Lawyers for Motorcycle Accidents in Seatac

Wiener & Lambka, PS, has years of experience in personal injury cases involving motorcyclists. These cases present a number of unique 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. Even then, there is a predominant bias against motorcycle riding, and a good attorney needs to be aware of this in order to overcome it. There in an implicit tendency to blame the injured victim and assume they were somehow at fault. Showing that the injured person was taking appropriate caution when the incident occurred is often of great importance. Motorcyclists are met with a lot of assumptions, one being that the bias that they are at fault, and the other being that motorcyclists supposedly should always expect an incident to occur as a risk factor. 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. Another way to overcome this bias is to demonstrate that the injured rider has taken appropriate and reasonable care to get themselves back to a state of good health. Showing that the injured motorcyclist took responsibility for his or her injuries helps a case to result in the injured party’s favor. 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. 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. Having a lawyer advocate for you will ensure that your case is treated with justice and care.

Seatac Motorcycle Accident Attorneys - Wiener & Lambka

Seatac Motorcycle Accident Attorneys – Wiener & Lambka

HAZARDS UNIQUE TO MOTORCYCLISTS

Hazards on the roadway are different for motorcyclists compared to operators of other automobiles. To begin with, motorcycles do not provide much protection to the driver, which physically exposes the motorcyclist to greater dangers. 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. 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. Last, but not least, motorcyclists have a greater likelihood of not being seen by other drivers. Due to the difficulty other drivers have with seeing motorcyclists on the road, motorcyclists have to take on a more acute sense of awareness and exercise more caution than your typical driver. Often, accidents involving injured motorists involve intoxicated drivers and speeding. 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.

HOW TO DETERMINE FAULT IN MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENTS

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. 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.

Both drivers should consider the following factors:

* Were any drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs?

* Were the rules of the road obeyed or did either driver fail to follow street laws?

* Was either operator distracted by something such as a phone?

* Was the incident a result of something wrong with the roadway?

* Could the governmental authority over that roadway done something wrong in its design or maintenance?

* 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. The possibility that the incident was partially or fully caused by a malfunction on part of one of the involved vehicles is very high.

Defective parts can give rise to product liability claims. Companies only begin recalling items when they learn of their defective nature, and sometimes, this doesn’t happen until a serious incident occurs. If a car part was not properly thought through during the engineering process, or the manufacturers made an error in crafting the part, then the defect is enough cause for a legal claim.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF INVOLVED IN A COLLISION WHILE RIDING MY 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. 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.

Soft tissue or closed head injuries can occur with little to no immediate symptoms.

If you do not feel that you are in dire need of a physical evaluation, the following tips can advise you on what you should do next:

Remain at the Scene

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. When police arrive, it is important that drivers comply with the demands of the officers and provide proof of a license and registration. It is legal to call for medics and seek medical attention immediately following a collision if injuries were sustained during the accident.

Moving the Vehicles: Good Or Bad Idea?

It is rare for a collision to result in serious injuries or deaths, but if these have occurred you must not move the vehicles because the police will need to document the scene of the collision. On the other hand, if the vehicles are presenting a hazard and can be moved to a safer place, then that should be done. Prior to moving the vehicles, if photos can be taken in a safe manner then this is advisable. If you do not document the scene and have pictorial evidence to reference, it becomes your word against the other driver’s word, and this opens the doors to false reporting. 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. It is important that the aftermath of all collisions are properly documented for the sake of a fair case.

Dial 9-1-1 Immediately After An Incident Occurs

If you are not sure whether or not a collision should be reviewed by authorities, it is always best to call the police anyway. 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. At least in these circumstances you will be able to state later that you did call them, but you could not make them come to the scene. 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. Your photographs will be very important to your case. 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. 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.

Exchanging Insurance Information

It is illegal to drive a vehicle in Washington State without proof of insurance in the car. 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. If you are caught driving without proof of insurance, the police will write a ticket in your name for a few hundred dollars, so make sure you follow this law without any exception.

Get in Touch With Your Insurance Company

Your insurance policy likely requires that you report collisions and accidents to it. 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. As soon as you are able, reach out to your insurance agent and let them know that a collision has happened. Make sure you follow the specific requirements in your policy and document your efforts. Keep a copy of your conversations with your insurance agent for proof of communication if needed later. 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.

Document the Scene with Photo Evidence

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. Any additional chance to take photos should be taken advantage of. 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. Any physical manifestation of injury should be continuously documented with photos. 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.

Seek Legal Advice Before Talking to the Other Party

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. 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. Unfortunately, not everyone knows that they do not have to speak with the other party without legal aid present, and we have run into sticky situations where unnecessary problems are caused by providing statements to the other party. It is a good decision to refrain from providing a statement to the other party’s insurance company until you have contacted a lawyer for advice.

Collect Stories and Contact Information from Bystanders Who Witnessed the Crash

If there are witnesses to your collision, obtain their contact information and an understanding of what they saw. If you ever need to prove the validity of your claims in court, witnesses are extremely beneficial. For that matter, you should take notes on anything about the crash that seems relevant so that you have something to rely upon later.

Seek Medical Care

Your first priority following an accident should be to seek medical care for your injuries. While this seems like common sense, many people choose to wait or hope that their injuries are going to go away as quickly as they came on. The problem with taking this approach in the context of a car accident case is that the insurance company for the other driver will use any delay against you and claim that if you were all that hurt, you would have sought medical care. Without receiving medical attention for your injuries, you can be blamed for perpetuating your injuries and, in extreme cases, the other party might accuse you of making your injuries worse by not getting the help needed. By the same logic, it is important that you follow your doctor’s instructions and follow up as appropriate. 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. When it comes time to settle your case, you will need proof of evidence and photographs of injuries is stronger than just your words.

The Most Common Types of Motorcycle Crash Injuries

Injuries can include, but are not limited to, the following examples:

  • Concussion and traumatic brain injuries
  • Bone fractures
  • Road rash and abrasions
  • Lower body injuries including fractures and abrasions
  • Upper body injuries including fractures and abrasions
  • Internal injuries
  • Spinal injuries

What to Do About a Ticket

The police report itself and whether one party got a ticket or not are not admissible evidence in a trial on the matter. Police reports and tickets are still important to insurance agencies and the drivers involved in the accident. If a ticket was written in your name after the incident, but you do not believe it is justified, you have rights and they allow you to dispute the ticket in court. The ticket will have a detailed explanation on 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 not only pose a slight monetary inconvenience in the moment but they have the potential to affect your finances long-term by increasing your insurance rates and limits; that said, fight a ticket if you do not believe it was deserved.

Is it a Good Idea to Give a Recorded Statement?

If your insurance agency requests a statement from you, it is best that you provide them with one. Under Washington State law, anything you tell your insurance company is between you and the agency. 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 the other insurance company asks for a statement, politely decline for the time being and find a personal injury lawyer who is well-equipped to represent you in court. The insurance company has no right whatsoever to a recorded statement. Answering base-level questions is reasonable, but the best route to take is to speak with a lawyer in order to decipher the best plan of action.

Social Media

If you have ever Googled yourself or another person, you know that you can sometimes find information about them that you otherwise would not know. 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. 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. It is always in good practice to make sure you don’t have unwanted information readily accessible to anyone on social media. Also, deleting social media posts or editing them in any way after the incident can be considered altering evidence, which is not a good charge to have against you. 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. Anything you post will only hurt you in the end. If you wouldn’t want to show the judge the posts yourself, don’t display them online.

How to Decide If You Need a Lawyer

Our consultations are free and completely without obligation to retain us as your attorneys. 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 in your corner is a great idea for a variety of reasons:

· If the insurance company who covers the opposing party asks for a statement from you.

· If you are asked to provide a copy of your medical records.

· If you are being met with defiance from anyone.

· If the opposing party’s insurance company is not complying with standards or respecting your time.

· 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.

Choosing a Lawyer 101

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 ways to decide for yourself who is the best lawyer for your needs:

  1. First, find out if the lawyer has much experience with the type of law your case deals with. For example, at Wiener & Lambka, PS, we have over 50 years of experience working personal injury cases. We have seen so much in our time working these cases that rarely anything surprises us anymore, and we have the skills necessary to handle any rare occurrences.

2. Next, find out what their track history looks like. Win-loss records matter but they are not a definite indication of how well an attorney performs. 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. You can win and only obtain a small award for your client. The proper question is more, how successful have your cases been? Their previous outcomes are not a guarantee that yours will result the same way but it at least provides some evidence that the chances they will successfully win your case is clear.

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. Don’t base your decision off of a website’s rating – look instead at the commentary left by previous clients.

4. Call and talk with them. Make note of how they treat you during the phone call. Do they offer to consult with you and discuss the details of your case? Do you feel comfortable? Trust your gut and ask questions that are important to you. In order to obtain a settlement, you’ll have to sign a release. 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.

Figuring Out Your Compensation Opportunities

The negligent party is legally responsible for the losses of the other party involved in the accident. This includes the damage to your motorcycle, the cost of a rental car if necessary, your lost wages, your out of pocket expenses, damage to personal property, your medical bills incurred for accident-caused injuries, your future medical bills, future lost wages, future impairment of earning capacity, and your general damages – all pain and suffering and impairment of your life caused by the injuries you incurred. Sometimes, the medical bills are the responsibility of your own insurance company but that is completely dependent upon the policy you have. You may handle property damage and car rental through you own company. See if your insurance provider offers wage-loss and home-helper provisions. Funeral expenses are also sometimes included in automobile policies. The limitations of your insurance provider will dictate what you can obtain for compensation. Following the crash, the other party’s insurance company will usually just pay for property damage at first. Your other losses will be compensated for in a check later on. Because you need to be in a proper position to know about your future as it relates to the accident in order to sign off on that release, the bodily injury payment typically does not occur until you are completely done with your treatment and have knowledge of your medical future. The coverage your insurance provides you will help you pay for damage in the meantime.

How to Handle Vehicle Repairs

If your motorcycle is repairable, it must be restored to its pre-accident condition. 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 a rental car is owed to you while your car is in the shop, you can take the insurance provider up on that offer, or you can have the money that would normally go towards a rental car paid directly to you instead. Before you hand your insurance check over to the mechanics, make sure everything was done satisfactorily. 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. 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. “Fair market value” is what your car or truck could have been sold for the day before the accident. The market value is determined by many different factors, including model, year made, interior condition, etc. In order to figure out your vehicle’s market value, your insurance company conducts a market survey where they call dealerships and look at current listings for comparable vehicles. Doing this yourself is a smart idea as well. “Book figures” are not something the law allows insurance companies to offer. 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:

  1. Fair Market Value
  2. Sales Tax on the fair market amount
  3. Pro-rated unused portion of your license tab fees
  4. RENTAL CAR UNTIL FAIR MARKET OFFER IS MADE or an amount equal to daily rental rate paid directly to you for the loss of use of your vehicle if you do not obtain a rental.
  5. Title Transfer Fee

You can keep the salvage if you’d like but this involves a conversation with your insurance company and junk yards near you. You should expect to wait about two weeks after filing your claim. If you have questions feel free to call.

What to Do if You Were a Passenger in a Motorcycle Accident

You must consider two things if you were the passenger in a car crash involving a motorcyclist. First, it doesn’t matter much who is at fault to you – whether your driver, the other driver, or a combination of both. Passengers are fault-free in these situations and you can even file a claim against the driver of the vehicle you were in, if you wish. 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 there was no insurance at the time of the accident, then we will call upon your health insurance provider.

When To Accept the Settlement Offered by the Other Party’s Insurance

This depends on a lot of factors. First, consider whether or not the amount offered is substantial or acceptable to you. Do you believe that it is fair? Most cases end well. It is not uncommon for insurance companies to try settling claims for much less than their financial value. You cannot really blame them for at least trying to see if you will settle for a small amount; such is the nature of a corporation, which has duties to maximize profits for its shareholders. An attorney is your best bet when it comes to demanding higher settlements. Consultations are free, so you might as well take advantage of the opportunity to gain insight about your case. The most promising way of ensuring that you are treated fairly is by hiring an attorney to act as your legal representation. A consultation is your only honest way of understanding your situation and figuring out what is best for you.

When Should You File Your Lawsuit By?

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. Presentation, negotiations, and settlements take some time to conduct, so the sooner you file a lawsuit and begin the process, the more likely you are to complete the steps before the statute of limitations expires. A personal injury lawyer is your best source of information and guidance when it comes to matters such as these.

What If I am Partially at Fault for the Accident?

Partial responsibility for a vehicular incident does not take away your rights to 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 involves a legal discussion about Washington law and insurance rights to recovery that is beyond the scope of this question because the answer is very case specific. With Weiner and Lambka, consultations are 100% free so that you can speak with us directly and learn the extent of your rights.

What Should I Do If the Other Party is Not Insured?

Our hope is that you preemptively insured yourself against this unlucky circumstance. As a protective measure, it is so important that your automobile insurance policy includes UIM (under/uninsured motorist coverage). This type of insurance steps into the shoes of the negligent party who either does not have, or does not have enough, bodily injury insurance.

Learn more about Uninsured Motorist cases here.

Helmet Rules in Washington:

Washington State follow the universal helmet law, meaning that all riders must wear an appropriate helmet at all times. There are some states who do not uphold the universal helmet law and therefore only require it for some people, depending on their age.

MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT STATISTICS:

We have tracked down some of the most recent and comprehensive statistics on motorcycle accidents in the United States. The statistics shown below were pulled from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute. All of these statistics can be found on the IIHS website.

Motorcycles and ATVs 2016

Motorcycles are less stable and less visible than cars and often have high-performance capabilities. When motorcycles crash, their riders lack the protection of an enclosed vehicle, so they’re more likely to be injured or killed. In 2015, the government estimated that the number of people who died while riding motorcycles was 29 times higher than the number of deaths resulting from driving a car. 1Because serious head injury is common among fatally injured motorcyclists, helmet use is important. Helmets are about 37-percent effective in preventing motorcycle deaths and about 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries. That said, there are only 19 states, not including the District of Columbia, that require helmet use at all times for all rides. All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are not designed for on-highway use, but in recent years more than 300 riders died in crashes on public roads annually. The United States Department of Transportation‘s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) released the following details in December of 2017.

Data subsections:

Trends

A total of 4,976 motorcyclists died in crashes in 2016. Motorcyclist deaths had been declining since the early 1980s but began to increase in 1998 and continued to increase through 2008. 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.

“I was satisfied by the timely manner with which my case was handled. I would definitely recommend Wiener & Lambka to a friend in the future.” - D. Yusuf
“Everything was great. It was the best legal experience I have ever had!” - T. Hoskins
“Wiener & Lambka took care of the leg work for me and even managed to get a larger settlement than expected.” - J. Hanson
“Everyone was great. The staff at Wiener and Lambka make a good thing out of a bad situation, and for that, I am very thankful.” - D. Grami
“Wiener & Lambka get the job done. I appreciated their concern and interest in my case, and would definitely recommend them to a friend.” - Y. Martin
"It was a stress free experience. I particularly enjoyed when, on my initial call, they sent someone out to my house to speak with me in person. I would certainly use or recommend Wiener & Lambka in the future." - M. Randall
“The service and the staff were great. I was happy with everything, and would refer Wiener and Lambka to someone else in the future.” - I. Aleman
"Wiener & Lambka always kept me up to date with my case. I'd certainly suggest them to a friend." - J. Trujillo
“The Staff at Wiener and Lambka are friendly and understand customer needs. They reduced their fee on my case and didn’t even take any on my son’s.” - M. Ngo
“Wiener and Lambka did a good job of keeping me up to date on my case, and I’d definitely suggest their services to someone looking for an attorney.” - L. Lafond
“You minimized my stress levels on a process foreign and scary to me. Very professional, caring, and patient with me.” - A. Maas
“Calls were returned in a timely manner, and the office staff is friendly. I’d recommend Wiener and Lambka to a friend in the future.” - T. Their
“A job well done! The staff at Wiener and Lambka made a point of explaining everything to me and if necessary I’d work with them again in a heartbeat.” - O. Yusuf
“In my moment of Crisis Wiener & Lambka lent me a helping hand. Their dedication to my case was outstanding. They stuck by my side and fought for my rights. Thank you!” - K. Tuazon
“Wiener & Lambka helped me through the process, always discussing all of the available options. In particular, I was happy about the ease with which I was able to access my attorneys.”- B. Froton

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