Seattle Injury Lawyer Bicycle/Pedestrian/Car Crashes

Bicycle Crashes – Washington Bike Injury Attorney

Over the years, injured bicyclists contact our office and ask smart questions. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions with our answers. Contact us today to let us know what questions you want answers. We have a text option available, as our office line is set up to respond via texts as well.

“I’ve just gotten injured in a bike crash, what should I do?”

Regardless of skill or experience level, bicyclists often crash. If you were not at fault, ask these questions:

  • Have other bicyclists crashed in a similar way in this area?  Our firm has collected years of data that we use to arm our clients for roadway design cases. This enables seriously injured clients to obtain additional money to cover steep medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, future medical bills, and many other expenses arising from a poorly designed road.
  • Was the crash reported to the city or town of the site? Did you get the name and contact of witnesses?
  • Did a car door or driver cause or contribute to your crash? 
How can a bicycle attorney help me, if I was injured riding my bike?

This is an important question. A bicyclist often feels rattled after a crash. You may want to brush it off and feel that everything will return to normal if you just sleep and rest. However, when you crash on the road, because you have nothing to protect your body, you likely sustained an injury that requires medical attention. Do NOT brush off any pain or discomfort. Immediately go to an Emergency Room or urgent care clinic to get a professional assessment.

Almost every injured bicyclist whom we’ve helped were in excellent physical condition before the crash. When you’re healthy and fit, you have a positive attitude and have confidence that nothing will set you back. This is a great mindset. Yet, after a bike crash, it’s important to treat the situation and your body with the utmost care. While helmets help, they are inadequate protection if your head and body.  Trauma is the result, when a human head or body hits an asphalt road, a concrete sidewalk, or a large tree. While this is scary, it will worsen if left untreated. ER doctors and urgent care clinicians are focused on just the visible injuries. They are not focused on thorough diagnoses that include traumatic brain injuries or other less visible injuries.

How can my car insurance policy help me after a bike accident?

Washington law has developed to help bicyclists in many ways. In December 2020, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled in favor of Seattle bicyclist, Todd McLaughlin, that a bicyclist fits within the scope of a “pedestrian” for purposes of casualty insurance. Todd was injured bicyclist, who sought to have Travelers Commercial Insurance compensate him for his injuries and other damages. Travelers refused and required Todd to file a lawsuit. Because the trial court and appellate court sided with Travelers, Todd took the case to the highest court in our state. Our supreme court held that bicyclists were indeed the same as pedestrians for purposes of insurance coverage in light of Mr. McLaughlin’s facts. Our bicycle attorney, Catherine Fleming, litigated this and related issues and has succeeded getting insurance coverage for injured bicyclists.

How can bike attorneys help me?

Outside of normal business hours, bike injury lawyer Catherine Fleming is passionate about her advocacy for bicyclists in the region. Because road safety for bicyclists, pedestrians, and rollers is a top priority for Catherine, she prefers spending her free time with likeminded advocates   In her element, she enjoys stepping outside her usual litigator role in advocacy workgroups with Cascade Bicycle Club and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways. 

An outspoken road safety advocate for Seattle and Washington bicyclists, Ms. Fleming has a record of 100% success for all of her injured bicyclists.  A larger outcome: she has helped to make the roads safer for all bicyclists. For years, Catherine has fought to make local government and its DOTs prioritize the safety of bicyclists. Unlike other bike lawyers. who have aggressively marketed themselves, Catherine has for years quietly focused on delivering top notch representation. That’s why she’s obtained results exponentially greater than her peers. 

Her passion for injured bicyclists was a big reason for starting her own law firm. Previously at one of the largest and most respected law firms in the area, those lawyers didn’t think that Seattle bicyclists injured due to a poorly designed road* could prevail. Fast forward to today. That firm and every other firm now want to emulate what Catherine accomplished.

These days, Catherine is busier than ever helping bicyclists get justice. If a careless driver hit them or whether Seattle roads failed to provide a bicyclist a safer option, Ms. Fleming is tireless in championing their rights. Streets are safer for all bicyclists as a result However, Seattle still has a long way to go before it earns its claim as a truly bike friendly city.

As Catherine continues her lifelong mission to make roads safer for all, she has developed allies with key road safety advocacy groups, namely Cascade Bicycle Club, and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways. Sharing the same goals, together they speak to local lawmakers and government officials to understand why bike and pedestrian safety is important for everyone. These groups, like Fleming Law, want to prevent injuries resulting from a bike ride or walk in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

*Claims against the City of Seattle, where bicyclists sustained injuries after hitting streetcar/trolley tracks in the road, were long avoided in the aftermath of the South Lake Union Trolley (SLUT) cases. After a King County judge dismissed the SLUT cases, no bike injury lawyer thought it was possible to prevail. Catherine Fleming proved this theory wrong.

More Useful Washington State Bicycle Laws

As Washington State Supreme Court has stated, “Bicyclists enjoy an anomalous place in the traffic safety laws of Washington.”  

  • Bicyclists are generally not pedestrians.  RCW 46.04.400, 47.04.010(22).  But they are, for purposes of casualty insurance. See Travelers v. McLaughlin.
  • Nor are bicycles always considered vehicles;  see RCW 46.04.670, 47.04.010(40).
    • For example, bicycles may be operated on both sidewalks and roadways.   WAC 308-330-555(2).

Unfortunately, the Legislature has not clarified the status of bicycles under Washington’s traffic safety laws.Statutes variously treat bicycles and bike paths in a recreational context, and at other times the statutes treat them as part of the transportation system.   Cf. RCW 46.04.670 (both including and excluding bicycles in its definition of vehicle), 47.04.010(40) (defining “vehicle” in a manner which would exclude bicycles), 47.06.100 (noting bicycle and pedestrian pathways are to be integrated with other transportation modes into a statewide multimodal transportation plan).  

See also RCW 47.30.005 (defining “trail” or “path” as “a public way constructed primarily for and open to pedestrians, equestrians, or bicyclists, or any combination thereof, other than a sidewalk ․”);  47.30.010(2) (providing “[w]here a highway other than a limited access highway crosses a recreational trail of substantial usage for pedestrians, equestrians, or bicyclists, signing sufficient to insure safety shall be provided”);  and 36.69.010 (authorizing the formation of park and recreation districts for the purpose of providing leisure time activities and recreational facilities as a public service, and defining recreational facilities to include bicycle paths);  47.30.070 (deeming bicycle, equestrian or pedestrian paths as public highways for purposes of 43 U.S.C. § 912, and thereby saving them from reversion under the federal statute addressing reversion of abandoned railroad rights of way).   These statutes indicate the Legislature has viewed bicycles and paths on a case by case basis, and without any continuity.  

Our WA State Legislature could usefully consider and clarify the State’s traffic safety policy for bicycles and bicycle paths.

Washington Supreme Court: We can take judicial notice of a … Research Memorandum (Feb.1999) of the Traffic Research & Data Center of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.   ER 201.   The Memorandum indicates bicyclist injuries in crosswalks are a serious safety issue in Washington:The Traffic Research & Data Center recently investigated the problem of cyclists involved in collisions while in crosswalks and analyzed data for 1994, 1995, and 1996 (the most recent years for which comprehensive data are available).

Data indicated that in the three-year period 585 cyclists had been hit by motorists while inside a crosswalk-an average of 195 people each year. 

  • Bicyclists accounted for 28% of all 2,097 persons hit by motor vehicles while in crosswalks. 
  • Two hundred fifty-eight (258) of the victims – 44%-were children younger than 15 years of age.  
  • Twenty-one (21) of these young cyclists – 8%- suffered disabling injuries or death as the result of a crash.  
  • Out of 258 child cyclists hit in Washington’s crosswalks in a four year period, over 98% were injured as a result of their crashes.

Bicycles in crosswalks present a clear safety issue in our State.

Sample Bike Injury Cases (past results do not guarantee results):

Bicycle Injuries
Attorney
  • Seriously Injured Web Developer/Musician (2019) – $1.550,000 – Daniel was commuting to his job where he worked as a web developer. When riding his bike near the First Hill Streetcar tracks, due to an unsafely designed road, Daniel was forced to pass the bus in front of him by moving to the lane with streetcar tracks. The track grabbed his bike tire, causing him to fall under a Metro bus. Catherine’s courage and commitment to Daniel’s case changed the landscape of all these bike v. tracks cases in the state.
  • Injured Tech Worker/Commuter Bicyclist (2019) – $750,000 (confidential settlement bars disclosure of defendants) Adam was bicycling to his job in South Lake Union, when a small commercial truck failed to see him when making a right turn. Adam was awarded a $750,000 settlement, less than 30 days before trial was set to start.
  • New Career After Injured Bicyclist/Non-Profit Employee (2018) – $900,000 (NDA bars disclosure of parties’ full names) – Justine worked for a well-known nonprofit in the lower Queen Anne neighborhood. When bicycling to head home, she never made it. A right turning car failed to look out for bicyclists in the path next to him, running his SUV into the left side of Justine’s body. Justine is mostly recovered but will always have a subtle limp along with physical and emotional scars. With her recovery, she could finally attend a full-time graduate program for her MSW without worrying about her income.\