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Seattle Motorcycle Accident Lawyers 

Seattle Motorcycle Accident Lawyers  Enjoying the freedom offered by a late afternoon motorcycle ride in Seattle is something almost anyone can get behind. However, every time you ride, you are taking a risk. Understanding this risk is imperative to reducing the likelihood you will be involved in an accident.

Why Are Motorcycles Dangerous?

While it may seem obvious, it is worth restating. Anyone riding a motorcycle is vulnerable to injuries if they are involved in an accident. They have minimal protection, even when they wear helmets or other protective gear.
Compared to the other vehicles on the road, motorcycles are incredibly lightweight.

If an accident occurs between a motorcycle and an automobile, the motorcycle almost always loses. Unfortunately, the injuries many experience are catastrophic or even fatal.

If you or someone in your family was injured or hurt in a motorcycle accident, our law firm can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Call Bernard Law Group to seek help from a motorcycle accident lawyer Seattle. We can explain your rights and options, including if you are eligible for compensation

Common Causes of Seattle Motorcycle Accidents

The number of motorcycle accidents each year is concerning. Motorcyclists need to know the most common causes so they can take steps to keep themselves safe. Riders don’t have the body of a vehicle to protect them in a collision. Depending on the severity of the crash, the consequences can be life-threatening.

As personal injury attorneys in Seattle, we have seen countless motorcycle accidents. We have also helped countless victims. Our team understands the challenges victims and their loved ones experience. We also know their struggles as they try to obtain justice and compensation.

Here are some of the most common causes of motorcycle crashes.

  • Unsafe lane changes: Both drivers and riders do this. However, drivers are more likely to change lanes without looking. Check your blind spot before changing lanes to avoid a motorcycle crash.
  • Drivers opening car doors unexpectedly: The number of distracted driving on the road today is significant. Occasionally, they remain distracted even after stopping. To avoid accidents, drivers should look in their mirrors and check the road before opening their doors. Riders must also stay alert when driving by parked cars.
  • Traveling at high rates of speed: Riders like the thrill of going fast. We understand that. But we also know that the behavior isn’t necessarily sound. Speeding often leads to crashes whether you’re a driver or a rider.
  • Following close or stop suddenly: Drivers and riders may sometimes follow too closely. If the traffic slows down or stops unexpectedly, a crash occurs.
  • Lane-splitting: In some states, the practice is legal. However, this is not the case in Washington (it is only legal in California). Still, lane-splitting, or riding between two lanes, still happens, which increases the potential of an accident.
  • Risky road conditions: Whether the weather, an accident, or construction debris are to blame, dangerous road conditions will make accidents more likely.
  • Left turns: Believe it or not, drivers make too many distance misjudgments. As a result, collisions with riders occur frequently. Mitigating these errors with better practice and traffic education is a must.
  • Drunk or intoxicated driving: This is also a common factor in many car accidents. Driving under the influence may put the driver at risk of facing both civil and criminal liability.
  • Equipment defect: Recalls have never been as common as they are now. With more technological advancements, this trend will continue. Defective vehicles are more likely to put lives at risk.
  • Drivers with little or no experience: Veteran drivers are likelier to know that they must watch the road to avoid accidents. But inexperienced drivers are not, unless they go through defensive driving classes.
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Motorcycle Accident-Related Injuries

Motorcycle accidents can result in a range of injuries; some are life-altering. Due to how exposed riders are, they often suffer more severe injuries compared to car occupants in similar accidents.

  • Road Rash: Superficial but can lead to severe infections. It may require extensive medical treatment, including skin grafts.
  • Head Trauma: Includes concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBI). It can occur despite helmet use, potentially leading to long-term cognitive and emotional issues.
  • Fractures: Common in lower extremities due to impact force. Upper body fractures, such as arms and collarbones, often result from attempts to break falls.
  • Spinal Injuries: It can range from minor back injuries to severe spinal cord damage. High risk of leading to paralysis or other permanent disabilities.
  • Internal Injuries: Includes internal bleeding and organ damage. Often require urgent medical attention and can be life-threatening.
  • Limb Injuries: Amputations or severe injuries to limbs due to collision impact. It may require surgeries and long-term rehabilitation.
  • Neck Injuries: Ranging from whiplash to more serious cervical spine damage. It can lead to chronic pain and mobility issues.
  • Facial Injuries: Occur when the face hits the road or another object. It can include dental injuries, jaw fractures, and lacerations.
  • Psychological Trauma: Emotional and psychological impacts like PTSD or anxiety. Often overlooked but can be as debilitating as physical injuries.

Motorcycle Laws in Seattle

Following Washington motorcycle laws is about more than just getting a license. It’s about being safe and responsible in every aspect of motorcycle operation. In addition to keeping riders in good legal standing, knowing and following motorcycle laws reduces, and even eliminates, motorcycle accidents. Proper compliance and knowledge will also reduce, or remove, motorcyclists’ and automobilists’ liability for accidents.

Quick Summary of Washington State Motorcycle Laws

  • As applicable, riders must possess a Class C, M1, or M2 license or a valid learner’s permit.
  • Riders must wear a DOT-approved helmet in good repair & eye protection
  • Motorcycles must have a passenger seat and footrests to carry passengers
  • Riders under the age of 18 must pass a motorcycle education course
  • Passengers must not be under the age of 5
  • The headlight & taillight must remain on when riding
  • Maximum handlebar height is 30” above the seat
  • Motorcycles must have a left and right mirror
  • Motorcycles must have working turn signals

It is important to note that state law doesn’t require protective clothing like jackets or gloves. However, officials highly recommend that riders always use the most safety equipment possible to protect themselves. Riders operating motorcycles with windshields do not require eye protection.

Washington law states stipulate other requirements, too. These include:

  • Motorcycle riders must have a driver’s license with a motorcycle endorsement.
  • Motorcyclists must pass an advanced knowledge and skills exam to obtain a motorcycle endorsement.
  • Motorcycles with steering wheels or partially or fully enclosed seating areas with safety belts do not require an endorsement.
  • Motorcycles with engines under 49ccs are exempt. Scooters 49ccs and under simply require a valid Washington state driver’s license.

Endorsement Requirements

The minimum fine for riding a motorcycle in Washington without an endorsement is $386. Additionally, authorities can impound a motorcycle if it is operated on roadways without the required endorsement.

Washington has two types of motorcycle endorsements: a two-wheeled motorcycle endorsement and a three-wheeled motorcycle endorsement. Operating a three-wheeled motorcycle or a motorcycle with a sidecar in Washington requires a specific endorsement.

Washington requires separate training, testing, and endorsements for two-wheeled and three-wheeled motorcycles because of differences in handling. Three-wheeled motorcycle riders must pass both a written and driving test to add the endorsement to their driver’s license. This special certification applies to motorcycles with sidecars and reverse trikes.

A two-wheeled motorcycle endorsement does not apply to these types of motorcycles. Conveniently, some DMVs provide three-wheeled motorcycles for test takers. This is helpful for riders who want a three-wheel motorcycle certification but don’t currently own such a vehicle.

Do motorcyclists need to carry insurance in Washington?

Insurance Requirements

All drivers, including motorcyclists, must carry insurance. Motorcycle insurance needs to meet the established minimum coverage limits. Individuals must carry $10,000 in property damage per accident. In addition, bodily injury liability of $25,000 per person, $50,000 for two or more people, is necessary.

Lane Splitting

Lane splitting is against the law in Washington State. It is illegal for motorcyclists to ride between lanes of cars in slowed or stopped traffic. Interestingly, the only U.S. state to allow lane splitting is California.

The practice is also common in Europe and Asia. Out-of-state riders should familiarize themselves with the laws of each state they ride in because of differences like this.

Drug and Alcohol Laws

It is illegal to operate a motorcycle while under the influence of alcohol or street drugs. In addition, the Washington DMV also prohibits passengers from riding after using these substances.

Alcohol and street drugs can impair the ability to physically balance the motorcycle. Impairment can lead to unstable riding conditions for the passenger and the operator.

What to Do if You Are Involved in a Motorcycle Accident

Motorcycle accidents can be traumatizing and disorienting. Knowing the steps to take immediately after an accident can ensure your safety and protect your legal rights.

Ensure Personal Safety

Your primary concern should be safety in the immediate aftermath of a motorcycle accident. If possible, move to a safe area away from traffic to prevent further accidents or injuries. However, if you are seriously injured, avoid moving and wait for emergency services to assist you. This reduces the risk of aggravating any injuries.

Check for Injuries

Examine yourself for injuries. Motorcycle accidents often result in hidden or delayed pain due to adrenaline. Even if you feel fine, it’s essential to seek medical attention as some injuries, like internal bleeding or concussions, might not be immediately apparent.

Contact Authorities

It’s crucial to report the accident to the police. A police report is a vital document for insurance claims and legal processes. Provide an accurate account of the event but avoid admitting fault or speculating about the cause. The police will document the scene and gather statements from involved parties and witnesses, creating an official record.

Gather Evidence

If you can do so safely, collect evidence from the accident scene. Take photos of your motorcycle, the other vehicle(s), any visible injuries, and the overall scene. Note the location, time, and weather conditions. If there are witnesses, collect their contact information. This evidence can be invaluable in later legal and insurance proceedings.

Immediate Medical Care

Seek immediate medical care, even if you feel your injuries are minor. Some injuries manifest symptoms hours or even days after the accident. A thorough medical evaluation provides a documented link between the accident and your injuries, which is crucial for insurance or legal claims.

Informing Your Insurer

Inform your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible. Provide them with the basic facts, but be cautious about making detailed statements or accepting quick settlements. It’s advisable to consult a Seattle motorcycle accident attorney before making official statements or agreements.

Legal Representation

Contacting a motorcycle accident attorney can be crucial. They can advise you on your rights, help you navigate the complex insurance claims process, and ensure you receive fair compensation. Legal expertise becomes invaluable, especially in cases of serious injuries or disputes about the accident’s cause.

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Determining Fault in a Seattle Motorcycle Accident

Understanding fault in a motorcycle accident is crucial for legal and insurance purposes. This process involves examining several factors to establish who is responsible for the accident.

Assessing the Accident Scene

The physical evidence at the accident scene plays a crucial role in determining fault. Skid marks, vehicle damage, and the final resting positions of the vehicles provide insights into the accident dynamics. For instance, damage on the rear of a motorcycle might suggest a rear-end collision, typically indicating the other driver’s fault.

Witness statements can offer unbiased accounts of the accident. They might provide details that the involved parties cannot due to shock or injuries. For example, a witness might confirm if a vehicle was speeding or ran a red light, contributing to the accident.

Legal and Traffic Considerations

Understanding local traffic laws is essential. Violations like speeding, failing to yield, or running a stop sign are critical in determining fault. Both parties might have violated traffic laws in some cases, leading to shared fault. A thorough analysis of the accident in the context of these laws is necessary for a fair assessment.

Police reports are authoritative sources in fault determination. Officers compile these reports based on their scene investigation, including evidence and interviews with involved parties and witnesses. Insurance companies and attorneys heavily rely on these reports to assess fault.

Comparative Negligence

In some cases, both parties may share fault under comparative negligence laws. For instance, if a motorcyclist was speeding but the other driver made an illegal turn, both may be partially responsible. The degree of fault impacts the compensation each party can receive.

Tips to Avoid Motorcycle Accidents

Riding a motorcycle involves a unique set of risks. Understanding and implementing proactive safety measures can reduce the likelihood of accidents. Here are some essential tips for motorcyclists to stay safe on the roads.

Increase Visibility

You must remain visible to other drivers. Wear bright or reflective clothing and ensure your motorcycle’s lights are functional, especially at night. Use your position on the road to stay out of driver’s blind spots, and make eye contact with drivers at intersections to ensure you are seen.

Ride Defensively

Defensive riding means being constantly aware of your surroundings, anticipating potential hazards, and being prepared to react. Keep safe from other vehicles, especially in heavy traffic or adverse weather conditions. Always anticipate the possibility of someone else making a mistake and have an escape route planned in case of emergency.

Follow Traffic Rules

Obeying traffic laws is crucial for motorcycle safety. This includes observing speed limits, traffic signals, and lane markings. Avoid aggressive maneuvers like lane splitting, where it’s not legal, and never ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Following these rules reduces your risk of accidents caused by unexpected or unlawful actions.

Regular Maintenance

Regular motorcycle maintenance ensures it is in good working condition, which is essential for safe riding. This includes checking tire pressure, tread depth, brake pads, lights, and fluid levels. A well-maintained motorcycle is more reliable and responsive, which can be critical in avoiding accidents.

Continuous Learning

Continuously improving your riding skills is essential. Consider taking advanced training courses in defensive riding, hazard avoidance, and emergency maneuvers. Staying updated with best riding practices and being aware of your abilities and limits can significantly enhance your safety on the road.

Seattle Motorcycle Accident FAQs

Motorcycle accidents in Seattle can lead to complex legal and insurance issues. Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) that can provide clarity and guidance for those involved in such incidents.

What Should I Do Immediately After a Motorcycle Accident in Seattle?

Immediately after an accident, ensure your safety and seek medical attention, even for minor injuries. Report the accident to the police and obtain a copy of the police report. Document the scene with photos and gather contact information from witnesses. Notify your insurance company about the accident but refrain from making detailed statements or accepting any settlement offer.

Can I Claim Compensation If I Wasn’t Wearing a Helmet?

In Washington, motorcyclists are legally required to wear helmets. Not wearing one can impact your compensation claim, especially if the injury is head-related. However, it does not completely invalidate your claim. Comparative negligence may be considered, and you may still be eligible for compensation for damages partially, depending on the specifics of the accident and injuries.

How is Fault Determined in a Motorcycle Accident?

Fault is determined by examining evidence from the accident scene, witness statements, police reports, and adherence to traffic laws. Washington follows a comparative negligence system, meaning each party’s degree of fault is considered.

What Kind of Compensation Can I Expect After a Motorcycle Accident?

Compensation may include medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering. The amount depends on the accident’s severity, your injuries’ extent, and the determined fault.

Do I Need a Lawyer for a Motorcycle Accident Claim?

While not mandatory, hiring a lawyer is highly advisable, especially for serious accidents or when fault is disputed. A skilled attorney can navigate the legal intricacies, negotiate with insurance companies, and protect your rights. They can significantly enhance your chances of receiving fair compensation and provide guidance through the complexities of the legal process.

Understanding Your Rights After a Seattle Motorcycle Accident

Navigating the aftermath of a motorcycle accident in Seattle requires you to understand your rights and responsibilities. Because the legal process can be challenging, it is recommended that you consult with a Seattle motorcycle accident attorney.

At Bernard Law Group, we can help you understand your rights and recover the full compensation you deserve. Contact us today to learn more.

The Proof Is In Our Case Results Over $500 MILLION recovered for our clients. Let us help YOU! Call 24/7 for your FREE injury consultation. 206-298-9900

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