The thrill of enjoying the open road can come to a screeching halt if you are hurt in a motorcycle accident. In addition to the agonizing pain from your injuries, you may also incur extreme medical bills and lose income due to being unable to work.
Fortunately, Washington State law does allow you to recover for your losses, but these cases are highly complex. Our attorneys at Kapuza Lighty, PLLC have the knowledge and experience to pursue your right to compensation from the responsible driver, so you can focus on getting back to health.
Yakima, WA Lawyers Tackle Tough Motorcycle Accident Cases
In Washington, motorcycle accidents happen all too often. Motorcycle drivers account for only 3% of all drivers on Washington roads.
Yet between 2013 and 2017, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission estimates that motorcycle accidents accounted for 15% of all fatalities and 19% of all serious injuries due to traffic collisions.
Motorcycle crashes can lead to catastrophic injuries, primarily because of the size and weight differences between a cycle and other vehicles. The more common types of motorcycle injuries include:
- Head Trauma: Traumatic brain injury (TBI), concussion, skull fractures, and penetrating head injuries can be life-threatening. Even when you were wearing a helmet as required by Washington State law, protective gear may not be enough to withstand the impact.
- Neck and Spine Injuries: Damage to the neck, back and spine can lead to paralysis, quadriplegia, or paraplegia. In the most serious motorcycle crashes, a victim may never walk again.
- Road Rash: This type of injury occurs when exposed skin slides across rough pavement, causing a rash-like wound. Road rash is very painful, but there can be other health implications such as nerve damage and infection.
- Lower Extremities Injuries: Injuries to feet, legs, ankles, and knees are typical in motorcycle collisions because there is no metal barrier to protect you from harm. Bone fractures, amputations, severe bruising, cuts, lacerations, and other trauma often require surgery.
No matter what the exact nature of your motorcycle injuries may be, these accidents are usually the result of negligence.
All drivers must exercise reasonable care when operating a vehicle. This includes following all driving laws and applicable state statutes.
To prove a driver’s fault in a motorcycle accident, you must show that the driver failed to exercise reasonable care when operating the vehicle.
Examples of such failure include:
- Driving at speeds exceeding the posted speed limit,
- Making an unsafe lane change,
- Turning illegally,
- Operating a vehicle in an unsafe condition, or
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Once you prove that the defendant acted carelessly, you must show that the careless actions were the direct cause of your injuries.
Finally, you must demonstrate that you suffered damages recoverable under the law.
Proving fault requires gathering evidence to support your legal claim.
Such evidence includes:
- Accident reports and forensic inspections of the vehicles involved in the crash,
- Witness statements gathered at the scene,
- Police reports, and
- Medical and hospital reports.
Sometimes other types of evidence may not be as obvious but can be very helpful to your case. For example, were there nearby cameras that caught the collision on video? Cameras from ATMs or security cameras from nearby businesses may provide important information to help you prove fault.
It is important to remember that courts place limitations on the type and form of evidence that can be used in a lawsuit. An experienced Yakima motorcycle accident lawyer understands how to properly gather evidence and how best to use it to support your claim. They will know what questions to ask and which facts are most important to proving your case.
What Kinds of Damages Can I Recover?
Damages fall into two categories under Washington state law. Proving damages requires extensive investigation. You must have sufficient evidence to prove the extent of your damages. Hiring a skilled Washington State motorcycle accident attorney will increase your chances of recovering a larger financial award.
Economic damages are the direct losses from a motorcycle accident.
- Medical expenses for emergency care, ongoing treatment, surgery, physical therapy, prescriptions, and similar costs;
- Lost wages if you were unable to work as a result of your injuries; and,
- Similar losses.
Proving economic damages is normally a straightforward process. Evidence for economic damages usually includes medical bills, car repair bills, and employment records to determine lost wages.
Noneconomic damages are a legal concept that refers to such subjective losses as:
- Pain and suffering;
- Damages due to how your injuries impact upon your relationships with family, friends, and other loved ones;
- Emotional distress; and,
- Other types of losses depending on your situation.
Pain and suffering from a motorcycle accident can affect you years after the accident occurred. Damages awards should reflect the extent and duration of such injuries. However, proving noneconomic damages can be complicated.
You will likely need to call expert witnesses to demonstrate the extent of your psychological and emotional trauma. A motorcycle accident lawyer can help you gather the necessary evidence and help you determine the appropriate amount of your damages claim.
Legal Implications Regarding Your Claim
Note that Washington State has enacted laws that may reduce or prohibit your claim after a motorcycle accident. Failing to meet these requirements may prevent you from filing suit or limit your ability to recover damages.
Statute of Limitations
Washington law requires you to file a lawsuit within three years from the date of the incident. Courts strictly enforce statutes of limitations. If you fail to file your lawsuit within the statute of limitations, you lose your right to file a lawsuit except under very limited circumstances. To calculate the statute of limitations, you must know:
- When the statute of limitations begins to run;
- Any factors that may extend or “toll” the statute of limitations and give you more time to file; and
- Any special circumstances that would limit your ability to sue.
Court rulings, state rules, and other factors can affect this calculation. Washington motorcycle accident attorneys are familiar with the state statutes of limitations and will ensure you file your claim on time.
In many motorcycle accidents, the at-fault driver will try to claim that someone else was at fault. Claims that you contributed to causing a motorcycle accident may affect your ability to recover damages.
Washington’s contributory fault law reduces your compensation if your own conduct contributed to the motorcycle crash. For example, another driver may have run a red light when they hit you at an intersection. But if you were also speeding, you may be partially at fault.
Under Washington law, your damages award will be reduced proportionate to the amount you were at fault. For example, if a court determines you were 25% at fault, you can recover only 75% of the total damages.
Trust a Knowledgeable Yakima, WA Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Motorcycle accidents can cause severe, sometimes lifelong injuries. If another driver was at fault, you have a right to seek financial compensation. While choosing the right lawyer is an important decision, it can also be a difficult one. The dedicated team at Kapuza Lighty, PLLC, places our clients’ interests first. We provide highly personalized services and help support and guide you throughout the entire legal process.
Our experienced staff have served the Yakima community for decades. We care deeply about protecting our community and its citizens. We have successfully represented motorcycle accident victims and secured substantial compensation awards on their behalf. We will work hard to provide you the best possible legal representation.
Contact A Qualified Attorney Today
At Kapuza Lighty, PLLC, we believe our clients deserve exceptional service. Our experienced staff is ready to help you with your motorcycle accident claim today. If you were hurt in a motorcycle accident, you have a right to pursue legal compensation.
To schedule a free consultation, contact our offices at 509-381-0592 or fill out an online form today.