As the popularity of riding motorcycles increases, so do the number of motorcycle wrecks. In a normal year in Washington, motorcycle deaths account for about 20% of the annual traffic deaths. In April 2020 the percentage was 53%.
Motorcycles provide no protection to the rider during a collision, leaving them more susceptible to serious multiple injuries. If you or a loved one are in a motorcycle wreck, you may be entitled to compensation for your loss.
Following a motorcycle accident, you need to contact a motorcycle wreck lawyer. They will take steps to help you receive compensation and make sure you do not miss the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit.
Motorcycle Wreck Causes
The best way to avoid injury or death in a motorcycle accident is to be an educated rider. Here are the most common motorcycle crashes:
A car turning left in front of you is the most common type of motorcycle accident. Drivers in cars fail to “see” oncoming motorcycles. You must cautious, prepare for the vehicle to pull out in front of you, and plan an escape route if necessary.
Entering a corner too fast can be scary, and the instinct is to hit the brakes, but that is a huge mistake. Hitting the brakes causes the bike to lose traction and come out from under you. The safest option is to maintain speed and ride it out.
A car moves into your lane because you are in their blind spot, or they have simply failed to “see” you. Follow the mirror rule: if you can’t see the driver in their side mirror, then they cannot see you.
Car hits you from behind as you come to a stop. Even a simple fender bender can result in serious injury or death of a motorcycle rider. Keep your bike in gear and an eye on your mirrors in low visibility situations or heavy traffic. Be ready to quickly move if it appears a vehicle may hit you.
A car door opens into your path happens when riding next to parked vehicles. When riding next to parked vehicles remain in the center of your lane and out of the door “death zone.”
Slippery weather can be tricky. Remember to slow down. Two slim motorcycle tires have far less traction than four automobile tires. You will also be less visible to other drivers.
Statute of Limitations in Washington
According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission motorcycles make up 3% of the road users in Washington but account for 15% of all fatalities and 19% of serious injuries. On average, 75 riders a year die on Washington roads.
The Revised Code of Washington, §4.1.6.080 states that you must file a personal injury claim within three years of a motorcycle accident. If a motorcycle rider or passenger dies as a result of an accident, there may also be a wrongful death claim. The Statute of Limitations for wrongful death is three years from the date of death.
If you fail to meet the Statute of Limitations deadline, your ability to claim compensation is lost. Understanding the laws can be tricky and you want to make sure all complaints are properly written, filing is timely, and service is proper to avoid a dismissal of your claim.
Hire a motorcycle wreck lawyer as soon after an accident as possible. They will begin gathering evidence and will document the severity of your injuries. This includes taking photos of you in a wheelchair, with casts, leg braces, etc. to use as visual evidence in negotiations and trial.
Laws to Ride
The Washington State Motorcycle Operator Manual available from the Washington State Department of Licensing is an excellent resource for any motorcycle rider. The laws you must comply with when you own or ride a motorcycle include:
You must have a driver’s license motorcycle endorsement. To receive an endorsement, you must pass the advanced skills and knowledge exam. Riding without an endorsement may result in a fine of $386 and an impounding of your motorcycle.
There are two different types of endorsements, one for two-wheeled motorcycles and one for a three-wheeled motorcycle or motorcycle with a sidecar. Each type of endorsement has its own training and testing requirements.
You must register your motorcycle with the Washington State DOL. The title is necessary to complete the registration. You must display a valid license plate to ride the motorcycle on public roadways.
Motorcycle Mandatory Equipment
To be street legal your motorcycle must have a mirror on the right and left that allows you to see at least 200 feet behind you. It must also have a windshield, and if there is no windshield you must wear safety goggles or a face shield. Helmets with DOT approval ratings are mandatory.
Your handlebars and grips must be no higher than 30” above the seat. The horn must be loud enough to be heard at least 200 feet, and the head and tail lamps must be lit at all times when riding.
Pipes may be no louder than 78 dBA when traveling under 45 mph and no more than 82 dBA when traveling over 45 mph.
Protective clothing such as leather gloves, leather jacket and/or vest, chaps, and leather riding boots are not a requirement but do provide a layer of protection in the event of an accident.
You Must Obey All Traffic Laws
Motorcycles must follow the same traffic rules as automobiles. The only exception is if a motorcycle makes a complete stop at a red light and has been there through at least one light cycle without it turning green. The motorcycle may not be heavy enough to trigger a light change and may proceed as long as they are not violating pedestrian or vehicle right of way.
No Lane Splitting
Lane splitting is a term for riding between lanes or rows of traffic that are traveling slow or are at a complete stop. The only place in the United States you can legally lane split is California.
Motorcycles are entitled to use of a full traffic lane, or they may share it with one other motorcycle.
Carrying a Passenger
Motorcycles may only have one rider per seat. If you are carrying a passenger they must be on a saddle seat or in a sidecar. If on a saddle seat the passenger must have footrests.
The State of Washington requires motorcycles to have a minimum of $10,000 coverage for property damage per accident. They must also carry bodily injury coverage of $25,000 per person or $50,000 for two or more people.
Do Not Hesitate
If you or a loved one suffers injuries or dies in a motorcycle wreck you need to contact the Sweet Lawyers Group. With 40 years of experience and a 98% success rate, we have the knowledge and legal experience to fight for the compensation you deserve. If your injuries are too severe to visit us, we will come to you.
We handle your case on a contingency fee, which means you pay nothing unless we win your case. Your consultation is 100% free. Call or complete the online form to schedule your case evaluation today.