Experienced Bellingham Car Accident Attorneys Ready To Serve You
In 2017, there were 562 fatalities in car accidents in Washington state, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation data. This was an increase over the 544 fatalities that occurred in 2016. Whatcom County was responsible for 20 fatal crashes in 2017, which resulted in 23 traffic-related deaths – a 67% increase from the number of traffic-related deaths in 2016 and the second-highest number in the last decade. The number of traffic-related fatalities has been higher than the state average for several years during the last decade. In addition to the fatalities, thousands of people have been injured in a car wreck in Bellingham and across the state. If you or a loved one were injured in an accident, it is important that you seek the assistance of an experienced Bellingham car accident lawyer. At Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner PLLC, our dedicated Bellingham car accident lawyer has helped thousands of Washington clients receive fair compensation after an accident, including several multimillion-dollar awards and other impressive case results.
Common Causes of Car Accidents in Washington
In 2017, the following were the most common causes of traffic-related deaths in Washington:
- Drunk driving – Drunk driving accounted for 110 deaths in 2017. When a person drinks and drives, his or her judgment and driving ability may be substantially impaired. This can lead to reckless driving, falling asleep behind the wheel, or having a delayed reaction.
- Distracted driving – Distracted driving was the cause of 87 traffic-related fatalities in 2017. Distracted driving includes texting and driving as well as other distractions, such as talking to other passengers, using other electronic devices, or eating or drinking while driving. Any type of behavior that keeps a driver’s eyes or mind off the road or their hands off the wheel can potentially result in a distracted driving accident.
- Teen drivers – Teen drivers accounted for 50 traffic deaths in 2017. In addition to being less experienced drivers, teen drivers are more likely to speed, engage in dangerous driving behaviors, drive distracted, or drive while impaired by drugs or alcohol.
If your injury was caused by the negligent actions of another driver, it is important to learn about your right to recover fair compensation for your claim. Contact our Bellingham, WA car accident lawyer at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner PLLC to discuss your legal options during a free consultation.
Common Types of Car Accidents
How seriously you are injured in a car accident depends largely on what type of accident occurred. Identifying the type of accident is also one of the first steps involved in reconstructing the accident, which can reveal whose fault the accident was. The following are some of the most frequently encountered types of car accidents.
Rollover: A rollover accident occurs when the car flips over onto its roof. The most common cause of a rollover accident is turning too sharply at a high speed. Because a rollover accident is related to the vehicle’s center of gravity, some vehicles, such as SUVs, are far more prone to rollover accidents than others.
This type of accident can be caused by another type of accident, such as when a side-impact collision flips one of the cars onto its roof. Rollovers are among the most deadly types of accidents, especially for occupants who are not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident.
Head-on collision: A head-on collision occurs when the front ends of both vehicles crash into each other – normally with both cars moving in opposite directions. This term also applies when a car hits a stationary object such as a telephone pole.
The high-speed, two-vehicle, head-on collision is the single most deadly type of car accident because the speed of both vehicles contributes to the force of the crash. Depending on the speeds involved, even airbags might not be able to protect the occupant of either vehicle.
Rear-end collision: A rear-end collision occurs when the front end of one car crashes into the rear end of another. It is usually caused when the driver from behind finds himself unable to brake in time. Such collisions are particularly likely to occur during wet or icy weather when the roads are slick. Most airbags do not protect against rear-end collisions.
The damage done by a rear-end collision varies widely. Although they are sometimes fatal, in many cases, none of the occupants are injured. The driver of the car coming from behind is usually held liable for a rear-end collision.
Side-impact collision: A side-impact collision occurs when the front of one car crashes into the side of another. Side-impact collisions are particularly likely at busy intersections. It may not be immediately obvious whose fault the accident was, especially if the intersection was controlled by a stop sign rather than a traffic light. Most airbags do not protect against side-impact collisions.
Risk Factors for Whatcom County Traffic Accidents
In 2018, the Bellingham Herald completed a six-part series in which it analyzed traffic accident statistics for Whatcom County. It found that men were three times more likely to die in a fatal auto accident in Whatcom County based on data from the Washington Traffic and Safety Commission Fatal Collision Dashboard. This mirrors the state statistic, which shows that males account for nearly 70% of the traffic deaths. It also found that young drivers between the ages of 16 to 25 were the group most likely to be involved in fatal traffic accidents, making up 30% of the accidents in Whatcom County – even though they only account for about 13% of the driving population. These drivers were more likely to cause accidents due to intoxicated driving, speeding, distracted driving, and inexperience. Older individuals suffered nearly one-quarter of the fatal traffic deaths in Whatcom County.
In 2017, 17.3% of traffic-related fatalities were suffered by passengers while 7.4% were suffered by bicyclists and 13.6% were suffered by pedestrians. Drivers made up the largest category with 61.7% of the deaths.
Possible Damages Involved in a Bellingham Car Wreck Accident
Many accident victims drastically underestimate the potential value of their claim because they do not realize the long-term impact of the case or the types of damages for which they may be able to recover. Possible damages involved in Bellingham auto vehicle accidents include:
- Medical expenses – You may be able to receive compensation for the medical expenses you incur, including ambulance bills, surgery, ongoing treatment, and rehabilitation expenses.
- Property damage – You can also recover the costs to repair or replace the vehicle and other property that was damaged in the accident.
- Lost earnings – You have the right to recover lost wages, lost benefits, and the difference between the earnings you made and those you would have made had you not been injured. If the accident results in disability and you are unable to return to work, our experienced legal advocates can help you seek full compensation for these economic losses.
- Non-economic damages – You may also be able to receive compensation for non-economic damages, including pain and suffering, loss of consortium, inconvenience, emotional anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Our dedicated Bellingham car accident attorney can assess your damages during a free consultation and will work diligently to secure maximum compensation on your claim. Call us today.
Frequently Asked Questions
Following a car wreck accident, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed and with many unanswered questions. This is understandable, as an unexpected auto accident can be a shocking and very upsetting experience. At Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner PLLC, our Bellingham car accident attorneys are happy to provide answers to some of the most commonly asked questions we receive:
- What Steps Should I Take Immediately after a Car Accident? Following a car collision accident, it is important to:
- Remain at the scene unless you absolutely have to leave to seek emergency medical attention.
- Obtain the names and contact information of any other drivers who were involved in the accident as well as any witnesses of the accident and the name of the investigating officer. You will also want to exchange insurance information with the other drivers involved.
- Even if you think you are fine, seek medical attention simply to be on the safe side. Being evaluated by a doctor who is qualified to determine if you’ve sustained any injuries is a wise decision; you may not even realize you have injuries.
- Finally, contact a qualified attorney right away if you believe that you may have grounds to file a claim. An experienced lawyer will be able to advise you as to how the law might apply to your particular circumstances and help you through the claims process.
Often, we are asked the following two questions, usually by those who want to make sure they took the “correct” steps after their accident. To that end, we would like to reassure our clients that we certainly understand how overwhelming finding yourself unexpectedly involved in a car crash accident can be. If you forgot to take some of these steps, do not despair or worry. Be certain to contact a law firm as to what steps you may now need to take to protect your rights.
- How Long Do I Have to File a Claim for My Car Accident? In Washington, you typically have three years following your vehicle accident in which to file a claim. Though this is true, ideally, you should file your claim as soon as possible. This reduces the risk of losing valuable evidence or of witnesses becoming forgetful about important details. However, if it is the sort of accident that involved injuries that did not show up immediately (a subtle brain injury, for example), you will have three years following the discovery of that injury in which to file your claim.
- How Long Does it Take to Resolve a Car Accident Claim? Certainly, each and every car crash accident claim is different and unique and will have its own particular set of circumstances. As a result, it can be difficult to put an exact time frame on the resolution of your case. Generally, after negotiations with the insurance company have commenced, it will typically take several months to reach a settlement. If the case ultimately goes to trial, it could be a year, two years, or possibly more before the case is decided by a judge or a jury, depending upon the complexity of the case.
Olivia is seriously injured when she rear-ends a commercial truck that had parked in the middle of a busy highway while the driver slept. An investigation reveals that:
(i) The truck driver was intoxicated at the time of the crash.
(ii) The truck driver had been drinking alcohol at an establishment called Lou’s Tavern immediately before the crash.
(iii) At the time of the crash, the truck driver had been carrying a load of cargo from Seattle to Los Angeles at the request of the ABC Trucking Company.
(iv) Olivia’s airbag failed to deploy during the crash.
Consequently, Olivia sues the following defendants:
- The truck driver, for negligently stopping in the middle of the road;
- Lou’s Tavern, for helping to cause the accident by serving the truck driver after he was obviously intoxicated;
- The ABC Trucking Company, on the theory that an employer is liable for the negligence of its employees; and
- The airbag manufacturer, for the airbag’s failure to deploy.
Both the truck driver and Lou’s Tavern are found liable for negligence. Olivia’s claim against the ABC Trucking Company is dismissed, however, because the court found that the truck driver was an independent contractor, not an employee. The airbag manufacturer is found liable on a product liability theory.
The truck driver and Lou’s Tavern share liability for the amount of damages that Olivia would have suffered if her airbag had deployed, while the airbag manufacturer is held liable for the damages that Olivia suffered solely because the airbag failed to deploy (in other words, her head injury).
Speak With Trusted Bellingham Car Accident Lawyers
Certainly, if you have any additional questions that we can answer, at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner PLLC, we would be happy to be of help and would welcome your call at any time.
Our highly skilled injury attorneys offer a wide variety of legal services for people seriously injured in a variety of ways, including bicycle accidents, motor vehicle accidents, medical negligence and malpractice, wrongful death, and others.
Contact our Bellingham car accident attorneys today and get the assistance that you deserve.