Driving a motorcycle involves more risk than driving other vehicles. And unfortunately, motorcyclists are more likely than passenger-vehicle drivers to die or be seriously injured in a crash. In fact, one in five motorcycle collisions result in severe injury or death, and on average, 75 riders die yearly in collisions in Washington. To add insult to injury, a serious motorcycle accident can cost victims hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills and lost wages.
You may wonder about the average motorcycle accident settlement if you’ve been injured in a motorcycle crash. Compensation for a motorcycle accident can differ wildly depending on the accident’s circumstances. But while there is no one formula, certain elements can affect an insurance settlement or court judgment.
Washington Liability Vehicle Insurance Requirements
The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) § 46.30 generally requires all Washington State motor vehicle drivers to carry liability insurance, commonly referred to as “25/50/10 coverage. This includes:
- $25,000 for injuries or death to another person,
- $50,000 for injuries or death to all other people, and
- $10,000 for damage to another person’s property.
RCW 46.30 only applies to motor vehicles and motorcycles. Motor scooters, mopeds, and horseless carriage vehicles do not require insurance.
Will Insurance Cover My Motorcycle Accident?
When you are in an accident caused by another at-fault driver, that driver’s liability insurance typically covers your injuries up to the policy limits. If your injuries exceed the at-fault driver’s policy limits, you will have to sue the at-fault driver to recover excess damages.
If you cause your motorcycle accident, your liability insurance will not cover your injuries. In this case, specific optional coverage policies may address your damages. Unfortunately, you are unlikely to recover anything if you do not carry optional coverage.
Regardless of who caused your accident, when pursuing damages, it’s always best to consult with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney first. A knowledgeable lawyer can review your case, communicate with insurance companies, and advise you of your options.
Factors That Can Affect Your Motorcycle Accident Settlement
Insurance companies usually try to settle claims before going to court. However, accident cases that proceed to trial often result in higher damage awards. Regardless, different circumstances will influence how much your Washington motorcycle accident settlement is worth. They include:
- Your injuries—If you suffered minor injuries, your medical bills or ongoing costs will likely be lower. However, your claim will be worth more if you suffered a serious injury or someone you loved died.
- Your other losses—If you suffered extensive property damage or were forced to alter the way you live because of your injury, you will likely garner a higher settlement amount. Likewise, if you must stop working to recover from your injuries, you may be able to recover lost wages and other expenses.
- Settlement vs. judgment—Settling outside of court is often faster and easier than going to trial, but settlements are also far less risky than trial and typically result in lower payments. When you go through the intense preparation and stress of a trial, a jury may factor in your time, expenses, and attorney’s fees and award you significantly more money than if you’d settled.
- The liable party—Washington, is a comparative fault state. This means you can still claim compensation if you were less than 50% responsible for your accident. However, insurance companies will decrease your settlement by the percentage you are at fault.
An experienced motorcycle accident attorney can explain these and other factors influencing collecting damages.
Establishing Liability After a Motorcycle Accident
All drivers owe other drivers a duty to exercise reasonable care while driving. A victim can hold the at-fault driver liable when the at-fault driver breaches this duty and the breach results in an accident that causes harm. To successfully bring a motorcycle accident lawsuit against an at-fault party, an accident victim must prove that the at-fault party acted negligently.
This requires establishing four elements:
- That the at-fault driver owed the victim a duty of care,
- That the at-fault driver breached their duty of care,
- That the breach was the legal cause of the victim’s injuries, and
- The victim suffered harm.
Though motor vehicle drivers usually cause motorcycle accidents, different parties may also be responsible. Other parties may include property owners and motorcycle and motorcycle part manufacturers. These parties owe varying duties of care. If they violate these standards, they may be held liable.
Types of Available Damages in a Motorcycle Accident Case
Washington law allows motorcycle accident victims to recover economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages represent your direct monetary losses from the accident. For example, medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage are all economic losses.
Non-economic damages represent any non-monetary losses that your accident causes, including pain and suffering and loss of consortium. Though some states allow accident victims to recover punitive damages, Washington prohibits punitive damages in personal injury cases except in extremely negligent cases.
Pursuing Damages After a Washington Motorcycle Accident
Because Washington is a fault-based insurance system, the person who caused your motorcycle accident is responsible for paying your damages. This means you can file an insurance claim with your insurance company and let them pursue reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Or you can file a third-party insurance claim directly with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Unfortunately, if the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance, your only option is to file a personal injury lawsuit for any amount that exceeds your uninsured motorist coverage, if you have any. With few exceptions, under Washington State’s statute of limitations, you have three years from the date of your accident to file a lawsuit.
Call Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner PLLC Today
When you hire Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner PLLC as your Washington State motorcycle accident injury lawyers, you can stop worrying about medical bills, lost work, insurance adjusters, damaged vehicles, and future expenses. From the moment you agree to work with us, we will handle all the paperwork, filings, and negotiations surrounding your motorcycle accident. We’ve handled over 2500 cases with a 97% success rate and will ensure that you receive every dollar owed to you. Call us today for a free consultation.