Motorcycle Accidents Attorneys in Kennewick, Washington
A motorcycle accident can change your life in the blink of an eye. If you or a loved one has been in a motorcycle wreck in Washington, it’s important to take steps toward pursuing a path forward. Specifically, you may be able to file a personal injury claim.
The first step to take is to talk to a personal injury attorney who can assist you with your case. If you or a family member has been hurt in a motorcycle accident in Washington, contact us at Gierth-Eddy Law Offices PLLC, serving Kennewick, Yakima, and other areas of Washington such as Richland and Pasco. We are dedicated to helping our clients pursue rightful compensation for their injuries.
Steps to Take After a Motorcycle Accident
Get Medical Attention
If you are hurt in a motorcycle accident, it is important to begin collecting evidence. However, the very first thing you should do is to seek medical help. Call the police and an ambulance for you or anyone else who has been injured. Get examined by medical professionals even if you do not think you were seriously injured. Some injuries—such as those to the head, for example—may take a while to become symptomatic and can be dangerous or even fatal if left untreated.
Medical records are certainly strong evidence when you pursue a personal injury claim. Obtaining written medical reports can only be helpful to you and to your attorney later.
Document as Much as Possible
If you can, get information about the other motorist. If the motorist has fled, ask witnesses if they can remember any identifying details (such as the make and model of the vehicle, vehicle dents or stickers, the motorist’s appearance, license plate numbers, etc.). Take pictures of the accident site.
Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
A personal injury lawyer is an invaluable resource if you aim to receive proper compensation for your injuries. A personal injury attorney will be able to help you gather evidence, speak to the other driver’s insurance company on your behalf, and represent you should your case go to trial.
Washington Motorcycle Laws
Washington has some specific laws surrounding motorcycles that are important to remember. Violation of any of these laws could negatively affect your personal injury claim.
In Washington, lane splitting (riding between traffic lanes) on a motorcycle is illegal. If you were found to have been lane splitting at the time of the accident, you may be found at least partially at fault.
You must wear a USDOT-certified helmet if you are driving a motorcycle.
You cannot carry a passenger on a motorcycle that is not designed to carry a passenger.
You must have a windshield on your motorcycle (unless you are wearing goggles or a face shield) and your handlebars cannot be higher than 30 inches above the seat.
Determining Fault in Washington
Washington follows the “pure comparative fault” system. This means that you can recover damages from the other party even if you are found to be partially at fault for an accident. Unlike in some states, where you cannot recover any damages if you were 50% or more at fault for an accident, you can recover damages even if you were 99% at fault in Washington—you just cannot have been completely at fault.
However, the amount of compensation you can recover from the other party will be affected by your degree of fault. For example, let’s say that your damages come to $10,000 and you were found to be 30% at fault for the accident. The amount of damages you could recover from the other party would only total $7,000—that is, $10,000 minus your 30% of the fault.
In order for a personal injury claim to be successful, you need to establish fault—and fault is established by proving the other party’s negligence. Generally, you must prove that:
The other driver owed you a duty of care. This is a basic rule of the road; all motorists are required to drive safely.
The other driver breached that duty of care (by driving recklessly, absentmindedly, or in any other way that was not safe)
Because of that breach, you were injured.
A personal injury attorney can aid you in demonstrating that the other driver was at fault and can argue your case effectively.
Filing A Claim for a Loved One
According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, there were 132 motorcycle fatalities in 2022. If your loved one has died in a motorcycle accident as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim against the other party. In Washington, a “wrongful death” occurs when someone dies as a result of intentional acts, medical malpractice, and negligent acts (such as car and motorcycle accidents). Wrongful death lawsuits must be filed within three years of your loved one’s death.
The executor of your loved one’s estate will have to bring the wrongful death claim in Washington (although the compensation is paid to you and your family). If there is no executor, the court will elect someone to act in their place. Special rules apply for parents; most parents can bring a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of their children.
You may also be able to file a claim for a loved one if they have become incapacitated by the accident; in this case, you should speak to your attorney and have them advise you further.
Motorcycle Accidents Attorneys Serving Kennewick, Washington
At Gierth-Eddy Law Offices PLLC, we are dedicated to fighting for your right to heal and move on from your accident. Our attorneys Richard L. Gierth, Loren J. Eddy, and Angie Alcalá will provide detail-oriented legal support and work closely with you toward the goal of obtaining the compensation that you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a meeting.