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Scott McDonald and Associates PLLC

Frequently Asked Questions

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  • NO ENDORSEMENT ON LICENSE: I was hit by a car while riding my motorcycle but I don't have a motorcycle endorsement on my driver's license, can I still make an Washington motorcycle accident injury claim?

    Yes. In a Washington motorcycle accident the lack of a motorcycle endorsement does not kill your right to make an injury claim.  If the other driver caused the accident then you can still make an injury claim.

    However, Washington state is a pure contributory negligence state, which may affect your claim.  You're probably saying, ahh in English this time.  What the legal term contributory negligence means is that if you were partly at fault for causing the accident then your claim will be reduced by that percentage.

    When the insurance company finds out you did not have a motorcycle endorsement don't be surprised when they blame you for causing the accident.  Or, they may try to assign you a much higher percentage of fault than is justified. The best way to deal with this situation is likely going to be hiring an experienced Washington motorcycle accident attorney.  

    The insurance company in this situation may not deal with you in a fair and reasonable manner because you had no endorsement.  They will use any excuse to get out of paying for damages.  Oftentimes, the only way to level the playing field is to hire a lawyer who can go toe to toe with the insurance company adjuster.  

    If you're injured in a Washington motorcycle accident and you did not have your motorcycle endorsement, do yourself a favor and call an experienced Washington motorcycle accident attorney for some advice first before walking away from a accident caused by someone else.  

  • I was in a motorcycle accident but wasn't wearing my helmet, do I still have a case?

    Failing to wear your helmet may or may not make a difference. If your decision to not wear a helmet did not cause or aggravate your motorcycle accident related injuries, you can still make an injury claim.  Whether you are able to obtain the maximum compensation for your injuries because you wore a helmet or not depends on the type of injuries suffered in your Washington motorcycle accident.

    In Washington you are required to wear a helmet.  So if you suffer a only a head injury in the bike wreck then you may not have a case.  It depends on whether a helmet would have prevented the head injury you suffered.  However, if you weren't wearing a helmet and suffered injuries to other parts of your body, like a broken arm or leg, then the fact that you were not wearing a helmet will generally have little effect on your ability to make your case.  That's not to say the insurance company won't use it as an argument against you and a jury may hold it against you if you end up going to trial.  

    Your case will have a problem to overcome either way.  That's why it's important in situations like this to speak with an experienced attorney as soon after the bike crash as possible.  Your attorney will assess the situation and discuss all of your legal options with you.


  • I was seriously hurt in a recent Kirkland motorcycle accident. Should I contact a Kirkland motorcycle accident attorney now? If I do decided to contact an attorney how long do I have before deciding whether or not to file a lawsuit?

    After a serious Kirkland motorcycle accident, it is crucial to contact a Kirkland motorcycle accident attorney immediately. As you heal and recover from your accident, your attorney will be able to investigate your accident and collect any and all evidence needed to assist in your case. Hiring an attorney now will help you make sure all the evidence is preserved while and the insurance companies are handled, so you will be able to focus your time and energy on recovery.  

    In the State of Washington, you have a three year time limit to file a personal injury claim for injuries caused by use or operation of a motor vehicle, including motorcycles.  In many cases its best to wait to decide on whether to file a lawsuit until after you have healed from your injuries and know the full extent of the injuries you suffered.  Because Washington accidents often involve very serious injuries it's not uncommon for a rider to be left with some degree of permanent injury.  Such permanent injuries can range from a road rash scar, to herniation disc in the spine, to the loss of a arm or leg.  

    When such serious and permanent injuries are involved it's important you speak with an experienced Washington motorcycle accident lawyer before deciding what to do in resolving your case.  Permanent injuries have a higher value than injuries you are able to fully recover from, but the insurance company will never tell you that.  We always recommend hiring an attorney as soon as possible when very serious injuries are suffered in a motorcycle accident.

  • Should I contact my insurance company after a Kirkland motorcycle accident even if it wasn't my fault?

    Absolutely! Most insurance companies expect their policy holders to contact them after any motorcycle or motor vehicle accident. Your failure to do so can result in the insurance company denying your claim for repair of your bike, payment of your medical bills or any other payments you may have been entitled to if you made a timely report of loss.  

    In addition to contacting your insurance company, you should also contact a Kirkland motorcycle accident attorney, so that you can learn what your rights are before signing anything or speaking with the at fault driver's insurance company.  A good first step is to order our book the "7 Biggest Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Washington Motorcycle Accident Case."

  • Hit while sharing a lane. Who is at fault?

    Every riding season, we get calls because a biker saw a car pulling over as if they were making a turn or pulling off the roadway, and at the last moment veer back into the lane ramming into a bike who was trying to go around the car. The biker always tells us the car didn't signal. This type of motorcycle accident is not only common, but also tricky when it comes to getting insurance companies to pay for your bike repairs and medical bills.
    You may be thinking it’s obvious the car was at fault and therefore the insurance should pay up to fix the bike and cover any medical bills the biker might have incurred. Well, under Washington vehicle and traffic laws the car is not entirely at fault. In fact, in Washington it is illegal for two vehicles to share one lane at the same time, which means that when the biker tried to go around the car which had begun to pull over but had not yet turned (and therefore was still somewhat in the lane) the biker was advancing and sharing the lane. 
    In Washington this can trigger the comparative fault rule.  When you are partially at fault for causing a collision you can only recovery compensation for the percentage that you weren't at fault. So, if both of the vehicles were partially at fault, they will both be partially compensated for the damage they incurred.  The facts of how the collision happened and where each vehicle was in relation to how the collision happened is very important. And this is where it gets tricky.
    The tricky part is determining who has what percentage of fault given the facts of the collision.  You have to think about who determines this percentage of fault.  Normally it will be an insurance adjuster before a lawsuit is filed, once a lawsuit is filed it will ultimately be a judge or jury.
    Realize at first it will be an insurance company adjuster deciding your fate so what you say to the police at the scene will play a big part in determining this percentage. What you say to the insurance adjuster on the phone if they call you is equally if not more important. If you say the wrong thing you can seriously damage and even totally wreck your case. It’s always okay to tell the adjuster that “I’ll be happy to speak with you as soon as I have had a chance to consult with my attorney” and stop the call there.
    It is important to know ahead of time what information you should request and how to present your side of the story. For example, you should never volunteer any information that puts you at fault. If you are asked questions by the officer, answer truthfully, but don't volunteer extra information such as "I only had two beers." You should never admit guilt and make sure that you not only get a chance to speak to the officer but also to explain clearly what the other driver did wrong and why he/she was at fault. 
    Being prepared for a Washington motorcycle accident and knowing what to say is important especially if you expect to get your bike fixed and medical bills paid. Before you speak to the at fault driver’s insurance company or sign an forms order your FREE book “7 Biggest Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Washington Motorcycle Accident Case.” 

  • What if a family member has been killed as the result of an accident that was not their fault?

    Although only two percent of registered vehicles are motorcycles, more than eight percent of fatal traffic accidents involve motorcycles. This means that, based on miles traveled, motorcyclists are 32 times more likely to die in a motorcycle accident than a passenger or driver of a car. The loss of a loved one in any accident is devastating.

    In such cases, a family member may be entitled to claim for wrongful death depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident. If you are the family member of someone that passed away as the result of such an accident, you should seek legal assistance from a qualified Washington motorcycle fatality or car accident fatality lawyer as soon as possible.  Because your loved one is no longer able to speak for him or herself it's even more important to conduct a prompt accident investigation whenever possible.

    Although no monetary recovery could ever replace a loved one’s life, a wrongful death claim can bring a family compensation for loss of income and support, final medical bills, funeral expenses, and damages for pain and suffering.  Depending on the circumstances of an accident, in cases where a loved one died in a fatal motorcycle accident, surviving family members may be entitled to bring a wrongful death claim against the party responsible for an accident.

  • What should I say to the other party involved in the accident or their insurance adjuster?

    If you are involved in a Washington motorcycle accident, it is a good idea to not say anything too specific about the accident.  Many times, in the moments following an accident, people say things that may not necessarily be true.  A potentially incorrect admission of guilt can severely impact your accident claim. 

    The at fault person's insurance adjuster will likely want to talk to you as soon as possible.  The insurance adjuster will also want to record their telephone conversation with you.  This is never a good idea and you should always refuse to engage in a phone conversation with the at fault person's insurance adjuster.  You can politely tell the insurance adjuster that you will be happy to call them back just as soon as you speak with your attorney.  The main reason the at fault insurance company wants to talk to you immediately and record the conversation is to find evidence to use against you.

    Insurance companies do all they can to minimize your claim from the very start.  That's why it's important to get educated by reading the 7 Biggest Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Washington Motorcycle Accident Case or schedule a free consultation with Scott so you know how to move forward. 

  • How much money is my Washington motorcycle accident case worth?

    Your case is worth either what you agree with the insurance company it's worth or the amount of a money award granted by a judge and jury.  There are no hard and fast rules for making this determination.  We examine all of the conditions surrounding your Washington motorcycle accident case in order to arrive at a figure that we believe the insurance company must pay for your injuries. 

    Generally, the dollar value is dependent upon the type and extent of your injuries.  Other factors influencing the dollar value of your motorcycle accident case are the amount of medical bills, length of treatment, frequency of treatment, future medical bills, permanent disabilities and any other damage that can be documented.  

    A sad truth and sobering reality of the insurance business these days is that many insurance companies use a computer program to determine the value of your injury case.  Insurance companies try to put a number on everything, plug it into their computer, and pop out a number that does not take into account any of the uniqueness of you as a person and your injury recovery.  Each person is different, you heal differently, you suffer differently, your body reacts differently to treatment, and you are affected differently by a traumatic motorcycle accident.  Treating your case like some kind of Pez dispenser is not how anyone should be treated.

  • How long will it take to get a fair and reasonable settlement offer?

    Washington motorcycle accident cases can vary in length from weeks, months, even to years in some instances.  Typically, you will not start the settlement process until after you have healed from your motorcycle accident injuries and have been released by your doctor.  This is the best way you can be assured that you will receive full value for your injuries.   

    You want to make sure you have fully recovered from all your injuries before thinking about settlement.  The last thing you want to have happen is a few months after you settle your case you find out that you have much worse injuries than first thought, and you require extensive additional treatment that will cost thousands or ten of thousands more.  Once you settle your case it is over; you cannot come back later and ask for more.  That's why it's important to wait until you have fully healed and you are able to resume all activities that you did before you were in the motorcycle accident.  

    We want you to be fully compensated for all of your injuries, so we advise that you wait until treatment is completed before telling the insurance company how much your motorcycle accident case is worth.   The length of time it takes you to recover from your injuries is one of the main factors in determining how long your case will take.   Once your case is ready to begin settlement discussions, the process of obtaining a fair settlement offer can take as little as several weeks to as much as 18 months or more.   The key word is "fair."  You will likely get an "unfair" offer from the insurance company fairly quickly, the real work is getting the insurance company to settle your case for what you consider fair.

    The complicated issues surrounding when to settle and when to fight are the key reasons why it is often necessary to retain an attorney for your accident case. I encourage you to contact us for a free consultation to assure you get the representation you deserve. 

  • Why do I need to enlist the help of an experienced Washington motorcycle accident lawyer?

    The more knowledge and expertise your lawyer has with regards to motorcycle accident laws, the higher your chances of getting compensation.  A more experienced lawyer within this field will be able to exercise specialist knowledge and skill to ensure that your chances of success are maximized.  He or she will aim to get you as much compensation as possible by making sure your case is organized and put together as solidly as possible.

  • How many people are injured or killed in the United States in motorcycle accidents?

    It is estimated that injury or death are the outcome in nearly 80 percent of all motorcycle accidents in the United States. Included in this startling statistic are the nearly 2,000 motorcyclists who die each year as a result of an accident and the staggering 50,000 who are injured in collisions.  About 45% of fatal motorcycle accidents are single bike crashes.  The most deadly injuries are head and chest injuries.  Injury severity and likelihood of a fatality generally increase with speed, alcohol involvement and motorcycle size.

  • What is the main cause of death in Washington motorcycle accidents?

    Head and brain injury occurs in a large portion of motorcycle accidents and are the primary cause of death in most fatal motorcycle accidents.  This is not to say however, that all head injuries suffered by motorcyclists will be fatal.  The number of those who die as a result of a motorcycle accident are a small fraction of the total motorcycle injury accidents. That's why it is so important to wear a helmet and why Washington state law requires all motorcycle riders wear a helmet.

  • What if I am involved in a motorcycle accident that was not my fault?

    Motorcycles face a higher risk of being hit by another vehicle than most vehicles.  Motorcycles can be difficult to see because of their size, particularly for drivers of larger vehicles such as semi-trucks, buses, and even SUVs.  There are many situations on the road that can result in an accident occurring through no fault of your own. 

    The first thing to do is seek medical assistance for any injuries.  If you're able to do so, get the other driver’s name and insurance details as well as the names and contact information of any witnesses.  Often times this is not possible because of the severity of your injuries and being taken to the hospital immediately from the accident scene.  If that is the case, then it is important to make sure a prompt accident investigation is completed.  If you are laid up in the hospital or at home you may not be able to do this.  That's when it's a good idea to seek legal assistance. 

    As a bike rider you know that there is a bias against motorcyclists and the insurance company may try to place some or all of the blame on you for the accident.  The police may even issue you a traffict ticket for the accident.  That's why it is important to fully investigate and document the accident as quickly as possible, especially when serious injuries or fatalities are involved.