Being injured in a car accident can be a traumatic, life-altering experience. In addition to frustration and difficulty in functioning at home as well as at work, many unexpected inconveniences force their way into your life. Dealing with vehicle repairs, sometimes even being without a vehicle is stressful - even more so if you are assigned a moody insurance representative. The prospect of reduced or total loss of income can be outright catastrophic for most families in Washington State. The inconvenience, pain, and suffering of dealing with and treating injuries only add to the fear and anxiety of recovering from a car accident. These cases can also become complex, and injured people succumb to pitfalls that both make it harder to effectively recover from their injuries, as well as receive fair compensation for their claim.
The car accident attorneys at Washington’s Law Firm are here to help you. There are a number of factors working against unrepresented parties. While some injured people do not need to hire an attorney, the vast majority would benefit from a free case review with an auto accident attorney. We offer a “no fee promise”- if we don’t get paid, you don’t get paid! Time is likely not on your side and you have nothing to lose, so please give the materials below, and call us today at 844-486-9797 for a free consultation with our Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, and Bremerton auto accident attorneys.
What to Do if You are Involved in a Car Accident
In order to best preserve your rights, you should follow these tips after being in an auto accident.
- Stay calm and do not confront the other party.
- Call 911 and request that a collision report be created. If law enforcement is not available to come to you, go to the nearest police station and file an accident report as soon as you’ve started immediate medical treatment..
- Obtain the relevant information from the other vehicle driver’s information:
- Phone Number
- Vehicle year, make, model and license number
- Driver’s insurance information. If the driver was driving someone else’s vehicle with permission, obtain the vehicle owner’s insurance information as well.
- Obtain as much contact information of every witness, as this information can be absolutely vital to your claim if liability is disputed :
- Phone Number
- Take clear photos of the scene of the collision, the damage to the vehicles, and any visible injuries you’ve sustained as a result of the collision. If you’re transported from the collision scene to the hospital, ask a friend or family member to come to the scene as soon as possible and take pictures.
- Do not speak with the other vehicle’s insurance company until you speak with an attorney. Their job is to do whatever it takes to pay as little on your claim as possible. They are trained to manipulate you to that end, with complete disregard to you.
- If you are hurt, you should seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Whether it’s a trip to the ER, an urgent care, or your primary care physician- a medical provider must weigh in and diagnose an injury related to the collision, or there is a greatly diminished ability to get treatment paid for by the negligent party, as well as a greatly reduced chance of being compensated for said undocumented injury. Most car accident victims treat with chiropractic care, physical therapy, or massage therapy – but a Medical Doctor or your primary medical provider should always make that call.
- Do not sign any settlement papers until you call Washington’s Law Firm for a free case review. We are here to help you get through this process with less stress and more compensation in your pocket than you would be able to attain on your own.
What Are My Rights After I’ve Been in a Car Accident?
1) You have the right to receive reasonable and necessary medical care for injuries caused by the at-fault party.
-PIP exhaustion does not mean you cannot or should not get more treatment. There are cases where insurance is not enough to compensate for injuries, but even in these cases, solutions can still exist. These cases are few and far between, and can be improved greatly if an attorney is on your side.
-if a condition is diagnosed and related to the accident, you can and should get treated.
-frequency, intensity, duration of treatment is all important. It is your responsibility to get better. If a doctor recommends a consult with a specialist, it's in your best interest to schedule one immediately.
-"If you're hurt, you should treat". Don't be a tough guy and wait to seek medical treatment. Foregoing treatment altogether means there’s no valid documentation of your injuries – and this is likely fatal to your personal injury claim. Waiting more than a week or two, and gaps in treatment over a week or two calls into question the extent of your injuries and therefore some or all of the care you received for said injuries.
2) You have the right to have your vehicle repaired to its pre-loss condition.
- This includes the right to have your vehicle repaired at a shop of your choice. Insurance companies employ a tactic known as "steering", where they attempt to persuade you into visiting one of their "preferred" body shops. Insurance companies often recommend against shops you choose that are not in their repair network. These body shops are contractually obligated to pay as little as possible to repair your vehicle, and this unfortunately oftentimes means cutting corners that can affect your safety. Taking it to one of the independent shops around you can cause friction with the insurance company, but in the long run is almost always worth it. If you've had your vehicle repaired at one of their preferred facilities, you can have a post-repair inspection done by an independent appraiser. They oftentimes find repairs to be lacking and incomplete.
3) You have the right to recover the diminished value of your vehicle. Even if your vehicle is repaired perfectly to a "pre-loss condition", it's still worth less than a vehicle with the same make, model, year, miles and condition, just because it has been in an accident. Diminished value is not worth it for a large percentage of vehicles, and getting the full diminished value in Washington State is all but impossible without an attorney.
4) You have the right to be compensated for your lost wages, travel time, and time spent treating.
5) You have the right to be compensated for your pain, suffering, and inconvenience.
What I Wish I Knew Before My Car Accident
1) PIP and UM/UIM premiums are among the best choices you can make as a consumer. If the person who hit you didn't have insurance, and you don't have UM/UIM, you are stuck with the repair bill. You're also stuck with the medical bills that are now piling up as a result, unless covered by medical insurance. In the same situation, you're without recourse when it comes to lost wages, time and inconvenience. Those who have PIP usually go through the process with much less stress, more financial recovery, and more fully healed bodies.
2) TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE! Waiting to go to the doctor and/or other medical providers can greatly devalue your claim, and even sometimes be fatal to your claim against the insurance company. In some cases, waiting to demand compensation can be fatal to your case. Gaps in care can severely diminish the value of your likelihood of recovery. Time is not on your side, and neither is the at-fault party’s adjuster. You have a responsibility to get better: no one is in a better position to take care of this than you are.
3) “FULL COVERAGE” is a HUGE misnomer. It merely means you have your liability insurance, collision coverage, and other property damage coverage such as vandalism, theft, hit and runs. It by no means indicates that you and your body are covered. UM/UIM, and PIP are not automatically included in what may be described as “full coverage”. Neither is rental reimbursement, emergency services, or gap insurance. Just because you have “full coverage” does not mean you have an adequate amount of coverage to ensure the smoothest and least stressful experience in the event of an auto accident.
4) The insurance company's goal of reducing the value of my claim does not take into account your vehicle's ability to protect me in future collisions. Almost all vehicles sold in the US have a unibody, meaning the entire body and chassis of the vehicle is a single molded unit. Unibody damage is expensive to fix properly. Their sole concern is lowering the cost per vehicle repair. They can and will use every shortcut they are allowed to use. A large number of claims serviced by the personal injury attorneys at Washington’s Law Firm involve incomplete and even unsafe repairs.
5) Unrepresented parties are taken much less seriously than those who have an attorney on their side. This is seen throughout the entirety of the claim, and most notably at the end of the claim, when an injured party demands compensation.
6) Most insurance companies aim to reduce the value of your claim to the point where *you've actually paid out of pocket to be hit by someone else*. If, after an accident, an insurance adjuster calls you and offers you "medical bills plus $500 for your pain and suffering", this is a sham offer. What they mean is "medical bills to date" or "a portion of your total medical bills, not the entirety". They're not even mentioning lost wages, time, or any ancillary claims that may be present.
7) Just because you sue doesn't mean you have to go to trial. Many insurance companies stand by lowball offers for minor injury, soft tissue cases. Oftentimes the Insurance Company will offer a low enough amount proposing the person that got hit as a result of their insured's negligence actually has to pay out of pocket. When the offer is too low, and the case is worthy, you have to file lawsuit. However, almost all cases settle or are resolved before the actual trial date.
8) You can absolutely afford a lawyer. The vast majority of Seattle, Tacoma and Everett car accident attorneys work on a contingency fee- meaning they will advance the cost of working the case until it's resolution and only take a fee if they win your case. Injured parties almost never have to pay anything out of pocket to pursue a claim against an insurance company. There's nothing to lose - if you are reading this you should call today at 844-486-9797 for a free consultation.
We Exist to Fight for You
Washington’s Law Firm dedicates its time and effort towards helping the people of Washington.
Uber, Lyft, and other Rideshare Accidents
As rideshare becomes more and more mainstream, accidents and the injuries that come with increased usage will continue to increase. While Uber and Lyft carry $1 million policies that cover their drivers when they are transporting passengers, there are certain times where the coverage can come into question.
Rideshare drivers are considered independent contractors in Washington – meaning the insurance coverage in effect can change depending on when a collision takes place.
Even if the app is turned off, the driver’s personal or commercial insurance is in effect. If the driver has accepted a ride request, the rideshare company’s insurance is in effect. If the app is open and the driver is awaiting a ride request, the coverage can become questionably low and you may even face a denial of liability by both carriers.
Even if an accident is not your fault, it’s important to have someone on your side. This is especially so in accidents involving Lyft and Uber. Call our Seattle, Everett, Tacoma, and Bremerton Uber and Lyft accident attorneys at ay at 844-486-9797 today for a free case review.