Wiener & Lambka, PS, has years of experience in personal injury cases involving motorcyclists. 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. There is a pre-existing bias against motorcyclists on the road and attorneys need to have the skill set to change the perspective of the court officials. In every case in which someone brings a claim for personal injuries, there is an implicit human bias to blame the victim. The attorney is responsible for informing the jury and judge that their client took every precautionary measure possible to ensure their safety while driving a motorcycle on the road. Injured motorcyclists take on this embedded bias, as well as the similar bias that anyone who rides a motorcycle is assuming the risk of injury due to that decision. 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. Personal injury lawyers will bring to light all the ways their client has sought medical attention and recovered from the injuries caused by the incident, showing that the motorcyclist suffered and took care to improve themselves. Explaining that medical attention was sought shows that the motorcyclist is a responsible individual. As soon as you believe you have a case, contact the personal injury lawyers at Wiener & Lambka to begin the legal process. Personal injury attorneys excel in their line of work and they will make sure your case is handled properly, without bias from insurance companies or legal personnel. The lawyers at Wiener & Lambka know how to eradicate bias in the courtroom and build a case that you are sure to benefit from, as you should when you are the injured party.
Motorcyclists encounter unique hazards in their operation on roadways that set them apart from other vehicles. First is the obvious exposure of the driver. This means that if involved in a crash, the likelihood of incurring a serious injury or death is much more likely than a car driver. Without windows to shield motorcyclists from debris and any material flying around on the roadway, motorcyclists have a greater risk of being blindsided by miscellaneous circumstances, like serious rainfall or unfavorable insects blocking their lines of sight. Due to the nature of a motorcycle, and how different it is in comparison to other street-legal automobiles, motorcyclists are at risk for certain things that people driving cars and trucks do not have to worry about. From garbage and loose car parts, to potholes and train tracks, motorcyclists are affected by unsafe road conditions more than any other driver. Motorcyclists also face the problem of easily falling into the blind spots of other drivers or just not being seen altogether while riding 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. To the extent that your safety can be determined by other choices that you make, it is of great importance that motorcyclists not drive under the influence nor act recklessly while riding.
The bias against motorcyclists that we discussed above is so alive and well that even the motorcyclist themselves sometimes believe they were at fault when they are not. In many cases where motorcyclists are injured while riding, the motorcyclists belittle their injuries and assume they could have done more to prevent the accident, but this is not always true. If a motorcyclist was following the rules of the road, then the liability for who caused the collision should be assessed based upon the same rules that we would if the incident occurred between two cars or trucks.
Both drivers should consider the following factors:
* Were any drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs?
* Did any moving violations occur, such as failure to signal, follow street signs, signal, etc.?
* Were any distractions at play, like a cell phone or loud radio?
* Was the incident a result of something wrong with the roadway?
* If roadway repairs were needed but not carried out, could the government be at fault for not preventing these types of crashes?
* Could either driver have taken better care of their vehicle in a way that might have prevented the incident?
Again, motorcycle cases can be complex and it is important that an experienced attorney review your case as soon as possible. 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. Sometimes otherwise fault-free riders can make a statement or two that they simply don’t realize how it will be interpreted by the other side, and/or used against them unfairly to limit their recovery. It is not rare that an incident is caused either in part, or fully, by a car part that failed to function correctly.
In this instance, the liability rests on the shoulders of car manufacturers, opening the doors to even more details. If a defective part has caused an incident, you will be compensated financially but you will also, in turn, save others from experiencing the dangers of defective parts. A legal claim can be filed if a car part is the cause of a personal injury incident involving a motorcycle.
First, make sure that you are not injured. If you are injured then seek medical care right away. If you feel off in any way, it is best to seek medical attention, even if you don’t believe you necessarily have a life-threatening or serious injury. Some injuries take some time to manifest into visible physical symptoms, so as a precautionary measure, it is recommended that all motorcyclists see a doctor following any type of accident on the road.
Soft tissue or closed head injuries can occur with little to no immediate symptoms.
Second, if you are not in need of immediate transport due to medical concerns, please consider all of the following advice:
The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury or death of any person or damage to a vehicle is required to immediately stop and remain at the scene. When police arrive, it is important that drivers comply with the demands of the officers and provide proof of a license and registration. While waiting for police to arrive, drivers are allowed to call for assistance from ambulances and medics if necessary.
Most vehicle collisions do not involve death or serious injury such that a police investigation is necessary, but leaving the vehicles where they stopped is a good idea so that the police can properly document the scene. However, if the vehicles involved in the incident are actively causing a problem for other drivers on the road, then it is acceptable to move the vehicles out of the way. 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. Proper documentation of the scene of the accident is vital, especially in cases involving motorcyclists, because pictures can show the trajectory of the vehicles and explain who hit who. Documentation ensures that everyone can see the truth of the situation and understand how the accident occurred, without bias
If you are not sure whether or not a collision should be reviewed by authorities, it is always best to call the police anyway. The worst-case scenario is that the operators who respond to your phone call will tell you that your accident does not merit intervention on behalf of the police and you will be able to resolve the matter with the other driver. In these instances, you can inform your attorneys that the police were called but they could not come to the scene of the accident. Typically, however, the police will come to the scene and fill out an official police report. Photographic evidence becomes incredibly important in terms of your legal case because an abundance of evidence is better than none. Keep in mind that many people do not feel any symptoms of injury at the accident scene as they have adrenaline moving through them and, in the case of soft tissue injuries, the symptoms tend to come on progressively over the next hours and days as the inflammatory process begins. Even in small collisions and accidents that appear to clearly be the fault of the other driver, having a police report to support your version of events later can end up being crucial.
Under Washington State law, drivers are required to have proof of insurance on their person while operating the vehicle. When you sign with an insurance company, you should receive two items: an insurance card for your wallet and an insurance card to keep in your lockbox. 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. Cooperating with your insurance company is the best action you can take after speaking to police and seeking medical care. As soon as you are able, reach out to your insurance agent and let them know that a collision has happened. Adhere to the requirements of your insurance policy to the best of your ability. Keep a copy of your conversations with your insurance agent for proof of communication if needed later. Make sure you are familiar with the terms and conditions of your insurance policy because failing to comply with the expectations could result in a retraction of coverage.
Try to safely take pictures at the scene. You should photograph any angle you feel is relevant to the accident. Relevant items include the scene itself, the vehicles, the other person’s informational cards for identification and insurance, any injuries that are apparent, any unique thing that happened. If you come across other important things to photograph later on, take pictures anyway because they can still be included in your evidence. Too many photos are better than barely any photographs at all. Pictures of the scene are especially important and helpful if the motorcycle has been completely totaled as a result of being hit by a vehicle. Physical damage to the body should be documented as photographic evidence as well. The human body begins repairing itself the second it experiences trauma, so the sooner you take pictures of your injuries, the better, because waiting might mean losing your proof.
While you have a duty to cooperate with the authorities and your own insurance company, you are not required to give a statement to the adverse driver or his insurance company. If you have been involved in an accident and are not sure how to move forward, reach out to a personal injury law firm in your area for advice and legal representation. Moreover, insurance adjusters taking statements are trained to try to find ways in which to limit or deny claims of the other driver. 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.
If there are witnesses to your collision, obtain their contact information and an understanding of what they saw. While in most cases witnesses do not prove to be important or necessary, the problem is that you won’t know that at the time of the crash. Anything that might help you later should be recorded and collected at the time of the incident.
You are your number one priority, and if you have been injured in an accident, see a doctor as soon as possible. We often hear people involved in car accidents say that the injuries look worse than they really are, and people figure their wounds will heal over time, so they do not actively seek help. These mindsets are dangerous because you are putting your body at risk and the other party’s insurance company will use your refusal to seek medical care as irresponsibility. 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. If you notice any injuries to your body, make sure you mention them to your doctor so that they can be documented and referenced later. Not having an injury mentioned in your medical records is the same thing as not having had the injury at all when it comes time to settle your case.
The most common types of injuries we see from motorcycle accidents include:
Police reports and tickets are not admissible evidence in court. 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 you were given will tell you how to proceed. Sometimes hiring an attorney who handles traffic tickets is a good idea. Personal injury lawyers can assist in fighting traffic tickets so if you have already hired one for representation in your case, let them know a ticket was written in your name and they will advise you on the correct process. Traffic tickets have the potential to raise insurance rates for an incredible amount of time, so if you have even the slightest doubt about a ticket you received, take action and fight the penalty.
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. Though your insurance provider is a trustworthy source, you might not feel completely comfortable providing a statement to anyone, in which case you should reach out to a personal injury lawyer for guidance on the matter. It is better to say less than to provide too many details, and as a precautionary measure, never give a statement to the insurance company representing the opposing party. Insurance providers only care for the best interest of the people they insure, so speaking to the opposing party’s provider without your lawyer present is an ill-advised idea. If you are being asked to provide such a statement, you should immediately contact a personal injury attorney to discuss this. The insurance company has no right whatsoever to a recorded statement. You are welcome to answer basic questions posed by the opposing insurance provider but it is heavily advised that you speak to lawyer before saying anything at all.
Google has made it so much easier to find out information as quickly as a simple search. Google plays a part in helping people find other people, and that can be dangerous if you put poor information about yourself out there. Twitter, for example, keeps a record of everything you tweet. Even Facebook isn’t as private as you may think. There are numerous other sites that allow your information to be readable by anyone who wants to find it. People can find information about you if your settings allow it, and most of the time, the default settings do. While the prospect of bringing a legal claim is good reason to make sure that you don’t have unwanted information available to the world on social media, this is probably a good policy in any event. Moreover, if you alter your social media posts following the collision in light of your newly granted legal rights, you can get into trouble for altering evidence. It is better to be safe than sorry, so don’t post anything online that has to do with your personal injury case. It is best not to post anything about your accident or injuries you sustained. These posts can only come back to haunt you later down the road. If the posts are not something you’d want the judge to see, do not put them on your social media accounts.
We offer free consultations and there is no expectation that you retain us as your legal representation after meeting with us. Most personal injury attorneys have the same policy. There is no reason why you shouldn’t at least put in a telephone call or email inquiry regarding the pros and cons of hiring an attorney.
Please see the introduction to this section for other reasons why a motorcyclist should likely retain an attorney early on in their case.
There are many times where having an attorney in your corner is a good idea:
· If a recorded statement is needed by the insurance company.
· If medical records are requested by the opposing party.
· 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 own insurance company is not being cooperative and helping you with your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) claim.
· If there is a possibility that insurance can claim you were partially or fully at fault.
Selecting an attorney is tricky. Just about every attorney who wants another case will say they are the best fit for you. Even if a lawyer knows that they are not the best fit for you, they might tell you otherwise if they want your business. Here are some ways to decide for yourself who is the best lawyer for your needs:
2. Second, look for a 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. If an attorney feels that a case is too hard to bring to trial, they often times will not take it on because the work and expenses necessary are not justifiable. In other words, attorneys usually only take cases that they feel confident about winning. Also, simply winning is only half of the story in any case. You can win and only obtain a small award for your client. Asking a lawyer how successful his or her cases have been is a better question to pose. While it is true that their successfulness might be top-notch yet they still don’t win your case as well as you may like, but a track record gives comfort that they have a chance of getting you the result you want.
3. People leave reviews for just about anything these days and that includes their experiences with attorneys. One site that hosts reviews of lawyers is called AVVO, but unfortunately, they use algorithms that can be manipulated so their ratings may be faulty. A better way to understand the abilities of the lawyer is by reading reviews written by actual clients. You should not just go with a rating system either, but look at the comments and try to find someone that you think will provide the customer service and professional advice that you deserve.
4. You can also try calling the lawyers and talking to them yourself. Pay close attention to their mannerisms and how they speak to you on the phone. Do they offer to consult with you and discuss the details of your case? Do you get a vibe that makes you comfortable? Trust your gut and ask questions that are important to 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. You should only hire a lawyer who makes you feel comfortable and whom you can trust. Above all, only hire a lawyer who makes you feel confident and listens to you with care.
The negligent party is legally responsible for the losses of the other party involved in the accident. 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. Your own company may have a wage loss provision and a home helper provision. Some insurance providers even cover funeral expenses in their policies. The limitations of your insurance provider will dictate what you can obtain for compensation. The negligent party’s insurance provider usually only pays for property damage immediately following the accident. They will then write you one check for all other losses when you agree to release them and the negligent driver. The secondary check may not come until much later. The coverage your insurance provides you will help you pay for damage in the meantime.
We recommend you have your motorcycle restored to the condition it was in prior to the accident. This can be done at a body shop of your choice, sometimes to an extent. Some insurance companies keep a list of body shops covered under your policy.
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. Before you agree to send your vehicle to a repair shop, find out what they charge and what they believe needs fixing, and then compare it to your notes. Sometimes, a vehicle is so damaged in a wreck that it’s deemed a total loss, making repairs unnecessary, but you still receive a payout of “fair market value” as compensation for your car. The term “fair market value” refers to the price you could have sold your car for prior to the incident. The market value is determined by many different factors, including model, year made, interior condition, etc. 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.” Used car guides are not the best reference because they are more concerned with trades instead of being resold. You will likely have a hard time obtaining a total loss settlement offer without the following evaluations factors:
If you are interested in retaining the “salvage” (damaged vehicle) then you have the right to match the highest bid for the salvage that the insurance company obtains from a wrecking yard. You should expect to wait about two weeks after filing your claim. Feel free to call us with any questions you may have.
If you were a passenger in an accident involving motorcyclists, there are two important considerations for you to make. First, it doesn’t matter much who is at fault to you – whether your driver, the other driver, or a combination of both. You, as a passenger, are fault-free and can collect from any of the negligent parties. The second important consideration is what insurance will be available to you in the short run to help with medical bills and wage loss. We would first take a peek at the motorcycle’s insurance and then follow up with insurance companies on behalf of the drivers. In all cases we are looking for Personal Injury Protection coverage. If car insurance is not in place at the time of the accident, then we call upon your health insurance instead.
This depends on a lot of factors. First, are you happy with the amount offered? Does it sound fair to you? Beyond this happy scenario, however, are most of the cases. It is common for an insurance company to attempt to settle a claim for less than their monetary worth. It is not to spite or trick you but rather to see if you are willing to compromise for a lesser amount. If you decline their lower rates and they will not offer you more, contact an attorney. You can gain free knowledge about your case and your situation by scheduling a complimentary consult with us. The most promising way of ensuring that you are treated fairly is by hiring an attorney to act as your legal representation. Only a consultation will help you to understand what is best for you and your unique legal matter.
The statute of limitations for motorcyclist accidents is three years in Washington State. Failure to take necessary legal steps prior to the three-year mark will cause you to lose your rights to claiming compensation. It is best to have all steps completed by the two-year mark to allow room for any unpredictable setbacks. Moreover, if you would prefer to avoid a lawsuit, and most people would, acting early is your best course of action. 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.
Being partially at fault does not mean that you cannot bring a claim. Oddly enough, sometimes, partial fault benefits our clients and the case ends in higher rates of compensation in response to their legal claim. In order to provide an honest and accurate answer to this question, legal discussion would be necessary. With Weiner and Lambka, consultations are 100% free so that you can speak with us directly and learn the extent of your rights.
In the best case scenario, you have already insured yourself against this unfortunate scenario. To protect yourself, it is vital that you have UIM (under/uninsured motorist coverage) as part of your insurance policy. In the off chance that the opposing party involved in an accident doesn’t have insurance, or doesn’t have enough to cover the costs of the damage, UIM will protect you.
Learn more about Uninsured Motorist cases here.
According to the Washington State universal helmet law, all riders must be wearing a helmet while riding. Some states limit their helmet laws by the age of the rider and some do not require a helmet at all.
We have tracked down some of the most recent and comprehensive statistics on motorcycle accidents in the United States. The statistics included below were taken 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.1Because serious head injury is common among fatally injured motorcyclists, helmet use is important. When it comes to preventing death, helmets are 37% effective, and in terms of brain injury, helmets prevent them by 67%. Yet only 19 states and the District of Columbia mandate helmet use by all riders. 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. In December 2017, the United States Department of Transportation‘s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) posted a series of data about motorcyclists and ATV-riders involved in accidents.
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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