Wiener & Lambka, PS, has extensive experience handling motorcycle cases. Cases in which motorcyclists are injured come with their own set of challenges. The first challenge a personal injury lawyer faces in these cases is convincing the jury and judge that the motorcyclist took every precaution possible to prevent injury on the road. On top of the basic challenges, personal injury lawyers who take on motorcyclist cases are also faced with predominant bias against their client for riding a motorcycle on the road. Often, there is a bias because people are quick to assume that the person who has been injured did something to provoke the negligence. Showing that the injured person was taking appropriate caution when the incident occurred is often of great importance. Not only do motorcyclists face this common bias against them, but they also have to deal with the general public’s assumption that they accept the possibility of injury as a risk factor of riding a motorcycle. A personal injury lawyer needs to show that this bias is not always applicable because if the court looks at the case through that bias, then the motorcyclist will not be viewed as a victim, but rather as the cause of the incident. To further invalidate the bias against motorcyclists, personal injury lawyers will show that their client pursued the advice of healthcare professionals after the incident and made their health a priority. Explaining that medical attention was sought shows that the motorcyclist is a responsible individual. If you have been injured in an accident while riding a motorcycle, the personal injury experts at Wiener & Lambka are ready to help you seek justice. A lawyer is your best bet in receiving an appropriate compensation package from insurance companies and legal representation can ensure that you are not slighted as a result of the inherent bias discussed earlier. In order to get treated fairly, great care should be taken at each step of the claim.
Motorcyclists encounter unique hazards in their operation on roadways that set them apart from other vehicles. First of all, motorcyclists are very exposed, given the nature of the motorcycle. Due to the structure of a motorcycle, a motorcyclist is more likely to face serious, sometimes fatal, injuries in an accident as opposed to drivers of cars with doors and intense protection. Cars are all-encompassing, meaning the body surrounds people on all sides and provides extra protection, but motorcycles offer little to no protection. Elements of the roadway that do not concern drivers of motor vehicles cause a lot of risks for motorcyclists, due to the nature of a motorcycle, compared to a car or truck. From garbage and loose car parts, to potholes and train tracks, motorcyclists are affected by unsafe road conditions more than any other driver. Another thing to consider is that a smaller mode of transportation makes the drivers harder to see, and motorcyclists are often overlooked or invisible to other drivers on the road. This means that at turns or when passing other cars, the motorcyclist needs to undertake a very high degree of care to avoid collisions. Moreover, many motorcycle collisions are caused by the rider either speeding or being intoxicated, or a combination of the two. As with anyone operating a motor vehicle, it is in the best interest of motorcyclists to not drive while under the influence, especially due to the high risks already associated with riding a motorcycle.
The bias we mentioned earlier is so universal that sometimes, motorcyclists do not come forward, or they accept blame when it is not their fault, because they believe the bias themselves. Anyone who is a victim of a situation might start thinking about all the ways they could have prevented the incident, but when it comes to motorcyclists, it is important to remember that they share the same rights as every other driver while on the road. Liability in an accident involving a car/truck and a motorcycle should be determined in the same manner as liability for incidents between cars and trucks.
The following factors are looked at in regard to both drivers:
* Were any drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs?
* Was either operator guilty of a moving violation such as following too closely, failing to signal, failure to yield, failure to follow lane arrows, etc.?
* Were any distractions at play, like a cell phone or loud radio?
* Was there any damage to the roadway that may have contributed to the crash?
*Is the concrete or the design of the road flawed in any way that could have contributed to the collision?
* Could either driver have taken better care of their vehicle in a way that might have prevented the incident?
Personal injury cases involving motorcyclists can become complex very quickly and for that reason it is pertinent that you seek legal help from a lawyer who has the skill set to represent you to their best ability. While you may still be reeling with the reality of the accident, it is best to reach out to an attorney as soon as you are able because they will begin working on your case immediately and a solution can be found sooner than later. With the guidance of legal aids, you can avoid making statements that are wrongly interpreted by the opposing party. The possibility that the incident was partially or fully caused by a malfunction on part of one of the involved vehicles is very high.
In this instance, the liability rests on the shoulders of car manufacturers, opening the doors to even more details. While some defective parts are subject to recalls, many will not be because the knowledge of how dangerous the part is has not yet become cumulative enough to warrant a recall. Whether due to poor engineering in the design phase or a problem in the manufacturing of the part, if there is a defect such that it did not work as one would reasonably expect and it causes an accident, then there is a possible legal claim.
If you are involved in a collision while riding your motorcycle, you should first and foremost check for any physical injuries you may have sustained. Get medical attention for any injuries you sustained in the collision. If you have been injured, reach out and seek medical assistance as soon as possible. Your injuries do not need to be fatal in order to warrant attention, so if any physical harm has been caused to your body during the accident, reach out to professionals and seek medical assistance. We recommend that all motorcyclists involved in a collision be checked out by medical professionals because not all injuries are evident immediately after they occur.
Some physical damage, like injuries involving soft tissue and the brain, do not cause visible symptoms right away so it is important that a trauma doctor take a look at the state of your body post-accident.
That said, here are some pieces of advice for people who truly do not believe they need to be examined or cleared by healthcare professionals:
It is illegal for drivers involved in vehicular accidents to leave the scene of the crime prior to speaking with police officers and providing statements about the incident. Drivers are required to cooperate with the police and provide their name and vehicle registration, driver’s license, etc. Drivers should render assistance within their reasonable ability including calling for an ambulance and any other reasonable act to help injured parties.
Police will need to document the scene of the accident for the sake of records, and it is even more important if deaths or serious injuries occurred, so it is advised that vehicles not be moved before authorities arrive. The main exception to this advice is that vehicles can be moved out of the way if they are a hazard to other drivers or if they are in the way of traffic. Prior to moving the vehicles, if photos can be taken in a safe manner then this is advisable. No matter how straight-forward you might believe the accident to have been, failure to document the scene leaves room for the possibility of the other driver saying something different later. Many accidents involving injured motorcyclists happen when the driver of a car or truck does not see the motorcyclist due to their blind spot intervening, so documenting the scene properly will help investigators to understand what happened. Documenting the aftermath of the collision is therefore important for everyone to have a proper understanding of what occurred.
Whether or not you believe that the collision merits a call to the police, it is likely advisable to do so. Sometimes the police will indicate that they cannot come to every accident and, if smaller and without apparent injury, will advise that the parties should handle it themselves. As long as you make the right moves and call the authorities, you have done your part and behaved appropriately, which is the most important part, because the liability is not yours to claim anymore. The police are more likely to come to the scene than to suggest you figure it out civilly, so this assertion is only applicable in very rare circumstances. This report, and the officer being a witness, can be important aspects to your case later. Even if you are not immediately aware of any injuries you sustained, documentation in the form of photographs will help uphold any personal injury claims that you want to make later in the process. A police report with photographic evidence of the scene might make or break your claim for personal injury compensation, so if you can control these aspects, it is best to have both rather than none.
Under Washington State law, drivers are required to have proof of insurance on their person while operating the vehicle. To make the state law easy to adhere to, insurance companies in Washington State will send you two copies of your insurance card: one to put in your wallet and the other to leave in the car or motorcycle. The consequence for driving without an insurance card proving that you and your vehicle are covered is very expensive in Washington State so be sure to have a card on you at all times.
Most insurance policies require that the insured report collisions as they occur. Insurance companies issue contracts and since they are a signed agreement, insurance providers expect that you uphold the terms, including the responsibility to report accidents. This means that you should cooperate with your own company in a reasonable and forthcoming manner. Contact your insurance agent to inform them of the accident. When you contact your insurance agent, make sure you follow the rules and regulations of your policy. For your own records, keep a copy of your communication with your agent, whether it be in the form of physical letters or emails. If you do not uphold the conditions of your insurance policy, your insurance provider might reserve the right to deny you coverage and that will make your case that much more stressful to resolve.
If you are able to take pictures without getting into harm’s way, do so as soon as possible. You should photograph any angle you feel is relevant to the accident. From the angle of the vehicles involved in the crash and any car parts on the ground, to insurance information and identification cards, just about everything is worth noting following an accident. If you notice something later on, such as a bruise or some form of damage to your vehicle, be sure to take a picture anyway because these details are still important to include in your case. It is better to have a lot of pictures than to have barely any at all. Taking pictures is especially important if the motorcycle is to be totaled out or before the bike is repaired. Physical damage to the body should be documented as photographic evidence as well. Bruises get worse and then heal up, scars change, everything that is not going to stay static during the healing process should be documented with photos.
Cooperating with authorities is a must, but authorities do not include the other driver or his/her insurance agency, so do not feel pressured to provide the other party with a statement. The best course of action is to seek legal advice before speaking to them because they will seek to record your statement. As you might expect, insurance agents have the best interest of their client in mind and they may try to skew your responses in a way that they can later use against you. We have represented motorcyclists who have accidentally provided statements to the other party without knowing better, and these instances always cause unnecessary harm to their case. Contacting a personal injury lawyer for advice should take place prior to providing a statement to the other party’s insurance agency.
Witnesses help the truth come out because they provide an unbiased report of the incident, so if anyone saw the crash and was not directly involved themselves, ask for the contact information for future purposes. Witnesses are incredibly helpful if you face a situation where you are asked for further evidence to support your claim, so if anyone was around to witness what happened, kindly ask them if they wouldn’t mind being an official witness. Witnesses are as important, if not more so, than photographs when it comes to evidence.
As discussed above, if you are injured in any way, you should seek medical care. It is not unusual for victims in crashes to assume their injuries are not as bad as they seem, or even more detrimental, that the injuries will go away on their own. If you fall into these thought processes, it can be detrimental to your case because the other party can argue that you must not have been that hurt if you did not seek medical care immediately. If you do not receive medical attention for your injuries, your reasons could be valid but the other party might take that as a reason to call you irresponsible and blame you for perpetuating your injuries. With that logic in mind, be sure to listen intently to your doctor and follow his/her advice on how to treat your injuries over time. Make sure that you mention any perceived problems to the doctor so that they can be properly documented. When it comes time to settle your case, you will need proof of evidence and photographs of injuries is stronger than just your words.
Some of the more common types of injuries include…
The police report itself and whether one party got a ticket or not are not admissible evidence in a trial on the matter. That being said, these items still matter a whole lot to the insurance companies and the drivers. If you receive a ticket that you do not believe is justified, then you have a right to challenge it in court. The ticket will have a detailed explanation on how to proceed. You can always turn to legal aid and ask an attorney to assist you in fighting a traffic ticket. If you have hired a personal injury lawyer for your case, they can handle tickets for you as well because it is in their skill set. Keep in mind that the ticket can have bad consequences to both your injury case as well as your long term financial interests as it can raise your insurance rates for years to come.
If the insurance company requesting the statement is your own, then you have a duty to cooperate with them and should give the statement. In Washington, statements given to your own company are not discoverable to the other driver’s insurance company. While not as pressing as if the other insurance company wants a statement, it is advisable to contact an attorney to go over the unique facts of your matter before providing any statement on the matter, even to your own insurance company. You should never give a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company. They do not have your best interests in mind. If you find yourself in a position where the opposing party’s insurance agency is requesting your statement, contact a personal injury attorney for assistance in appropriately handling the matter. The opposing insurance company is not entitled to your statement, so don’t feel compelled to provide them with one. You should be able to have a simple conversation with the adjuster to answer reasonable questions, but please consult an attorney first to make sure you fully understand what you are doing in these circumstances.
Information that you might not otherwise be able to find out can be discovered nowadays, thanks to the helping hand of Google. Depending upon the settings in your social media, others can have access to interesting information about you. Twitter, for example, keeps a record of everything you tweet. Facebook does not privatize your posts unless you adjust your settings, too. Numerous other social media sites don’t protect your content as much as you might think, making it accessible to just about anyone. People can find information about you if your settings allow it, and most of the time, the default settings do. Making sure your social media information is private and not readily available to anyone who wants it is a wise approach no matter what. You need to be careful about what you post on social media in general, but especially following an incident, and if you edit your posts in any way, it could be considered altering evidence. To help your case, do not post about your case because that way, you won’t give the opposing party anything to use against you. Do not post about your case in any way, shape, or form. You will come to regret anything you post down the road. Do not post anything that you wouldn’t want a judge or jury making decisions about your case to see.
Consultations with us are absolutely free and you are under no obligation to retain us after the initial meeting. This policy is typical among personal injury attorneys. We want you to talk to us about your case so we do not charge a free for the initial conversation.
The consultation is really important for motorcyclists involved in accidents because personal injury victims need to start their case as soon as possible.
Having an attorney backing you up is a good idea for many reasons:
· If a recorded statement is needed by the insurance company.
· If they want you to turn over medical records (especially from the time period in front of the car accident).
· If the property damage adjuster is being rude or uncooperative.
· If the insurance company for the other side is being rude or unresponsive.
· If your insurance provider is making it more difficult to move along and open a Personal Injury Protection claim (PIP).
· If your accident involves any possibility of the other person’s insurance company alleging that you were partially or fully at fault.
It can be hard to find the right lawyer for you. Just about every attorney who wants another case will say they are the best fit for you. In order to get your business, a lawyer desperate for work will tell you that they can help you even if they cannot. Here are some things that will help you sort through the marketing:
2. The next thing you should do is research their track record. With attorneys, just obtaining a win-loss record is deceiving. This is because attorneys choose which cases they want to take on, meaning they have some control and can back out of cases they don’t feel they can win. Most attorneys do not take cases that are too difficult to trial because the costs and time of doing so must be offset by the strong possibility of obtaining an award sufficient to justify the work and expense. Many attorneys therefore only accept cases that have a very good chance of winning. Even though winning is great, it isn’t the only thing that matters. Winning doesn’t mean your client receives everything they wanted. Asking a lawyer how successful his or her cases have been is a better question to pose. While the previous outcome on cases is no guarantee that your case will also have a good outcome, a track record helps you to know that the attorneys are successful in their field.
3. Third, look at reviews. While some sites, such as AVVO, utilize an algorithm that attempts to fairly rate the attorneys, these formulas are manipulatable and imprecise. By reading honest reviews by people who were once represented by the attorneys at hand, you’ll receive more transparent insight than any other resource can give you. For a true summary of an attorney and his/her practice, turn to the written reviews of the people who know what it’s like to be represented by the lawyers firsthand.
4. You can also try calling the lawyers and talking to them yourself. Do they treat you kindly and respectfully? Are they willing to make time to see you soon and go over the details of your case? Do you feel comfortable? Your gut doesn’t lie, so if you feel a little uncomfortable with the situation, maybe they are not the lawyer for you. You will need to sign a release in order to obtain a settlement from the other insurance company. This release will basically say that, in exchange for the money, you will never ever ask for another penny, no matter what may happen in the future regarding your injuries. If you cannot trust your attorney, or they don’t make you feel at ease, then you’ll be setting yourself up for a lot of frustration and potentially failure. Hire an attorney you trust and the rest will fall into place.
The negligent party is responsible for all of your reasonable losses. This means that anything you lost, be it an item or an occupation or something replaceable, should be rightfully returned to you in the form of compensation. Depending upon what insurance you have on your vehicle, you may be entitled to payment of your medical bills by your own company, up to the limits of your policy. You may handle property damage and car rental through you own company. See if your insurance provider offers wage-loss and home-helper provisions. In very unfortunate circumstances, some people can take utilize their insurance provider for the sake of paying funeral expenses. What you can obtain depends upon the type and limitations or the coverages you have paid for. Generally, the negligent party’s company will only pay for your property damage at the time of the accident. They will then write you one check for all other losses when you agree to release them and the negligent driver. You may not receive the subsequent check until the end of the case. Your insurance company can help you the greatest extent that your policy allows.
If your motorcycle is repairable, it must be restored to its pre-accident condition. You can choose just about any body shop to take your motorcycle to. Insurance providers often showcase body shops that they include in their policies so that you don’t end up going somewhere that cannot service your motorcycle through insurance.
If your vehicle has been damaged in an accident, you usually have rights to a rental car for the duration of repairs and maintenance, and sometimes, you can even opt out of a rental car and choose to be receive the money directly. As a general rule of thumb, don’t give your money over to a service provider until they have completed the work. Obtain an independent review of the damage caused in the accident as well as an estimate in terms of repair costs before you elect to send your car somewhere. If your vehicle is deemed a “total loss,” which means that it would not be cost effective to make repairs, then you are owed the “fair market value” of the vehicle. The term “fair market value” refers to the price you could have sold your car for prior to the incident. Many factors play into the market value, such as mileage, state of the interior, tire tread, accident history, and more. Your insurance provider will figure out the fair market value of your vehicle by comparing it to current listings for comparable vehicles as well as by calling dealerships and requesting their honest input. It is best to do this yourself, too. Under the law, the insurance company cannot offer a “book figure.” The used car guides are usually low as to value because car dealerships use them for trade- in purpose more than for “selling price.” In order to file for a total loss settlement, you must have the following factors evaluated:
Talk to your insurance provider if you would prefer to hold onto the salvage. You should expect to wait about two weeks after filing your claim. If you have questions feel free to call.
If you were a passenger in an accident involving motorcyclists, there are two important considerations for you to make. Know that even if you were in the car that caused the crash, you are not at all at fault as a passenger. You, as a passenger, are fault-free and can collect from any of the negligent parties. Next, think about the insurance options you have for short-term medical help and assistance with finances. First, we would take a look at the bike’s insurance and then follow up with insurance on part of the drivers. In all cases we are looking for Personal Injury Protection coverage. If there was none, or it exhausts, then your health insurance would kick in at that point.
This depends on a lot of factors. The first question to answer is whether or not you are happy with how much was offered to you. Do you believe that it is fair? Most cases end well. Insurance companies typically seek to settle claims for far less than they are worth. It is not to spite or trick you but rather to see if you are willing to compromise for a lesser amount. An attorney is your best bet when it comes to demanding higher settlements. You can gain free knowledge about your case and your situation by scheduling a complimentary consult with us. Attorneys ensure that you are treated fairly by the other party and the judge overseeing your case. A consultation is your only honest way of understanding your situation and figuring out what is best for you.
The statute of limitations for motorcyclist accidents is three years in Washington State. If you fail to file a lawsuit in time, your rights for compensation will be eradicated by law. In order to have time to correct any issues that arise or adhere to legal expectations, we suggest that you compete the necessary steps within two years’ time. You are more likely to avoid a lawsuit if you file your claims sooner than later. Three years sounds like a lengthy period of time, but obtaining records and witness statements can take a while, so acting sooner than later is essential. A personal injury lawyer is your best source of information and guidance when it comes to matters such as these.
Even if you were partially at fault for the accident, you can still file a claim. Interestingly enough, there are some cases where being a little bit at fault results in our clients being able to achieve a better end award than if they had not been at fault. This question is case-specific, and the answer varies on a case-by-case basis, so legal discussion is necessary to ascertain an accurate response. We care about your well-being and overall recovery more than anything else, and for that reason, consultations with us are free and highly encouraged.
In the best case scenario, you have already insured yourself against this unfortunate scenario. It is very important that you have UIM (under/uninsured motorist coverage) on your automobile insurance policy. This addition to your policy protects you if you are involved in an accident where the other party either has no insurance or not enough to cover the extent of the damage.
Learn more about Uninsured Motorist cases here
According to the Washington State universal helmet law, all riders must be wearing a helmet while riding. There are some states who do not uphold the universal helmet law and therefore only require it for some people, depending on their age.
We have tracked down some of the most recent and comprehensive statistics on motorcycle accidents in the United States. The following information is from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute. It can all be found on their website.
Motorcycles take up less space on the road, making them harder to spot, and despite their high-performance capabilities, motorcycles are less stable than other vehicles. When motorcycles crash, their riders lack the protection of an enclosed vehicle, so they’re more likely to be injured or killed. In 2015, an estimate was made by the federal government stating that the number of motorcyclists who died in crashes was 29 times higher than those killed while driving vehicles.1Head injuries happen so often among motorcyclists that helmet use is absolutely necessary. Helmets are 67% effective in the prevention of traumatic brain injuries and 37% effective in the prevention of death. Despite these high statistics and clear benefits of helmets, only 19 states, not including D.C., mandate that all riders wear a helmet. All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are not street-legal but that hasn’t stopped people from riding them on public roadways, resulting in about 300 ATV-rider deaths per year. The United States Department of Transportation‘s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) released the following details in December of 2017.
About 4,976 people died when their motorcycles crashed in 2016. Though the number of motorcyclist deaths were declining in the early 1980s, they began to increase again starting in 1998 through to today. Back in 2016, about 13% of all motor vehicle crashes involving motorcycles resulted in the deaths of the motorcyclists, which is more than double the number of deaths as of 1997.
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