Bellevue Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Motorcycle accidents in Washington state have been on the rise, according to the Department of Transportation.
In 2013, there were 1,934 motorcyclists involved in collisions with fatalities or injuries. That number climbed to 2,034 in 2014, and 2,208 in 2015, the last year for which data was available. That’s a 14 percent increase in just two years. While it’s not out of line with an overall increase in motor vehicles accidents attributed largely to distracted driving, it affects motorcyclists more, as they comprise a disproportionate number of traffic deaths.
Riders are especially vulnerable for a variety of reasons. They are less visible to drivers than other cars, are more exposed, and ride less-stable vehicle, yet can achieve equal speed. There are laws in place to support their safety, and still motorcyclists can face unique situations that put them at risk.
Requirements to ride in Washington
Motorcyclists, like bicyclists, have the same rights and responsibilities on the roadways as operators of motor vehicles. But motorcyclists must meet additional expectations before they can get on the road.
- Riders are required to have an endorsement on their valid driver’s license to operate either a two-wheeled or three-wheeled motorcycle. Two-wheel and three-wheel endorsements are separately earned, either by completing a training course at an approved school, or by passing the knowledge and riding skills tests.
- Bikes also must have rear-view mirrors on the left and right, and all riders must wear some kind of goggles or face shield unless the motorcycle already has a windshield.
- Motorcycle riders in Washington state are also required to wear a helmet. All riders must wear a helmet that has been certified as meeting U.S. Department of Transportation standards. A sticker on the helmet will verify the certification.
An original motorcycle helmet law in Washington was repealed in 1977, and fatalities immediately spiked from 75 to 115 staying above 100 for a few years. The law reinstated in 1990 and fatalities, which had been dropping, continued a plunge to a low of 28 in 1997.
Common causes of motorcycle accidents
The most common cause of motorcycle/car accidents is when a car makes a left-hand turn. In these cases, either an oncoming motorcycle is struck as the car turns left, or the motorcyclist tries to pass or overtake the car turning left.
Lane-splitting — when a motorcyclist rides between lanes or on the shoulder — is another common cause of motorcycle accidents. Lane-splitting is illegal in Washington state, so a rider involved in an accident who was lane splitting is likely to be judged at fault. A bill in 2017 that would have made it legal stalled in the state House of Representative.
High-risk behavior, such as speeding or riding under the influence of alcohol or drugs, also causes a significant number of motorcycle accidents. High-performance motorcycles that can reach up to 160 mph create plenty of temptation to test the boundaries of safety.
Finally, distracted automobile driving is especially hazardous for motorcyclists, since they are harder to see than another car. A driver who moves their gaze away for only a moment could be more likely to fail to spot a motorcyclist.
What to do if you are Injured
If you are a motorcyclist injured in a crash, the grounds for a lawsuit will be based on who is responsible — just as in an automobile crash. When another driver is at fault, you might have the opportunity to recover money for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. An experienced attorney can advise you on whether you have a case.
Contact an Experienced Bellevue Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
No matter the course of action you are considering, be sure to consult the experience personal injury attorneys at Lehmbecker Law to thoroughly review your options. At Lehmbecker Law, we offer free consultations for all cases, and our attorneys bring more than 40 years of combined experience to representing accident victims and their families in Seattle, WA. If you would like to discuss your case with one of our dedicated injury lawyers, please call (877) 335-2018 or contact us online today.