What should I do if I was involved in a Bellevue motorcycle accident?
No one is in a more precarious position on the roadways than motorcycle riders. In Bellevue, Washington there were 36 crashes involving motorcycles in 2011, according to the Washington Department of Transportation’s 2011 Collision Data Summary. Many Bellevue motorcycle crashes result in serious injuries to the rider; bikes provide limited protection. There are many protections that the law offers to riders who wish to pursue compensation for their injuries and damages; however, riders need to be proactive in defending their rights after an accident to ensure they receive fair treatment from insurers. Bellevue motorcycle accident attorney Max Meyer explains more below.
What are my legal options if I was involved in a Bellevue motorcycle accident?
In a personal injury claim and/or lawsuit, the plaintiff has to prove: (1) a duty of care among the parties; (2) a breach of that duty by the defendant; (3) the breach was a foreseeable cause of plaintiff's injuries; and (4) the plaintiff sustained substantial damages.
Most Bellevue motorcycle accidents revolve around the concept of negligence, which is defined as failing to provide reasonable care to prevent injuries to others. In the unfortunate event that a rider dies in the accident, his or her immediate surviving family can bring wrongful death claims for the harm the rider suffered before death, the economic loss the family will experience as a result of the death and the non-economic damages the family suffers.
Deciding Whether to File Suit
While many crashes lead to valid legal claims and some to prudent lawsuits, there are some factors that riders need to consider before beginning an insurance claim or lawsuit. Those factors include:
- Legal validity: If the other driver in the crash showed clear negligence and that negligence caused the rider's injuries, then that is a good sign that the case can stand up in an insurance claim or in court.
- Financial viability: Potential plaintiffs should ask themselves if the damages in the lawsuit warrant the costs and time of a lawsuit. Mild injuries like bumps, bruises and minor lacerations may not warrant a lawsuit – these cases are often settled in the claims process. But claimants who cannot recover fair compensation for serious damages like brain injury in an insurance claim may have to file a lawsuit to recover fair compensation.
- Long-term damages: If there are long-term costs associated with injuries from the accident, an insurance settlement must provide long-term coverage. If it does not, then a lawsuit may be necessary to ensure that plaintiffs do not have to shoulder the burden of those costs.
What are some potential challenges to a motorcycle accident lawsuit?
The legal doctrine of negligence per se is weaker in Washington when compared to other states. While in many other cases a driver who breaks a traffic rule during an accident is automatically negligent, in Washington, negligence per se is "considered by the trier of fact as evidence of negligence," not negligence in itself (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. Sec. 5.40.050).
The jury can think about the act as negligent but does not have to assume automatically negligence is tied to the accident and/or injuries. At the same time, insurance adjusters often try to use Washington's motorcycle safety regulations to discredit riders in accidents, even if these regulations had nothing to do with the injuries (wearing a helmet wouldn’t have prevented a fractured leg, for example).
Bellevue motorcycle accident lawyer Max Meyers helps riders in Bellevue, Washington protect their rights in a motorcycle crash claim or lawsuit. Contact our office today at (888) 230-4970 to talk with an accident attorney about your legal options and a free consultation.