil Before Putting My Motorcycle Up for the Winter?
Yes. The contaminants found in dirty oil can corrode your engine. Run your motorcycle for a few minutes, then drain the oil and replace it with the oil your owner’s manual recommends.
Also fill your gas tank and add a fuel stabilizer, then start your bike. Let the stabilizer run through your fuel system. Never leave your gas tank half-empty over the winter. Rust can develop inside the gas tank if it is not full, and varnish can form in the engine if the gas does not contain a stabilizer.
How Do I Charge the Battery While My Bike is in Storage?
The best way to keep the battery charged without frying it is to use a battery charger and minder. An overcharged battery can not only be unusable, it can also explode. Remove the battery and connect it to a battery charger and minder.
What Maintenance Will My Motorcycle Need Before Winter Storage?
Check your tires and make sure they have the correct pressure. Lube the cables and chains and do any other maintenance your owner’s manual recommends. Some motorcycle enthusiasts suggest that you clean the carburetors in the fall to prevent “gunk.”
You should also prevent rodents and other small animals from nesting in your mufflers for the winter by either inserting motorcycle exhaust plugs in the mufflers or at least placing a plastic bag over the cooled muffler and securing it with a rubber band.
Should I Wash My Motorcycle Before Putting it in Storage for the Winter?
Yes. Dirt and bugs on your bike can cause corrosion or rust. After completing all the service and maintenance, give it a thorough wash, let it dry in the sun, then wax it to protect the paint.
What Should I Use to Cover My Motorcycle for the Winter?
Whether you store your bike indoors or outside, you should protect it with a cover. Do not just throw a plastic tarp over your motorcycle, because it will trap moisture. Your bike’s chrome, painted surfaces, and internal parts can corrode from trapped moisture. Use a breathable cover designed for use with motorcycles. Make sure your bike has completely cooled before you cover it.
Where Should I Store My Motorcycle for the Winter?
You have several viable options. Many dealerships offer indoor heated storage. You can also rent a heated storage unit or store your bike in your garage or shed. Heated storage is preferable to unheated. If you do not have an indoor location for your motorcycle to spend the winter, park it on a plywood sheet and cover it up, recommends Consumer Reports.
What Equipment Do I Need to Winterize My Motorcycle?
You will need these items to perform the required maintenance on your bike before putting it into winter storage:
- Your owner’s manual
- Bucket, sponge, car washing soap
- Hose and water
- Clean rags
- Motorcycle oil and filter
- Oil funnel and pan
- Gasoline in a container
- Motorcycle gasoline stabilizer
- Battery charger and minder
- Motorcycle exhaust plugs
- Breathable motorcycle cover
- Any parts and tools needed to complete additional maintenance your owner’s manual recommends
Should I Carry Insurance on My Motorcycle When It Is in Storage?
Yes. Verify that your motorcycle insurance will cover your bike for possible damage that can occur during storage. Your bike is expensive, so it is worth the cost of premiums to protect it, even if you are not regularly riding during Washington State’s winter months.
Max Meyers Law helps motorcyclists injured in wrecks that other drivers cause. If you suffer injuries in a motorcycle accident that was not your fault, call us today at 425-399-7000. We also invite you to read our eBook, Motorcycle Accident Secrets Unlocked.
What is the motorcycle accident claims process in Washington?
What is the motorcycle accident claims process in Washington?
If you were in a motorcycle accident in Washington, your first step in the claims process is to contact your insurance company as soon as reasonably possible. Be careful of what you say during this conversation. Your insurance company may record your phone call and use any admission of fault against you during the claims process.
Provide as much factual information as possible, including the accident report number and the name, badge number, and branch of law enforcement of any responding officers. Also provide the names, contact information, and insurance information for the other drivers.
If your insurance company asks about the extent of your injuries or the amount of damage to your motorcycle, do not speculate. Tell them you will share this information when you know the full extent of each.
The motorcycle accident attorneys at Max Meyers Law can help you obtain documentation of your medical and repair costs to present to your insurance company. We can also protect your interests during the claims process to be sure you receive a fair settlement.
How is liability determined after a motorcycle crash?
If the other driver was completely at fault for your crash, your insurance company will negotiate with the other driver's insurance company to pay for your damages.
The insurance company may only offer to cover out-of-pocket expenses like medical bills, property damage, and lost wages. Our lawyers can help you negotiate a settlement that covers these expenses and includes compensation for your pain and suffering.
If the other driver was at fault but uninsured, you can still get compensation for your damages through your own uninsured motorist coverage. If your uninsured motorist coverage has low policy limits, we can take action against the uninsured driver for additional compensation.
What if I was at fault for my accident?
If you were completely at fault in the accident, your insurance will cover your damages and will pay compensation to the other driver. If your insurance limits are too low to pay all the damages of the other driver, he can sue you for the difference.
If you and the other driver were both partly at fault in the accident, you can make claims against each other. Washington is a pure comparative fault state, so the amount of your negligence will reduce the amount of money you recover.
If it is unclear who was at fault, both sides will investigate the accident. Our lawyers will investigate the accident and collect the evidence like the accident report, eyewitness reports, expert testimony, or security camera footage to prove what happened.
How do I calculate my damages?
We will need to calculate the value of any property damage, injuries, and other recoverable damages you sustained. We can obtain documentation to prove expenses like:
- Medical bills detailing the treatment of your injuries;
- Estimations of future medical care costs like prescription drugs, rehabilitation, ongoing care, or costs associated with a disability;
- The cost to repair or replace your motorcycle; and
- Lost wages and lost earning potential.
Disfigurement, pain and suffering, and loss of companionship are difficult concepts to negotiate with an insurance company. We will fight hard to get you the compensation you deserve for these damages.
What is the negotiation process like?
We will negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. We will present our calculation of your damages and work with them to establish a fair settlement.
During the negotiation process, you have the final say in accepting a settlement. We can advise you on when to accept an offer from your insurance company.
How can I receive my settlement?
Once we reach an agreement with the insurance company, they will present the terms of the agreement and a waiver for review.
The waiver is a document in which you agree never to file another claim for this accident. This is why it is essential that you do not settle until you know how your crash will affect your health and your ability to work.
After you sign these documents, we will file them with your insurance company so you can receive your settlement and begin your recovery.
How can I get help with the motorcycle accident claims process?
At Max Meyers Law, we will fight hard to protect your rights after a motorcycle crash. We will meet with you and evaluate your claim. Call us today at 425-399-7000 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.
How to Get a Motorcycle License in Washington State
To get a motorcycle license in Washington state, you need to visit an approved motorcycle training school and complete one of two riding assessments.
Option #1: Pass a Knowledge and Skills Test
Your first option is to pass a knowledge and riding skills test. The knowledge portion of this test will simply measure your understanding of the state’s driving laws and how to safely operate a motorcycle. Questions may include:
- How to swerve correctly
- What to do if your tire goes flat while riding
- How a passenger riding your motorcycle should be positioned
The riding skills portion will require you to put your knowledge to action by demonstrating your ability to legally and safely operate your motorcycle.
This skills assessment includes the following five tasks:
(Note: you can click on each of the riding skills tasks to see a brief demonstration.)
After passing your knowledge and riding skills test, you will be given a green score sheet, which you will then need to take to a Washington State licensing office within 180 days to claim your motorcycle license.
Option #2: Take a Motorcycle Safety Course
Your second option for acquiring a motorcycle license in Washington is to successfully complete a motorcycle safety course at an approved motorcycle training school.
This safety course includes the knowledge and riding skills tests. Once you have passed the course, you will receive a course completion card, which you will need to take to a licensing office within 180 days to claim your motorcycle license.
Additional Motorcycle Licensing Requirements in Washington
The Washington State Department of Licensing expressly states that additional steps are required to secure your motorcycle license if you meet any of the following criteria:
Under 18 years of age
Riders under the age of 18 must pass an approved rider course and receive parental permission to take the course before they can apply for a motorcycle endorsement.
Valid out-of-state motorcycle license or endorsement
New Washington residents with an out-of-state license need to follow these five simple steps to receive their Washington motorcycle license:
- Establish residency in Washington
- Choose between a standard or enhanced driver license
- Check if you can pre-apply online
- Visit a local driver licensing office
- Get your motorcycle license
Non-resident stationed here on military duty
Non-residents must successfully complete a state-approved safety course at a motorcycle training school or military base.
Once you have passed the course and applied for a Washington driver’s license, you will have 180 days to bring your completion card to a licensing office to get your motorcycle endorsement.
Washington resident stationed in another state on military duty
Washington residents living out of state must complete and pass:
- An approved Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) course
- A Basic Rider Training course (if in Idaho or Oregon)
- Motorcyclist Safety Program Training (if in California)
After completing the required assignment, gather the following documentation:
- Copy of your Washington driver license (both sides)
- Copy of your course completion card (both sides)
- Proof of active duty military status
- Notice of Surrender form for an Enhanced Driver License (EDL) – if you have an EDL, you must surrender it to get a motorcycle license
You will need to send a letter requesting a motorcycle endorsement, along with this supporting documentation and a small fee, to:
The Washington State Department of Licensing
646 Okoma Drive Suite E
Omak, WA 98841-9515
Permit Requirements and Restrictions for Permit Holders
Any rider who is at least 16 years of age and has a valid Washington State driver’s license can apply for a motorcycle permit after successfully passing a motorcycle operation knowledge test.
Riders under 18 must have a parent or guardian sign a consent form. After receiving a permit, it will be valid for 90 days.
To renew your permit for an additional 90 days, you will need to visit a licensing office and pay a renewal fee. In order to renew your permit, you must meet these requirements:
- Passed the knowledge test within the past 180 days
- Had no more than on permit in the past five years
If you need a third permit, bring documentation of your enrollment in a motorcycle training course to the licensing office.
Note: It is important for permit holders to remember that while riding a motorcycle on a public roadway in Washington State, it is against the law for them to carry passengers or to ride while it is dark.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do I Need a Motorcycle License to Ride a Moped?
A: You do not need a motorcycle license to operate a moped in Washington State. Only a valid driver’s license.
Washington State Legislation RCW 46.20.500 states that any person 16 or older, who holds a valid driver’s license of any class issued by the state, “may operate a moped without taking any special examination for the operation of a moped.”
Q: Do I Need a Motorcycle License to Ride an Electric Bike?
A: You do not need a motorcycle license to operate an electric bike in Washington State.
Washington State Legislation RCW 46.20.500 states that, “no driver's license is required for operation of an electric-assisted bicycle if the operator is at least sixteen years of age.”
Important Notice for Unlicensed Motorcyclists
Remember: It is illegal to operate a motorcycle in the state of Washington without a valid license or permit. For more information on how to get your motorcycle endorsement or permit, please visit the Washington State Department of Licensing website.
However, if you are ever in an accident without a license, it may not mean you are at fault. You can still file a claim even if you do not have a valid motorcycle license.
Simply call Max Meyers Law now at 425-399-7000 for help after an accident. Also download our free guide, Motorcycle Secrets Unlocked for more on motorcycle accidents and insurance claims.
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 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.
After a Kirkland motorcycle accident do I need to call my insurance company if the accident wasn’t my fault?
Yes! Most insurance policies require you to report a motorcycle or motor vehicle accident within a certain amount of time of the accident. This time frame is usually no more than 72 hours. You need to do this even when the accident isn't your fault. Your failure to do so can result in the insurance company denying your claim for repair of your bike, payment of your medical bills or any other payments you may have been entitled to if you made a timely report of loss.
You may not realize certain things following an accident are designed to going through your insurance first and then be repaid later by the at-fault driver's insurance company. This is most common in PIP insurance when dealing with medical bills, but is also common for repair bills.
The biggest reason to report is in case the at-fault driver has no insurance or not enough insurance to cover all your medical bills, lost wages and any other harms and losses. In this scenario you may have uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist coverage on your motorcycle insurance design to help in this kind of situation. When your medical bills exceed the at-fault driver's insurance you need to make a underinsured motorist claim or you'll have to pay those bills yourself. It's insurance coverage you bought just in case of this kind of worst case scenario, which unfortuanely is all to common in mototcycle accident cases.
In addition to contacting your insurance company, you should also contact a Kirkland motorcycle accident attorney, so that you can learn what your rights are before signing anything or speaking with the at fault driver's insurance company. A good first step is to order our book Motorcycle Accident Secrets Unlocked.
What is Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage?
Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage is an optional type of insurance you buy on your auto insurance policy to protect you and your family against vehicles that have inadequate insurance coverage. Many cars on Washington state roadways do not buy enough auto insurance to cover all the damages caused by a car accident.
If you're seriously injured in a collision your doctor bills can quickly exceed the Washington state minimum insurance requirements of 25,000. This is especially true for motorcycle and bicycle accidents. A trip to the ER with broken bones or a serious head injury can easily cost over $10,000. If you require surgery and several days in the hospital your doctor bills can push past the $25,000 quickly.
When an at-fault driver does not have enough insurance your UIM coverage is design to step in and supplement the at-fault party’s insurance. It’s designed to be another layer of protection for you. Your UIM insurance will be asked to pay for all the damages you suffered in the accident caused by the negligence of the at-fault driver.
UIM insurance often pays:
- Doctor bills
- Lost wages
- Out-of-pocket expenses (like special braces, crutches, wheelchair rental, etc.)
- Mileage to and from doctor appointments
- Intangible harms like pain & discomfort
For example, assume you're seriously injured in a motorcycle accident and suffer a broken wrist and broken leg which both require surgery to repair at Harborview Medical Center. You could easily have $40,000 in hospital bills and will miss three months of work resulting in $10,000 in lost wages.
If you have UIM insurance with a limit of $300,000 and the at-fault driver only had $25,000 of liability insurance, then the at-fault driver's insurance will likely pay its policy limits of $25,000 to you. (Assuming you have no fault in the accident.) At that point, your UIM insurance will step in and be responsible for paying the remaining medical bills, lost wages, other out-of-pocket expense, and fairly compensate you for all other harms and losses.
Note that this differs from Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage, which covers you if the at-fault driver has no insurance or leaves the scene of the accident.
If you’re in a serious injury accident in Washington and don’t know if there’s adequate insurance to pay your bills, you probably should call an experienced Washington accident attorney to learn more about your legal rights. If you have questions call us at 425-399-7000.