Motorcycles can be incredibly fun but can also be deadly. Twenty-four riders died in Washington by the end of May this year. It is simply riskier to drive a motorcycle than a car. This does not mean, however, that safety does not help.
For safety sake, first, wear a helmet as required by state law. Helmets are around 37% effective at preventing fatalities and 67% effective at preventing brain injuries in crashes. Second, wear proper riding gear like heavy denim or leather, gloves, and boots. Consider a motorcycle airbag vest as well. Third, get a bike with an anti-lock braking system and do a quick check before every ride. Finally, drive safely. Do not split lanes when you ride and stay seated. Some of these are law, others good advice, but if ignored, the cost can be steep.
Until 2020, it was cheaper in Washington to get caught driving without a motorcycle license than to take training classes. Now, it’s a fine of $386.00, plus costs for any number of “lesser” offenses such as improperly passing to the left. Motor vehicle drivers may share these fines because, ultimately, the rules of the road are the same. But auto drivers have their own concerns when driving near a motorcyclist.
Much of what other drivers must do is common sense, and not legally required. Drivers should check their blind spots, watch for turning motorcyclists, and use more caution in bad weather. Some restrictions, like staying in their lane and passing motorcyclists only when passing is allowed, are required by law. But if they fail, and a motorcycle rider is not driving defensively, the results can be dire for a rider.
Motorcyclists are often hurt more severely. Injuries can range from broken limbs, to skin damage requiring grafts, to traumatic brain injuries and paralysis. Some require years of therapy and multiple surgeries. The rider may never fully recover. There is also the risk of death – motorcyclists die at a rate 27 times that of vehicle drivers in crashes nationwide. While these risks can be reduced with the right equipment and behavior, insurance can help in recovery.
Liability insurance coverage for motorcycles has been mandatory since July 28, 2019. It’s a fine of at least $550.00 to drive any vehicle without it. Insurance prices can run from $546.00 to $944.00 a year. Adding Personal Injury Protection or Medical Payments Coverage can be especially beneficial for motorcyclists. Your medical bills in an accident could be massive and having that minimum $10,000.00 available can be a godsend. Dealing with insurance companies, on the other hand, is not, and this is where a good Bellevue Injury Lawyer can help you.
With insurance, what you receive may depend on the coverage you bought. You might recover the full cost of your new bike, or have a minimal amount of your repair bill covered thanks to a high deductible. You might get all your medical bills paid, or none. The other driver’s insurance will not pay medical bills until settlement and may not cover the full cost of your bike’s repairs. In situations like these, you will want a good trial lawyer to argue on your behalf.
It is unfortunate, but there is often bias against motorcyclists in cases that reach trial. Personal annoyance might prejudice a jury against a deserving claimant, even when fault is clear and the other party’s insurance is refusing a fair settlement. Every record received from the other party will be carefully reviewed by your trial lawyer. They will conduct a full investigation of their own: talking to witnesses, reviewing police evidence, and evaluating your medical records once more. This is key in developing your story and showing you deserve the compensation you need.
Ultimately, there are risks and requirements to owning and driving a motorcycle. From licensing to insurance to possible injuries, these can be challenging. But motorcycles have a right to the road and are fun to drive. We at R Martin Law Group know this and have worked with many motorcycle accident clients before. What matters most is your recovery and getting you back to your bike, on the open road again.