Established Seattle Car Accident Attorneys Ready To Assist You
In 2015, there were 117,053 car accidents in Washington, according to the state-mandated Annual Collision Summary. Seattle accounted for 14,508 of these accidents, which included 22 fatalities and 4,771 injuries. An accident occurs in the state approximately every 4.5 seconds. Due to the frequency of these accidents, it is important that Seattle residents know what to do after a car accident. You should also know when to contact an experienced Seattle car accident lawyer.
What to Do After a Car Accident in Seattle, WA
If you are involved in a Seattle car accident, follow these steps:
- Stop – You are required to stop at a car accident scene. If the accident is minor, move the vehicles to a safe place out of the flow of traffic. If the vehicle is inoperable, place traffic cones or flares near the accident site so that other vehicles do not collide with the parked vehicles. Turn off your vehicle and turn on your hazard lights.
- Check for injuries – Check if you or your passengers have any injuries. Check if anyone else was injured. Call for an ambulance if anyone is injured.
- Report the accident – Contact your local law enforcement agency to report the accident. An officer will be sent to the scene to assist injured passengers and will make an accident report. The report may contain useful information that will help you with your claim, including the other driver’s information and whether the other driver was cited for a traffic violation.
- Exchange information – Exchange information with the other driver, including your names, addresses, phone numbers, insurance information, driver’s license number and make, model, and license plate number of the vehicles.
- Take pictures – If you are able, take pictures of the accident scene. Include pictures of the vehicles and the point of impact. Also, take pictures of any nearby traffic signs or signals that could have played a part in the accident. Take pictures from different angles.
- Do not admit fault – Do not apologize at the accident scene, even if you think you were responsible for the accident. You may not know what caused the accident, and any apology can be used as evidence against you to blame you for the accident.
- File an insurance claim – If the other driver caused the accident, you can file an insurance claim against the driver’s policy. Stick to the facts and avoid guessing about anything. Do not give a recorded statement. Our experienced Seattle car accident attorneys can help you through this process if you would like.
After the accident, seek medical attention if you think you are injured. Follow all of your doctor’s orders to minimize the impact of your injuries. Take pictures of your injuries as they progress over time.
Common Causes of Accidents in Washington
According to the Annual Collision Summary, the following reasons were contributing factors in many auto accidents in Washington:
- Inattention or driver distraction – 46,348 accidents involved driver inattention or distraction. This included drivers using a handheld phone, reading, writing, eating, drinking, adjusting dials, as well as distractions inside the vehicle and distractions outside the vehicle.
- Speeding – Speeding was involved in 19,662 accidents, resulting in 150 traffic fatalities.
- Failure to yield the right-of-way – Failing to yield the right-of-way was cited in 18,876 accidents.
- Following too closely – 18,765 accidents involved following closely.
- Drug or alcohol impairment – 6,033 accidents in Washington involved drug or alcohol impairment.
Statute of Limitations for Seattle Car Accident Claims
Washington law limits the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit for a car accident. You have three years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. If the accident resulted in the death of your loved one, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim. Only a spouse, state-registered domestic partner, child, stepchild, or a parent or sibling who was financially dependent on the victim can file a wrongful death claim in Washington. The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim is also three years. However, you should not delay in seeking legal assistance from our experienced Seattle car accident attorneys, because it will take time to develop your claim or prepare a lawsuit.
Damages Available in Seattle Car Accident Cases
If you were injured in a Seattle car accident case, you may be able to recover compensation for the following damages:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Payment for lost wages
- Compensation for lost earning capacity
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
An experienced Seattle car accident attorney can review the circumstances surrounding your case and assess the potential value of your claim.
Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner – Seattle Car Accident Lawyers
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’ve recently been involved in a car accident or if you have a loved one who has, it is understandable that you may have many questions. Being involved in an accident of any kind can be overwhelming, and this can be particularly so if you have been injured and are experiencing the mounting pressure of accumulating medical bills, lost time from work, or other difficulties as a result of the accident. That’s why, at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, we are happy to answer some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about car accident claims:
- Should I speak with the insurance company following my accident? If you have recently been involved in a car accident, the insurance company for the other driver involved may attempt to contact you. It is important to keep in mind that you are not legally required to speak with the other driver’s insurance company. As a general rule, it is always wise to consult with a lawyer first. If you make the decision to hire a qualified and experienced lawyer shortly after the accident, your attorney will be able to handle communication with both your insurance company and the insurance company of the other driver. This should relieve a lot of stress and worry and allow you to focus on your recovery after the accident.
- What if the driver who hit me was uninsured? Though it is certainly not the ideal situation, accidents do occur where the person who caused the accident either has no insurance or has very limited insurance. In those circumstances, it is understandable to worry that, if you are the victim of a car accident, you won’t be able to recover compensation for your damages. The good news is that this is not necessarily so. In Washington, a mandatory coverage called “underinsured motorist coverage” (UIM) is an essential coverage intended to step in to fill the gap for the lack of coverage on the part of the person who hit you. Consulting with an attorney as to the possibility of UIM coverage in these instances is important and a wise decision as you proceed forward with your claim.
- How much is my car accident claim worth? This is a somewhat difficult question to answer, as each case has its own unique set of factors that will contribute to the amount of compensation likely to be awarded. These factors include, among other things, the extent of your injuries. Generally speaking, the more severe your injuries, the more your case will be worth it. Other factors include the cost of any treatment and medical bills required as a result of the accident, and whether you are able to return to work following the accident, among other things. An attorney will be able to best advise you with respect to your particular circumstances.
At Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner we are happy to answer these questions as well as to help address any other concerns you may have about filing a car accident claim. Call us today. We would welcome the opportunity to learn how we may be able to help you soon.
David is injured in a car accident caused by another driver, and liability is not in question since the other driver was arrested for DUI at the scene of the accident, and since a road camera filmed the accident. David begins negotiations with the insurance company for compensation. He claims soft tissue injuries and demands, among other compensation, $20,000 for pain and suffering. The insurance company balks at this demand.
David is careless with his social networking habits, and two weeks after the accident he uploads a photo of himself to Facebook, smiling at a party with a beer in his hand. An insurance company investigator has been monitoring his profile and produces a screenshot of the photo during settlement negotiations, claiming that David is not suffering as much pain as he claims he is. David responds that the photo is a year old.
David is examined by two different doctors, and both of them clear him to return to work after three weeks off. David receives compensation for medical bills and lost earnings, but he is only awarded $1,000 for pain and suffering due to the social network photo. His social networking habits may have cost him $19,000.
How Our Car Accident Attorneys Can Help
A Seattle car accident lawyer can assist with car accident claims in a number of ways. A qualified car injury lawyer will have ample experience with car accident claims and will know the steps to take to preserve your rights. He or she can investigate your claim, determine the contributing factors, and identify all of the parties who may be responsible for your damages. If you hire a Seattle car accident attorney, this attorney will handle all communication with the insurance company so that you can focus on your recovery. He or she will try to negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf to compensate you for the full extent of your damages. If the insurance company does not offer a reasonable settlement, your lawyer can discuss the possibility of proceeding with a trial.
Should I Sue or Settle?
You might have to do both, although over 90 percent of all personal injury claims are ultimately resolved through settlement. After you make an initial demand, the defendant or his insurance company may balk and you may have to file a lawsuit. It typically takes several weeks after the filing of a lawsuit to schedule a trial. During this time, you will be able to gather additional evidence through the discovery process.
Even if you anticipate that your claim will be resolved through settlement, the best way to motivate the defendant to settle is to be prepared to win a lawsuit against him. Once he realizes that his chances in court aren’t very good, he is likely to become far more agreeable to your demands. Another way to motivate the defendant to settle is by retaining Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner as your Seattle car accident lawyers because our trial record speaks volumes about our capabilities.
The Discovery Process
Discovery is a process that takes place only after a lawsuit has been filed. It allows you to demand evidence that is in the possession of someone else (typically the defendant). If the defendant refuses to comply, you can ask the court to issue an order. If the defendant ignores the order, he could face sanctions including possible jail time. Remember that the defendant has the same rights to demand evidence from you (your medical records, for example).
There is no reason why negotiations cannot continue between the time you file a lawsuit and the day of the trial. Indeed, negotiations tend to intensify during this period. If you reach a settlement, part of the terms of the settlement will be that you withdraw the lawsuit. Even during a trial, a settlement can take place any time before the court reaches a final decision. The types of evidence that can be gathered by either party during the discovery process include:
- Depositions: In a deposition, you question the other party under oath, and the court reporter records the answers. Depositions take place out of court and before trial. If the other party makes a claim in court that contradicts what he said at a deposition, he can easily be discredited.
- Written interrogatories: Written interrogatories and written questions that the other party must answer truthfully under oath.
- Demand for production of documents: A party may demand that the other side produce documents or things, such as financial records or CCTV footage, that are relevant to the case and in the possession of the party from whom they are demanded.
All of the foregoing methods of evidence production can be employed against a third party, such as a bank, with the court’s consent.
Contact Us Today
At Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner PLLC, our Seattle car accident attorneys are committed to helping our clients in every way possible. We are experienced litigators who are not afraid to take your case to court, if necessary. However, we will first demand a settlement to save you from the time and stress of a trial. Our injury lawyers in Seattle, WA have successfully secured more than $100 million in compensation for thousands of clients; learn more about our impressive case results here. We will help develop your claim to maximize your chances of winning a generous settlement or verdict.
If you were injured in a car accident, call our experienced Seattle car accident lawyers, or complete an online contact form to schedule a free consultation at our Seattle office.