Law

Seattle Pot Holes and Bike Accidents

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Who is at fault if you hit and crash in one of the many potholes around Seattle on a bike? 

While many people may say that someone should have seen a pothole and got out of the way, some times it is impossible to see a pothole on the street depending on the conditions, depth of the pothole, and how many other people are on the road.

Seattle is becoming notorious for not filling potholes in quickly enough. I am sure you will encounter a pothole on the next drive you take after reading this blog. Whether it is because the city has too many potholes to deal with, they are lazy, or they don’t have time to get to them, the city is responsible for filling pot holes and making sure people are safe on the roads.

The city of Seattle is responsible for filling potholes on city streets and some other roads as well. If a bicyclist is injured because they run into a pothole, the city is responsible for the resulting injuries including bicycle replacement, medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If there are permanent injuries, the city is also responsible for future lost wages, future medical bills, and other damages resulting from the fall.

If you are injured by a fall due to a pothole in Seattle, you need to hurry to preserve your case. Generally, there is a three year statute of limitations for personal injury cases in Seattle, Washington. This means that you have three years to file a lawsuit or settle a case against the city of Seattle. In addition to this, the city has a notice requirement that states that you must give them 60 days advance notice before filing a lawsuit against the city, in accordance with RCW 4.96.020. This means you must fill out a claim form on Seattle’s municipal website and mail it in to them following the directions on the website.

If you are injured in a bike accident on a Seattle street, it is best to contact a Seattle personal injury lawyer to figure out your rights and compensation possibly owed to you. Most offer free consultations and are paid out of the settlement. This means that everyone can afford a personal injury lawyer, but you cannot afford to not hire one.

 

Andrew CherinSeattle Pot Holes and Bike Accidents
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Duty to Seek Treatment ASAP?

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Many people who are injured in car accidents, especially men, try to tough out their injuries. The reason can be anything from not having enough time to go to a chiropractor, massage therapist, physical therapist, etc. to not wanting to “cause problems” for the other person. However, insurance companies are increasingly trying to crack down on people that wait three to five months start chiropractic or physical therapy following a car accident and denying their relatedness of such. While there are some good arguments to stop insurance companies from making these arguments, why not get the treatment needed immediately so not to create this possible complication.

If you wait too long to get treatment, the insurance company may have a good argument for denying the treatment – to a certain degree. This is because there is law in Washington State that requires a victim of a car accident injury case to get treatment within a reasonable amount of time as a reasonable person would so as to not make their injuries worse. However, this does not mean that the insurance company is completely off the hook for covering these medical bills but it does mean that it may be reduced to a certain degree.

Example: Let’s suppose the following: If someone who is injured in a car accident would have gone to a chiropractor right after the car accident, they would have been able to be healed within 6 months with massage and physical therapy. The insurance company will be responsible for 100% of the treatment because the person injury in the car accident mitigated their damages.

Now let’s say that if they wait to start chiropractic, PT, and massage three months after the car accident, their injuries will have gotten so bad to the point where they need an extra three months or nine months to heal. In this second scenario, the insurance company will have a good case that those extra three months of treatment are not coverable because the person injured in the car accident waited too long to get healed without a valid excuse. However, the question will come down to would a reasonable person have sought medical treatment when the person did in this case – within three months of the car accident.

This rule not only applies to medical treatment, but also to lost wages. Would a reasonable person have sought jobs they could have applied for given their injuries and situation. Would they have gotten a job so not to lose their house. A victim of a car accident has a duty to mitigate their damages as much as reasonably possible.

Washington State Pattern Jury Instruction 33.01 lays out the argument that the insurance company can make. However, they must also prove that a reasonable person would have sought medical treatment and thus the delay in getting medical treatment was the proximate cause of the now more complicated treatment and not the car accident. Proximate cause means sufficiently related to a legally recognizable injury to be held to be the cause of that injury.

If the court finds a duty to mitigate was not followed, the court may apportion what percentage of the medical damages the car accident injury victim was partially at fault for based on comparative fault rules in Washington State, which does not bar recovery if someone was partially at fault but merely just takes off their percentage from 100%. This means if someone was found to have been 10% at fault for worsening their symptoms and treatment for not getting treatment within a reasonable time, they would only recover 90% of their total personal injury award instead of 100%.

Conclusion: Get the therapy you need as soon as possible in order to avoid complications and delays in getting your personal injury car accident case settled as soon as you are 100% back to normal or as close as possible.

Andrew CherinDuty to Seek Treatment ASAP?
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Why the Seattle new distracted driving law is not over reaching

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A lot of social media posts lately have been highlighting the fact that the new Washington State Distracted Driver Law makes it illegal to eat or drink food while driving, which is a secondary offense under the law. A secondary offense means that you cannot be pulled over for eating or drinking while driving unless you are speeding, run a red light, or do some other traffic violation first – which probably is a good thing to get fined for because eating or drinking while speeding is not a good thing and eating or drinking may have been the distracting reason why someone ran a red light.

The eating and drinking part of the law has created a lot of hoopla because news media outlets have misleading posted screen shots of the law stating eating and drinking is now illegal without also indicating it is actually a secondary offense in addition to another traffic fine.

Here is what the law actually says: Senate Bill 5289 Section 3:

(1)(a) It is a traffic infraction to drive dangerously distracted. Any driver who commits this infraction must be assessed a base penalty of thirty dollars.

(b) Enforcement of the infraction of driving dangerously distracted may be accomplished only as a secondary action when a driver of a motor vehicle has been detained for a suspected violation of a separate traffic infraction or an equivalent local ordinance.  

(c) For the purposes of this section, “dangerously distracted” means a person who engages in any activity not related to the actual operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that interferes with the safe operation of such motor vehicle on any highway.

As a Seattle personal injury lawyer representing people injured in car accidents, I have found that a rising number of car accidents are caused because of distracted driving. Additionally, these accidents are often some of the most devastating car accidents. If you are distracted by food or drinks while driving and cause a car accident, your stupidity should get you another fine. If you drive safely focusing on the road and drive correctly without being distracted and causing a car accident or traffic offense, you can drink your coffee and eat food without worry of being pulled over. However, if you are swerving because you are looking down at your spilled drink on your shirt, you deserve a fine.

The distracted driving law is a gigantic improvement in prior law in an effort to combat rising distracted driving because of people on their phone while they are driving and not worrying about others around them. How many times have you seen someone on their phone driving extremely slow and causing backups or swerving from lane to lane on the freeway? Too much! The new laws in place should prevent a lot of car accidents because of people being selfish and thinking about something other than the fast moving killing machine that they are driving.

Andrew CherinWhy the Seattle new distracted driving law is not over reaching
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Can you cross on a counting down blinking hand?

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Seattle is one of the worst cities for controlling pedestrians crossing the street, which has led to some of the worst traffic in a city. While there appears to be many routes out of the city, you will almost certainly be caught in only one car making a light during rush hour due to pedestrians continually crossing all intersections even when the hand is blinking stop. Many car accidents and traffic jams are caused by pedestrians darting in front of traffic.

 

Can a pedestrian cross the street in Seattle with a blinking or steady don’t walk sign or hand?

According to RCW 46.61.060 states that pedestrians may not enter the roadway when there is a blinking hand or do not walk sign. This means that anyone that enters the roadway when the hand signal is counting down is violating the law and jay walking.

Is the countdown the time you have to cross the street and if you make it you are not jaywalking?

The countdown is not the amount of time you have to cross the street. You cannot jump into the crosswalk and run across in time and be considered to be in compliance with the law. If you start crossing the street after the do not cross sign or hand starts to blink and countdown, you are in violation of the law. You legally cannot start crossing the street no matter if you can make it in time or not if the hand is blinking and the countdown has begun.

Who is at fault if you accidentally hit a pedestrian that runs into the street without notice to you?

Pedestrians generally have the right of way in cross walks and at unmarked cross walks. Cars have a duty to be mindful of people darting into the street and stop if possible to avoid hitting another car or person, according to RCW 46.61.245. However, pedestrians do not have the right of way to just run into the street without looking at traffic no matter if it is a cross walk or not. RCW 46.61.235(2) – No pedestrian or bicycle shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk, run, or otherwise move into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to stop.

If you are injured in a car accident or hit by a car as a pedestrian, you have a lot more rights than may appear. You may have a case for personal injury damages even if the police report states that you are at fault. Preserve your rights and your case now by contacting a Seattle personal injury lawyer for your car accident injury case immediately.

Andrew CherinCan you cross on a counting down blinking hand?
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Is your truck restricted from the HOV lane and the far left lane? Can Semi Trucks Drive in the Left Lane?

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Semi trucks and large trucks can cause devastating car accidents with severe injuries to any cars that come in contact with them. For this reason, we would like most semi trucks and large trucks to refrain from driving in the far left lane, the fast lane, and driving fast. But what does the law say about these trucks driving in the fast lane and the HOV lane?

Have you ever wondered what lane a semi truck can drive in? It seems like it should be illegal for semi trucks, trucks hauling trailers, and box trucks for delivery to be driving in the far left hand lane or the HOV lane doesn’t it? Apparently in most parts of the state, semi trucks and trucks over 10,000 pounds are not allowed in the far left lane on three lane roads in each direction except for a few exceptions.

The exceptions are fairly large, however, which covers Highway 2 and Interstate 5 interchange in Everett all the way down to I-5 near South Center in Tukwila, WA. However, southbound I-5 has an exception that allows trucks to drive in the left hand lane all the way down toto exit 151 and then again from exit 135 to I-5 exit 130 near the Tacoma Mall in Tacoma, WA so long as the left lane is used to facilitate passing slow traffic. There are other areas in Washington that allow for semi trucks and other trucks that weigh over 10,000 pounds to drive in the far left lane including I-90 eastbound and westbound in the Seattle area, areas around Vancouver, WA, and areas around Tri-Cities. The full code is below in WAC468-510-020.

This means that the box truck or semi truck that is driving next to you in Seattle can probably drive in this lane. Not a lot of semi trucks actually use this small exception because for all intended purposes it is generally forbidden in all areas of the state and other states. This also means that if your truck weighs over 10,000 pounds, it too cannot drive in the far left lane of a road with three lanes going in each direction except for in the areas outlined in the code.

Semi trucks are not allowed in HOV lanes. HOV lanes restrict cars or trucks that weigh over 10,000 pounds no matter the number of passengers unless it is a bus with 16 or more capacity or municipal transport vehicle. This means that if your truck is over 10,000 pounds, you cannot drive in the HOV lane unless you are considered a recreational vehicle.

Can you drive your 10,000 pound truck in the far left lane or the HOV lane? Many trucks weigh over 10,000 pounds but you may not even think about it. However, there is an exception to the 10,000 pound limit so long as it is a recreational truck. A recreational vehicle is defined as a vehicle used exclusively for noncommercial purposes which are designed for recreational, camping, or travel use; towing a horse trailer; or rental truck with no more than two axels used strictly and exclusively to transport personal possession. Most personal usage trucks would qualify under this exception.

This means that commercial trucks cannot drive in the HOV lane but may be able to drive in the far left lane under certain circumstances and places. However, this also means that if your truck weighs over 10,000 pounds, it too cannot drive in the far left lane of a road with three lanes going in each direction except for in the areas outlined in the code but you may drive in the HOV lane in all areas? Weird. This is because the 10,000 pound limit does not have the recreational vehicle exception in the code for far left lane usage but does in the HOV lane law.

 


WAC 468-510-020

Left lane restrictions.

(1) RCW 46.61.100(3) mandates that no vehicle towing a trailer or no vehicle or combination over 10,000 lb. may use the left lane of limited access roadways having three or more lanes in one direction, and that a high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane is not considered the left hand lane of a roadway. Within this section, 10,000 lb. means 10,000 lb. gross vehicle weight (G.V.W.).
(2) RCW 46.61.100(3) further mandates that the department, in consultation with the Washington state patrol, shall adopt rules specifying those circumstances where it is permissible for other vehicles to use the left lane in case of emergency or to facilitate the orderly flow of traffic, and those segments of limited access highways exempt from the subsection due to the operational characteristics of the roadway.
(a) For the types of vehicles specified, and under the circumstances enumerated in (a)(i) through (vii) of this subsection, the left lane prohibition described in subsection (1) of this section does not apply to:
(i) Motorcycles towing trailers.
(ii) Class B motor homes, commonly called conversion vans, without a motor vehicle or trailer in tow.
(iii) Tow trucks weighing over 10,000 lb. G.V.W. when en route to an emergency on a specific roadway or roadside.
(iv) Fire trucks or emergency care vehicles weighing over 10,000 lb. G.V.W. when en route to an emergency.
(v) Any vehicle towing a trailer or vehicle or combination weighing over 10,000 lb. G.V.W. when one or more of the lanes are blocked because of an accident, other incident, or highway maintenance or construction activities.
(vi) Any vehicle authorized to use a HOV lane that would otherwise be prohibited from the left lane within two miles approaching the beginning of a HOV lane or following the terminus of a HOV lane.
(vii) Any department of transportation vehicle towing a trailer or weighing over 10,000 lb. G.V.W. when conducting official business within the left lane.
(b) On the roadway portions enumerated in (b)(i) through (viii) of this subsection, the left lane prohibition described in subsection (1) of this section does not apply:
(i) On northbound and southbound Interstate 5 in the Vancouver vicinity, from the Washington/Oregon state line to exit 3 at Main Street.
(ii) On northbound Interstate 5 in the Vancouver vicinity, from the confluence of Interstate 205 to exit 9 at 179th Street.
(iii) On southbound Interstate 5 in the Vancouver vicinity, from exit 9 at 179th Street to exit 7 at Interstate 205.
(iv) On northbound Interstate 5 in the Seattle/Everett vicinity, from exit 154A at I-405 to exit 194 at SR 529.
(v) On southbound Interstate 5 in the Seattle/Everett vicinity, from exit 189 at SR 526 to exit 154A at I-405.
(vi) On eastbound and westbound Interstate 90 in the Seattle vicinity, from exit 2A and 2B respectively at Interstate 5 to exit 10A at Interstate 405.
(vii) On eastbound and westbound Interstate 182 in the Tri-cities vicinity, from exit 4 to exit 12A.
(viii) On northbound and southbound Interstate 205 in the Vancouver vicinity, from the Washington/Oregon state line to the termini of the three lane sections about one-half mile south of exit 32.
(c) On the roadway portions enumerated in (c)(i) and (ii) of this subsection, the left lane prohibition described in subsection (1) of this section does not apply to any vehicle, except trucks over 10,000 lb. G.V.W., when using the left lane for passing to facilitate the orderly flow of traffic:
(i) On southbound Interstate 5 in the Southcenter vicinity, from exit 154A at I-405 to exit 151 at South 200th Street.
(ii) On southbound Interstate 5 in the Tacoma vicinity, from exit 135 at SR 167 to exit 130 at South 56th Street.

WAC 468-510-010

High occupancy vehicles (HOVs).

Pursuant to RCW 46.61.165 and 47.52.025, the department has reserved portions of interstate highways, state highways, and ramps, as HOV lanes for the exclusive use of public transportation vehicles or private motor vehicles with the number of occupants specified on signs. Motor vehicles authorized to use HOV lanes are:
(1) Rubber tired municipal transit vehicles conforming to RCW 46.04.355.
(2) Buses with a carrying capacity of sixteen or more persons, including the operator.
(3) Motorcycles conforming to RCW 46.04.330.
(4) Recreational vehicles with the number of occupants specified on signs.
(5) Official marked law enforcement and fire department vehicles equipped with emergency lights and siren, operated by an on-duty state patrol, local, or county law enforcement personnel, or on-duty local, county, or special district fire department personnel.
(6) All other vehicles with the number of occupants specified on signs, except that trucks in excess of 10,000 lb. G.V.W. are prohibited from the use of HOV lanes regardless of the number of occupants. Tow trucks that would be otherwise prohibited because of weight or number of occupants may use HOV lanes when en route to an emergency on a specific roadway or roadside.

WAC 308-100-210

Recreational vehicle—Definition.

For the purposes of RCW 46.25.050 (1)(c), the term “recreational vehicle” shall include vehicles used exclusively for noncommercial purposes which are:
(1) Primarily designed for recreational, camping, or travel use;
(2) Towing a horse trailer; or
(3) Rental trucks having no more than two axles (one steering and one drive axle) used strictly and exclusively to transport personal possessions.
Andrew CherinIs your truck restricted from the HOV lane and the far left lane? Can Semi Trucks Drive in the Left Lane?
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Left lane for passing only law crackdown

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We have all seen all over the news recently about Seattle and Washington State’s crackdown of left lane drivers/campers by Washington State Patrol. The Washington State Patrol will be doing a focused effort June 20-22 to crack down on left lane campers. We all like that police are cracking down on drivers in the left lane driving too slow, but what does the law actually say?

Many news media are reporting that the left lane is only to be driven in when passing someone or for emergency lane use only. Is this right, or is it to only stop people that are driving slow in the left lane and what is slow? Does slow mean driving under the speed limit? Is the left lane only for people driving over the speed limit then? Let’s examine the law to figure out what it actually says and means.

The Washington State Patrol released a statement that has been interpreted by news media far differently but here is what it actually says:

RCW 46.61.100 requires all vehicles to keep right except when passing on multiple lane roadways. Left lane “campers” are drivers who remain in the passing lane (left lane) for long periods of time without passing.

The WSP targets left lane violators to educate them on the consequences of “camping” in the left lane. Left lane camping can lead to road rage, aggressive driving, traffic congestion, and collisions. If you’re caught camping in the left lane it could result in a $136 ticket.

RCW 46.61.100 – Keep Right Except When Passing, etc.
(2) Upon all roadways having two or more lanes for traffic moving in the same direction, all vehicles shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic, except (a) when overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction, (b) when traveling at a speed greater than the traffic flow, (c) when moving left to allow traffic to merge, or (d) when preparing for a left turn at an intersection, exit, or into a private road or driveway when such left turn is legally permitted. On any such roadway, a vehicle or combination over ten thousand pounds shall be driven only in the right-hand lane except under the conditions enumerated in (a) through (d) of this subsection.
(4) It is a traffic infraction to drive continuously in the left lane of a multilane roadway when it impedes the flow of other traffic.

What does it mean? These are the two relevant passages of the law that figure into when someone can drive in the left hand lane and when they must not drive in the left lane. Basically, the law is saying that you must drive in the right hand lane when it is open. Does this mean the far right lane or does this include the center lane?

If this is taken from the context of what is written it appears to be saying on a three lane road that all traffic is to drive in the far right lane. Then if someone is driving faster than a person in the far lane, they may drive in the center lane. If someone is driving faster than traffic in the center lane, they may drive in the far left lane. However, once each person has overtaken the other driver, they must move to the right lane again unless someone is driving slower than them in this lane.

When do people get in trouble then by the police? RCW 46.61.100(4), however, states that it is only a traffic infraction when someone is driving in the left lane when it impedes traffic behind them. Therefore, you can only get a ticket when you are blocking people behind you, it appears. Therefore, you can drive in the left lane or center lane when you are driving faster than the car on your right but you may get a ticket if there is someone behind you that wants to drive faster than you in the far left lane. You need to move over if someone is driving faster than you no matter if they are going over the speed limit.

Tricky Scenario? Basically the police have a decision to make at this point, do they want to target the speeder who is going over the speed limit in the far left lane or do they want to go after the person driving the speed limit who is technically passing someone in the middle lane who is going slower than them? The speeder could technically be right on the person in the far left lanes butt and then continue to go far over the speed limit but the police officer could pull over the person who is driving the speed limit and passing someone on the right because the law says they are impeding the flow of traffic behind them.

The left lane is the lane that people drive the fastest in and is the lane of traffic in which the most severe car accident happen in. This is because speed is the biggest contributor to determining how severe a car accident will be. However, most car accidents occur in the far right lane but those are less severe and are generally due to merging traffic going on and off the freeway. Seattle personal injury lawyers have seen these car accident scenarios far too often.

If you have been injured in a Seattle or Washington State car accident, please contact me ASAP before you lose your rights or give away your case for far less than you deserve.

 

Andrew CherinLeft lane for passing only law crackdown
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