Scott McDonald and Associates PLLC Blog Scott McDonald and Associates PLLC Blog en-us 2023 Scott McDonald and Associates PLLC, All Rights Reserved, Reproduced with Permission Fri, 02 Jun 2023 16:08:02 GMT Scott McDonald and Associates PLLC Blog <![CDATA[The myths of tort reform]]>

“Frivolous lawsuit” – a buzzword that insurance companies use to vilify and misrepresent the work personal injury attorneys do for their clients. The insurance industry has funded entire think tanks dedicated to creating studies to make the public believe “frivolous lawsuits” are out of hand and terribly common. The lobbying of insurance reformists and pro-tort reform politicians has led to myths about certain cases being spread around liberally.

The oft-cited McDonald’s Hot Coffee case is used as the rallying call for pro-tort reformists, making it seem as if some careless person merely spilled hot coffee on their lap and was looking for a quick, easy payout. In reality, the victim Stella Liebeck was a 79-year-old woman who was inflicted with 3rd degree burns requiring skin grafting to her groin area. If you are currently eating or have small children in the room, refrain from Google image searching her injuries. In the end, Liebeck was awarded with the equivalent of 2 days-worth of coffee sales ($2.7 million) despite Liebeck initially only wanting $20,000 to cover her actual and anticipated medical costs. This decision was appealed by McDonald’s and Liebeck eventually settled for an undisclosed amount less than $600,000.

So why is it that the insurance industry and tort reform lobbyists seem so insistent on perpetuating these frivolous lawsuit myths? The obvious and correct answer is it is in their (and truly only their) financial best interest to pass tort reform. The tort reform lobby wants the American public to believe tort reform will reduce medical costs and improve the supply of doctors.

The fact is it doesn’t.

A study published in 2012 by a bipartisan research group looked at medical costs in Texas after Texas passed a tort reform amendment in 2003. This group, composed of two Republicans, a Democrat, and a foreign national, concluded that medical costs in Texas in fact rose 1 to 2% faster than the rest of the country. You can read the full study here. This $750,000 cap on pain and suffering damages also made it difficult to justify the litigation costs of medical malpractice suits, leaving many victims of malpractice unable to find an attorney.

The pro-reform lobby also claims that tort reform will lead to an increase in the supply of doctors. The bipartisan group found that, considering factors such as doctors that leave the state or retire and physicians that only deal with research or administration, the number of direct care doctors actually grew more slowly following the passage of the tort reform amendment.

All of this research points to my earlier conclusion, insurance companies don’t care about the well-being of their insureds when they are promoting tort reform laws. They are only looking after the well-being of their profit margins. Using rising medical costs as a scapegoat, the insurance industry wants to make getting fair settlements for all insurance cases that much more difficult – ultimately to the detriment of the American people.  

If you need experienced legal representation that will fight for your right to fair compensation, contact me for a free consultation. 

]]>, 16 Jul 2014 13:27:00 EST
<![CDATA[Game Theory and the Art of Law]]> 

Game theory tree for a trial. Scott McDonald has 30 years of experience in WA state handling injury cases

Game tree for a trial, follow instructions below to understand. Right click and press "open image in new tab" to see the full image and details.

Recently, my son Hunter and I were discussing the process of predicting case results using a set of variables and probability analysis. Hunter is currently working on marketing and data analysis for me this summer. When a legal colleague of mine, Travis Jameson, wrote on the subject of probability analysis in injury cases I showed the post to Hunter because I figured he would be interested in the content as well. Hunter is a rising Junior at Washington University in St. Louis studying Business Economics (“Economics & Strategy” is the formal title) and Marketing in the Olin Business school. What follows is Hunter’s analysis and response to Mr. Jameson’s probability analysis:

Mr. Jameson is addressing the process of probability analysis in injury cases and its usefulness in choosing the right avenue to pursue for the best results for his clients in his article. In other words, Jameson proposed a model for determining the expected value of a case if it goes to trial (not a universal model, merely a methodology to analyze case values). This is an interesting approach but the base analysis oversimplifies the way these cases work from a game theoretic perspective.

Jameson’s base model assumes the insurance company is an uncomplicated player, which is to say that it does not make any relevant decisions in the trial and merely takes what the odds give them. The reality of the analysis is more complicated than this. Let’s take a very basic model of mixed strategy, sequential decision game theory and apply it to a trial setting.

Please note that any facts and figures are purely made up (the actual numbers are irrelevant but I tried to stay within the bounds of feasibility). The purpose of this example is to demonstrate how deep the rabbit hole goes once we step into the realm of probability analysis in trials. Additionally, we assume that the insurance company knows whether a case will be good or bad at trial due to their vast amount of data available to make that claim with a high degree of accuracy.

Again, to see the full game tree, right click on the image above and press "open image in new tab", the diagram makes the steps more clear.

To properly create a simple model for a case you have to consider a few assumptions and rules for the “game” as follows:

  1. The plaintiff attorney is depicted as the letter A, Insurance Company as letter I and Nature (an independent actor representing the probability of an event) is depicted as N.
  2. The plaintiff attorney moves first in the game and has the option to accept an offer of $50k or go to trial.
  3. The game is a zero-sum game, in other words any gain for the plaintiff attorney is exactly equal to the loss of the insurance company.
  4. Next “Nature”, which is the probability of an event occurring in game theory, takes its move. The nature node determines whether evidence is bad or good. For simplicity we’ll assign the probability of good or bad to both be .5 (p = .5, 1 – p = .5).
  5. All parties involved in the game are aware of the probabilities of any Nature node branch.
  6. Both you and the insurance company understand if you have bad or good evidence after the first nature node has moved (discovery and experience owing to this understanding).
  7. Next, branching off of the good or bad results the insurance company can make its move. Here it has the option to offer a higher settlement ($60k) or pursue a trial.
  8. The plaintiff attorney can decide to accept the higher settlement or reject the higher settlement in favor of a trial.
  9. Nature again has a move here to determine the probability of settlement. If nature has determined you have good evidence, your probability (q) of acquiring a good settlement is .8 (q = .8 or 80% and 1 – q = .2 or 20%).
  10. If nature has determined you have bad evidence, these probabilities switch giving a q = .2 for a good settlement and 1 – q = .8 for a bad settlement.
  11. A good trial result gives a payoff of $100k and a bad trial result gives a payoff of $25k.
  12. Payoffs are listed (Plaintiff, Insurance Company)
  13. Now we can go about solving the game. The expected result of the Good evidence branch is a trial with Expected Payoffs (85, -85).
  14. The expected result of the Bad evidence branch is (40, -40).
  15. The optimum choice routes for any party that can make decisions (A and I) are depicted as green arrows.
  16. The overall Nash Equilibrium (the most rational result) of the game is for the plaintiff attorney to pursue trial for an expected payoff set of (62.5, -62.5).

This model can adapt based off of other factors. For example, a plaintiff and their attorney may incur costs for pursuing trial that reduce their payoffs in that event which makes settling more favorable. Alternatively, the plaintiff and their attorney may receive a premium utility from winning the case. In other words a client that goes to trial may enjoy the possibility of winning so much that they value winning as an additional pay off to the value of any case result.

It should be noted that this game tree is the same as what game theorists would describe formally as an adverse selection problem and colloquially as the lemon problem (after lemon cars). Adverse selection games occur when the less informed party (the plaintiff attorney) moves first. We model the plaintiff attorney as less informed because the insurance company has access to enough data to make a reliable prediction on case quality.

My point with this analysis isn’t to call out Mr. Jameson’s thought process, but I believe it is very important (if we decide to go this route for trial analysis) to understand how the full game plays out in reality. This sort of subject is terribly complicated and even with my more complicated model it doesn’t adequately explain every variable that goes into a case. As such without a great deal of resources it is difficult to determine where you stand in a case before going to trial with a high degree of certainty. Statisticians usually use a significance level of alpha = .05 as a criterion, which means they are 95% certain of a factor or model’s significance, to determine whether or not a model is useful. I would be hard pressed to say any model we could produce with in-firm data could provide that level of accuracy, hence the value of acquiring experience trying cases.

This is why I like to think of law as both an art and a science. While models and data are all very helpful, there’s always the unexplained portion of the equation that, in law, can only be estimated through experience and subjective analysis. 

]]>, 25 Jun 2014 21:44:00 EST
<![CDATA[The matter of liability for Uber or Lyft Driver Accidents]]>Liability uber lyft car accident

App-based car ordering services, such as Uber and Lyft, were recently given the go ahead by Seattle mayor Ed Murray allowing them to go beyond the previous 150 active driver limit that was imposed in March. As a whole we are in favor of this development. Easier, less expensive access to transportation will hopefully reduce drunk driving and lead to safer roads for Seattleites. However; we feel it is our duty to educate people on the consequences of being involved in an accident with an Uber or Lyft driver (or any other app-based transportation service).

These services contend that their service merely connects drivers with passengers and as such does not constitute employment. Instead these drivers are independent contractors. The TNCs (Transportation Network Companies) would therefore claim they are not liable for damages in the event of the accident. In Seattle, one of the requirements for operating as a driver with a TNC is to carry insurance. The press release for the deal did not specify what the insurance minimum to qualify would be, but we can only hope that it would be sufficient to cover the majority of accidents that could occur. Lyft claims it gives its drivers up to $1 million in liability insurance in addition to the driver’s own insurance. Uber grants $1 million of 3rd party liability and $1 million of underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage only DURING trips. When not actively transporting passengers, active Uber drivers have up to $100,000 injury insurance and $25,000 property damage insurance provided by the company.

Even then, as with the case of the 6 year old girl who was killed by an Uber-approved driver, it is possible these insurance policies would not adequately cover the costs of a wreck. Then the question on whether or not a TNC would be liable becomes prevalent.

The IRS uses a three category test to determine if someone is an independent contractor, looking at the level of behavioral control, financial control, and the relationship of the parties.

The first quality, behavioral control, is at its core the level of control the company has over the independent contractor. For a TNC, this would be its ability to connect drivers with passengers. The TNC in this case does not directly control the actions of the driver, but they are responsible for the actual initiation of the transaction so a reasonable level of control might be argued. The second quality, financial control, means that the contractor has to have the freedom to work for other companies and maintains his or her own work equipment, among other qualities. For a TNC, their drivers are clearly responsible for the purchase and care of their vehicles (although we have no idea if Lyft provides their distinctive pink mustache for free to drivers). Looking at the relationship from this lens makes it more difficult to place liability on the TNC. The final factor is the absence or presence of a contract. Having a written contract is clear evidence that an individual driving for a TNC is an independent contractor, while the absence of a contract makes this relationship less clear.

To summarize: for the most part the insurance policies provided by TNCs like Lyft and Uber should cover less serious injuries. However; if injuries are more substantial there is a case to be made that the TNCs are liable for their driver’s actions, allowing the injured party’s attorney to seek additional damages in order to assure their client gets the help they need.

If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident involving taxis or a TNC in the greater Seattle area, contact Scott McDonald and Associates for aggressive, experienced legal assistance. 

]]>, 19 Jun 2014 13:58:00 EST
<![CDATA[The legal issues of a sleeping driver crash]]>One woman was killed and four others injured near Toutle, WA on the afternoon of June 8th because the driver of their vehicle fell asleep at the wheel. The driver, Srinivisan Subraminam, was driving west on SR-504 at about 4:30 p.m. when he fell asleep causing his car to veer across the roadway and strike a rock embankment.

The dead passenger, Mythili Gopalan, was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident. As we’ve mentioned in a past news post, seat belts are perhaps one of the most important safety devices an individual can wear to prevent injury while traveling in a car.

It is clear in this accident that Mr. Subraminam was at fault for the accident. This means that in order to win damages for their injuries, the passengers of the vehicle would sue Mr. Subraminam for a payout from his insurance. In fact, we have worked on cases before where a wife sued her husband for damages in order to maximize the recovery for that case. The spouse would have to be sued in their own name but their insurance company is responsible for paying the compensation. There is an advantage to this because the at-fault spouse will presumably support the injured spouse’s claim and the jury will likely conclude that any verdict would be paid by insurance.

The fact that Ms. Gopalan was not wearing her seat belt, under Washington state case law is not relevant for determining whether she has comparative fault (see Amend vs. Bell). However, if the cause of death makes it apparent that Ms. Gopalan was not wearing her seat belt, the jury may determine this fact. While legally this revelation should not affect damages awarded, this information could reduce a jury’s goodwill towards the injured party, thus lowering damages in a kind of jury nullification.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash like this we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation to discuss your case. A helping hand is just a phone call away. 

]]>, 09 Jun 2014 16:55:00 EST
<![CDATA[My opinion on 'presumptive liability']]>King 5 News recently ran a spot on making motorists presumptively liable for injuries to bicyclists. Presumptive liability means that, unless the driver of a car can definitively prove otherwise, the driver is assumed to be at fault for the collision. This is a good idea. In many cases the insurance companies assert comparative fault on the injured person despite little evidence of the same. For example, in a recent case I litigated the insurance company asserted my client was 20% at fault because the other driver had “control of the intersection” even though the other driver was legally drunk and ran a red light. In that case, as trial was approaching, the insurance company paid up but the insurance company’s stubbornness forced my client to file a lawsuit, thus incurring costs of litigation.

In the bicycle versus motor vehicle collisions there are many small issues the insurance company can assert in an attempt to deny an injured bicyclist full payment for the harm caused. In one case I litigated the driver’s insurance company asserted that the bicyclist, who had right of way, should have seen that the offending driver wasn’t looking before he proceeded. This defense was allowed to be asserted. This unfairly reduced my client’s damages. If the collision causes the death of the bicyclist then this presumption would allow liability to be established where it may otherwise be impossible (given the bicyclist would be unable to testify).

There are also many drivers, some of whom end up on juries, that don’t like to share the road with bicyclists. If jurors with this prejudice have the opportunity to use spurious claims of comparative fault they will reduce the damages unfairly.

Finally, the motorist will be able to overcome the presumption of liability by presenting evidence that the bicyclist caused the collision. This proposed law would work as a proof shifting tool so that the process is more just.   While I have had great success in the past with bicycle accidents, this law would ultimately serve to better protect Washington cyclists in collisions with motorists. 

If you have been injured biking, I encourage you to contact me so we can discuss how to assure you get the help you need. 


]]>, 29 May 2014 13:56:00 EST
<![CDATA[Honda Civic vs. Ford Ranger Collision Has Unexpected Result: A look at a past case]]>A Honda Civic (2094 pounds) speeds down the freeway at over 90 miles per hour. In front of the Honda Civic is a Ford Ranger (4800 pounds) traveling at the speed limit in the same lane. The Honda Civic strikes the Ford Ranger. Conventional wisdom would put the Civic as a crumpled heap on the side of the road. In reality, the Ford Ranger flipped 7 times (landing right-side up) while the Honda Civic continued driving and had to be pulled off the road by a police officer. The driver of the Honda was charged with a DUI.

Drunk drivers often cause more severe wrecks. In this case the driver of the Ford Ranger did nothing wrong to cause an accident. Our client in the Ford Ranger had to be pried from the wreckage of his vehicle with the Jaws of Life following the impact. He was lucky not to be killed. Our client suffered from low back pain and a modest amount of medical bills. More concerning than his physical injuries were his emotional injuries: our client suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of being hit by the drunk driver. He suffered from recurring nightmares of being hit by drunk drivers and required psychological counseling to work through these issues. Psychological issues, such as PTSD, are not always readily apparent to sufferers. Only through the careful listening of his attorney did our client realize that he could seek care for his PTSD from a psychology professional.

In an accident involving a drunk driver, it is often the case that the intoxicated driver has a low limit of liability insurance, or even no coverage. Drunk drivers typically cause more harm than a sober driver and they cause a disproportionately large number of accidents each year. For severe injuries that result in hospitalization for several days in a trauma center, such as Harborview in Seattle, the medical bills will be in the tens of thousands of dollars. Thus, it is recommended that responsible drivers have a high limit of underinsured motorist coverage. The driver of the Ford Ranger was able to obtain a $150,000 recovery through Scott McDonald and Associates because he had the foresight to carry underinsured motorist coverage. 



]]>, 20 May 2014 15:20:00 EST
<![CDATA[Man Running to Work Hit By Semi-Truck in West Seattle]]>
With the closure of the Alaska Way viaduct in Seattle this week people are walking and even running to work. Tragedy fell on a runner, Tim Nelson, yesterday morning in West Seattle as he was running to work to avoid the viaduct closure traffic jams. A semi-truck appears to have hit the Mr. Nelson from behind without warning in a horrible Seattle semi-truck v. pedestrian accident.

Mr. Nelson suffered a broken back, fractured skull, collapsed lung, broken arm, and broken shoulder. He is lucky to be alive! It's unknown at this time why the semi-truck failed to see Mr. Nelson running as a pedestrian on the Lower Spokane Street Bridge.

Semi-trucks have special rules and regulations they must follow because of the extra danger they pose on roadways. Driver fatigue, improper maintenance, distraction, speeding, and many other things can contribute to a semi-truck driver causing a serious semi-truck accident. Because of these special rules and regulations it's important for people hit by a semi-truck to get an experienced attorney right away.

A thorough investigation needs to be completed on the accident and the semi-truck involved as soon after the accident as possible. Injury victims unfortunately don't necessarily have the luxury of waiting to find legal help without possibly damaging their case significantly. The insurance company for the semi-truck already has its attorneys doing an investigation for them. Scott McDonald and Associates is experienced at helping injury victims involved in semi-truck accidents in Washington. 

Mr. Nelosn's friends are planning a fundraiser to help Mr. Nelson with his medical costs. It will take place November 11 at The Capitol Club in Seattle. They even created a Facebook page to promote the event.



]]>, 26 Oct 2011 00:00:00 EST
<![CDATA[Fatal Accident Involving 2 Semi-Trucks on I-90 Kills 2]]>Another car accident involving two semi-trucks has resulted in death. According to news reports a fatal Washington car accident involving two semi-trucks and two cars at Snoqualmie Pass on I-90 has resulted in the death of 2 people.

It appears a car was smashed between the back of one semi-truck and front of the other semi-truck. Our prayers go out to the families of the deceased. Less than three months ago one of client's had her daughter killed in a collision on I-90 involving semi-trucks. To say the effects of such a horrific collision are life altering is an understatement.

Families in situations like this are faced with hard decisions. An unexpected death of a loved one often leaves families with a hurricane of questions, few answers, and many decisions to be made in a short time. In times like these having a trusted friend to assist with the aftermath is key.

No one wants to think about dealing with who caused the collision, who was at fault, who witnessed the accident, and making sure key evidence is not lost. Unfortunately, that is exactly what insurance company lawyers are doing immediately following a fatal Washington semi-truck accident. Families often have to play catch up in the weeks or months following the fatal collision.  

The Washington State Patrol does a crash investigation, but that does not mean you can leave everything up to them. Police are often looking at an accident from a slightly different perspective, a criminal versus civil liability perspective. An independent investigation is necessary to make sure every piece of evidence is collected that may be needed in any future the civil case. It is not uncommon for semi-truck lawyers to appear at the accident scene with their experts to collect evidence and speak with witnesses to get statements as fast as possible. They are looking to limit liability with minutes of the accident being reported.

Because of this families should enlist the help of an experienced Washington wrongful death attorney as soon after the accident as possible. The family needs an attorney to investigate the accident, find experts to help, and collect all the evidence needed so any future wrongful death claims are preserved. This way the family has all options available to them when they are ready to deicide what to do.

If you have lost a loved one in a fatal Washington semi-truck accident call the experienced wrongful death attorneys at Scott McDonald and Associates, 425-822-5700. We will take the time needed to answer all your questions and help you through this time of need. We are happy to visit you where ever you feel comfortable, you don't have come to a lawyer's office to get the legal help you need.


]]>, 17 Oct 2011 00:00:00 EST
<![CDATA[Window Tint in Sunnyside, WA new Hot Button Issue for Police]]>
Sunnyside, Washington Police are increasing enforcement of Washington window tint law. Are your car's windows so dark you can't see inside? Better avoid Sunnyside, Washington. Otherwise it could cost you an $124 ticket.

New tint meters are helping police crack down on this issue. With state and city governement budgets in the red citizens can expect more creative ways for police to enforce laws that historically have been ignored. 


]]>, 19 Apr 2011 00:00:00 EST
<![CDATA[Fatal Tri-Cities WA Motorcycle Accident Kills Husband and Injures Wife]]>
A couple days ago a husband and wife were out for a ride on their motorcycles in West Richland, Washington when a car came around a corner in their lane.  The car had crossed over the center line where it crashed into Joel Vance's bike and Lorri Vance's bike, throwing both of them into the ditch, as a result of this horrible head-on Richland WA motorcycle accident.

Mr. Vance suffered severe injuries and died as a result of the motorcycle accident.  Mrs. Vance was also injured but her injuries were not like threatening.  She was taken to Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland where she is in stable condition.  Our prayers go out to Mrs. Vance and the Vance family. 

Speed is believed to be the cause of the car crossing into the motorcycles lane of travel.  When a car causes a fatal motorcycle accident like this a Washington wrongful death claim arises.  Mrs. Vance was not only injured physically but she has lost her husband, which anyone knows is emotionally devastating.  In situations like this, life as you know it is changed forever in an instant.  Eventually Mrs. Vance or other family members will get to the question of "Now what do we do?"

Picking up the pieces of a shattered life is never easy and should not be done alone.  When the negligence of another driver is the cause of the fatal motorcycle accident, the at fault driver is responsible for a lot of burden the family experiences.  The loss of a husband or spouse often means the family's financial health has been severely impacted.  Making sure the at fault driver's insurance and any other means of payment are available and readily obtained is a task many grieving family members do not want to take on nor should they take on.  

Wrongful death claims are complicated and experienced legal help is always a good idea.  Having an experienced Washington wrongful death attorney on your side and fighting for your families legal rights is imperative in cases like the Vance's.  The attorney can take the burden of making sure everything involved in the motorcycle accident and insurance claims are handled correctly and no mistakes are made, while the widow and family can concentrate on healing from such an emotional loss.

If you or a loved one are facing this type of situation look into hiring experienced legal counsel as soon as possible.  It will make the process much easier and protect your family as much as possible at the same time.


]]>, 14 Feb 2011 00:00:00 EST
<![CDATA[Motorcycle Rider Killed in Lacey Accident, Alcohol Suspected]]>fatal Washington motorcycle accident happened in Lacey on Steilacoom Road near its intersection with Salmon Lane East.  Our prayers go out the the rider's family.

A 1988 Dodge Dakota was driving eastbound when it crossed the double yellow center line and hit the 1971 BMW motorcycle head on.  The 55 year-old Shelton man who was riding the BMW motorcycle was pronounced dead at the scene of this horrific Lacey motorcycle accident.  The 39 year-old driver of the Dakota was arrested on a charge of vehicle homicide and taken for a blood alcohol test.

Tragedy can strike in a blink of an eye.  Whether alcohol was a contributing factor or whether the other driver was distracted by something, it really doesn't change the fact that a Washinton motorcycle rider has lost his life due to the negligence of another driver.  A family has lost a husband, father, or son.  The Dakota driver will also have to live with his mistake that took the life of another person.  Both families with suffer greatly.  

It's hugely important for Washington drivers to realize that motorcycles and other two wheeled vehicles will be on the roads whenever the sun comes out in Western Washington.  Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day, motorcycles are on the road on days like that regardless of winter temperatures.  Please as a driver beware of this and watch for our two wheeled friends. 

When a Washington motorcycle accident takes the life of a rider, horrible economic crisis can hit a family that loses the source of primary financial support.  When a drunk driver causes a fatal Washington bike accident in our experience it's not uncommon to find the drunk driver has very little, if any, car insurance.  That's why is so very important to protect your family with the most underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage (UIM) you can buy on your motorcycle insurance policy.

If you or a loved on has suffered an injury or loss of a loved one in a Washington motorcycle accident do not wait to get the information you need to begin to process your injury claim or determine if you need the help of an experienced Washington Motorcycle Accident Lawyer.  Before you hire an attorney or speak with the insurance adjuster get your No Cost copy of the 7 Biggest Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Washington Motorcycle Accident Case here on our website.

 ]]>, 10 Feb 2011 00:00:00 EST
<![CDATA[Over 40% of Police Car Accident Fatalities Related to No Seat Belt Use]]>
42% of police officers killed in car accidents over the last 30 years were not wearing seat belts, according to a federal review.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which analyzed 733 crashes from 1980 through 2008 and found 42% of fatal police car accidents involve officers failing to wear safety restraints in their vehicles.  Some officers resist wearing seat belts because the belts slow their movement in and out of the cars. Officers also complain that the belts get tangled in utility and gun belts.

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund reports a 37% overall increase in line of duty deaths in 2010, reversing two consecutive years of decline. Included in that number, traffic-related fatalities jumped from 51 in 2009 to 73 in 2010.  Of the officers killed in vehicle crashes, 28% used some kind of restraint in the 1980s, according to the NHTSA report. Usage increased to 56% in the 1990s. But the report found that seat belt or other restraint use has recently declined to about 50%.

As you can see police are not exempt from the dangers associated with car accidents.  Seat belts save lives, even if they are inconvenient to use at times.

 ]]>, 05 Jan 2011 00:00:00 EST
<![CDATA[Emergency Vehicles Get Better Protection by New Law]]>When driving on our state highways you better move to the left lane when you see the flashing lights of an police car or other emergency vehicle.  Starting in June 2011 drivers can be hit hit with a $248 fine if they don't slow down and move over before they are within 200 feet of a stopped emergency vehicle with its lights flashing.

The injuries suffered by policeman, construction workers and tow truck drivers when hit by cars traveling at freeway speeds can be catastrophic, including sever head injuries, multiple broken bones, and even death.  Giving Washington emergency workers a greater safety cushion should save lives and injuries to these highly vulnerable workers.

A few years back Scott had a client who had his truck break down on the freeway.  He was on the shoulder clearly out of traffic.  However, a driver somehow lost control of her car and slammed into the client as he stood by his car.  The client suffered a sever injury to his leg, which resulting in the amputation for his lower leg below the knee. This was a life altering Washington freeway accident that happened in a blink of the eye because of the high speeds cars travel on freeways.  

The new "Emergency Zone Law" will hopefully prevent this type of horrific injuries following on emergency workers in Washington.  You have to slow down and move over when you are 200 feet behind or in front of an emergency vehicle with its lights flashing. 

 ]]>, 16 Dec 2010 00:00:00 EST
<![CDATA[Seattle installs "Bike Box" on Capital Hill, new bicycle safety device]]>Seattle bicycle accidents involving vehicles.

The bike box consists of a green box with a white bicycle symbol inside. The green box is paint in front of the white car stop stripe.  The box prevents bicycle/car collisions by placing cyclists at the front of the vehicle queue. The boxes improve safety for all roadway users by increasing awareness and visibility of cyclists; helping cyclists make safer intersection crossings, especially when drivers are turning right and bicyclists are going straight; and encouraging cyclists to make more predictable approaches to and through an intersection.

According to the SDOT: Cars must stop behind the white line at the rear of the bike box and cyclists should enter the box itself. When the light turns green, cars and cyclists may move through the intersection as usual, with cyclists going first. Motorists turning right on green should signal and watch for cyclists to the right, especially in the green bike lane of the intersection. New signage will help motorists and cyclists understand the new roadway feature. No right turns on red are allowed at these intersections. 

Other U.S. cities have found success using these bike boxes. Portland, New York City, Baltimore and Minneapolis all use bike boxes. 

Serious injuries often result from Seattle Bicycle - car accidents including traumatic brain injuries, broken bones and death. Washington state law, RCW 46.61.755, says that a bicyclist has all rights and responsibilities that a vehicle driver has.  About 700 bicyclist die every year in bicycle accidents, two-thirds of those suffered a traumatic brain injury in the accident.  Helmets are key to putting yourself in the best position to avoid the most serious head injuries or death.

 ]]>, 29 Sep 2010 00:00:00 EST
<![CDATA[Iowa Football Player Hit Head-On by Truck Turning Left - Walks Away Without Serious Injury]]>
Here's a link to the video:

Most people would not be as lucky Josh Koeppel.  His training as a very big football lineman who is used to taking big hits probably helped, but in no way should anyone expect to be so lucky in the same situation.

The truck failed to yield to Koeppel's right of way.  This is a left hook type of accident, and is the most common motorcycle accident we see in our Washington motorcycle accident practice.  Vehicles turning left sometimes simply fail to see a motorcycle that is coming straight at them and turn right in front of the bike.  As you can see in the video the motorcycle rider had no time to avoid the collision.

Injuries from motorcycle crashes like Koeppel's usually involve broken bones, and when no helmet is worn, more often than not traumatic brain injuries result and sometimes the worse case scenario death.  

Wear a helmet, it will save your life.

 ]]>, 03 Sep 2010 00:00:00 EST
<![CDATA[Kirkland, WA Motorcycle Rider Ejected in Rear-End Accident on 405 Freeway]]>
The rider was ejected from the motorcycle and suffered lots of road rash and possible internal injuries as a result.  The crazy part is the motorcycle became lodged in the front bumper of the car and stayed perfectly up on both wheels.  The car then dragged / pushed the bike down the 405 freeway for a good 500 feet.

This Washington motorcycle accident happened in the HOV lane of I-405 near the NE 85th Street exit in Kirkland, Washington.

 ]]>, 09 Aug 2010 00:00:00 EST
<![CDATA[WADOT To Pay 2 Million To Olympia Motorcyclist Serious Hurt Due To Bad Road Design]]>
The Washington DOT in a settlement with an Olympia motorcycle rider agreed to pay 2 million to settle a defective road design claim in a Washington motorcycle accident lawsuit.

Back in 2006 John Lancaster of Olympia, WA was riding his motorcycle on US Highway 101 near Shelton. At the intersection of Highway 101 and Lynch Road, a car pulled out in front of Mr. Lancaster cutting him off and leaving now where for him to escape.  Mr. Lancaster ran into the driver side of the car and nearly died that day in a severe Washington motorcycle crash.  

Shockingly this was not the first serious accident reported at this intersection.  There had been repeated accidents at the very same spot, 55 accidents since 1996 including two fatal accidents.  The Washington DOT knew there was a problem but failed to do anything.

Mr. Lancaster was severely injured, he was legally dead for a 3 minute period of time at the accident scene before being resuscitated. Mr. Lancaster had to be transported to Harborview Medical Center via helicopter where he eventually fell into a three week coma. For two months following the accident, Mr. Lancaster could not walk. Today, he is still unable to use his right arm and has limited usage of his left hand.  Mr. Lancaster’s medical bills totaled over $600,000 for his hospital treatment alone. 

Mr. Lancaster filed a lawsuit against the WADOT for its failure to fix the dangerous intersection.  You can bet that the insurance company for the car that caused the accident had already paid its policy limits, but the insurance availlable likely didn't even come close to covering the medical bills.   The WADOT had ignored an April 2001 study that showed that the intersection was unsafe and recommended closing the left turn lane from Lynch Road onto Highway 101.  An engineer working with the DOT, Robert Thuring, stated that there was a large amount of pressure from Mason County residents to fix the intersection. 
Taylor Shellfish and the Squaxin Indian Tribe both offered to donate land to construct a safer route. Taylor Shellfish currently does not allow its trucks to use the dangerous intersection, instead utilizing its own road constructed to bypass the defective road intersection.
It will be interesting to see how this issue unfolds over the years, especially given that the DOT has numerous other roads and intersections that have been flagged to be unsafe but are yet to be fixed. Hopefully this intersection that has caused so much damage to the friends and families of the Olympia motorcyclist will eventually be fixed. 

]]>, 30 Jul 2010 00:00:00 EST
<![CDATA[Toddler Killed by Truck Backing Out of Driveway near Ferndale, WA]]>A 2 year old girl tragically died on July 23rd as a result of negligence on the part of a truck driver in a fatal car v. pedestrian accident near Ferndale, Washington.  Our prayers and condolences to the family of the young girl.
The young girl was playing in the driveway of a Nooksack tribal housing development. The truck driver had told the young girl and other children to move out of the way before backing, but failed to notice that the children had not moved when the driver began backing up.  There were two adults and three minors in the truck at the time of the fatal accident. 

This is nearly as close to pure negligence as you can get.  The driver knew very young children were playing where he was intending to drive his truck.  He failed to make sure the kids had actually moved and the area was safe for him to back up.  Children under 6 years old cannot have any fault attributed to them under Washington law.  They simply are too young and their brains have not developed enough to know right from wrong and be held legally accountable for their actions.  

Drivers have a higher duty of care when children are present near a roadway or vehicle.  Driver must use extra caution and go above and beyond what they normally would do with an adult in the same circumstances.  Here, the driver should have made absolute sure he observed the location of each child that was behind his truck standing somewhere safe before he moved his truck.  He failed to do that and as a result killed a little 2 year-old girl.  

The repercussions for the driver will likely be devastating.  He may face criminal charges.  He will certainly be facing a civil wrongful death claim from the girl's parents.  He faces possible jail time and the threat of financial ruin because of one careless moment.  

]]>, 28 Jul 2010 00:00:00 EST
<![CDATA[When Walking the Dog turns into a Nightmare! Issaquah Pedestrian Hit in Crosswalk]]>
In this Issaquah pedestrian v. car accident the woman at collision impact was thrown into the windshield, suffering what must be a devastating head injury and likely traumatic brain injury.  Her poor dog was killed by the car running it over.  When this woman regains conscienceness not only will she find herself dealing with very serious injuries but she will be emotionally traumatized by the death of her dog.

Shelly and I do not have kids, so our dog Harvey means the world to us.  This would be a nightmare scenario for me if this woman was Shelly.  Here's our pride and joy:


Given nobody has tried to track this woman down yet, she probably was single. When she doesn't show up for work hopefully a co-worker will connect the dots.  What then?  

The car that hit her will be on the hook for paying for all her damages including medical bills, lost wages, medical supplies once home, and emotional trauma from the whole experience.  But that does not mean the car's insurance will pay now as bills are racking up.

Many of my client's who are hit by a car as a pedestrian are shocked to find out their own car insurance (Personal Injury Protection - PIP) is where you look first to pay for medical bills.  After PIP runs out or if you don't have PIP, then your health insurance picks up the tab.  Both are eventually paid back by the car's insurance.  It's issues like this that make it so important to get some good information about the injury claim process as soon as possible following a crosswalk car accident.

You can order your FREE copy of "The Guide To Washington Injury Cases" here and learn about the injury claim process in Washington before speaking with the insurance adjuster, hiring an attorney or signing any forms. 

Be safe out there!

Max Meyers

 ]]>, 26 Jul 2010 00:00:00 EST
<![CDATA[Washington Car v. Horse Accident Results in $2.7 Million Verdict]]>
Later that night Nanette Audral came upon the scene and did not see the horse in time to stop.  Her car slammed into the dead horse. Ms. Audral sustained what was referred to at trial as "a full-body whiplash" leaving her in constant pain.  The van driver gave conflicting reasons for not alerting other drivers of the dead horse with the safety equipment in his van.  The van driver didn't even stop after hitting the horse, he just kept on driving.

Company protocol required the van driver to stop and take steps to prevent further accidents.  Before the accident Ms. Audral worked 60 hours per week in her family-owned gas station.  Unfortunately the gas station was closed as a result of her injuries and her inability to work the same hours she did prior to the accident. 

When you see a jury verdict of this size in a Washington car accident you can be sure there are huge out of pocket losses and/or severe permanent type of injuries.  Although I don't have the details, here it appears it's a combination of both that led to the 2.7 million dollar verdict.  Ms. Audral has still has constant pain eight years after the accident, that's a permanent type injury.  Plus she lost her business and ability to work at her job.  When people are in their prime earning years and lose the ability to work, the resulting loss in wages can add up to a large number very quickly.  

A verdict like this does not shock me given the basic facts regarding the damages Ms. Audral suffered.  In a way Ms. Audral was a little lucky in the accident.  How you ask?  The person the jury determined to have fault for the accident was corporation with an insurance policy which is in all likely much higher than any Regular Joe would have on his car or home.  

Often times, people suffer sever damages but there is not enough insurance to cover all the damages, and the person at fault does not have any other assets besides the insurance policy.  I cannot tell you the pain it gives me to have to tell a client their case is worth 10 times what they ultimately will be able to recover because of this scenario.  That's why carrying the most UIM insurance you can is the best protection you can provide for your family.  It doesn't cost that much, but can mean all the difference.

 ]]>, 08 Jul 2010 00:00:00 EST