Few experiences rival the freedom and exhilaration of riding a motorcycle, particularly if you love the outdoors and open road. However, because motorcycles offer less protection and are less visible than other vehicles, motorcyclists are more likely than other travelers to be injured in an accident.
The Facts about Motorcycle Accidents
In fact, more than 80% of motorcycle accidents result in injury or death, and motorcyclists are 35 times more likely to die on the road than those in passenger cars. What’s more, accidents are often not the fault of the rider. Forty-two percent of fatal, two-vehicle motorcycle crashes are caused by inattentive motorists turning into the path of a motorcycle. Other injuries and fatalities are caused by equipment defects or a manufacturer’s “failure to warn” about the safe operation of the cycle; still others arise when roads have not been properly maintained. In collision, crash or product defect cases, the party at fault can be held liable for the negligence that led to your suffering.
Recover Your Compensation
If you have been injured or if a loved one has been killed in a motorcycle accident, personal injury attorneys at Calbom & Schwab, P.S.C., can help you recover compensation for suffering caused by the negligence of others. The law in the State of Washington allows a finite amount of time for you to file a claim. It may be difficult for you to focus on forms, confrontations, negotiations and legal proceedings as you heal from your injuries and manage the emotional and financial fall-out of an accident. Our team of personal injury attorneys has over 35 years of experience helping motorcycle accident victims recover just compensation for their losses. We ensure that you receive compensation for medical costs, future medical expenses, lost income, future loss of earning capacity, and damages for pain, suffering, disfigurement, and disability. Our lawyers will:
- Prove any negligence on the part of others involved in the motorcycle accident. Negligence may include reckless or inattentive drivers or badly maintained property and roads.
- Establish any liability for defective motorcycle components or design problems and hold the manufacturer accountable for compensation. Examples of manufacturer defects can be found in the numerous motorcycle recalls due to brakes that fail, defective tires, bolts that snap, and other production or design flaws.
- Negotiate a prompt, full, and just settlement.
Do I Really Need An Attorney?
You may ask yourself, “Why do I need a lawyer since I have insurance?” Keep in mind that insurance companies are in business to maximize returns for their shareholders, not for you. The job of the insurance adjuster is to settle your claim for as little money as possible, and the adjustor is backed up by legions of investigators and lawyers focused on minimizing the amount of money paid to motorcycle accident victims. The same is true for the insurance company of any other party whose negligence contributed to your accident.
Without a knowledgeable, tenacious representative on your side, you will face the considerable resources of a powerful insurance company alone. Let us help ensure that your insurance company and the insurer of the person who caused your accident compensate you justly for your losses and suffering.
Call us today for a free consultation. We will assess the facts of your case and provide a realistic appraisal of your rights, assess all possible damages, and recommend how to move forward.
Motorcycle Claim Questions & Answers
- How long do I have to file a claim?
In the State of Washington, the statute of limitations varies depending on the manner in which you were injured. It could be three years, two years, or less from the date of your injury. The statute of limitations requires that a claim be filed within a certain period of time after the accident, else you will forfeit the right to ever recover damages, even if your claim is legitimate.
- How do I successfully pursue a motorcycle accident personal injury insurance claim?
In order to receive compensation for a motorcycle accident claim you must:
- Prove that the motorcycle accident occurred due to the reckless or negligent actions of another party;
- Prove that you were injured;
- Show that your injury was caused by the accident and not by a preexisting condition or unrelated event
- Establish that the party who injured you was insured.
- What constitutes “reckless or negligent actions of another party?”
There are many situations that fit into this category. They include, but are not limited to:
- Being struck by another vehicle (about one-third of multi-vehicle motorcycle accidents are a result of other motorists turning into the path of the motorcycle.)
- Unsafe or defective equipment
- A manufacturer’s failure to properly advise you about how to safely operate the motorcycle
- Poorly maintained property or roads
In collision, crash or product defect cases, the party at fault can be held liable for negligence.
- How do I protect my rights if I was injured through the “reckless or negligent actions of another party?”
Your goal is to preserve documentation to substantiate your claim and protect your negotiating position, therefore:
- You must obtain the name, address, phone and other contact information for all individuals involved in the accident and all witnesses. You also need insurance company details for individuals involved in the accident.
- Get photographs of the accident scene, the damaged automobiles and motorcycle, other people on the scene, and your injury.
- You should immediately get copies of all records, witness statements, and photographic evidence from the Washington State Patrol and other responding agencies. You must act promptly since memories fade, conditions change, and witnesses move.
- Keep a journal daily or even hourly, from the moment of the accident. Document your physical injuries and mental/emotional state. Record your memory of the accident, road and traffic conditions, your own mental condition, weather, and anything else you can recall seeing, hearing, smelling, and feeling leading up to and during the collision.
- Take photographs of yourself and your injuries during your recovery period.
- In complicated cases, it may also be advisable to hire engineers to reconstruct the collision, evaluate the effect of the highway design, or determine equipment malfunction.
These proofs of fault are necessary to support a claim for your injuries. Further, your chances of prevailing in your claim and receiving prompt compensation are better the earlier you establish which person or entity is at fault. Calbom & Schwab can take care of all this research while you focus on your emotional and physical recovery.
There are also some things you should NOT do before consulting with an attorney.
- Do not sign anything presented by the insurance adjuster.
- Do not give a written or oral statement to an insurance adjuster.
- Do not attempt to negotiate a settlement with an insurance adjuster.
Again, your goal is to preserve your negotiating position until you have time to obtain counsel from a first-class personal injury lawyer.
- What types of money damages can I recover?
You are entitled to be compensated for your losses if you were injured because of another party’s negligence or carelessness. While the justice system recognizes that money cannot undo the accident that caused your injury, it works to provide fair financial damages to compensate for the injury. There are six main categories of damages to which you may be entitled:
- Property Damages. You are entitled to repair or replacement of your property damaged in the motorcycle accident. This includes damage to your motorcycle, your riding gear, and other property on your person or on the bike, such as a laptop carried in a saddlebag or backpack.
- Medical Expenses. You are entitled to payment for the costs of caring for your health and recovery including ambulance bills, hospital bills and charges for surgical, medical or chiropractic care. You may be entitled to payment of these bills regardless of who caused the motorcycle accident, depending on your insurance coverage and that of the other party or parties.
- Future Medical Expenses. You are entitled collect enough money to pay for future medical care of injuries or disabilities caused by the accident. For example, you may be entitled to future surgical care or future in-home nursing care if you are disabled.
- Lost Income. Even if you are self-employed or work on commission, you are entitled to be paid for the income lost because of your personal injury. These damages are meant to cover lost wages from your job while in the hospital, lost income while recuperating and visiting the doctor, and for continued therapy, if necessary, after your return to work.
- Lost Future Earning Capacity. If you are left partially or completely disabled and cannot earn income because of your personal injury, you are entitled to compensation for the lost capacity to earn income in the future.
- General Damages for Pain and Suffering. You are entitled to monetary compensation for the pain, suffering, disfigurement, and disability you may have experienced as a result of the motorcycle accident.
- How much money can I recover?
The answer to this is, “It depends and it can vary.”
Your expenses for property damage, past medical expenses, and lost earnings to date are fairly straightforward. In contrast, your entitlement for future medical expenses, future lost earnings, and general damages for pain and suffering are open to considerable debate. You need an experienced personal injury attorney knows the trends of the local justice system, and who has access to state, regional, and national publications and computerized databases. Your attorney will identify similar cases with similar injuries and similar liability patterns to develop a statistical analysis of your claim’s value.
Calbom & Schwab offers a free assessment to determine your likelihood of recovering damages and estimate the range of monies you may receive. Call us today. Our experienced attorneys are ready to help you.
- What if the party responsible for my accident is uninsured?
This is a difficult situation, but not impossible. The party responsible for the accident may have other resources apart from insurance. In addition, there are underinsured motorists coverage, the Crime Victim’s Compensation Act, and “joint and several” liability of insured individuals whose negligence combined with that of the uninsured party to cause your injuries. Although there is no guarantee that you will be able to recover damages in such a case, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you explore every alternative and advise you of potential sources for your claim.
- What types of money damages are allowed for wrongful death?
No amount of money can ever replace a loved one lost as a result of another party’s negligence, however, the law provides a mechanism for holding that party responsible. A successful claim can help relieve financial burdens, which gives the injured support while they heal emotionally.
There are multiple laws that govern recoverable damages when a person dies as a result of someone’s reckless or negligent actions. These complexities are best handled by an attorney who can coordinate criminal and civil actions against the party at fault.
If the person who died was a minor (under 18), or a child on whom one or both parents were dependent for support, or a viable fetus, damages are defined to include “loss of love and companionship of the child and for injury to or destruction of the parent-child relationship in such amount as, under all the circumstances of the case, may be just.” This broad language has been interpreted to include parental grief, mental anguish, and suffering. Significantly, computation of damages is not limited to the lost child’s minority. In addition, medical, hospital, medication, and related expenses and loss of services and support are recoverable.
A second statute allows damages to be recovered on behalf of “the wife, husband, child or children” of the deceased. Adult decedents who are single and without children do not qualify here, but for decedents with a surviving spouse or child, “the jury may give such damages as … may to them be just.”
A third statute allows recovery for decedents even if they were unmarried without dependents. The recovery is to their estate and includes the present value of their future net earnings had they lived a normal life expectancy. Generally, a financial expert is required to estimate and calculate loss.
A fourth statute is useful to help survivors who may not qualify for help under other statutes. Care must be taken to avoid duplication of claims made under other statutes. The claim may be brought on behalf of the husband or wife, children, and under special circumstances, certain other family members.
Developing a successful legal strategy in a wrongful death claim is best left in the hands of an experienced attorney. Please contact Calbom & Schwab for a free consultation on your case.