Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Handling Personal Injury Claims in the Seattle Area and Throughout Washington Since 1995

My name is Chris Thayer and I am a personal injury attorney practicing in downtown Seattle. I handle personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death claims throughout the greater Seattle area, including Issaquah, Mercer Island and Kirkland.

I am here to help you.

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Formal and Informal Defenses in Kent Motorcycle Crash Claims

Posted Friday, February 24, 2023 by Chris Thayer

Over the last 10 years, motorcyclist fatality and serious injury rates have both increased significantly. The medical bills alone in a catastrophic (life-threatening) injury case usually exceed $100,000. Without adequate compensation, crash victims could be financially responsible for those charges. Even if a group health insurance company pays them, which is a big “if,” the deductibles and copays alone could be financially crippling.

To keep that from happening, a Kent personal injury attorney builds a strong claim from the ground up. This claim not only establishes a prima facie (preliminary) negligence case. It also refutes some common insurance company defenses, some of which are outlined below. Our team’s hard work pays off for victims in the form of maximum compensation for their serious injuries.

*Formal Defenses*Comparative fault is probably the most common defense not only in motorcycle crashes, but also in car wrecks in general. Basically, comparative fault shifts the blame for an accident from the tortfeasor (negligent driver) to the victim.

A bad incident like a car crash often has more than one cause. For example, Ben might have been tailgating when Jerry stopped suddenly. When jurors consider such facts, they must divide responsibility on a percentage basis, like 50-50, between the two motorists.

In many jurisdictions, a split like 50-50 eliminates the victim’s compensation. But Washington is a pure comparative fault state. Even if the victim was 99% responsible for the wreck, the tortfeasor must pay a proportionate share of damages.

Other defenses, like last clear chance, only apply in some situations. This doctrine could apply in a left-turn motorcycle crash, one of the most frequent kinds of motorcycle wrecks.

Assume Ben is waiting at an intersection to make an unprotected left turn against traffic. He does not see Jerry the motorcyclist approaching, and Ben turns directly into Jerry’s path.

If jurors determine that Jerry missed the last clear chance to avoid the wreck, perhaps because he did not slam on his brakes, Jerry is legally responsible for the wreck, even though he did nothing wrong.

Evidence is usually the key to refuting these defenses. A Kent personal injury attorney must leave nothing to chance when it comes to reconstructing the crash.

Some defenses that are available in other jurisdictions are unavailable in Washington. The helmet defense is a good example. Many states, including Washington, have universal helmet laws. However, helmet non-use is inadmissible in civil cases in the Evergreen State.

*Informal Defenses*Repeated delays are an example of an informal defense in a motorcycle wreck claim. Insurance companies typically drag their feet as long as possible in these cases. They know that delay hurts the party with the burden of proof, which in this case is the victim/plaintiff.

Witness availability is a good example. Many people relocate frequently. So, if a motorcycle crash trial is held a few years after the wreck, which is not uncommon, many key witnesses may have moved and not left forwarding addresses. A Kent personal injury attorney must preserve witness testimony early in the process in case that witness is later unavailable.

Additionally, many insurance companies use the motorcycle prejudice, either by itself or in combination with a formal defense, to reduce or deny compensation.

Fundamentally, many jurors think motorcycle riders are reckless thugs who take reckless chances. Therefore, these jurors are more willing to embrace defenses like comparative fault. These jurors could also reduce compensation simply because they do not like the victim.

Usually, the best approach in these situations is to separate the victim from the prejudice. Biased jurors may still believe that “most” motorcyclists are reckless thighs, as long as they separate the victim from the pack.

Rely o*n a Dedicated King County Attorney*Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Kent, contact Pivotal Law Group, PLLC. You have a limited amount of time to act.