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If I Was Hurt in a Motorcycle Crash, Do I Automatically Get a Settlement?


You’d think so, given the serious injuries these riders usually sustain. Motorcyclists are thirty times more likely to die in collisions than vehicle occupants. But unfortunately, the answer to this question is no. Insurance companies care little or nothing about what’s right or fair, despite the claims they make in TV commercials. When the chips are down, insurance companies, like most other for-profit companies, only care about their bottom lines.

The nature of motorcycle wrecks contributes to the aforementioned thirty times deadlier statistics. Some motorcycle crash injuries, like broken bones, are visible injuries that clearly need immediate attention. Some motorcycle crash injuries, like head injuries, often go untreated. More on that below.

Despite these serious injuries, insurance company lawyers do whatever it takes to reduce or deny compensation to victims. A Seattle motorcycle accident lawyer, on the other hand, does whatever it takes to obtain maximum compensation for victims. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Formal Defenses

“Whatever it takes” usually means invoking the comparative fault defense and, in many cases, the last clear chance defense.

Comparative fault shifts blame from the victim to the tortfeasor (negligent driver). For example, if Bill was speeding and weaving on his bike when Jason turned in front of him, jurors could conclude they were each partially responsible for the wreck.

To use this defense, insurance company lawyers must first convince the judge that the victim, which in this case was Bill, meaningfully contributed to the crash. If he was speeding 5mph over the limit and signaled when he quickly changed lanes, meaningful contribution would be difficult to prove.

If the judge allows the defense, insurance company lawyers must convince jurors to divide responsibility proportionately, such as 50-50 or 80-20. Washington is a pure comparative fault state. Even if the victim was 99 percent responsible for the wreck, the tortfeasor must pay a proportionate share of damages.

Sometimes in these cases, insurance company lawyers go for it all and use the last clear chance defense. A lawyer would argue that Bill had the last clear chance to avoid the wreck. Since he didn’t veer out of the way or stop suddenly, under the law, he’s legally responsible for the wreck, even though he did nothing wrong.

There’s a big difference between the last clear chance and any possible chance. Traffic or weather conditions often make emergency maneuvers impossible. Furthermore, these wrecks often happen so quickly that the victim simply has no time to react.

Informal Defenses

Some legal defenses aren’t in books. Delayed treatment and the motorcycle prejudice are two of the most common informal motorcycle crash defenses in Washington.

If the victim didn’t immediately see a doctor, insurance company lawyers almost always argue the victim’s injuries are exaggerated. These arguments are especially common in head injury cases. As mentioned, many head injury victims “feel fine” at first, so they decline medical treatment at the scene.

Only a doctor can determine how badly you were hurt, just like only a Seattle personal injury lawyer can determine your legal options.

The motorcycle prejudice defense isn’t as bad as it was years ago. But it’s still a valid defense in many cases. To many jurors, motorcyclists are reckless thugs who don’t care about safety. Unless a lawyer defuses this bomb, jurors will most likely blame the victim for the wreck or at least reduce the victim’s compensation.

Connect With a Tough-Minded King County Lawyer

Motorcycle wreck victims must overcome some obstacles to obtain compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Seattle, contact Emerald Law Group. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we start working for you.

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