Motorists Who Violate Washington Traffic Laws Can Cause Motorcycle Accidents
Like all other states, Washington governs how motor vehicle drivers must operate their vehicles and behave while behind the wheel, including motorcyclists. Even if motorcyclists follow the laws and safety guidelines, they can still get into accidents if other drivers do not drive cautiously. Unfortunately, motorists who violate traffic laws cause many motorcycle accidents each year throughout the state.
The following article lists some of the common law violations other drivers make that lead to motorcycle accidents. We hope they help you take measures to stay safe while riding your motorcycle.
If you already suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident a negligent, reckless, or careless motorist caused, you can obtain compensation for your injuries and losses. Reach out to an experienced Washington motorcycle accident lawyer today to discuss your options.
Common Traffic Violations That Lead to Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle accidents can result if other drivers violate traffic laws or don’t watch their surroundings. Some common traffic violations that can lead to motorcycle accidents include:
Failure to Yield the Right of Way
This violation occurs when a driver fails to give the right of way to a motorcyclist at an intersection, when changing lanes, or when turning. It can result in a collision if the motorcyclist does not receive the appropriate space and time to maneuver safely.
Excessive speed reduces the time a driver has to react to changing road conditions. Speeding also increases stopping distances and makes it more difficult to control a vehicle. Driving too fast can lead to severe accidents, especially to a motorcyclist, as motorcycles are more vulnerable and less stable than cars.
Speeding does not necessarily mean exceeding the posted speed limit. During rain, snow, and other inclement weather, drivers can drive too fast for conditions. Even though they might not travel at high speeds, they may travel too fast for current road conditions.
Driving Too Slowly
Conversely, drivers who drive too slowly can cause serious motorcycle accidents. Washington requires that vehicle drivers travel at a minimum speed on certain roads, such as divided highways and interstates. When people drive too slowly in the left lane, for instance, they can force other drivers to pass them on the right. These scenarios can lead to multi-vehicle pileups, or a vehicle could collide with a motorcycle while trying to pass the slow motorist.
Any form of distracted driving, such as texting, talking on the phone, eating, or adjusting vehicle controls, diverts the driver’s attention from the road and can result in a failure to notice motorcyclists, leading to accidents.
Following Too Closely
Tailgating, or following a motorcycle too closely, reduces the time available for the following driver to react to sudden changes in traffic or road conditions. If a motorcyclist must suddenly stop or swerve, the following vehicle may not have time to avoid a collision.
Improper Lane Changes
When drivers fail to check their blind spots or use their turn signals while changing lanes, they can easily collide with a motorcyclist. Motorcycles are smaller and more difficult to see, so drivers need vigilance when changing lanes.
Not Using Turn Signals
Washington law requires drivers to use their turn signals when switching lanes or turning. The law also prohibits drivers from stopping or suddenly reducing their speed without first giving an appropriate signal. If a driver does not signal their intentions to turn or change lanes by signaling, a motorcyclist will likely have no way of knowing the driver’s plans and may have no time to avoid a collision.
Running Red Lights or Stop Signs
Ignoring traffic signals or stop signs can cause motorcycle accidents. Failing to stop at a red light or stop sign puts motorcyclists at risk as they cross intersections or travel through them.
Driving Under the Influence
Operating a vehicle while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs significantly impairs a driver’s judgment, coordination, and reaction time. This can lead to severe accidents involving motorcycles. The Washington Traffic Safety Commission claims around 50 percent of all fatal traffic accidents involve drug or alcohol impairment, and on average, around 150 die each year between July and September in accidents caused by intoxicated drivers.
What Should I Do After a Motorcycle Accident in Washington?
Following a motorcycle accident in Washington, here’s how you can protect your well-being and your legal rights:
Ensure your safety. Prioritize your safety and the safety of others involved. Move to a safe location if possible, away from traffic and potential hazards. If the crash injured you or anyone else, call emergency services immediately for medical assistance.
Contact law enforcement. You must report an accident involving injuries to law enforcement. Contact 911 to report the accident and wait for the police to arrive at the scene. They will create an official report documenting the details of the accident, which your motorcycle accident lawyer can use in insurance claims and legal proceedings.
Exchange information. Exchange contact, insurance, and driver’s license information with the other parties in the accident. Obtain the names and contact details of any witnesses present as well.
Document the accident. If you physically can, take photos or videos of the accident scene, including the position of the vehicles involved, property damage, skid marks, and any other relevant details. These visual records can serve as evidence later. If your injuries required emergency treatment, have someone record the footage or contact a local attorney for assistance.
Seek medical attention. Even if you didn’t sustain life-threatening injuries or didn’t feel immediate pain or notice any obvious serious injuries, seek a comprehensive medical evaluation as soon as possible. Some injuries may not manifest symptoms immediately, or you may need imaging tests or other diagnostic procedures to diagnose any internal injuries. Keep a record of your medical treatment and follow all medical advice.
Notify your insurance company. Even though Washington is an at-fault or tort state, meaning the at-fault driver must pay for your injuries, report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Provide them with accurate information about the accident. Refer them to your motorcycle accident lawyer for details.
Preserve evidence. Keep all relevant documents, such as medical records, accident reports, and correspondence with insurance companies, in a safe place. These documents can support your claim and assist your attorney in building a strong case.
Be cautious with statements. Avoid admitting fault or making any statements about the accident to anyone other than the police or your attorney. The insurance company can use anything you say against you in negotiations or legal proceedings.
Follow legal deadlines. In most cases, you have three years after the accident to initiate legal action. However, consult an attorney to understand the specific deadlines applicable to your case.
Consult an attorney. Among the first things you should do is contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney. They can provide guidance, protect your rights, and gather evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and file a personal injury lawsuit if necessary.
Remember that every accident is unique, and the steps you should take may vary based on the circumstances. Consulting an attorney who specializes in motorcycle accidents in Washington can provide you with personalized advice and guidance based on your specific situation.
How Do I Prove Liability in a Motorcycle Accident?
Proving liability in a motorcycle accident typically requires gathering evidence and establishing that a negligent party caused the accident. Due to the complex and confusing process, consult a Washington motorcycle accident attorney for assistance.
A lawyer will have the legal knowledge and resources to handle your claim efficiently, and they will work to build your claim and establish liability by:
Obtaining a police report. An attorney can contact the local police department and request a copy of the official police report of the accident. The report often contains important details about the accident, statements from involved parties and witnesses, and the officer’s assessment of fault.
Gathering witness statements. A lawyer may also speak with any witnesses who saw the accident and ask for a written or recorded statement. Their statements can support your version of events and establish fault. Your attorney may also depose witnesses to provide testimony if your case goes to trial.
Gathering evidence. An attorney will also have the resources to collect as much evidence as possible to support your claim. This can include using accident reconstruction professionals and other industry experts to prove the other driver’s negligence.
Documenting your injuries and damages. A lawyer can also keep detailed records of your injuries, medical treatments, and related expenses. This includes medical bills, prescriptions, rehabilitation costs, and any other out-of-pocket expenses resulting from the accident. They can photograph your injuries to show your damages.
All drivers owe an inherent duty of care to others on the road. To establish liability, your attorney must show that the motorist breached that duty through their negligent, reckless, or careless actions. The breach of duty caused the accident, and you suffered injuries and damages as a result.
By collecting and using as much evidence as possible to support your claim and establishing the other driver’s liability, your attorney can greatly increase your chances of holding the other driver accountable and helping you get the financial compensation you deserve.
How Can I Stay Safe as a Motorcyclist?
As a conscientious motorcyclist, you want to stay as safe as possible on the road and reduce your risks of a motorcycle accident.
To enhance your safety on the road:
Wear protective gear. Washington requires motorcyclists and their passengers to wear helmets. Wear a helmet that meets safety standards to protect your head in an accident. Additionally, wear protective clothing, including a jacket, pants, gloves, and boots designed for motorcycle riding, to safeguard your body against injuries.
Follow traffic laws. Observe all traffic laws and regulations, including speed limits, traffic signals, and lane markings. Adhering to these laws reduces the risk of accidents and helps other drivers predict your actions.
Be visible. Increase your visibility to other motorists by wearing bright, reflective clothing. Equip your motorcycle with reflective materials and use your headlights during the day. Position yourself in the lane where other drivers can best see you.
Practice defensive riding. Assume that other drivers may not see you, and ride defensively to anticipate potential hazards. Maintain a safe following distance, cautiously enter intersections, and constantly scan your surroundings for potential dangers.
Stay alert and focused. Avoid distractions while riding, such as using electronic devices or listening to loud music. Stay focused on the road, anticipate potential hazards, and prepare to react quickly to changing situations.
Develop riding skills. Continuously work on improving your riding skills and knowledge. Consider taking a motorcycle safety course or advanced rider training to enhance your abilities and learn effective techniques for handling various situations.
Pay attention and adapt to road conditions. Pay attention to road conditions and adjust your riding accordingly when you encounter wet or slippery surfaces, gravel, potholes, and uneven pavement that can significantly reduce your motorcycle’s stability and maneuverability.
Use turn signals and communication. Clearly signal your intentions using your motorcycle’s turn signals and hand signals when appropriate. Make eye contact with other drivers when possible to ensure they see you and can anticipate your intended actions.
Avoid riding under the influence. Never ride your motorcycle under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medications that impair your judgment or coordination. Operating a motorcycle requires full focus and quick reflexes.
Regularly maintain your motorcycle. Keep your motorcycle in good working condition by performing regular maintenance checks on brakes, tires, lights, and other crucial components. Proper maintenance helps ensure optimal performance and reduces the risk of mechanical failures.
Even if you follow all laws and safety requirements, you can still fall victim to a motorcycle accident through no fault of your own. If a negligent driver hits you or a defective component on your motorcycle fails and causes you to lose control and crash, you sustain serious injuries that require extensive medical treatment and therapy.
Contact a Washington Motorcycle Accident Attorney for Help
You try to remain safe on your motorcycle, but you can’t control the actions of others. If you suffered injuries or lost a close family member in a motorcycle accident another motorist caused by violating traffic laws, you consult an experienced personal injury attorney in Seattle today.
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