Washington Motorcycle Accident Attorney
When riding a motorcycle, people are especially vulnerable to injuries and even death in the event of an accident. In 2012, 83 motorcycle riders died in roadway accidents in Washington state, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Fortunately, there are legal options available to victims and their families to make sure that they do not unjustly suffer financially. The legal options after motorcycle crashes are robust for victims, but there are challenges in every case, and potential litigants would protect themselves by preparing for the possibility of a legal dispute. Find out more below from Washington State motorcycle accident lawyer Max Meyers.
Legal Options after a Motorcycle Accident in Washington
Personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits are available to victims of motorcycle accidents to help recover losses. Both of these lawsuits involve the concept of negligence which is defined by the failure to use reasonable care in order to prevent harm to others.
In personal injury suits, this concept is combined with proof that the defendant's actions caused substantial damages to the plaintiff and to show the defendant is responsible for the plaintiff's damages.
If the motorcyclist died in the accident, the family and the rider’s representative may be able to pursue two types of claims. The decedent's estate may file a survival action for the rider’s damages similar to what he would have recovered in a personal injury claim.
A wrongful death lawsuit focuses on the harm close family members suffer when the loss of a loved one affects them both financially and emotionally.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Crashes in Washington
Motorcyclists enjoy the freedom of riding their bikes but also accept the risk of traveling on roadways surrounded by much larger, heavier vehicles without the benefit of any real protection around them. The following list of common causes of motorcycle accidents may help educate riders and make them cognizant of some mistakes or hazards they may avoid in the name of safe riding:
- Lane Splitting. This is a completely preventable type of accident. It happens when a motorcyclist attempts to travel between two lanes of vehicles. It is a dangerous maneuver because cars don’t expect the motorcycle to be there, the motorcyclist has reduced area to control his motorcycle and the motorcycle is traveling in very close proximity to other vehicles.
- Speeding. This one is simple. Speeding, especially in unsafe areas or weather, is a common cause of motorcycle accidents. Speeding, just as with other motor vehicles, reduces the ability to control the motorcycle and increases the severity of a crash if it happens.
- Cars Turning Left. These are common types of accidents between two cars as well, and occur when the car is turning left and the motorcycle is going straight through the intersection. A driver may try to beat the motorcyclist through the intersection or may fail to see the motorcycle.
- Road Hazards. Motorcycles are not as stable as four-wheel passenger vehicles and may be more susceptible to accidents when driving over a large pothole, unexpected debris, or dead animal in the roadway. When a motorcyclist hits a road hazard, he or she may lose control of the bike and wreck.
- Alcohol Impairment. The same rules that apply to motorists apply to motorcyclists. Do not drive while impaired by drugs or alcohol. The potential for an accident greatly increases when these substances are affecting the rider’s judgment. Twenty-seven percent of motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes were alcohol-impaired with a BAC of .08 or higher.
Motorcycle Safety and How It Affects Legal Rights
As most riders know, there are a variety of safety regulations that the state promulgates to protect a rider's safety. Some of those regulations include:
- bikers must wear helmets;
- eye protection must be worn if the bike does not have a windscreen;
- bike headlights must run at all times;
- passengers require passenger seats and foot pegs;
- no more than two bikes to a lane;
- bikes cannot drive between lanes; and
- handlebars cannot be higher than 30 inches.
What many bikers do not realize is that violations of those regulations can be used against them to reduce the value of their insurance claim. For example, a biker riding without a helmet may see his claim reduced if he suffered a head injury so a helmet may have avoided or reduced the severity of the injury.
Such reductions may be based on Washington’s comparative negligence laws, which reduce the plaintiff’s settlement or award proportionally to his fault. For example, if the rider is 10 percent at fault or an accident or injury and suffered $50,000 in damages, his damages are reduced 10 percent ($5,000) and he recovers $45,000.
Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries
At Max Meyers Law, we focus on accident cases and are familiar with the types of injuries bikers suffer like:
- Head trauma;
- Large and painful burns;
- Broken bones;
- Traumatic brain injuries;
- Internal bleeding;
- Loss of limbs; and
- Serious road rash.
What Can I Expect When Recovering From a Motorcycle Injury?
Many common motorcycle injuries require extensive treatment and care, which can often be extremely expensive and time-consuming for the victim.
Serious cases of road rash might require skin grafts, and severely broken bones may require internal or external fixation devices like pins, rods, and screws, or bone graft surgeries. Additionally, back fusion surgery may be required to remove a troubled disc after an accident.
After back, head, and brain injuries, the following types of rehab might be necessary:
- Physical therapy
- Language therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Mental health counseling
In very severe cases, an injured motorcyclist might require home health care or nursing care after an accident.
Protecting Yourself with Motorcycle Insurance
Vehicle owners must purchase liability insurance in Washington State. Effective July of 2019, motorcyclists are now REQUIRED to purchase the following coverage:
- $25,000 in bodily injury
- $10,000 in property damage liability insurance
- $50,000 for injury per accident
Washington State follows an at-fault system, meaning that the driver—or the insurance company of the driver—who causes the accident is responsible for paying for it.
Contact a Kirkland, WA Motorcycle Accident Attorney Today
Our legal team is also familiar with other issues more specific to motorcycle accidents, like applicable laws, dangerous circumstances (like left turn or blind spot-related accidents), and more. We fight to ensure the injured party or his or her family is awarded enough compensation to handle the present and long-term effects of the accident. This could mean medical costs, future rehabilitation or therapy, lost time from work, and future lost wages. The bottom line is, that if the accident was not your fault, you should not have to pay for anything.
If you were involved in a Seattle motorcycle accident, or a motorcycle accident in Bothell, Kirkland, Bellevue, Tacoma, Redmond, or any other city in Washington State, motorcycle accident attorney Max Meyers can help. For a free case evaluation, contact us today at 425-414-8423 or via the live chat box below.