Nick Law Major

Car Accidents

What You Need to Know About Your Accident

In Washington, motor vehicle accident claims are negligence claims. In a negligence claim, the injured party must show:

  • The at-fault party owed the injured party a duty;
  • The duty was breached because of the at-fault party’s negligence; and
  • The injured party suffered damages as a result of the at fault party’s negligence.

Each of these three elements must be proved for an injured victim to prevail. With the assistance of an experienced Washington personal injury attorney, the odds of success increase exponentially.

All Washington drivers have duties on roadways. Examples include operating their vehicles safely, exercising ordinary care to avoid placing others in danger, and exercising ordinary care to avoid a collision. Following traffic laws and adjusting one’s speed for bad weather are examples of reasonable driving.

Many breaches of the duty to drive reasonably and safely are also violations of traffic laws. For example, texting while driving, drinking and driving, and running red lights would all be types of negligence.

Damages and the Value of Your Car Accident Case

After a car accident in Washington, one of the biggest issues for victims is medical bills. These expenses pile up fast and often reach tens of thousands of dollars or more. However, medical bills are not the only type of loss that accident victims have after a crash.

In general, damages—which impact how much a case is worth include:

  • Medical expenses
  • The estimated cost of future medical care
  • The cost of remodeling a home to accommodate an injury (for example, building wheelchair ramps or installing handrails)
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of companionship
  • Property damage

Did you require an emergency surgery? Was your car towed? Did you incur storage fees for your vehicle? Did you miss out on compensation from missing work? Car accident claims can be challenging to navigate, but a Washington personal injury attorney can ensure you are going in the right direction to maximize your monetary recovery while you recover from the collision.

Timeframe to pursue your motor vehicle accident lawsuit

Time is of the essence following a car accident. As an example, Washington limits how long accident victims have to file a lawsuit regardless of the severity of injuries. This is called the statute of limitations.

In Washington, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims in a motor vehicle accident is three years from the date of the accident. If an accident victim fails to file a claim before that deadline, the claim will be extinguished and would be dismissed if filed late. This would result in the injured victim losing out on their potential recovery and possibly leave them entirely responsible for any financial losses incurred even if the accident wasn’t your fault.

Therefore, if you have been involved in a car accident in Washington you should speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible so that work on your case can begin immediately.

Call a personal injury lawyer before talking with the insurance company

Insurance agents, on behalf of the insurance company of the at-fault driver, will try to position themselves in a way that minimizes the value of your case. These agents will usually call you right after the accident and attempt to get you to settle your claim for the least amount of money possible.

The insurance companies know that you have expenses piling up and are under an enormous amount of stress. They will make you an offer that is likely far too low to fairly compensate you for your losses in hopes that you will settle your claim and take the money.

However, if you settle your claim, you inevitably sign your rights away and eliminate your ability to pursue a personal injury claim.

What should you do and not do following a Motor Vehicle Accident

  • Speak with an experienced Washington car accident attorney as soon as possible. An attorney will speak to the insurance companies on your behalf, shielding you from pressure to settle your claim. Your attorney will ensure that your legal rights are protected throughout the case.
  • Seek medical attention immediately– even if you do not believe you are seriously injured. Some injuries have a delayed onset of symptoms and may not exhibit any symptoms at the time of the accident. Insurance companies love to argue that an accident victim is not seriously injured if medical attention was not sought quickly after the accident.
  • DON’T have lengthy conversations with the at-fault party’s insurance company about the accident. Simply tell the insurance adjuster or agent that you are hiring an attorney and that any questions may be directed to the law firm. You do not want to risk making a statement that could be used against you in the future.
  • DON’T discuss the case on social media. Even seemingly innocent posts that state something like, “We were in an accident today, but we are okay!” may be used against you by the insurance company.
  • DON’T keep anything from your attorney. Even if you think some of the facts of your case will hurt your claim, you need to disclose these to your attorney. Chances are, they will not seriously damage your claim and your attorney needs the full picture of your case to thoroughly protect your rights.

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