Feeling the wind rush by is a feeling that attracts many motorcycle riders, but it is also a sign of the precarious position bikers are in given their relative lack of protection compared to passenger vehicle drivers.
The law provides some relief for victims and victims’ families to allow them to pursue legal damages against a negligent party responsible for the accident. Potential claimants need to be proactive in asserting their rights.
Legal Recourse for Motorcyclists After an Accident
A personal injury lawsuit is one legal option available for victims who survive Kirkland motorcycle accidents.
In order to win a personal injury lawsuit, a plaintiff must:
- show a duty of care between the parties;
- a breach of that duty;
- that the breach caused harm to the plaintiff; and
- the plaintiff suffered damages.
This claim revolves around the legal concept of negligence: a failure to provide reasonable care to others in order to prevent injuries.
Wrongful death claims are also based on showing negligence. In the event the motorcyclist dies, a personal representative can file a survival action to be an action to compensate the decedent for claims he or she could have brought had he or she survived the injuries.
A wrongful death claim, meanwhile, is meant to compensate the surviving family of the victim -- children, spouses and parents -- for the economic and non-economic loss of their loved one.
How Riders Can Protect Themselves and Their Rights after Accidents
For all personal injury and wrongful death claims, there is a three-year statute of limitation in terms of bringing it against the perpetrator. Riders and/or their families should act quickly to make sure they file the appropriate paperwork to beat this deadline. Failure to do so could bar filing the case.
Washington is a pure comparative negligence state. When awarding money in court, each party pays for damages proportionate to their responsibility. For example, if a party was 70 percent at fault for an accident, it pays for 70 percent of the damages.
Because Washington is a pure comparative negligence state, there is no threshold of fault that would bar victims from recovery. Even a claimant who is 99 percent at fault can recover one percent of damages. Thus, it is important to fully establish the extent of the at-fault driver’s liability.
Riders and their representatives can present evidence like:
- police reports;
- surveillance video;
- eyewitness statements;
- expert testimony, and
- the bike.
Keep in mind that a rider’s own actions – like opting not to wear a helmet – could reduce compensation recovered in the case. If wearing the helmet would have prevented or reduced severity of an injury (such as a head injury), then the rider may be found partially at fault for the extent of the injuries.
These issues can complicate a case and typically require assistance from an attorney, who may also consult a medical expert or other technical expert.
What should I do after an accident?
Insurance companies often use safety rules they claim the rider broke to reduce its insured’s liability and discredit riders. It is a good idea to consult an accident attorney before an insurance adjuster interviews you to avoid being tricked into admitting to a safety violation. Always keep good records of expenses if you think you will be involved in a legal dispute as well.
You can establish liability as well as the extent of your injuries and damages by furnishing your Kirkland motorcycle accident lawyer with:
- medical records;
- property damage receipts; and
- a daily journal explaining the improvement or lack thereof your injuries.
Motorcycle accident attorney Max Meyers represents Kirkland riders’ interests throughout the legal process. Contact our office to set up a free consultation, call or use our contact form to reach us.