Washington is often ranked as the top “bicycle-friendly” state in the country by the League of American Bicyclists. Beautiful scenery, more people commuting by bike, and an active state advocacy group are just a few of the reasons that Washington receives top marks from the organization. Regrettably, the state does still see its fair share of bicycle-related motor vehicle accidents, and any accident between a car and bike can be devastating.
When the unthinkable happens, and a bicyclist is involved in a serious crash, it can take the work of an experienced Yakima personal injury attorney to protect a cyclist’s rights and make sure they are getting the money they deserve. The law allows bicyclists to pursue full and fair compensation for their expenses, but too often, intimidating insurance practices can leave cyclists feeling like they’ve been short-changed.
At Tamaki Law, our legal team is committed to protecting the rights of Washington bicyclists and making sure that they are fairly represented and compensated for their injuries. If you’ve been injured in a collision and are curious about how we may be able to help you, contact our office. During the initial consultation, we can review your situation and answer your legal questions, giving you a better idea of how we can help. For this free case review, call us at (509) 248-8338 today.
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Do You Need a Yakima Bicycle Accident Attorney After a Crash?
A passenger car can weigh more than 3,000 pounds, and an SUV or truck can weigh even more. When that much steel and fiberglass hits a bicyclist, the results are almost always traumatic, at least for the cyclist. Injuries from car versus bicycle accidents can have life-altering consequences, making returning to work or living a normal life challenging for the bicyclist. What’s more, an accident of this magnitude can cause a sudden and disastrous financial upheaval for victims. When it comes to paying for medical care, property damage, and lost wages, are you confident that the other person’s insurance company will give you the full and fair value of your claim?
It can be difficult to juggle the demands placed upon you by an insurance adjuster while also meeting your own physical and emotional needs after a serious and traumatic accident. You may need help balancing your recovery with filing a claim, talking with insurance adjusters, submitting medical documentation, and negotiating a settlement. That is where an experienced Yakima bicycle accident attorney comes into play. Not only can an attorney help you file and negotiate a claim, but an attorney will help protect your rights, investigate the accident, submit crucial evidence, and assess the appropriate value of your claim.
When it comes to a bicycle accident, the stakes are high. An attorney with Tamaki Law can make sure that you are dealing with the insurance company on a level playing field and help you to avoid being taken advantage of. At Tamaki Law, we thrive on delivering results. Before you settle your claim, talk to a knowledgeable bicycle accident attorney and find out how we may be able to help you recover the money you are entitled to after a significant bicycle accident.
Yakima Roads Can Be Dangerous for Bicyclists
Yakima is a great place to cycle, both for recreation and transportation. The Washington State Traffic Safety Commission estimates that at least 25 to 30 percent of the state’s population chooses walking or bicycling as a means of transportation. Unfortunately, the same agency also estimates that pedestrians and bicyclists accounted for 18.6 percent of all traffic fatalities and 22.5 percent of all serious injuries between 2013 and 2017. At least 70 percent of bicyclists killed in traffic accidents were in areas where the posted speed limit was 30 mph or higher.
Most motorists know that major interstates like I-82 and State Routes 823 and 410 can be dangerous areas, but for bicyclists, some of the most dangerous areas are Yakima’s intersections. While only four percent of accidents happen in bike lanes, at least 30 percent of accidents take place at intersections. Car drivers not looking into the intersection while making a left turn or ignoring the right-of-way are often causes of intersection accidents with bicyclists.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
Negligent driving is one of the prominent causes of bicycle accidents. A general lack of awareness, distraction, or visibility issues commonly causes drivers to collide with unsuspecting bicyclists on Yakima roadways. Areas that are not as “bike-friendly” can also cause problems for both drivers and bicyclists as they try to share the road. These areas can be roadways that are poorly maintained or those that do not yet have designated bike lanes or safe spaces for bicyclists. Areas near parks or shopping districts can also be problematic. Drivers that open their car doors without looking at their surroundings first can end up hitting a bicyclist or cause the cyclist to collide with their car door, often referred to as “dooring.”
Factors that most commonly contribute to car versus bicycle accidents include:
- Distracted driving
- Intoxicated driving
- Lane merging accidents
- Intersection accidents
- Driving too close to a bike lane
- Parking lot and driveway accidents
Injuries Associated with Bicycle Accidents
Bicycles are no match for motorized vehicles. In a serious crash, the bicyclist will always come out worse for wear since they lack the security and safety features that cars and trucks provide. A bicyclist only has the clothes on their back and a helmet for protection. That means that bicyclists involved in collisions with automobiles stand to suffer devastating and traumatic injuries that may end up changing the course of their lives. Many of the injuries that are reported following a serious crash between a bicycle and a car include:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Other head, neck, and spinal injuries
- Facial injuries
- Dental injuries
- Broken bones
- Soft tissue damage
- Internal organ damage
- Road rash
- Wrongful death
These injuries can leave behind a lifetime of pain, suffering, and medical costs that often don’t stop just because the victim leaves the hospital. Follow-up care, doctor’s visits, rehabilitation, prescriptions, and other medical accommodations can haunt a victim years after the crash and cause serious financial instability. A check from the insurance company after the accident may seem like a boon at first, but can you be sure it will be enough to help you with future medical expenses and lost income?
What Is the Value of Your Bicycle Accident?
Every accident can be assigned a value. This value can fluctuate depending on the nature of the accident and the severity of the injuries involved. While the value of a case may seem arbitrary, there are specific calculations that can be made to arrive at an appropriate value for an accident claim. These calculations include tabulating a victim’s economic losses, such as their medical expenses, property damage, and lost income, and combining them with noneconomic losses. These losses are more subjective in nature but typically include assigning a value to the victim’s emotional distress and pain and suffering. In total, a compensation package may include money for the following:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
However, determining the total value of compensation doesn’t always mean that is the amount that a victim will ultimately receive. Washington is a “pure comparative fault” state. This law means that courts will take into consideration each party’s responsibility for causing the accident, and this liability will impact the amount of compensation everyone is due. If a victim plays a part in causing an accident, the amount of their compensation decreases by the percentage of responsibility they bear. If they are ten percent responsible for the accident, they get the total amount of compensation they are due minus ten percent.
On the flip side, even the party most responsible for causing the accident is entitled to collect compensation under this model. If the driver is 90 percent liable for the accident, they can actually collect the total amount of compensation they are owed for their losses, minus 90 percent. However, they are also going to be the party responsible for paying the victim’s damages.
This rule legally binds Washington court decisions, but it also strongly guides insurance adjusters as well. Often an insurance adjuster will come up with a claim value based, in part, on what they think the courts would decide.
Get in Touch with an Experienced Yakima Bicycle Accident Attorney Today
Tamaki Law takes pride in maintaining a reputation for getting our clients results. If you’ve been injured in a serious bicycle accident in Yakima, we want to help protect your rights and recover the compensation you deserve.
For more information on how we may be able to help you, contact our office at (509) 248-8338, and let’s set up a free consultation. We can review your situation and discuss your legal options for recovering compensation. We work on a contingent fee basis, meaning we don’t get paid unless we recover money for you. Contact us today, and let’s talk about the ways we may be able to help.