According to information from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, although motorcycles only make up about 3 percent of the road users in the state, they account for about 15 percent of all traffic fatalities and about 19 percent of serious injuries in motor vehicle collisions. If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident in Seattle, you may be eligible for compensation. An experienced Seattle Motorcycle accident attorney from Boohoff Law P.A. can help you to understand your legal options.
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Why Are Motorcycle Accidents so Dangerous?
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the federal government estimated in 2016 that motorcycle riders are about 28 times more likely to die in an accident than the occupants of passenger cars. About one in every five motorcycle crashes in Washington State results in a serious injury, and about 75 motorcyclists die each year on Washington roads. There are several reasons why motorcycle accidents are so dangerous, including:
- Less protection than a car: Motorcycles lack the occupant protection characteristics of a car, such as door beams, a roof, seat belts, and airbags.
- Less stability: Motorcycles, with just two wheels, are less stable than cars, meaning that there is an increased risk of accidents caused by road hazards such as potholes, uneven lanes, or slick conditions.
- Less visibility: The drivers of passenger cars or commercial vehicles have a hard time seeing motorcycles, particularly at night, leading to accidents caused by cars turning into the motorcycle or into its path.
- Lane splitting: This dangerous practice involves a motorcycle riding between and within the same lane as cars that are slowed or stopped due to traffic. In spite of bills introduced by state lawmakers in recent years that are in favor of allowing the practice, lane splitting is illegal in Washington as well as most of the country.
- Lack of training or licensing: As reported by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, about 75 percent of the state’s fatal motorcycle crash victims had no record of a training program completion. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 27 percent of motorcyclists killed in crashes in 2015 were riding without valid motorcycle licenses. In Washington, you need a motorcycle endorsement to ride a two-wheeled motorcycle. This can be accomplished by completing a motorcycle training course at an approved motorcycle training school or by passing the knowledge and riding skills tests at a motorcycle training school. Riders in Washington can also get an instruction permit and pass a knowledge test in order to obtain the motorcycle endorsement on their license.
What Are the Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents?
Just as there are a number of causes for car accidents, there are also a number of causes for motorcycle accidents. Here is a look at a few of those causes.
- Head-on collisions: These types of collisions generally happen when a car crosses the center line and strikes the front of the motorcycle. The reason this type of accident occurs is typically drunk or drowsy driving or a driving distraction that causes the driver to look away from the roadway. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 2015 statistics reveal that 74 percent of the motorcycles involved in two-vehicle motorcycle crashes were frontal collisions.
- Cars making left-hand turns: In 2016, about 43 percent of two-vehicle motorcycle crashes occurred when a vehicle was turning left while a motorcycle was either going straight, passing or overtaking the vehicle.
- Collisions with fixed objects: According to a study of over 3,600 motorcycle crashes with fixed objects between 2004-2008, researchers found that accidents caused in this manner carried a higher risk of fatality than crashes involving another motor vehicle or a collision between the rider and the ground. Motorcycle collisions with a guardrail, for example, were 7 times more likely to be fatal than a collision with the ground. Collisions with a tree were 15 times more likely to be fatal than a collision with the ground.
- Speeding and alcohol use: More than half of all motorcycle fatalities in Washington are caused by speeding, alcohol or drug impairment, or both, the state’s Traffic Safety Commission reports. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2015, motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes had the highest percentage of impaired drivers of any vehicle type, at 27 percent compared to 21 percent for the drivers of passenger cars involved in fatal accidents, 20 percent for light trucks, and 2 percent for large trucks. Motorcycle riders are three times more likely to die in an alcohol-related crash during the nighttime than they are during the day.
- High performance motorcycles: Supersport motorcycles are built for the racetrack but modified for highway use. The combination between their light weight and the capability to increase speed very quickly causes them to be particularly prone to accidents. The Washington Traffic Safety Commission notes that about 86 percent of motorcycle fatalities on sport bikes are rider-caused. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that speeding was a factor in 55 percent of all supersport motorcycle crashes in 2016. The riders of sport models tend to be younger than those who ride standard, touring, or cruiser-style motorcycles.
Careless Actions Have Serious Consequences
Any single one of these actions, or a combination of several, can have serious consequences for motorcyclists. Cars have safety advantages over motorcycles, with such features as seatbelts, airbags, and a roof. Part of what makes motorcycles so enticing is the openness and freedom that riding a bike provides riders.
Protective gear can only do so much when a motorcycle is hit by a heavy vehicle, whether passenger or commercial. Riders are usually ejected from their bikes, and the consequences depend upon the force of the impact. Drivers of private cars and commercial vehicles may walk away from an accident unscathed; sadly, the same cannot be said for motorcyclists, who likely flew off their bikes and collided with the ground or asphalt.
When people choose to drink and drive or text a friend from behind the wheel, their actions are reckless and negligent. No one should suffer physically, financially, or emotionally due to the selfish and irresponsible decisions of another driver.
In our hurried, high-tech world, drivers no longer prioritize safe driving and sharing the roads with other vehicle types and pedestrians. Despite attempts by governmental officials to encourage safe driving, drivers continue to speed, text, and drink and drive. This type of risky behavior either qualifies as negligence on its own or leads to negligent behavior. Serious motorcycle accidents alter the lives of all individuals involved, but mostly the rider who suffers serious injury in the accident.
If you’ve experienced serious injuries in a collision with a passenger or commercial vehicle, contact Boohoff Law, P.A. today. Depending upon the circumstances of your case, you may recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Our legal team will fight for you every step of the way.
Serious Motorcycle Injury Accident Statistics in King County
What Injuries Do Motorcycle Accidents Cause?
When motorcycles are involved in an accident, the injuries to the rider can be quite severe. Some of the more common types of injuries seen in motorcycle crashes include:
- Head injuries: Serious head injuries are one of the most common causes of death among motorcyclists involved in traffic accidents. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported that in 2017, 39 percent of the motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes were not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. Helmet use was much lower with passengers, with 61 percent of motorcycle passenger fatalities not being helmeted when the crash occurred. As noted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, helmets are estimated to be 37 percent effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcycle riders and 41 percent for motorcycle passengers. In other words, for every 100 motorcycle riders killed in crashes while not wearing helmets, 37 of them could have been saved had all 100 worn helmets.
- Spinal cord injuries: The lack of a protective shell around the motorcycle rider and the high likelihood of ejection from the vehicle during an accident leaves the rider susceptible to spinal cord injuries. Spinal cord injuries are often quite serious, leading to partial or complete paralysis below the site of the injury and, in many cases, can even lead to death. Science Daily reports that those suffering from a spinal cord injury will likely have lifelong issues related to their injury, including a higher risk of cardiovascular disease; pneumonia; life-threatening blood clots; bladder, bowel, and sexual dysfunction; gastrointestinal issues; pressure ulcers; and chronic pain.
- Road rash: Many people think that road rash is simply scraped skin. However, road rash can be very serious. Healthline describes the condition as the ripping or scraping away of the outer layers of skin. In a motorcycle accident, this occurs when the body makes contact with the roadway or other object. If several layers of skin are involved, skin graft surgery may be required. Serious road rash can feature visible muscles and bones, large foreign objects such as rocks or glass embedded in the skin, excessive bleeding, or a wound that covers most of a limb or the body itself. Infection is common and should be guarded against with careful cleaning and care of the wound.
- Leg and foot injuries: According to an article from Ride Apart, a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that 30 percent of all non-fatal motorcycle accident injuries were to the lower extremities. Further information referenced in the article, provided by the World Health Organization, revealed that the most common lower extremity injury to motorcyclists was a fracture to the tibia—one of the two long bones in the lower part of the leg. The other lower leg long bone, the fibula, is also a frequent site of injury in motorcycle accidents. Less common are fractures to the femur, which is the upper bone of the leg. Other common sources of lower extremity injury to motorcyclists include the ankles and the feet.
- Other fractures: Other common injuries to motorcyclists include fractures to the hands, wrists, arms, ribs, hips, and pelvis.
- Internal injuries: Internal injuries can be caused by objects coming in contact with the torso. The object may penetrate the body or the force in which it hits the body can create a closed injury. One danger of an internal injury is bleeding into the body organs.
- Dental or facial injuries: While a helmet can prevent serious head injuries, the rider’s face is typically not protected by the helmet. Because of this, as well as the large portion of riders and passengers who do not wear a helmet, it is not uncommon to see severe injuries to the rider’s face or teeth in an accident.
When Your Motorcycle Ride Turns Tragic
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that, per miles traveled, motorcyclists are 28 times more likely to die in a crash than people in passenger cars. Additional data reports that more than 88,000 people sustained serious injuries in motorcycle accidents during 2015, and more than 5,000 people died in 2016.
According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, motorcycles account for just 3 percent of road users. However, between 2013 and 2017, motorcyclists represented 15 percent of all fatalities and 19 percent of all serious injuries in vehicle collisions. The commission also reports that about one in five motorcycle collisions results in serious injury or death.
The scenic beauty of Washington makes it a perfect place to enjoy your motorcycle. No matter how defensively you drive, negligent drivers surround you. Some choose to drink and drive, to text while driving, or simply fail to share the road.
When your ride turns tragic, seek medical attention right away. You should also provide a statement to police, and if possible, gather contact information from any eyewitnesses. If you are unable to do so due to your injuries, ask someone to assist you with these important tasks.
When the careless actions of another driver result in serious harm to you, accountability is a must. A Washington driver’s license is a privilege, not a right. Pursuing justice and fair compensation on behalf of motorcycle accident victims is something we at Boohoff Law, P.A. take very seriously.
Filing a Lawsuit After a Motorcycle Accident
Washington is a traditional “fault” state when it comes to vehicle insurance and accidents. What this means is that drivers assume financial responsibility for the property damage and bodily injuries they cause when driving their vehicle. Upon registration of a motor vehicle in Washington, individuals must show proof of liability insurance with a policy limit of:
- At least $25,000 for injuries or death of one person in the accident
- At least $50,000 for total injuries or death in one accident
- At least $10,000 for property damage per accident
While this insurance is required for cars, motorcycles do not require insurance to be ridden in Washington. However, it is strongly recommended that motorcyclists purchase insurance to protect themselves and their finances in the event of an accident.
Those who have been injured in a motor vehicle accident in Washington have three options when seeking compensation for their injuries:
- File a claim with your own insurance, if you have a policy that covers personal injury and damage to your vehicle.
- File a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance. Be aware that insurance carriers are often reluctant to offer a fair settlement. An experienced motorcycle accident lawyer can help you to determine the value of your claim and negotiate a settlement that recognizes both your current expenses as well as those you will face in the future due to your injuries. Once you’ve signed a settlement agreement with the insurance company, you’re likely not going to be able to go back and ask for more money in the future, so it’s important to have a clear idea of the compensation you’ll need before agreeing to a specific amount.
- File a personal injury lawsuit in order to recover damages from the at-fault party.
Here are some more highlights regarding personal injury lawsuits:
- The statute of limitation on personal injury lawsuits is three years from the date of the injury.
- Washington is a “pure comparative negligence state.” What this means is that if you were partially to blame for the accident, you can still seek to recover damages from the other party. However, your award will be reduced to reflect your percentage of responsibility. For example, if you were found to be 10 percent responsible for causing the accident, your damage award will be reduced by 10 percent.
- Washington motorcycle accident victims may be able to recover both economic and non-economic damages through a personal injury lawsuit, including current and future medical bills, lost wages, loss of future earning capacity, out-of-pocket expenses, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium.
Motorcycle Accident FAQs
What is the first step I should take after being injured in a Seattle motorcycle accident?
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident that someone else’s negligence caused, you have plenty to deal with and may not know how best to proceed. The first order of business, however, isn’t complicated at all. After you’ve obtained the medical attention you need, seek the professional legal counsel of an experienced Seattle motorcycle accident attorney.
Obtaining the compensation to which you are entitled is critical to your ability to reach your most complete recovery, and the dedicated motorcycle accident attorneys at Boohoff Law in Seattle are committed to helping you do just that.
What damages can I seek?
If another motorist’s negligence causes you serious injuries in a motorcycle accident, your damages can be overwhelming. Even a relatively minor motorcycle accident, however, can amount to considerable damages. After all, when you’re on your bike, absolutely nothing comes between you and the immense impact of an accident.
Your damages may include:
- Medical expenses – Your medical expenses are likely to be extensive and can include emergency care at the scene of your accident and emergency transportation from the scene, surgery and aftercare, medical treatment from doctors and specialists, prescription medications, adaptive physical devices, physical therapy, and much more. It’s important to also consider, however, the ongoing ramifications of your injuries. If yours are quite serious, they can lead to ongoing healthcare needs and even to secondary health complications. It’s important not to sign off on an insurance settlement offer before you’re well aware of the full extent of your injuries.
- Lost income – If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, it’s very likely that it’s going to affect your ability to work and that you’ll lose wages as a result. Further, depending upon your injuries and the kind of work you do, you could face a diminished earning potential into your future and even an altered career trajectory.
- Pain and suffering – Injuries from a motorcycle accident are obviously extremely painful physically, but it is also likely to be emotionally painful. Someone else’s negligence, after all, caused you to be injured and suffer serious consequences. Further, the violence of such an accident can be terrifying and can leave you emotionally scarred. The emotional pain and suffering associated with your motorcycle accident is real and should never be discounted.
All told, the financial, physical, and emotional damages associated with a serious motorcycle accident can be immense.
What kind of driver negligence was involved?
Driver negligence can come in many forms, and any one of them can lead to a serious motorcycle accident. When you’re on your bike, you strike a much lower profile on the road than do motorists in passenger cars, and this leaves you far more vulnerable to serious injuries. Further, your motorcycle doesn’t have the protective shell that cars do to help buffer you from any impact that ensues. None of this, however, mitigates a motorist’s responsibility to drive safely, to adhere to the rules of the road, and to safely accommodate for motorcyclists like you who share the road.
Driver negligence can include:
- Distraction – Distracted driving is becoming a scourge on our roadways. The meteoric rise of smartphone usage has been of particular concern. Many motorists can’t seem to—or simply won’t—put their phones away when they’re behind the wheel, and these drivers make our highways more dangerous for everyone who travels on them. When a driver is connecting with his or her phone, his or her thoughts, vision, and hands are all engaged in that effort, and this leaves the driver extremely distracted. Distracted drivers pose a real threat to motorcyclists.
- Impairment – No one should operate a motorcycle or get behind the wheel when under the influence of alcohol, but some motorists continue to make this dangerous choice. Impaired drivers are dangerous drivers that should not be on the road in the first place.
- Exhaustion – The negative effects of having too little sleep can be significant. You know how difficult it is to successfully accomplish a task when you’re feeling drowsy, and this effect also applies to driving. Drowsy drivers shouldn’t take to the road until they’ve obtained the rest they require. This is the very reason that professional drivers, such as truck drivers and bus drivers, are held to very tight hours-of-service restrictions.
- Aggression – You know an aggressive driver when you see one—that driver who is swerving in and out of traffic, speeding excessively, and tailgating all at the same time. In fact, aggressive driving is usually categorized as driving that incorporates a variety of dangerous practices in one excursion. Excessive speed, however, is the hallmark of aggressive driving. And unfortunately, excessive speed closely correlates with fatal traffic accidents.
Again, negligent drivers come in all different forms, but they’re all dangerous.
How dangerous are Seattle motorcycle accidents?
Motorcycle accidents are often dangerous. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shares that, although there was nearly a five percent decrease in motorcycle accident fatalities in recent years, the number for that year reached almost 5,000, and motorcyclists remain overrepresented in deadly traffic accidents.
What injuries are most closely associated with Seattle motorcycle accidents?
While a motorcycle accident can lead to nearly any kind of injury, the most closely associated with these serious injuries include:
- Broken bones – Because there’s nothing to protect you from both the impact with the other vehicle and the subsequent impact with the ground in a motorcycle accident, broken bones are common. A broken bone is a painful injury that requires medical treatment right away. When a broken bone doesn’t heal cleanly, it can lead to chronic pain and a lifetime of complications.
- Spinal cord injuries – An injury to your spinal cord can leave you with chronic back, shoulder, and/or neck pain and a seriously diminished range of motion. These injuries can occur anywhere on the spinal cord, and when they damage the cord’s full width, such an injury can leave you permanently paralyzed. Paralysis refers to the loss of control over one’s bodily motions (in the area of the body affected), which can alter the course of your life in the instant of impact. Further, paralysis often leads to secondary health concerns that can include decreased respiratory functioning.
- Traumatic brain injuries – Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are typically caused by trauma to the head—such as the kind often experienced in motorcycle accidents. Traumatic brain injuries can affect your cognitive functioning, emotions, your ability to stabilize your mood, your impulse control, and much more. In fact, TBIs are as serious as they are unpredictable, and each victim will experience a unique set of symptoms and effects. These effects can often keep you from working for some time, require rehabilitative therapy, and cause other challenges in your life.
- Burns, cuts, and abrasions – The heat generated by the impact of a motorcycle accident can leave you with serious burn injuries. Additionally, motorcycle accidents tend to drag their victims across the roadway, which results in a condition that’s known as road rash. The cuts and abrasions that ensue are often slow to heal and prone to serious infections. Further, when any of these injuries—burns, cuts, and/or abrasions—occur on or near the face, they can be permanently disfiguring.
Whatever kind of injuries you’ve endured, seek the medical attention you need and then consult with one of the experienced motorcycle accident attorneys at Boohoff Law in Seattle.
What about the insurance company?
If someone else’s negligence leaves you injured in a motorcycle accident, you’re going to be dealing with an insurance company. It’s only natural to assume that said insurance company will proceed to do its job and cover the losses you’ve endured—in their totality—as a matter of course. This assumption, however, is not likely to serve you well. Massive insurance companies are in the business of turning massive profits, and the way they can manage this is by minimizing their payouts and by even denying claims outright.
Keeping all of the following points in mind is in the best interest of both you and your motorcycle accident case:
- You are not required to provide the insurance rep with a statement about your accident—and you should not do so. Instead, call us. If we take your case, we will handle all communications with the insurance company.
- The insurance representative who contacts you is well versed in eliciting statements from injured parties that inadvertently diminish the veracity of their claims (whether there is any truth to the matter or not). Refer the insurance rep to your experienced Seattle motorcycle accident attorney, who will negotiate on behalf of your rights and best interests while providing the insurance company with the information required.
- If you receive an early settlement offer, it’s very likely intended to get rid of your claim before you recognize the full extent of your damages and the ramifications of your motorcycle accident. Your compensation is simply far too important to leave to chance—or the insurance company’s discretion—don’t accept a settlement offer until your motorcycle accident attorney has greenlighted it for you.
- If the insurance company is delaying the claims process, which is a not-uncommon practice, it’s likely an attempt to get you to settle for a lowball amount as a result of your building desperation. You need to be properly compensated for your losses to move forward with your life, and by keeping that compensation outside of your reach, the insurance company knows that it has considerable leverage. Don’t be fooled—instead, discuss legal options that can help you stay the course with your skilled motorcycle accident attorney.
- Although the vast majority of motorcycle accident claims are settled out of court, it is sometimes necessary to move forward with filing a lawsuit and even proceeding to court to help ensure that you receive the compensation to which you are entitled and that you need to regain your health and move forward post-accident.
In other words, the insurance company is not on your side—at least not fully—but your experienced Seattle motorcycle accident attorney is. Working closely with him or her is always in the best interest of you and your case.
Do I really need an attorney for my Seattle motorcycle accident case?
Perhaps the insurance representative you’re working with strikes you as very reasonable, and you’re wondering if you really need to go to the trouble of also working with a Seattle motorcycle accident lawyer. That’s a reasonable question—after all, you have a long recovery in front of you, and taking on one more step undoubtedly seems daunting. It’s important to recognize, however, that there is a wide range of important reasons why working with an experienced Seattle motorcycle accident attorney is not only a sound financial move but can also take some of the load off you at this difficult time.
- Bringing a successful motorcycle claim that adequately reflects your damages requires a significant amount of paperwork and legwork, including gathering evidence at the scene of the accident, taking eyewitness statements, providing the insurance company with the prompt verifications it requires, and much more. Your motorcycle accident attorney will skillfully tend to this important component of your claim.
- The dedicated motorcycle accident lawyers at Boohoff Law in Seattle are committed to effecting your claim’s most favorable resolution, and we won’t charge you anything until we win your case, and you are compensated accordingly. In other words, our payment is contingent upon your case’s success, so you don’t need to worry about legal expenses as your case progresses.
All told, yes, you and your case are much better off when you have an experienced Seattle motorcycle accident attorney on your side.
Were You Injured in a Motorcycle Crash? Let Us Help
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident in Washington, you are likely facing a long recovery from injuries. Pursuing a fair settlement or an award from a lawsuit can be a complicated legal process. A
n experienced motorcycle accident attorney understands this process and all of the necessary parts of it, including the valuation of your case, negotiation with insurance companies, court filing deadlines, and aggressive courtroom representation.
You don’t have to fight this battle alone. Let us help.
“Never needed an attorney till I got rearended. Boohoff Law was able to negotiate my medical bills and settle a claim without contact with insurance companies. I felt they truly cared about my well-being and I will definitely refer them to everyone I know that needs their services.”
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2200 6th Avenue, Suite 768
Seattle, WA 98121