Hurt in a Motorcycle Accident in Washington?
Local Attorneys Explain Motorcycle Laws and Insurance Requirements
Due to the open design of a motorcycle, the rider may sustain severe injuries in the event of a crash with another vehicle. Even if a motorcyclist wears a helmet and full-body protective gear, the effects of an accident may be devastating. After such a crash, you may be able to collect compensation through an insurance claim, just as you would after any other motor vehicle accident. However, determining liability after a motorcycle crash can be difficult, especially as insurance adjusters may try to reduce your settlement if you were not wearing a helmet. Additionally, some states have different insurance requirements and laws related to motorcyclists, which may complicate your claim. Below, our local Washington motorcycle accident attorneys explain the unique aspects of these kinds of claims.
Having a qualified attorney on your side after a motorcycle accident is often essential to getting the compensation you deserve. A lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and defend your right to full compensation, regardless of helmet use. If you need to find a Washington attorney for your motorcycle accident claim, then consult our local listings.
How Are Motorcycle Accident Claims Unique?
A motorcycle accident claim usually involves serious injuries or even wrongful death, especially if much larger vehicles are involved. Other differences that set motorcycle accidents apart from car crashes include:
- Different common causes. Driver distraction and inattention are common causes of motorcycle accidents involving other vehicles. Due to the smaller size of a motorcycle, drivers in other vehicles may fail to notice an oncoming rider, causing a deadly crash. Additionally, negligent drivers may try to pass motorcyclists or share a lane, which increases the chances of a wreck. Finally, drinking and riding is one of the leading causes of single-vehicle motorcycle accidents and deaths, according to the CDC.
- More possible hazards. Certain hazards which may not affect cars and trucks can be deadly for motorcyclists. Road defects in particular may be dangerous for motorcyclists; in these cases, the city or government body responsible for the road may be liable for the crash. Additionally, adverse weather and defects in the bike and/or equipment may cause of contribute to motorcycle accident injuries.
- Possible biases. In some cases, insurance adjusters and/or juries may have biases against motorcyclists. For example, these parties may be more inclined to assume the motorcyclist was speeding or driving recklessly. Additionally, not wearing a helmet may make it more difficult to obtain fair compensation – though helmet use does not legally affect your ability to recover.
- Higher verdicts and settlements. Since the injuries and damages a motorcyclist suffers are usually high, the result of a motorcycle accident claim may be higher, compared to other claims. Since this compensation is usually necessary for riders to afford medical treatments, it is a good idea to consult an attorney who can protect your claim.
What Are the Washington Motorcycle License and Insurance Requirements?
In all 50 states, motorcyclists must have a special endorsement on their licenses in order to legally ride. However, the requirements that you must meet to obtain a “Class M” endorsement vary by location. In Washington, the requirements are:
- No person may drive a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle unless such person has a valid driver’s license specially endorsed by the DOL to authorize the holder to drive such vehicles.
- A person holding a valid driver’s license who wishes to learn to ride a motorcycle may apply for a motorcycle instruction permit. The DOL will issue an instruction permit after the applicant has passed all parts of the motorcycle examination other than the driving test.
- A person holding a motorcycle instruction permit may drive a motorcycle on the public highways if the person has immediate possession of the permit and a driver’s license. A permit holder may not carry passengers and may not operate a motorcycle during hours of darkness. A motorcycle instruction permit is valid for 90 days.
- The DOL may waive all or part of the motorcycle endorsement examination for persons who satisfactorily complete the voluntary motorcycle operator training and education program.
As with car insurance, Washington State does not require motorcycle drivers to purchase any policy. Though it’s not mandatory, you should still think about getting insurance to protect your other assets and control costs if you get into an accident. Consider purchasing the same minimum amount of liability as for cars:
- $25,000 for bodily injury/death of one person per accident.
- $50,000 for bodily injury/death of two people per accident.
- $10,000 for injury or property destruction per accident.
Additionally, depending on the circumstances, you may be able to negotiate for a lower or variable insurance premium for your motorcycle if you do not ride it consistently. For example, most people do not travel by motorcycle in the winter months, so you may be able to purchase a “lay-up” policy, which reduces your coverage, and therefore your premium, during a certain time period.
Can I File a Motorcycle Accident Claim If I Was Not Wearing a Helmet?
Washington is one of 19 states that have universal helmet laws. This means that all motorcyclists must wear a protective helmet at all times, regardless of age or skill level. A motorcycle helmet can help protect you from serious head and brain injuries in the event of an accident. Other protective gear that can minimize potential motorcycle accident injuries includes: sturdy boots, light-weight riding armor, thick pants, a long-sleeved jacket and durable gloves. Therefore, even if you travel to another state with more relaxed laws, it is still advisable to wear a helmet.
Since Washington law does require you to wear a motorcycle helmet, you may face a ticket or a fine if you do not have one on during a crash. However, insurance companies cannot use lack of helmet use as a reason to reduce your settlement. Still, many injured riders find their motorcycle accident claims reduced or denied for this reason anyway. The insurance company may try to claim that you contributed to your own injuries by failing to wear a helmet. If this happens, then a qualified motorcycle attorney can help you fight for full and fair compensation.
Hurt While Riding? Find a Local Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today
If you suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, then an attorney may be able to help. To find a local lawyer, consult our listings. Otherwise, if you have a question or concern about motorcycle accident claims, then feel free to ask the lawyers.