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Motorcycle accident fatalities and serious injuries are on the rise in Washington State

  1. Motorcycle accident fatalities are on the rise
  2. The alarming trends in motorcycle accidents and fatalities
  3. Are motorcycles more dangerous than cars?
  4. Traffic safety tips for motorcyclists
  5. Does the dangerous nature of riding a motorcycle impact my rights after a car accident?
  6. Hurt in a motorcycle accident? Reach out to an experienced attorney today
  7. Contact Herschensohn Law today

Motorcycle accident fatalities are on the rise

are motorcycles more dangerous than cars

The COVID pandemic that began in 2020 may have caused a significant decrease in total miles driven by motor vehicles, and also total crashes. But does that mean our roads have gotten safer, for passenger vehicles or for motorcyclists?

Unfortunately, no. Already by April of 2020, the Governors Highway Safety Association reported a sharp increase in dangerous speeding and aggressive driving, possibly fueled by a lack of traffic congestion and the assumption that police aren’t out enforcing the traffic laws. And the consequences have been devastating, particularly for those involved in motorcycle accidents.

In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the unfortunate reality facing Washington’s motorcyclists, both on the road and in negotiations with the insurance company (or the courtroom) after a motorcycle crash, and talk about what bikers can do to overcome these challenges.

The alarming trends in motorcycle accidents and fatalities

are motorcycles more dangerous than cars

According to KOMO News, Washington experienced a disturbing upward trend in motorcycle fatalities even though traffic remained below average during the early months of the pandemic. Approximately 24 motorcyclists died on Washington roads as of May 27th of 2020, 12 of them in April alone. The last time that many motorcyclists have died in a single month was in 2006. From May 3-10, another eight motorcyclists were killed in crashes.

But let’s also look at the broader trends, with some more recent figures thrown in. While total motorcycle accidents in Washington were down year over year between 2019 and 2020, from 1,991 to 1,659, the number of motorcyclist deaths remained unchanged at 92.

Fortunately, fatal crashes for bikers were down slightly in 2021, at 83. But that’s still more than there were before the pandemic, and while traffic fatalities for bikers were down, severe injuries were way up. Total crashes that resulted in either serious injury or death actually increased 13.4 percent.

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Are motorcycles more dangerous than cars?

are motorcycles more dangerous than cars

Unsurprisingly, the answer here is clearly yes, and it’s not especially close.

The occupants of passenger cars can rely on crumple zones, a roll cage, seat belts, airbags, and all kinds of other fancy gizmos (at least on newer vehicles) to protect them in an accident, or even from getting into one in the first place. A person riding a motorcycle, by contrast, has relatively few defenses in case of a collision—not to mention slick roads and other hazards.

These and other factors are why, in 2019, there were 25.47 motorcycle accident fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, versus just 0.89 car accident fatalities. Put another way: per mile traveled, the fatality rate for the average biker is almost 29 times higher than for passenger vehicle occupants.

But of course, you surely don’t need us to tell you all this. Every rider knows (or at least should know) the risk before getting on a bike. While cars might be safer, there’s no substitute for the feel of two wheels, the wind, and the open road. That’s why taking appropriate safety measures is so crucial.

Traffic safety tips for motorcyclists

are motorcycles more dangerous than cars

If you plan on riding this summer, especially as more people begin traveling, it’s important to take these motorcycle safety precautions:

  • Ride defensively: Be aware of speeders, aggressive drivers, drunk drivers, and distracted drivers. Keep a safe distance from other motorists whenever possible.
  • Be aware of changes in the road: Always be aware of changes to roadway infrastructure, as well as roadway defects (potholes, downed branches, etc.).
  • Wear protective gear: Be sure to wear a properly fitted helmet, long pants, leather jacket, gloves, eye protection, and boots to avoid a severe injury.
  • Ensure that your bike is in proper working order: If you haven’t had your motorcycle inspected, be sure to do so. Always check your wheels, tires, brakes, horn, lights, and steering before riding.

Does the dangerous nature of riding a motorcycle impact my rights after a car accident?

are motorcycles more dangerous than cars

In theory, it shouldn’t—provided you took appropriate precautions and followed the rules of the road.

In reality? Well, the sad truth is that insurance companies and, unfortunately, many juries are prejudiced against motorcyclists when it comes to awarding damages after car accidents.

Yes, it’s true that a collision that might have been just a fender bender for a passenger car could be a serious or even fatal accident for a biker. Sometimes the insurance companies will attempt to use that fact against injured motorcycle riders to try to get out of paying fair compensation.

But here’s the thing: the people who make bad decisions on the road are the ones legally responsible for the consequences of that result. If you were wearing all your state-required safety gear and following all other applicable laws, and the root cause of the traffic accident was clearly the negligence of the car driver, why should you be held at fault? The answer is you shouldn’t, and the law is on your side—but that’s not always how it plays out, particularly when you don’t have an aggressive attorney fighting for your rights.

Where things get trickier is if you weren’t wearing your safety gear. But even then, it depends on the nature of the injury. For example, if you weren’t wearing a state-approved motorcycle helmet, you might not be able to receive compensation for head or brain injuries that could reasonably have been prevented with one. But you would likely still be able to get compensation for a broken arm, since a helmet isn’t going to matter there.

RELATED POST: How much is a good settlement for a motorcycle accident?

Hurt in a motorcycle accident? Reach out to an experienced attorney today

are motorcycles more dangerous than cars

If you’ve read this far it might be obvious already, but let’s state this clearly: if you were out riding your motorcycle and were hurt in a crash that wasn’t your fault, contact a motorcycle accident attorney pretty much as soon as you can. Right now, even. We give you permission to stop reading this post so you can go do it.

Motorcycle riders really do struggle to get fair compensation for their injuries, particularly if they aren’t represented by an experienced attorney. They’re potentially up against:

  • Extremely serious injuries that greatly impair their ability to live a normal life (or, for that matter, fight a legal battle)
  • Massive medical bills and lost wages from not being able to work
  • Insurance companies that will go to great lengths to pay out as little as they possibly can
  • Courts and juries that are prejudiced against motorcyclists, which can lead to unfair victim-blaming, liability disputes, and less favorable judgments

And that’s all on top of making sure you gather the correct evidence (before it’s permanently lost or destroyed), file all the correct paperwork by the statute of limitations deadline, avoid making innocent mistakes on the phone with an adjuster that could sink your chances in court, and overcome numerous other challenges that you may not even know exist.

In short? It’s an uphill battle, and the insurance company is not going to have any shame about throwing obstacles in your way to trip you up and send you all the way back to the bottom. While you are not obligated to hire an attorney to represent you, you would be putting yourself at a huge disadvantage that may result in you getting significantly less in compensation for your case—or possibly nothing at all.

Contact Herschensohn Law today

The motorcycle accident lawyers at Herschensohn Law Firm, PLLC see the devastation negligent drivers cause for motorcyclists firsthand. We are dedicated to fighting for justice and full compensation for injured motorcyclists in Kent and throughout the Seattle Metro area.

Schedule your free consultation with our legal team by contacting us online or calling (206) 588-4344. You can rely on us to give you compassionate and impartial legal advice as you evaluate your next steps, and aggressive representation should you become a client.

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CONTACT HERSCHENSOHN LAW

Hurt? Let our law firm handle the details

When you request your free consultation, Kent personal injury attorney Zach Herschensohn will listen to you, answer your questions, lay out your legal options, and give you down-to-earth legal advice.

When you work with our law office, there are no obligations, hidden fees, or fine print. It’s that simple.

Request your free case evaluation

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We’re proud to fight—and win—for injured people in Kent, Washington. View our case results to learn more.

References

Governors Highway Safety Association. (2020, 16 April). Absent Traffic Jams, Many Drivers Getting More Reckless [press release]. Retrieved from https://www.ghsa.org/resources/news-releases/coronavirus-reckless-driving20

Jackson, Paris. (2020, 27 May). 24 motorcycle riders killed so far in 2020 paint a disturbing trend on state’s roads. KOMO News. Retrieved from https://komonews.com/news/local/24-motorcycle-riders-killed-so-far-in-2020-paint-a-disturbing-trend-on-states-roads

Washington State Department of Transportation. WA State Crash Data Portal. Retrieved from https://remoteapps.wsdot.wa.gov/highwaysafety/collision/data/portal/public

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as
legal advice on any subject.