Magnuson Lowell Blog
Each week we post a blog about relevant legal issues. Glance through our various topics to learn more about a particular legal situation.
Seattle is a very bicycle-friendly place. City buses have bike racks (used for over 300,000 rides each year, according to city estimates) and buses shuttle bicycles across the SR-520 floating bridge for no charge. The Seattle Department of Transportation reports 2,800 free bike racks on city sidewalks.
The Seattle Bicycle Master Plan is creating a Bicycle Facility Network to be completed by 2016, ultimately creating 450 miles of bike-friendly routes.
People in Washington have lots of motivation to ride their bicycles: green (and cheap) commuting (Seattle estimates roughly an average of 6,000 bike commuters daily), exercise, sports competition, leisure and socializing. For these reasons and more, the healthy number of bikes on the roadways means that both cyclists and motorists need to proceed with caution to avoid severe and potentially fatal accidents when skin can literally meet metal.
When riding a bike, be sure to observe all traffic rules and proceed defensively - a person on a bicycle is obviously more vulnerable than anyone in a vehicle. Know and use hand signals. Wear a helmet and reflective clothing. Likewise, drivers of motor vehicles must take great care to avoid any impact with unprotected people on bikes or motorcycles.
According to a major study in New York City, almost all bicyclist deaths were from collisions with motor vehicles and almost all were not wearing safety helmets. Three-quarters of these fatalities involved head injuries. Accidents between bikes and large vehicles like buses and trucks caused about one-third of biker deaths.
Some of the more serious injuries observed were concussions, burns, internal bleeding and bone fractures.
In Washington, a person involved in a bicycle-motor vehicle accident may have a legal claim for negligence with possible damages including lost wages, medical expenses, property damage, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. If someone dies in an accident, close family members may have wrongful death, loss of companionship or emotional distress claims.
If you are a Washington bicyclist involved in an accident with a car or truck, be sure to get immediate medical attention and then contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your potential legal remedies. Likewise, if you are the driver of a motor vehicle and collide with a cyclist, discuss the accident with an attorney to learn about the potential legal ramifications and to preserve your rights.
In either case, your best interest is served by having a knowledgeable lawyer to help you investigate the accident, and negotiate with the other party and the insurance companies involved.