Injuries to motorcycle riders from a traffic accident are likely to be far more serious than injuries to car passengers. Fortunately, responsible riders take common sense precautions. They also take lessons, especially if just beginning, and belong to clubs that emphasize safety. There is an excellent article on motorcycle safety written by Wes Siler for “Rideapart” in 2013. The comments that follow his article are also excellent.
Wearing a helmet is not only important for personal safety, but also has significance in lawsuits involving motorcycle accident injuries. Washington has adopted a comparative fault statute which requires juries to apportion fault among all responsible parties. If you fail to wear a helmet and are injured as a result, the defense may have an argument that you are responsible for your own injury to some degree.
Washington State requires helmet use, but for reasons unknown, does not require insurance. RCW 46.30.020(3). Even though it is not required, insurance is another excellent and vital precaution. Insurance may not prevent an accident, but it is a resource you will be thankful for if you are the victim of a car versus motorcycle collision, or any motor vehicle collision.
One can buy insurance for a wide variety of risks and it’s important to know the difference:
- Liability insurance will protect you if you are sued because an accident is your fault.
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP), sometimes called “med pay”, will pay medical bills (without a deductible) regardless of who is at fault for the accident.
- Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Insurance (UIM) is coverage in the event you are injured due to someone else’s fault, and they do not have liability insurance to cover damages.
PIP and UIM are important coverages and you should have them, especially if you ride a motorcycle. These types of insurance are required for the drivers of automobiles, but not for the riders of motorcycles. Your typical PIP policy will likely not cover you if you are injured while operating your motorcycle. You may be able to purchase PIP for your motorcycle, but the premiums will be much higher than a comparable policy for an automobile.
You absolutely must acquire a UIM policy that will cover you when riding your motorcycle. We have had far too many sad cases where motorcycle riders with serious injuries are not adequately compensated because there were not enough sources of coverage for the seriousness of injuries sustained. Imagine sustaining a fracture to one of your legs due to the fault of another driver with no insurance or someone with the state minimum liability limits of $25,000.00 per person. If you don’t have UIM coverage, you will not receive anywhere near the amount of money that would reasonably compensate you for your injuries.
Ask yourself two questions:
- Who is more likely to be driving without insurance, an experienced driver with a clean traffic record or a driver without insurance?
- Why doesn’t the 2nd driver have insurance? It might be because he or she is not a safe driver and has lost his driver’s license.
At Becker Franklin Rovang, we have fought for many motorcycle riders who have been injured in accidents, and we are familiar with the common defenses insurance carriers use when faced with these claims. If you or a loved one is facing this circumstance, we welcome you to contact us and schedule a free consultation.