Motorcycle accidents are some of the most catastrophic on Washington roadways. In fact, one in five crashes involving a motorcycle results in serious injury or death. You may be wearing a helmet, but you lack all the safety features of a regular vehicle on the road, such as seatbelts, airbags, and steel enclosures.
For motorcyclists and their families, life is often never the same after a crash. Although fatalities in 75% of crashes involving motorcycles in Washington are blamed on the motorcyclist, the rider is not always at fault. If you have been injured in a motorcycle crash or a loved one incapacitated or killed due to the negligence of another driver, you may be able to recover compensation.
Attorney Scott Terry represents clients in Sumner, Puyallup, Kent, Bonney Lake, Auburn, Lake Tapps, Orting, and the Washington counties of King, Pierce, or Thurston, seeking compensation for damages resulting from motorcycle crashes. He knows motorcyclists are not always at fault, and he will fight to prove it. Contact Terry Law Firm, P.C. today.
What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident
Insurance companies are highly motivated to deny claims filed against their clients. They work diligently to reduce or negate personal injury and wrongful death claims, especially those filed by injured motorcycle operators. There are, however, some steps you should take after a crash to strengthen your case:
- Get all necessary medical treatment for your injuries immediately
- Exchange information with the other driver(s) involved in the crash
- Record the names and contact information for any witnesses
- Take photos of the motorcycle, other vehicles, roadway, and debris
- Contact your motorcycle insurance carrier
- Retain a motorcycle accident lawyer
Get Help After Your Accident
Washington’s Motorcycle Laws
Motorcyclists must observe all the same rules of the road as operators of other vehicles, including the obligation to exercise a reasonable duty of care while on the roadways. There are also specific Washington laws that apply to the operation of motorcycles, including:
- Helmet laws require motorcycle operators and passengers to wear headgear meeting the U.S. Department of Transportation’s requirements.
- Lane splitting, which is operating a motorcycle between two lanes of traffic moving in the same direction, is prohibited.
- Passengers are prohibited on motorcycles unless the cycle is designed to accommodate one, and no one under five years of age is allowed to ride one.
- No more than two motorcycles may travel abreast in a single lane.
- Motorcycles must carry minimum liability insurance with bodily injury liability limits of $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident, and $10,000 in property damage coverage. The operator must produce proof of insurance upon request by a law enforcement officer.
Washington is an “at-fault” state for insurance, which means the person responsible for causing the crash is also responsible for paying property, bodily injury, and wrongful death damages for those injured or killed.
Washington is also a comparative fault state. This means any amount agreed to in settlement of your claim or awarded by a jury at trial is reduced by any percentage of fault assigned to you. It also means you can pursue damages against another driver — even if you are deemed to have been 99% at fault for the accident.
As an example, the other driver’s bodily injury liability limits are $100,000. Your damages — such as medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost income — exceed $100,000, so a jury awards the policy limits at trial. You would receive the full award if the other driver was 100% at fault, but if you were assigned 50% of the fault for the crash, your award would be reduced by that percentage. In this example, that would be a $50,000 reduction. Furthermore, the other driver can file a claim against your liability insurance for your share of the fault.
If Your Loved One Was in a Motorcycle Accident
If your loved one was incapacitated due to injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident and is unable to file a personal injury claim on their own, a claim can be filed on their behalf. In Washington, a person 18 years of age or older can petition the court to be appointed as the incapacitated person’s legal guardian for all affairs or as a limited guardian to pursue a personal injury claim. Any settlement of a claim or jury award must be approved by the court.
If your loved one was killed, the personal representative of the decedent’s estate may file a wrongful death action. If the decedent has no will and no personal representative, the court will appoint one to pursue the claim and settle the estate. Any compensation recovered is awarded to the estate for the benefit of its heirs.
Establishing the negligence of the other party and minimizing findings of negligence on the part of your loved one is critical to your ability to recover damages on their behalf. The cost of taking care of an incapacitated loved one, or handling the affairs of their estate in the wake of their death, can be overwhelming. You must prove that the other driver owed a duty of care, that they failed to uphold that duty, and that you suffered injuries or other damages as a result of that failure.
Why You Need Legal Representation
Insurance companies are always going to attempt to prove that a motorcycle operator was at fault, and they will retain investigators and attorneys to do so. You need a motorcycle accident lawyer who will fight back with crash investigators, medical experts, witness testimony, and any other evidence that can prove the other driver’s liability. Otherwise, you will receive no compensation for the devastating damages you have incurred.