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Scott McDonald and Associates PLLC

Hit while sharing a lane. Who is at fault?

Every riding season, we get calls because a biker saw a car pulling over as if they were making a turn or pulling off the roadway, and at the last moment veer back into the lane ramming into a bike who was trying to go around the car. The biker always tells us the car didn't signal. This type of motorcycle accident is not only common, but also tricky when it comes to getting insurance companies to pay for your bike repairs and medical bills.
You may be thinking it’s obvious the car was at fault and therefore the insurance should pay up to fix the bike and cover any medical bills the biker might have incurred. Well, under Washington vehicle and traffic laws the car is not entirely at fault. In fact, in Washington it is illegal for two vehicles to share one lane at the same time, which means that when the biker tried to go around the car which had begun to pull over but had not yet turned (and therefore was still somewhat in the lane) the biker was advancing and sharing the lane. 
In Washington this can trigger the comparative fault rule.  When you are partially at fault for causing a collision you can only recovery compensation for the percentage that you weren't at fault. So, if both of the vehicles were partially at fault, they will both be partially compensated for the damage they incurred.  The facts of how the collision happened and where each vehicle was in relation to how the collision happened is very important. And this is where it gets tricky.
The tricky part is determining who has what percentage of fault given the facts of the collision.  You have to think about who determines this percentage of fault.  Normally it will be an insurance adjuster before a lawsuit is filed, once a lawsuit is filed it will ultimately be a judge or jury.
Realize at first it will be an insurance company adjuster deciding your fate so what you say to the police at the scene will play a big part in determining this percentage. What you say to the insurance adjuster on the phone if they call you is equally if not more important. If you say the wrong thing you can seriously damage and even totally wreck your case. It’s always okay to tell the adjuster that “I’ll be happy to speak with you as soon as I have had a chance to consult with my attorney” and stop the call there.
It is important to know ahead of time what information you should request and how to present your side of the story. For example, you should never volunteer any information that puts you at fault. If you are asked questions by the officer, answer truthfully, but don't volunteer extra information such as "I only had two beers." You should never admit guilt and make sure that you not only get a chance to speak to the officer but also to explain clearly what the other driver did wrong and why he/she was at fault. 
Being prepared for a Washington motorcycle accident and knowing what to say is important especially if you expect to get your bike fixed and medical bills paid. Before you speak to the at fault driver’s insurance company or sign an forms order your FREE book “7 Biggest Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Washington Motorcycle Accident Case.”