Washington Car Accidents« Areas of Practice
Car accidents are an unfortunate reality of modern living. We live in a society where everyone piles into cars to go places. The roadways are often crowded. While most drivers do their best to be careful and vigilant, unfortunately accidents still occur. Most accidents result from someone’s negligence, which usually means that they just weren’t being as careful as they should have been, or misjudged the location of cars. Often times accidents happen when someone is distracted when driving by something inside their car, or they were looking another direction.
No matter how an accident happens, if you’ve been injured in one it is important to speak to an experienced Washington personal injury lawyer to determine if you have a case. In Washington drivers are required to carry auto insurance by law, so most of the time, if you’ve been in an accident you will be dealing with an insurance company and the insurance adjusters.
Insurance companies are big business. They are in business to make money, not to pay claims. One way they can maximize their corporate profits is by trying to get people who are entitled to be compensated because of an injury to take as little money as possible. Insurance companies and adjusters have a large bag of tricks that they will use to try to get you to take as little money as they can get you to take in order to settle your case.
The best way for you to ensure that you are treated fairly is to hire your own lawyer to represent your best interests. Hiring an experienced Seattle auto accident attorney can be the difference between getting what you are entitled to and getting run over by the insurance company. Before you sign anything or speak to an insurance company, I recommend you order a copy of the free book I wrote for Washington Auto Accident victims.
If you’ve been injured in car accident, a personal injury claim may be your next step, but do you know how the process goes? There are many steps to between your accident and receiving compensation. These are some of the important phases and definitions that you should know before starting your case.
There are three basic steps to proving your case. You must first determine what act of negligence caused the accident. Examples of negligence are running a red light, failing to yield for oncoming traffic, or not permitting a pedestrian to cross at a cross walk. Next you must show upon whom the liability falls or in other words, who is to blame. While this may seem simple and clear, unfortunately usually it is not. There are many technical legal arguments that an insurance company attorney can make to try to pin the blame on you, the victim.
However, once you are over that hurdle, the damages need to be assessed. Damages are the money that can make up for, or compensate for, the injuries that were caused by the negligent conduct. While money can never make up for an injury, it can help pay the medical bills or reimburse you for lost time at work. Damages come in two forms: special and general. Special damages are concrete and are basically payment for medical bills, medications, etc. General damages are more fuzzy and cover vague concepts like pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life and are not set-in-stone numbers. All of these parts require evidence in order to be proven and it takes expertise to know where to look for the best evidence that will document the necessary facts to prove a case.
Now that you know what you must prove in your case and what you have to win, understanding the steps of the process is the next step. Firstly, there is a time limit for you to file your claim called the statute of limitations. In Washington State that limit is generally 3 years from the day of your accident. If you don’t file a claim (start a lawsuit) within 3 years, then you may never be able to receive compensation for that accident. Once a lawsuit is filed then comes the discovery phase in which both sides learn more about each others’ case. This may include depositions (a witness testifies under oath), independent medical exams, etc., interrogatories, and motions before the court. After each side has all the information they need, the parties begin to have meaningful settlement negotiations. If a settlement can’t be reached then the parties can agree to alternative dispute resolution, where you present the case to a seasoned lawyer in attempts at coming to a fair solution. Another way is mandatory arbitration which is the state’s way of trying to settle smaller cases. And lastly, if the claim cannot be settled in any other way, it goes to trial in front of a judge or a jury.
To get your claim started, it is important to gather as much information as you can from the accident scene. Also, get to know your insurance policy. It is important to know what your insurance covers and what it doesn’t, so you know what your rights are. The more you understand about your case, the better your chances are.
Want others to hear the straight talk on Washington personal injury law? Click the button below to let the world know!
Insurance Coverage Disputes
Spinal Cord Injuries
Pedestrian, Bicylcle and Crosswalk Accidents
Fill out the form below for a free, no obligation consultation about your personal injury legal needs