He Was Trying to Hit Me—He Looked Me Right in the Eye

This is kind of a crazy case of man-bites dog.  Usually we represent motorcyclists who have been hit by drivers making left hand turns.  The common refrain: “The son-of-a-bitch tried to hit me—he looked me right in the eye before he turned.”  And in some respects that’s usually that’s true.  The driver did look directly at, but did not see, the motorcycle rider.    There’s a lot written about the neuroscience behind this phenomenon, but I think it can be summed in terms of our primitive/reptilian brains looking for things that are “bigger” than we are.

There’s been a lot of publicity about the collision on Stone Way where the motorcyclist hit a pedestrian.  Here’s a screen shot from the surveillance video:

News reporters have been up in arms about the motorcyclist not even slowing down before hitting the pedestrian.  They act like the motorcyclist was trying to hit the pedestrian.  As a rider, the last thing I want to do both on an emotional and self-preservation level, is hit a pedestrian.

This is a case where everyone thinks that the motorcyclist somehow acted intentionally by hitting the pedestrian.  I totally agree that the motorcylist is 100 percent at fault.  But I think it’s a perception/processing issue rather than an intentional act that should generate charges.

Two important insurance issues: (1) this highlights the profound importance of carrying liability insurance if you ride a motorcycle even though it’s not required under Washington law and (2) as a pedestrian you’re entitled to recover under your UIM policy if you’re hit by an uninsured or underinsured motorist even if you’re not in your car.  (Sometimes this is called “rocking chair” coverages because you could even be on your porch in a rocking chair and still receive benefits under the UIM portion of your auto policy.)

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