Wiener & Lambka, PS, has extensive experience handling motorcycle cases. Over the years, the lawyers have learned that cases involving motorcyclists come with their own set of challenges. First and foremost, it is important to understand that as someone injured on a motorcycle, the insurance industry and juries will have to be convinced that there was nothing that the rider could have done better to protect themselves. 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. In every case in which someone brings a claim for personal injuries, there is an implicit human bias to blame the victim. 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. One of the ways that this bias can be overcome is to demonstrate that great care was taken before and at the time 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. Demonstrating responsibility is a continuing theme to these types of cases. 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. In cases involving motorcyclists, this is also important because the insurance industry will often reduce their settlement offers in these types of cases, because they are well-aware of the bias problems with taking such a case to court. In order to get treated fairly, great care should be taken at each step of the claim.
Motorcyclists face hazards while driving on the road that drivers of other motor vehicles do not encounter. First is the obvious exposure of the driver. Motorcyclists are more likely to experience accidents that result in their personal injury or death than drivers of other vehicles. 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. A few possibilities that are of concern to motorcyclists and not to other drives include inconveniences like potholes, car parts that have been abandoned, railroad tracks along the roadway, and garbage flying around in traffic. Last, but not least, motorcyclists have a greater likelihood of not being seen by other drivers. Motorcyclists have to take on greater levels of precaution when turning corners, passing other cars, or changing lanes. Moreover, many motorcycle collisions are caused by the rider either speeding or being intoxicated, or a combination of the two. No matter the mode of transportation, no driver should operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, nor should they speed, and this applies especially to motorcyclists because they are already at a higher risk than other drivers.
The bias against motorcyclists is such a prominent and common mindset that motorcyclists themselves can be warped into believing it is true. While it is easy to start thinking that there must have been some way to have avoided the collision, the fact remains that motorcyclists have the same right to the road way as every other driver. Deciding who is at fault in a vehicle-motorcycle accident should be a process that follows the same guidelines as those applied to vehicle-vehicle incidents.
Both drivers should consider the following factors:
* Was either operator intoxicated?
* Did any moving violations occur, such as failure to signal, follow street signs, signal, etc.?
* Was either operator distracted by something such as a phone?
* Were the roadways in need of repair and therefore a contributing factor to the incident?
* Could the governmental authority over that roadway done something wrong in its design or maintenance?
* Was unattended maintenance of either vehicle a cause of the crash?
Again, motorcycle cases can be complex and it is important that an experienced attorney review your case as soon as possible. We prefer to be involved early on so that we can discuss with clients how to best tell their story of what happened. With the guidance of legal aids, you can avoid making statements that are wrongly interpreted by the opposing party. It is not rare that an incident is caused either in part, or fully, by a car part that failed to function correctly.
If a car does not work as it is supposed to and that malfunction causes injuries, liability claims can be filed against car companies and manufacturers. 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.
Before doing anything else, check your body for physical injuries from the crash. 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. This is especially important for motorcycle riders involved in a collision because not all injuries show clear symptoms right away.
Internal injuries, like concussions and bleeding, are examples of invisible injuries that only a doctor can detect right away, due to their subtle 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:
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. While waiting for police to arrive, drivers are allowed to call for assistance from ambulances and medics if necessary.
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. If photos can be taken in a safe manner, prior to moving the vehicles out of their positions, then it is advised that the drivers do so, for the sake of documentation. 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. 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. Documentation ensures that everyone can see the truth of the situation and understand how the accident occurred, without bias
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. 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. 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. 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 ticket for not having proof of insurance is several hundred dollars so, keep that information handy.
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. 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. When you contact your insurance agent, make sure you follow the rules and regulations of your policy. 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.
If you are able to take pictures without getting into harm’s way, do so as soon as possible. It is best to take pictures of any parts of the accident that seem relevant. Examples of relevant pieces of information are the position of the vehicles, insurance cards, photographs of the drivers’ identification cards, visible injuries, and broken glass on the roadway. 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. 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 injuries on your person should be documented in the form of photos 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. Moreover, insurance adjusters taking statements are trained to try to find ways in which to limit or deny claims of the other driver. Many clients of ours have given statements that cause unnecessary problems in their case due to lack of properly understanding the system they are now involved in. Contacting a personal injury lawyer for advice should take place prior to providing a statement to the other party’s insurance agency.
If bystanders witnessed the crash between you and another vehicle, see if they are willing to speak to the incident and ask for their contact information. 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. Witnesses are as important, if not more so, than photographs when it comes to evidence.
You are your number one priority, and if you have been injured in an accident, see a doctor as soon as possible. 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. 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. 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. 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. You can state that you were injured in X, Y, and Z ways but if you do not have documented evidence your statement will not hold up well in court.
The most common types of injuries we see from motorcycle accidents include:
Tickets issued by police and the police reports themselves are not admissible forms of evidence in a trial. Regardless, these are still important pieces of information. If you were given a ticket at the scene, but you do not feel that it was deserved, schedule an appointment and appear in court to fight the ticket. Follow the instructions on the ticket given for this process. 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. Washington State law does not require your insurance company to share your statement with the other party’s insurance representative. If you do not feel comfortable providing a statement to anyone prior to receiving legal assistance, contact an attorney as soon as possible and he/she can provide you with trustworthy advice on the matter. As a matter of principle, you should not ever provide a statement to the insurance company representing the other 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 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 insurance agency that represents the opposing party is not owed a statement and there is no legal ground for them to ask for one, so don’t feel pressured to provide 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.
Information that you might not otherwise be able to find out can be discovered nowadays, thanks to the helping hand of Google. Google plays a part in helping people find other people, and that can be dangerous if you put poor information about yourself out there. For example, Twitter keeps a running record of your tweets. Facebook does not privatize your posts unless you adjust your settings, too. There are numerous other sites that allow your information to be readable by anyone who wants to find it. Your settings might not be the same as your friends’ settings and this is how people can find your information. 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 the accident itself, and do not post information that could be used against you regarding how hurt you are and how your injuries affect your life. These posts can only come back to haunt you later down the road. If you wouldn’t want to show the judge the posts yourself, don’t display them online.
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. To encourage victims to come forward and discuss the details of their case, we do not charge for the consultation.
Please see the introduction to this section for other reasons why a motorcyclist should likely retain an attorney early on in their case.
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 they want you to turn over medical records (especially from the time period in front of the car accident).
· If the person who adjusts the value of your property is not cooperating with you.
· If the insurance company for the other side is being rude or unresponsive.
· If your own company is not cooperating in helping you with areas of coverage on your policy such as opening a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) claim or helping with property damage.
· If there is a chance that the other insurance provider tries to blame you for the accident.
Selecting an attorney is tricky. Attorneys are good at self-promotion and persuasive arguments. Some attorneys will happily tell you about how good they are in order to obtain your business. In order to choose who can help you best, keep these ideas in mind:
2. The next thing you should do is research their track record. Win-loss records are not the only important factor for attorneys. 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. Attorneys tend to only sign onto cases that have a greater chance of settling in their client’s favor. 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. Asking a lawyer how successful his or her cases have been is a better question to pose. 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. People leave reviews for just about anything these days and that includes their experiences with attorneys. While some sites, such as AVVO, utilize an algorithm that attempts to fairly rate the attorneys, these formulas are manipulatable and imprecise. 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. Do they treat you kindly and respectfully? Will they come to you to meet and go over your case? Do you feel 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. Hire an attorney you trust and the rest will fall into place.
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. 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. Your insurance provider handles property damage claims as well as details like lending you a loaner car. 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. Following the crash, the other party’s insurance company will usually just pay for property damage at first. 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.
If your motorcycle was not fully totaled, you should have it restored to its original condition right before the accident transpired. This can be done at a body shop of your choice, sometimes to an extent. 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 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. Make sure that all work performed is to your satisfaction before you sign an insurance check over to the repair shop. 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. 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. Market value is dependent upon many factors such as age, mileage, condition of the body and paint, condition of the interior, tread on tires, damage history, recent maintenance expenses, 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. An insurance company is disallowed from offering a “book figure” amount. The used car guides are usually low as to value because car dealerships use them for trade- in purpose more than for “selling price.” Itemized below are the evaluations factors that must be included in a total loss settlement offer:
In order to retain the salvage – or, damaged vehicle – then you can match the highest bid you’re offered for the salvage that the insurance company gets from a junk yard. Expect about a two-week waiting period after you file your claim for total loss. If you have questions feel free to call.
There are two important considerations if you were a passenger in a motorcycle accident. As a passenger, you are free from fault, no matter which vehicle caused the incident. 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 look first at the insurance on the bike, then whether the driver had additional insurance, and last whether you had automobile insurance that would apply. 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.
Many factors come together to answer this question. First, are you happy with the amount offered? Does it sound fair to you? The majority of cases end in happy scenarios. It is not uncommon for insurance companies to try settling claims for much less than their financial value. Insurance companies are never trying to trick you but rather they want to keep the fiscal damage at a minimum, for the sake of their client. An attorney is your best bet when it comes to demanding higher settlements. Since consultations are free, it is best that you take full advantage of the opportunity. Attorneys ensure that you are treated fairly by the other party and the judge overseeing your case. We highly recommend you schedule a consultation appointment in order to fully understand your situation and the best plan of action for your particular case.
Under Washington State law, motorcyclists must file a lawsuit regarding their incident within three years of the date the crash occurred. If you do not take appropriate legal steps in front of the three-year mark, then you will lose your rights to compensation. It is best to have all steps completed by the two-year mark to allow room for any unpredictable setbacks. If your preference is to avoid a lawsuit altogether, the sooner you act, the better. 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. As with all legal matters, consulting with an attorney and adhering to their legal advice is best.
Partial responsibility for a vehicular incident does not take away your rights to file 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. 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. 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. 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 looked into the statistics surrounding recent motorcycle accidents in the United States. The following information is 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 are less stable and less visible than cars and often have high-performance capabilities. When a motorcycle crashes, the riders do not have exterior protection like a car would provide, leaving motorcyclists unprotected and at risk for greater injuries. 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. When it comes to preventing death, helmets are 37% effective, and in terms of brain injury, helmets prevent them by 67%. Despite these high statistics and clear benefits of helmets, only 19 states, not including D.C., mandate that all riders wear a helmet. In recent years, more and more people have been riding ATVs on public roads despite the illegalness of doing so, and about 300+ people die because of it every 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. Since the early 1980s, motorcyclist deaths have been on the decline until 1998, when this number started – and continues – to increase. Motorcycle deaths accounted for 13 percent of all motor vehicle crash deaths in 2016 and were more than double the number of motorcyclist deaths in 1997.
“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“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"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“You minimized my stress levels on a process foreign and scary to me. Very professional, caring, and patient with me.” - A. Maas“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“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“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“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“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"Wiener & Lambka always kept me up to date with my case. I'd certainly suggest them to a friend." - J. Trujillo“Everything was great. It was the best legal experience I have ever had!” - T. Hoskins“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“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
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