Seattle Bike Accident Attorney
Unlike motorists, bicyclists are almost completely unprotected in a traffic accident. This is why many cyclists sustain serious injuries in falls, collisions, and other incidents in the Seattle area. Except for a helmet in some cases, a bicyclist's body is completely unprotected against dangerous outside forces. Unfortunately, not all motorists practice caution around bicyclists. In fact, motorists are at fault in just over half of fatal accidents with bicycles. Despite the popularity of biking in Washington, from the acknowledgement of May as National Bike to Work Month and the rise of bike cafes in Seattle, traffic police tend to be biased against bicyclists, looking for fault in their actions rather than the actions of the truly liable party.
Bicycle accident victims are strongly advised to seek the legal counsel of an experienced Seattle personal injury lawyer when they’re injured, because getting adequate compensation for injuries can be difficult, and the claims process is so complex. This is especially true if the liable party disputes your claim. For this reason, it is recommended that you never try to handle your case alone.
Instead, reach out to Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., a personal injury law firm with an established track record of success. We have the knowledge and resources to help you gain the upper hand during negotiations and trial, as well as a thorough understanding of Washington state bicycle laws. Call us today at (888) 228-3860 for a free, comprehensive consultation.
Washington Bicycle Accident Recoveries
- $170,000 recovery for a bicyclist injured when he was struck by a car while riding his bicycle.
- $145,000 recovery for a man who received a concussion and skin abrasions when he was knocked off his bicycle by a car making a turn in Kirkland, Washington.
I don’t have health insurance, but I need emergency treatment. What should I do if I have been in a bicycle accident?
A: While motorists are typically the at-fault party in a bicycle crash, other parties may be responsible or involved as well. For example, if a defective bicycle part contributed to a crash, the manufacturer could be held liable. Or if dangerous road conditions were involved, the city or government agency responsible for designing and maintaining the path or roadway may be the culprit. Washington is a comparative fault state, which means you may be entitled to some compensation for damages, even if the accident was partly your fault.
A: Whether dealing with your own insurance provider or the at-fault party’s insurer, the insurance adjuster's job is not to provide you with the compensation you need to recover from your injuries. On the contrary, their job is to retain as much profit as possible for the company. Keep this in mind when dealing with insurance matters. It is best not to interact with the insurance adjuster at all, but if you must, be sure to consult with your attorney before signing or saying anything. Even if the adjuster offers you what seems like an adequate settlement, chances are he or she is trying to get you to accept much less than you actually deserve.
A: A: Your first step should be to ensure you are safe. If there is no immediate danger, get to the side of the road and contact emergency services. Both police and emergency medical personnel will head to your location to assist you. While you wait, take photos and videos of the scene of the accident, including any relevant traffic signs. You should also write down any details leading up to and during the accident while your memory is still fresh. If the driver is available, get a copy of their insurance information as well.
When emergency services arrive, get yourself checked out by the paramedics and request a medical review at the nearest hospital. You will also want to speak to the police to ensure an accident report is thoroughly filed. Make sure to only provide the factual details of the accident and avoid admitting any liability. Once a doctor has attended to your immediate medical needs, ask for a copy of your medical report.
If you were biking for work, you should also file a workers’ compensation claim. It may not cover you when you are on your way to work, but if you handle work related deliveries on a bike, you may be covered.
After your health, safety, and all reports are properly taken care of, contact a personal injury attorney. We can help you review the evidence you have collected – including the police and medical report – and handle all communications with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Q: I don’t have health insurance, but I need emergency treatment. What should I do if I have been in a bicycle accident?
A: Your health should be your first priority. If you need emergency medical treatment, do whatever it takes to get it. Delaying treatment may cause your injuries to worsen. Fortunately, there are medical providers out there who can treat you without upfront costs (on a lien basis). Contact a resourceful lawyer for more information.
Q: I got into an accident right after my bike was repaired. Do I have a claim against the repair shop?
A: If you paid to have an individual or a bike shop repair your bicycle and their careless work directly caused your crash, then you probably have a viable claim against them. However, it is necessary to connect the crash to the person or shop that did the repairs, which may be difficult. In cases like this, having an experienced legal advocate to perform a prompt investigation of the accident can make all the difference.
A: You may be entitled to compensation for economic damages, such as medical bills and lost wages; and non-economic damages, such as pain, emotional distress, disability, and more. If you lost a loved one in a Seattle bicycle accident, you may recover money for the pain your loved one suffered prior to death, their funeral and burial costs, as well as the loss of emotional support, love, and other damages that you have suffered.
In a study of bike accidents that occurred between 2008 and 2017, Seattle Times compiled the key hotspots for bike accidents in Seattle, which include the following intersections:
- Eastlake Avenue East & Fuhrman Avenue East
- Second and University Street
- Troll Avenue and North 34th Street
- Northeast 45th Street near First Avenue Northeast
- Melrose Avenue and Pine Street
- Boylston Avenue and East Pine
- Second between Union and Pike
- 15th Avenue Northeast and Northeast Pacific Street
- Dexter Avenue North near Ward Street
- Second between University and Union
Many of these roads and intersections have received new safety features, from updated crosswalk signals to bike lanes, but injuries still occur, often due to negligent drivers. Most bicyclists are advised to find alternative routes, however, many of these roads are popular due to their speed and convenience, making it difficult for bicyclists to change their commute.
As reported in an article published by American Family Physician, the areas of the body most frequently injured in bicycle accidents are the upper and lower extremities, followed by the head, face, abdomen, and neck. Traumatic injuries sustained by cyclists include injuries to the:
- Head: Concussions, brain contusions, skull fractures, intracranial hemorrhages.
- Face and Eyes: Facial fractures, dental fractures, contusions, foreign bodies in the cornea.
- Musculoskeletal: Fractures, strains, and dislocations.
- Chest: Rib fractures, lung injury.
- Abdomen: Ruptures, lacerations, contusions, or perforation of internal organs or blood vessels.
- Genitourinary: Damage to the urethra and vulva, pelvic fractures, and rectal trauma.
- Skin and Soft Tissue: Severe abrasions (road rash), lacerations, and contusions.
Between 22% and 47% of injured cyclists suffer head injuries, often the result of collisions with motor vehicles. Head injuries also account for more than 60% of all bicycle accident-related fatalities and the majority of bicycle accidents that leave victims living with permanent impairments.
Bicyclists can and do crash on their own, and some collisions between bicycles and motor vehicles are caused by the bicyclist. In far too many cases, however, bicycle accidents are caused by inattentive, distracted, or aggressive motor vehicle drivers. The Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) has done extensive research into bicycle accidents and have classified many of these types of accidents as specific violations under Washington state laws. Negligent drivers cause bicycle accidents in a variety of ways, including:
- Rear-End Collisions: This is caused by motor vehicle operators who violate the bicyclist's right-of-way or follow too closely in traffic. When a negligent driver crashes into the rear of a bicycle with a 3,000-pound vehicle, the bicyclist may suffer serious injuries.
- Left Turns at Intersections: Bicycles are smaller and less visible, and drivers sometimes fail to register their presence at an intersection. When a bicycle is travelling straight through an intersection, a collision can occur when a motor vehicle traveling in the opposite direction fails to yield the right-of-way and turns left – directly into the bicyclist's path.
- Pulling Out on the Cyclist's Right: Drivers exiting parking lots, side streets, alleys, and driveways on the right side of a cyclist may hit the bicycle when it has just passed the front of the vehicle, or pull out into the cyclist's path at the last moment, causing the bicycle to crash into the vehicle.
- Collisions When Driver Is Making a Right Turn: Drivers turning right onto a side street may overtake a bicyclist and cut them off, causing the bicyclist to slam into the vehicle. Another right-turn accident scenario is when the driver simply fails to see the bicycle in the cross street and hits it while executing the turn. Washington state law RCW 46.61.110 requires that drivers only overtake bicyclists when there is a safe distance between them and should not merge into the ride side of the road unless it is completely clear of other vehicles or pedestrians.
- Opening Car Doors in a Bicycle's Path: When a vehicle is parked on the street and a driver or passenger suddenly opens the car door, blocking the path of an oncoming bicycle, there may not be enough time for the cyclist to swerve out of the way or come to a stop and avoid a collision. This practice, known as “dooring”, is a specific violation under Washington state law RCW 46.61.620, which requires that drivers cannot open their doors in front of oncoming traffic.
The short answer is: all of it. The more evidence that your attorney can present, the stronger the case that they can build for you. Here are the most important pieces of evidence your experienced Seattle bike accident attorney should gather:
- Police report: A police report of the accident will have the name of the other party involved, their insurance information, diagrams of the accident scene, whether the driver was tested for sobriety, and other important facts about the accident.
- Medical records: When determining what your compensation should be, it's important to have documentation of the total extent of your injuries. Make sure you get the notes taken by the medical staff that treated you. If you are able to, have pictures taken of your injuries as soon after the accident as possible.
- Your bicycle and equipment: Whatever you do, don't get your bike repaired or throw away any damaged clothing or equipment. These items can help prove fault in an accident and document your losses. Again, photograph all damaged items if possible.
- Witnesses: Hopefully you or the police collected the names, addresses, and phone numbers of anyone who saw the accident. And don't forget about non-human witnesses. Many stores, restaurants, and bars have surveillance cameras around their businesses - footage of your accident would be invaluable.
Amassing and documenting evidence, and conducting a thorough accident investigation, can be painstaking and complicated. Don't try to do it on your own; instead, contact a qualified Seattle personal injury attorney to help you.
Many bike accident claims boil down to simple "he said, she said" arguments in the absence of evidence. Fortunately, modern technology has provided a unique way for cyclists to protect their rights in the event of an accident. GPS devices, mobile apps, GoPro cameras, and fitness-tracking devices, such as Fitbit, allow bicyclists to monitor their rides and can be used to provide data regarding the events leading up to a collision. With regards to safety, Washington state law RCW 47.36.025 requires traffic signals to detect bicycles to ensure riders can safely cross the street and allows them to move into the center of a lane to be properly detected by the traffic controls.
Whether the device simply tracks your location and speed, or gathers your pedal cadence or heart rate, a digital record from the time of your crash can be vital in supporting your claim.
Our attorneys have decades of personal injury law experience, and have secured substantial settlements for Seattle bicycle accident injury victims. Call our offices for a free consultation at (888) 228-3860.
Call us for a free consultation(888) 228-3860
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