Experienced Washington State Car Accident Lawyers
An injury accident is sudden, painful and – all too often – emotionally devastating. In addition to the pain, shock, and disorientation you are likely to feel, more than a little anger may be justified when you discover that the accident was the result of some other party’s inexcusable carelessness. Meanwhile, financial pressure is another stress you have to deal with, as medical bills pile up and lost work time accumulates. At this point, it’s time to seek quality legal representation and contact our proven Washington State car accident lawyers.
Our Washington car accident lawyers win cases the old-fashioned way: through the hard work that is absolutely necessary to master every detail of your case. We will craft a legal strategy that is as unique as the facts of your case are and as responsive to your individual concerns as it is possible to be.
We realize that every case is different and that ultimately it is our client, not us, who makes the operative decisions in the case. Our job is to clarify your options for you, execute whatever instructions you give us, and keep the process as stress-free for you as possible so that you can concentrate on recovery.
Our Washington State car accident lawyers work on a contingency basis. This means that you don’t have to pay us anything upfront – we get paid if and only if we win the case and bring home a verdict or settlement for you. We are able to offer you these terms because our Washington car accident attorneys win 97 percent of our accident and injury cases. Although most of our cases are resolved out of court, we are well-prepared for a courtroom battle if the other side insists on one.
Our Results Speak for Themselves
We pride ourselves on serving the residents of our communities, professionally and passionately. Unfortunately, we usually meet these individuals (our clients) in the midst of precarious situations like car accidents. Even so, we count ourselves fortunate to work alongside such truly incredible members of our great state; their strength and resilience never cease to amaze us.
Our Washington State car accident attorneys at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner don’t see themselves as handling cases so much as serving people who are often overwhelmed by the circumstances they face – people like:
- Hailey French: We secured a $5.5 million jury verdict for Ms. French, yet another victim of a head-on drunk driving collision. The verdict was awarded against not only the drunk driver herself (who was unlikely to be able to pay a $5.5 million verdict) but also the Washington State Patrol and the Whatcom County District Court Probation Department.
- Dr. X (name withheld by request): We secured a $1.75 million settlement in favor of Dr. X for a rollover freeway injury that fractured his spine and caused a closed head injury. Most of this amount represented compensation for lost future earning capacity, even though he was 56 years old at the time of the accident.
Please view our case results page for further examples of the success of our Washington car accident lawyers.
The Claims Process, Step by Step
Car accident claims proceed in accordance with a certain logic. Not all claims proceed in the exact sequence as listed below, and most claims do not complete all of the listed steps (because most claims are settled before trial).
If you were not seriously injured in the accident, try to gather evidence at the scene of the accident. Take photographs of the vehicles and skid marks, for example, or get contact details from witnesses. Either way, your lawyer will conduct an investigation of the accident. He may discover, for example, that a local business had a surveillance camera that filmed the accident. This record can be subpoenaed as evidence in court.
Medical treatment is important not only for your personal well-being but as a way of gathering evidence concerning the nature and severity of your injuries and when you sustained them (so that the opposing party cannot say they were not caused by the accident). Medical records are considered highly credible evidence that is difficult to refute.
Filing a Claim with the Insurance Company
Once your doctor certifies that you have reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), you can file a claim with the insurance company that will adequately inform the insurance company of the nature and extent of your losses. It is normally the insurance company that makes the offer (that is inevitably far too low), if it doesn’t reject your claim outright.
Settlement or Lawsuit
If the insurance company won’t settle for a reasonable amount, you might need to file a formal lawsuit to light a fire under their feet and show them you mean business. Another reason for filing a lawsuit is that it entitles you to participate in the discovery process, by which you can demand certain evidence that is in the possession of the other party.
Filing a lawsuit doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll go to trial. In fact, at this point, the odds are still good that your case will settle before the trial date.
The Discovery Process
During the discovery process you can question the defendant under oath while the court reporter records the answers; issue written interrogatories that the defendant must answer truthfully; and demand that the defendant produce certain documents. In some cases, you can even make demands of third parties. The defendant can make similar demands of you.
With time growing short before trial and evidence being clarified through the discovery process, negotiations tend to intensify. Many claims are resolved at precisely this point.
At trial, it will be up to you and your attorney to prove that your claim is valid. The standard of proof, however, is much lower than it is in criminal court. The applicable standard is “a preponderance of the evidence,” which means something like a 50.1 percent likelihood.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) – Washington Car Accident Lawyers
What should I do immediately following a car accident?
The first thing to do immediately after an accident is to call emergency medical attention if anyone has been severely injured. Remember that, even if no one appears injured, injuries can still be possible. If you suspect an injury, see a medical professional right away.
Next, call the police to report the accident. Be sure that a police report is created if the accident caused significant damage. Then, exchange the following information with the other driver(s):
- Names of drivers, any passengers, and witnesses
- Addresses of drivers, any passengers, and witnesses
- The insurance companies representing the drivers
- Names of the registered owners of all vehicles involved
- Driver’s license numbers, license plate details, and vehicle details (make, model, etc.)
Following this exchange, notify your insurance company that there’s been an accident. Throughout this entire process, be sure to never assume responsibility for the accident. Finally, try to remain calm and seek legal assistance if you have questions or concerns.
How is fault determined in an auto accident?
Washington is a “fault” insurance state, meaning that you can file a claim directly against the at-fault driver’s liability insurance policy or, if the at-fault driver is uninsured, against the driver him or herself. To win your claim, you will need to prove that the defendant was careless (negligent), that this negligence caused the accident, and that you suffered actual damages.
Can I win if the accident was partly my fault?
You are entitled to that percentage of damages that represent the defendant’s percentage of fault for the accident – 65 percent of your damages, for example, if the defendant was 65 percent at fault and you were 35 percent at fault. Keep in mind that in this example, you would be responsible for 35 percent of the defendant’s damages.
Can I win a claim against the car manufacturer if my airbags failed to deploy?
Yes, you can in most cases. If you were injured in a car crash, for example, the manufacturer will be liable for the extent to which the failure to deploy increased your injuries, not for the accident itself.
Should I talk to the insurance company or sign a statement?
No, at least not without the consent of an experienced Washington car accident lawyer. The insurance company, even your own insurance company, is your adversary when you file a claim because you are asking for money and they are looking for an excuse to avoid paying.
My injuries will prevent me from ever returning to my previous occupation. Can I recover damages for the loss of my career?
Yes, in most cases, if you can prove that it was your injury that forced you to abandon your career. If the injury was work-related, however, workers’ compensation rules might limit your recovery.
Am I automatically at fault if I rear-ended the other vehicle?
No, not automatically. The burden of proof will be against you, however, until you prove that the accident was the defendant’s fault notwithstanding the fact that you rear-ended him or her. You might win the case, for example, if you could prove that the driver’s brake lights failed to work. A skilled Washington car accident attorney should be able to help you gather the necessary proof.
Can I claim against a company that hired the commercial driver who hit me?
Maybe. If the driver was on duty at the time of the accident, you would need to prove that the driver was an employee of the company rather than an independent contractor. Professional truck drivers are usually considered independent contractors, not employees.
Can I obtain punitive damages?
No, unfortunately. Washington is one of only four states that does not allow punitive damages in civil cases unless they are specifically authorized by statute. This is a limitation that many in the Washington legal profession would like to see changed. Hiring a proven and knowledgeable Washington state car accident attorney that understands all of the laws of Washington state is vital to you and your case.
My loved one was killed in an auto accident. Can I sue on his or her behalf?
If your loved one is killed in a car wreck, an eligible relative or the personal representative of the deceased victim’s estate may file a wrongful death lawsuit. Eligible relatives include:
- State-registered domestic partner
- Parents or siblings (if and only if the deceased has no spouse, domestic partner, children or stepchildren, and if the parent or sibling in question was financially dependent on the deceased)
Our Other Practice Areas
- Drunken driving accidents: A criminal conviction might take an at-fault driver off the road for a while, but it won’t necessarily secure you any compensation. A lawsuit, however, is designed to do just that. In some cases, we are able to sue third parties as well, such as a commercial driver’s employer or an establishment that served the driver alcohol.
- Wrongful death: A wrongful death claim can arise from an accident that would give rise to a personal injury lawsuit if the victim had lived; this includes careless driving, medical malpractice, and even murder. Damages are divided among eligible relatives and the victim’s probate estate.
- Bicycle accidents: A bicycle can be invisible to a motorist – at least until an accident occurs. Bicycle accidents are frequently catastrophic due to the rider’s lack of frame protection, and they are often caused by the motorist failing to take into account his or her blind spot. If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, contact your car accident lawyers today!
- Motorcycle accidents: Motorcycles combined a bicycle’s lack of frame protection with an automobile’s high speeds. This combination can be deadly, regardless of whether or not the rider is wearing a helmet. Wrongful death lawsuits are particularly common in motorcycle accidents, as are catastrophic injury claims.
- Head and brain injuries: Head and brain injuries interfere with the body’s command and control functions. Symptoms can include paralysis, dementia, personality changes, seizures, memory loss, and other serious impairments. These types of injuries are particularly common in motorcycle and truck accident cases, and damages awards can be immense. Hiring experienced Washington car accident attorneys can help you get the compensation you deserve, which can help offset medical bills, emotional distress, and lost job income.
- Trucking accidents: A commercial truck can crush a mid-sized car like a steamroller. Since commercial truck drivers are subject to a multitude of regulations, personal accident and injury lawsuits often focus on violations of these regulations. In some but not all cases, it is possible to sue the trucking company as well as the driver.
- Defective drugs: Harm caused by a defective drug is the result of an “accident” that occurs inside your body. A drug may be classified as defective due to a design defect, a manufacturing defect, or simply the failure to warn of a risk in taking it. A lawsuit might be filed against a manufacturer, a distributor, or a doctor who negligently prescribed it.
- Other types of accidents. No shortlist can encompass every conceivable type of injury. Our car accident lawyers also represent injured parties in accidents arising from boating accidents, medical malpractice, and slip and fall accidents, just to name a few.
Contact Our Washington State Car Accident Lawyers Today!
When it comes to legal services, let the buyer beware – anyone with a law license can hang out a shingle and practice in nearly any field of law. It takes a lot more, however, to develop into a top-tier Washington car accident injury law firm. With over $100 million in compensation secured for our thousands of satisfied former clients, our injury and car accident attorneys are confident in our ability to maximize your chances of winning a generous verdict or settlement.
At Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, fighting for justice for our clients is what we do all day, every day. Few Washington personal injury lawyers in the state have secured compensation for as many clients, settled as many claims, or won as many courtroom verdicts as Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner has. If you have been injured in a car crash that you believe may have been at least partly someone else’s fault, contact our Washington State car accident lawyers today at 1-800-925-1875 or fill out our online contact form so that we can contact you to schedule a free case evaluation. Our law firm has several offices in Washington State, including one in Seattle.