Lawyers for Motorcycle Accidents in Tacoma

Wiener & Lambka, PS, is a law firm with vast history and combined knowledge when it comes to representing cases involving motorcyclists. Cases in which motorcyclists are injured 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. 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. Often, there is a bias because people are quick to assume that the person who has been injured did something to provoke the negligence. 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. 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. 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.

Tacoma Motorcycle Accident Attorneys - Wiener & Lambka

Tacoma Motorcycle Accident Attorneys – Wiener & Lambka

UNIQUE HAZARDS TO MOTORCYCLISTS

Motorcyclists encounter unique hazards in their operation on roadways that set them apart from other vehicles. 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. Also, riding a motorcycle, as opposed to driving with a metal shell around you, exposes the human body to the elements of weather and debris, either of which can cause or contribute to an accident. 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. Another thing to consider is that a smaller mode of transportation makes the drivers harder to see, and motorcyclists are often overlooked or invisible to other drivers on the road. 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 is such a prominent and common mindset that motorcyclists themselves can be warped into believing it is true. 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?

* Were any of the operators driving while distracted?

* Was there any damage to the roadway that may have contributed to the crash?

* 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. 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.

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. Whether due to poor engineering in the design phase or a problem in the manufacturing of the part, if there is a defect such that it did not work as one would reasonably expect and it causes an accident, then there is a possible legal claim.

HOW TO PROCEED IF YOU ARE A MOTORCYCLIST INVOLVED IN AN ACCIDENT

Before doing anything else, check your body for physical injuries from the crash. If you are injured then seek medical care right away. If you are not able to pinpoint a specific injury but feel as though you are not feeling right either mentally or physically, then err on the side of caution and seek medical care. We recommend that all motorcyclists involved in a collision be checked out by medical professionals because not all injuries are evident immediately after they occur.

Some physical damage, like injuries involving soft tissue and the brain, do not cause visible symptoms right away so it is important that a trauma doctor take a look at the state of your body post-accident.

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:

Do Not Leave the Scene

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.

Moving the Vehicles: Good Or Bad Idea?

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. 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. Failure to document the scene with photographic evidence allows for the possibility of false accusations and confounding stories when the case goes before the judge, because without proof, either side can say whatever they want. 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. It is important that the aftermath of all collisions are properly documented for the sake of a fair case.

Contact Authorities

Whether or not you believe that the collision merits a call to the police, it is likely advisable to do so. 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. 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. Your photographs will be very important to your case. Not all injuries are apparent immediately after a collision, but if you realize you have sustained a serious injury once your adrenaline settles, the photographs you took will be considered substantial evidence in upholding any personal injury claims. Even in cases where you believe it’s obvious that the other driver was at fault, a police report as well as documented photographs of the scene will further support and prove your assertion that you are not at fault.

Collect Information from the Other Driver Involved

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.

Contact Your Insurance Provider

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. For your own records, keep a copy of your communication with your agent, whether it be in the form of physical letters or emails. 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.

Take Photographs

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 injuries on your person should be documented in the form of photos 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.

Watch What You Say to Authorities

You are not required by law to provide a statement for the other driver involved, nor do you have to speak with his or her insurance provider. 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.

Obtain Witness Information

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. Anything that might help you later should be recorded and collected at the time of the incident.

Seek Medical Care

Your first priority following an accident should be to seek medical care for your injuries. 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. 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. 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. By the same logic, it is important that you follow your doctor’s instructions and follow up as appropriate. It is important that your injuries be documented for use as evidence so tell your doctor about any injuries you noticed to your body. 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.

Types of Common Motorcycle Injuries

Some of the more common types of injuries include…

  • Concussion and traumatic brain injuries
  • Broken bones and fractured body parts
  • Road rash and abrasions
  • Lower body injuries including fractures and abrasions
  • Upper body injuries including fractures and abrasions
  • Internal injuries
  • Back and neck injuries

What to Do About a Ticket

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 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 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 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.

How To Decide If You Should Provide a Recorded Statement

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. 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. The only insurance company that has your best interest in mind is your own. 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.

Social Media

Google has made it so much easier to find out information as quickly as a simple search. Google can pull up just about any piece of information that contains your name, including your social media accounts. For example, Twitter keeps a running record of your tweets. Even Facebook isn’t as private as you may think. If someone wants to find out information about you, your social media accounts ae their best bet. 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. 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. 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. Do not post anything that you wouldn’t want a judge or jury making decisions about your case to see.

How to Decide If You Need a Lawyer

Our consultations are free and completely without obligation to retain us as your attorneys. 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.

Motorcyclists injured in accidents can benefit the most from free consultations because they need to start their cases especially early, due to the nature of the incident.

There are many times where having an attorney in your corner is a good idea:

· If the insurance company wants a recorded statement.

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

· If the property damage adjuster is being rude or uncooperative.

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

· If your insurance provider is making it more difficult to move along and open a Personal Injury Protection claim (PIP).

· If your accident involves any possibility of the other person’s insurance company alleging that you were partially or fully at fault.

How Should You Choose a Lawyer?

It is difficult to select an attorney. Every attorney likes to think they are the best choice for you, and that’s what they’ll tell you. In order to get your business, a lawyer desperate for work will tell you that they can help you even if they cannot. Here are some things that will help you sort through the marketing:

  1. First, look for experience. For example, at Wiener & Lambka, PS, we have over 50 years of experience working personal injury cases. We have seen just about anything you can think of and we know what to do in just about every situation.

2. Next, find out what their track history looks like. Win-loss records are not the only important factor for attorneys. Attorneys select what cases they want to work on and which ones to take to trial. 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. Winning is only half the battle anyway. 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 the previous outcome on cases is no guarantee that your case will also have a good outcome, a track record helps you to know that the attorneys are successful in their field.

3. Third, look at reviews. 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 method of understanding how good the attorney is involves looking at what former clients have to say about that attorney. For a true summary of an attorney and his/her practice, turn to the written reviews of the people who know what it’s like to be represented by the lawyers firsthand.

4. Another option is to call the lawyers yourself and ask them questions. Pay close attention to their mannerisms and how they speak to you on the phone. Are they willing to make time to see you soon and go over the details of your case? Are you comfortable talking to them? Your gut doesn’t lie, so if you feel a little uncomfortable with the situation, maybe they are not the lawyer for you. At the end of your case, in order to obtain a settlement, the insurance company is going to have you sign a release. The release will state that you accept the settlement money as it is and you will not seek more in the future. If you cannot trust your attorney, or they don’t make you feel at ease, then you’ll be setting yourself up for a lot of frustration and potentially failure. Hire an attorney you trust and the rest will fall into place.

What Losses Can You Get Compensated For?

The negligent party is responsible for all of your reasonable losses. This means that anything you lost, be it an item or an occupation or something replaceable, should be rightfully returned to you in the form of compensation. Your own insurance provider might be responsible for paying your medical bills, depending on your policy. Your insurance provider handles property damage claims as well as details like lending you a loaner car. Look into your policy and find out if you’re eligible for home-helper and/or wage-loss provisions. Funeral expenses are also sometimes included in automobile policies. The limitations of your insurance provider will dictate what you can obtain for compensation. Generally, the negligent party’s company will only pay for your property damage at the time of the accident. After you state your losses, the other insurance provider will write a check in your name as compensation. You may not receive the subsequent check until the end of the case. The coverage your insurance provides you will help you pay for damage in the meantime.

What to Do If Your Vehicle Was Damaged Irreparably

We recommend you have your motorcycle restored to the condition it was in prior to the accident. You may have the vehicle repaired at a body shop of your choice. Some insurance companies have a list of “approved shops” and the company will guarantee the work as long as you own the vehicle if you use one of their approved shops.

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. As a general rule of thumb, don’t give your money over to a service provider until they have completed the work. If you elect to use the insurance company recommended shop, you should probably obtain an independent review of the damage and an estimate for repair from that shop as well to make sure that everything is being properly considered. 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. 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. It is best to do this yourself, too. “Book figures” are not something the law allows insurance companies to offer. The used car guides are usually low as to value because car dealerships use them for trade- in purpose more than for “selling price.” 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. It usually takes about two weeks from the date of reporting a claim until a total loss offer is made as it takes time to determine all of the above. 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. As a passenger, you are free from fault, no matter which vehicle caused the incident. 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 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. Our top priority is Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. If there was none, or it exhausts, then your health insurance would kick in at that point.

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? The majority of cases end in happy scenarios. Insurance companies typically seek to settle claims for far less than they are worth. It is not to spite or trick you but rather to see if you are willing to compromise for a lesser amount. If the insurance company will not raise its offers to the point of what you consider to be reasonable, then you should consult with an attorney about your case. 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. A consultation is your only honest way of understanding your situation and figuring out what is best for you.

How Long Do You Have to Start a Lawsuit?

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. In reality, we suggest taking these steps at the two-year mark in order to have time to discover and correct and problems with the legal process. You are more likely to avoid a lawsuit if you file your claims sooner than later. 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. Again, an early consultation with a good personal injury attorney is advised.

How To Respond If You Are Partially To Blame for the Incident

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 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. As with any car accident case, a consultation is free and advisable so that you know your rights.

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

Hopefully, you have insured yourself against this scenario. It is very important that you have UIM (under/uninsured motorist coverage) on your automobile insurance policy. This addition to your policy protects you if you are involved in an accident where the other party either has no insurance or not enough to cover the extent of the damage.

Learn more about Uninsured Motorist cases here.

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 researched comprehensive and recent statistics regarding motorcycle accidents in the US. 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 and ATVs 2016

Unlike cars, motorcycles are not the most stable and they are harder to see in traffic. 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, 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. 1Head injuries happen so often among motorcyclists that helmet use is absolutely necessary. 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. 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.

Data subsections:

Trends

In 2016, approximately 4,976 motorcyclists died from crashes. Though the number of motorcyclist deaths were declining in the early 1980s, they began to increase again starting in 1998 through to today. 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.

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