Motorcycles are common road sharers in Washington State. While it is easy to understand the appeal of riding “free,” it is an unfortunate truth that riding a motorcycle is a high-risk activity. Motorcycle accidents are notoriously devastating, typically leaving riders and passengers with serious or life-changing injuries if they are not killed in the event.

Securing representation from a skilled Washington motorcycle accident lawyer is a critical step following an accident. If you or someone you love has been hurt or killed in a motorcycle accident, reach out to Calbom & Schwab Law Group, PLLC. We will investigate your case with great care and work to hold the culpable party accountable for compensating you for your losses.

Motorcycle Accidents Nationwide and in Washington 

Motorcycle accidents cause fatalities more than other vehicle accidents, according to data collected from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). According to a recent full year of data collected by the National Safety Council (NSC), motorcycles only accounted for 3% of registered vehicles but for 14% of all traffic fatalities. The number of motorcycle-crash-related injuries for that same year, according to the Insurance Information Institute (iii), was 82,686. 

The NSC report shows that per vehicle miles traveled, motorcycle operators are approximately 24 times more likely than passenger-vehicle occupants to die in a crash and four times more likely to suffer injuries. It also counted 5,932 motorcycle-involved-crash deaths for the year. This number translates to a rate of 30.5 fatalities for every 100 million vehicle miles driven. Disturbingly, the report showed that over a recent 10-year span, there has been a 

  • 19% increase in the number of motorcycle-crash-related deaths,
  • 29% increase in the death rate
  • A 5% increase in the number of non-fatal injuries, but a 4% decrease in the injury rate

The Insurance Information Institute (iii) reported 82,686 motorcycle-involved-crash fatalities for the same year

Washington Motorcycle Accident Statistics

Like the national statistics show, motorcycles accounted for 3% of registered vehicles in Washington for a recent four-year period. However, they accounted for 492 of 3,076, a number representing 16% of all motor vehicle accidents, and the trajectory of those numbers is not promising.

For the last year of the period evaluated, the number of fatalities, 132, showed a 43% increase from the year before and is very likely the highest number in the state’s history, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC).

How Washington Motorcycle Injury Lawyers Can Help You

The trauma of a motorcycle reaches into all aspects of life. You feel the physical pain of your injuries, the emotional distress of the accident itself and how the injuries have changed you, and the financial fallout resulting from increased medical costs and wages lost during recovery–or perhaps permanently if you cannot return to work.

While you will need substantial compensation to reach maximum recovery, recover your losses, and get justice, managing a personal injury lawsuit effectively may be outside your reach. You lack the experience and energy to get the outcome you deserve. This is where a motorcycle injury attorney can help. The Calbom and Schwab Law Group, PLLC has the resources, experience, and legal proficiency to investigate your accident to identify the at-fault party and gather convincing, thorough evidence to support your claim that that party’s negligence caused your accident and subsequent losses.

Proving Negligence

To prove negligence and collect compensation, you must prove the at-fault party owed you a duty of care, breached that duty and that breach led to your accident and injuries.

Drivers of all vehicles have a legal duty of care to all who share the roads with them. This duty requires drivers to operate their vehicles safely, obey traffic laws, and avoid unsafe driving behaviors. Specific government offices in charge of road oversight also have a duty to drivers. They must maintain traffic signals and signage and keep streets well-lit and in a safe condition for driving. Other parties, such as vehicle manufacturers, mechanics, and inspectors, all have a duty of care to complete their work properly and support drivers’ safety.

The motorcycle accident attorneys at our firm have extensive experience conducting accident investigations and have relationships with accident reconstructionists who can provide valuable insight and evidence. Once your attorney has identified the at-fault party (or parties), they will compile evidence to prove that the party breached their duty of care and caused your accident. Evidence may include:

  • Witness testimony
  • Camera footage from nearby traffic, security, or dash-board devices
  • Physical evidence from the accident scene and vehicles involved
  • Law enforcement collision reports
  • Input from relevant experts

If there is evidence to be found, you can trust the motorcycle injury attorneys from our team to find it. For most injury claims, Washington has a three-year statute of limitations for filing. By partnering with our firm promptly after your accident, you ensure we have time to investigate the accident fully and file your claim within that legal deadline. If your claim is against a government entity, that legal window shrinks, and the process is more complicated. But do not worry–we are well-equipped to handle whatever complexities your case brings. 

Pure Comparative Fault

Under Washington law, injury victims can seek compensation from the party who caused those injuries. However, if the victims hold a percentage of the blame, the amount they receive is reduced by the same percentage. It is in the at-fault party’s best interest to put as much blame as possible on you–the victim. Representation from an experienced attorney can protect you from unwarranted blame, and as a motorcycle operator, you are especially vulnerable to inflated accusations because of motorcycle bias.

Motorcyclists are often regarded as rebellious, risky drivers who drive like the rules do not apply to them. Insurance companies often hold this bias–sometimes even against their own motorcycle-rider clients. They may assume the biker contributed to the accident before even investigating. Our team works to protect all victims–motorcycle operators included–from false accusations and to get victims the settlements they deserve.

Why Motorcyclists Face Higher Risk of Accidents and Serious Consequences

Any motor-vehicle driver faces a risk just by getting behind the wheel. However motorcyclists have an even higher chance of getting into an accident and sustaining serious injuries or fatalities for a few reasons.

Motorcycle Size

Motorcycles take up less space on the road. Everything about them, their height, width, and length, is smaller than other vehicles, which means they can more easily get lost in another driver’s blind spot, occupy space outside the view of other motorist’s rearview or side mirrors, or become blocked from view from other vehicles. It is especially hard for drivers of large vehicles to see motorcyclists. Too often, once motorcyclists enter other vehicle operators’ line of sight, it is too late to avoid a crash.

Operating Demands

Motorcycles are more challenging to control and operate than passenger cars. Bikers have to balance the heavy vehicles on two wheels, often while moving at high speed. Minor steering over-corrections, slick roads, potholes, gravel or other debris, or having to execute a sudden move can cause an imbalance and lead to collision with another vehicle or tip the bike over, injuring the driver and leaving the bike and biker vulnerably placed in the path of traffic.

Lack of Protection

Bikers do not have the benefit of protection from car safety features. There is no outer-body vehicle structure and no seat belt. Though some motorcycle models include air bags and there are air-bag “jackets” and other gear available, these measures are still no match for the damage a crash with the road or another vehicle can do. 

An NSC report shows helmets are 37% effective in preventing fatal injuries to riders and 41% effective for passengers. Washington State Law requires all motorcycle operators to wear helmets whose features comply with federal safety standards, wear safety goggles, and ensure their bikes are outfitted with proper mirrors. 

But many riders do not use helmets or have “bogus” safety gear. The NSC report shows a 64.9% helmet-compliance rate nationwide, and the Washington Safety Commission cautions riders against using inferior equipment.

Types of Motorcycle Accidents

There are, unfortunately, a variety of reasons for motorcycle crashes. Some incidents result from “simple” mistakes—human error by the motorcycle operator or another vehicle driver. Then, there are “freak accidents.” Perhaps a driver experiences an unexpected medical event, or cargo comes loose from the roof rack of a vehicle in front of the motorcycle. There are, though, some more common types of motorcycle crashes. These include:

  • Left-Turn Accident: Drivers making left turns often miscalculate the speed of an oncoming motorcycle or simply fail to see them entirely
  • Intersection Crashes: According to the NHTSA, 35% of motorcycle accidents occurred at intersection
  • Lane-Splitting Accidents: Motorcycles can “fit” between lanes of cars and when anxious to beat traffic, operators may practice “lane-splitting,” or driving in this narrow self-created lane. However, doing this puts them extremely close–too close–to vehicles on either side of them, and the slightest swerve by the motorcycle or the other drivers can lead to collision
  • Road Hazard Collisions: Road debris, such as scattered gravel and worn-out tire treads or other obstacles can cause collisions. Improperly secured cargo that flies from a truck flatbed or semi-trailer can also obstruct drivers’ paths and cause accidents.
  • Speeding Accidents: Dangerous accidents can occur no matter the drivers’ rate of speed, but speeding creates a particular risk. It is easier for drivers to lose control of their vehicles when traveling at high speeds, and speeding vehicles also need more time and space to stop. 
  • Reckless Driving Crashes: Weaving in and out of lanes, driving while distracted or drowsy, or making risky moves behind the wheel are unfortunate and common causes of all motor-vehicle accidents
  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI): Driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs is illegal in Washington and every state. However, drunk driving remains a major cause of accidents in Washington State. And the NHTSA states that motorcycle operators are “over-represented” in fatal drunk-driving crashes.  

The motorcycle accident lawyers from our team can help with whatever type of motorcycle accident you experience. When another driver or entity fails to uphold their duty of care, and that failure causes you harm, we will fight tirelessly to hold them accountable and get you fairly compensated.

Compensation for A Motorcycle Accident

The amount of compensation victims collect depends on several factors, and these factors manifest differently in every case. While we cannot predict a settlement amount for your case, we can promise to fight tirelessly to get you the most favorable outcome possible. 

Your motorcycle injury lawyer will fight to secure both economic and non-economic damages. Potential economic damages compensate for the following:

  • Medical costs
  • Future care expenses
  • Property damage
  • Wage loss
  • Continued/Permanent loss of wages and benefits if you cannot go back to work
  • Other expenses incurred by the accident

Non-economic damages provide financial acknowledgment of your pain and other physical effects of your injuries, emotional distress, and diminished quality of life. 

If your loved one is killed in a motorcycle accident, your motorcycle accident attorney in Washington can file a wrongful death claim if you are eligible. Through a settlement, you recover related medical costs, funeral and burial expenses, losses to household contributions–both financial and otherwise–and loss of consortium.

Dependable, Powerful Representation

For over 60 years, Calbom & Schwab Law Group, PLLC has been fighting for Washington’s accident victims, and our team is here to help you. We provide legal representation you can count on to bring results. We operate by a strict code of ethics, value our client’s trust, and give every case the individual attention it deserves. 

We understand that after a motorcycle accident, you are extremely stressed and fear what the future holds. You may be intimidated by the idea of managing a lawsuit. But you do not have to manage anything but your own recovery. All you have to do is call or send a message to arrange a free consultation. After that, our team of Washington motorcycle accident lawyers will handle all legalities and communication with the at-fault party. Our goal is to secure you substantial compensation and justice so you can look toward a more hopeful, financially stable future.