Were You Injured Because Of Someone Else's Negligence? Browse Our FAQs
In addition to coping with a lot of stress and frustration, personal injury cases also come with a lot of questions. Here are some of the questions we hear the most at Max Meyers Law.
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When is a car considered totaled in Washington State?
“Totaled” means a total loss. A car is considered totaled when damages from an accident are irreparable, or would cost more to fix than what the vehicle is worth. Find out more about who decides if a car is totaled below, from the Kirkland auto accident lawyers at Max Meyers Law.
Who Decides if a Car is Totaled?
An insurer will assess the car’s pre-accident value against the likely cost of repairs. Washington is a fault state, meaning that whoever caused an accident is responsible for covering the damages that occur. If you are at fault in an accident, your insurance company will handle appraisal and compensation according to the coverage in your policy. (Note: Your insurer will only cover your damage if you have collision coverage.) If the other driver was at fault in the accident, you will be dealing with his or her insurer.
The insurer will send an appraiser to determine both the vehicle’s pre-accident fair market value and the likely cost of repairs. Per WAC § 284-30-391, once the appraiser has determined a value for the vehicle, the insurer will either replace your vehicle or offer you a cash settlement based on the value of a comparable vehicle in the same area.
How Does The Insurer Determine That Value?
State law [WAC § 390-05-235] defines “fair market value” as the amount a well-informed buyer under no obligation to purchase a vehicle would reasonably pay a well-informed owner who is not required to sell. The insurer bases this largely on sales data for comparable cars in your area, meaning those that are of similar make, model year, body type, condition, and mileage.
Washington State law requires insurers to calculate fair market value using at least one of the following methods:
- Examining prices on comparable vehicles in the surrounding area. The insurer may use a third-party service to acquire this data.
- Obtaining quotes on comparable vehicles from two or more licensed dealers within 150 miles of where your car is stored
- Checking prices on comparable vehicles advertised in local media
- Consulting computerized data on comparable nearby vehicles
Car owners can then request a “total loss valuation report” from the insurer, which will contain the data used in calculating the fair market value. Washington State law requires insurers to use a “total loss formula,” where the cost of repairs plus its probable value as scrap must equal the vehicle’s value pre-accident value for it to be a total loss.
How Do I Get My Settlement After a Washington Car Accident?
If you agree with the assessed value of the car, the insurer will offer to replace your car with something similar in value that is available nearby or pay you a cash settlement, according to rules outlined in WAC 284-30-391. The settlement offer will include the following:
- The vehicle’s fair market value immediately prior to the accident
- Sales tax on the car’s fair market value
- Any other fees you would have paid if you purchased the vehicle immediately prior to the accident
What if I Do Not Agree with the Insurer About the Value of my Vehicle?
If it is your own insurer, you can hire an outside appraiser if your collision policy allows it. If the other driver was at fault, and you believe his or her insurer is incorrectly valuing your car, you can file a claim with your own insurance company, which will pay your settlement. Then, if it so chooses, your insurer will seek compensation from the at-fault driver's insurance company.
Can I Keep My Car Even if it is Totaled?
Yes. If you keep your totaled car, the insurer will then subtract the salvage value from the settlement. You or your insurer must then notify and report the totaled vehicle to the Washington State Department of Licensing. (Failure to do so within 15 days is a misdemeanor.)
Where can I get more help with this?
Dealing with the insurance company can be a hassle. For help navigating the claims process or understanding your insurance settlement offer, contact a car accident attorney at Max Meyers Law, PLLC in Kirkland today: 425-399-7000.
Who is at fault if defective brakes cause a truck accident?
Defective brakes can cause deadly crashes, especially when those brakes are defective on large trucks. While Washington State law allows accident victims to recover compensation for any injuries they sustain at the hands of another party, determining who is at-fault for a defective brake crash can be difficult. We can help.
Who is responsible when defective brakes cause a truck crash?
The answer is not always easy to determine. Many different people can be responsible for the safe condition of truck brakes. If any of those parties fail in their duty, they can be responsible for a truck crash and any resulting injuries. The following parties can all be liable:
This is likely your first option. If a manufacturer of a product makes a defective product, the manufacturer is liable for any injuries that occur.
Taking on a manufacturer is quite a challenge though. Manufacturers have teams of lawyers who will try to wear down anyone who is trying to hold them responsible for their negligence. You need a tough, aggressive lawyer on your side, one who will stand up to the manufacturers and demand that they pay for the harm they caused.
Because holding a manufacturer liable is so difficult, you do not need to prove negligence. Instead, you need to prove the following:
- The manufacturer created an unreasonably dangerous product.
- The product injured you or someone else while you were using it in a way the manufacturer could have foreseen.
- The product was not changed substantially after being received.
Truck drivers must perform a daily safety check on their trucks, and write a report of all problems found. There are two ways in which a truck driver can be liable for defective brakes based upon the duty to inspect:
- If the truck driver failed to perform the required safety inspection of the vehicle or did an incomplete or inept inspection; and
- If the truck driver did an inspection but failed to report defective brakes on his report.
However, even if the truck driver is responsible, the liable party will be the trucking company under the laws of vicarious liability. Vicarious liability holds employers liable for their employees’ actions so long as the employees acted in the scope of their employment.
In addition to being vicariously liable for their drivers’ actions, trucking companies can also be directly liable if they do not inspect their trucks regularly or if they failed to repair defective or worn brakes.
Truck Maintenance/Repair Company
Many trucking companies hire other companies to perform needed repairs and to do the necessary maintenance to ensure safety on the roads. If the maintenance/repair company did not do its job correctly, it will be liable. A truck maintenance and repair company could be liable if it forgot to check the brakes during regular maintenance.
A truck maintenance/repair company can also be liable if it was negligent in performing required service on the brakes, or if it incorrectly installed the brakes. If the brakes failed and caused a collision, the maintenance company will be liable for any injuries that occurred.
How can I get help?
If you have been injured in an accident caused by defective truck brakes, you have an uphill battle. Holding a trucking company or manufacturer liable alone can be almost impossible.
You need a lawyer on your side who will take on the trucking company, the maintenance/repair company, the manufacturer, and anyone else who may be at fault in the accident.
The truck accident legal team at Max Meyers Law will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. We will determine what evidence you need, send spoliation letters when necessary, gather all the necessary evidence, and negotiate with the at-fault parties to recover the compensation you need. And we do this without charging a fee until you win. Call us today at 425-399-7000 for your free consultation.
Who is at fault for a truck tire blowout accident in Washington State?
According to a survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), tire problems are the “critical reason” for 35 percent of all crashes in resulting from vehicle issues. Tire blowouts are common and can cause severe accidents. This is especially true when a large truck causes a tire blowout accident. Victims can recover compensation for their injuries, but determining who is liable can be difficult.
Who is responsible for a crash caused by a truck tire blowout?
Quite a few parties might be responsible for a truck tire blowout accident:
The truck driver can be responsible for an accident involving a truck tire blowout if s/he was behaving negligently (e.g., was distracted and did not see debris in the roadway), failed to check the tires before a trip, or ignored a bald tire during an inspection.
Even if the truck driver is responsible for the accident, s/he will not be responsible for paying for your injuries. Instead, the trucking company will be liable under respondeat superior, or vicarious liability. This rule holds employers responsible for any actions their employees take within the scope of their employment.
In addition to being vicariously liable, the trucking company can also be directly liable for an accident. The trucking company has a responsibility to do as many safety checks as are necessary to always maintain their trucks in safe condition. If the trucking company could have detected the problem with the tire during a safety check, but did not conduct one, the trucking company can be liable.
Trucking companies can also be liable if they hire untrained drivers or those who do not observe safe driving practices. If a driver has a history of unsafe driving behavior, such as reckless driving or failure to observe prudent safety practices, and the trucking company does not perform a background check that would have uncovered this history, it can be liable.
Trucking companies can also be liable if they fail to establish safety protocols, train their drivers, or take corrective action when drivers exhibit unsafe behaviors if these failures contributed to the truck tire blowout.
Truck Maintenance/Repair Company
Many large trucking companies hire maintenance or repair companies to keep their truck fleet in good repair. If the maintenance or repair company was negligent in its duties, it can be liable for any accidents that occur.
If a manufacturer produced a defective tire that caused an accident, it can be liable for any injuries. Products liability claims are highly technical and complicated; however, Max Meyers can help you navigate the process.
Potholes are a frequent cause of tire blowouts. In some cases, you may be able to hold the entity responsible for road maintenance liable. However, in many cases, these are government entities and very difficult to sue.
The team at Max Meyers will investigate your case and determine whether you will be able to recover compensation for your accident injuries.
Other Negligent Parties
Other parties can be liable for accidents involving truck tire blowouts, if their negligence caused the truck to have the tire blowout.
For example, when another vehicle cuts right in front of a truck, the truck may have to swerve to avoid hitting the vehicle that cut in front of it. If a situation like this causes an accident, the driver of the vehicle who cut in front of the truck can be liable.
How can I get help?
If you have been injured in a wreck involving a truck tire blowout, you need to put your case in good hands. At Max Meyers Law, our truck accident legal team has handled many truck accident claims. We will investigate your claim, work with the necessary experts, and keep at it until we get you the compensation you deserve. And we never charge you for our fees until you get a recovery.
Call us today at 425-399-7000 for a free consultation.
How often must trucking companies inspect their trucks?
Section 396 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) contains federal laws that mandate how often trucking companies must inspect their trucks. If a trucking company fails to follow these regulations, it may be liable for any accidents that result.
What regulations must trucking companies follow?
Trucking Companies Must Perform Systematic Inspections
Per CFR § 396.3, trucking companies must “systematically inspect, repair, and maintain” all of their vehicles. It does not matter if they own or lease the vehicles. If the trucking company controls a vehicle for 30 consecutive days, the trucking company is responsible for complying with the inspection requirements.
There is no specific interval between inspections as “intervals are fleet specific and, in some instances, vehicle specific.” It is up to the trucking companies to determine their own inspection schedules. They must inspect as often as necessary in order to constantly keep the trucks in good operating condition.
Drivers Must Perform Daily Inspections
At the end of every driving day, the truck driver must inspect and prepare a written report on the following parts (if the motor carrier provides the equipment):
- Wheels and rims
- Emergency equipment
- Service brakes and trailer brake connections
- Parking brakes
- Windshield wipers
- Lights and reflectors
- Rearview mirrors
- Coupling devices
- Steering mechanism
According to CFR § 396.11, the driver’s report must include a list of all defects discovered in the daily inspection, as well as any defects the driver is aware of, if the defects would have an impact on the safe operation of the truck or if the defects could cause a mechanical breakdown. If the driver notes any such defects, the trucking company must repair the defects before anyone can operate the truck again.
Intermodal Equipment Providers and Drivers Must Follow Reporting Requirements
Motor carriers and drivers of intermodal (container) equipment providers must report all known defects and damage to intermodal equipment when returning the equipment to the provider or the provider’s agent. Per CFR § 396.9, these reports must include, at a minimum:
- Wheels, including the rims, lugs, and tires
- Lights, lamps, and markers
- Locking pins and similar devices
- Air line equipment
- King pin upper coupling devices
- Tie down equipment
- Sliding frame locks or sliders
- Support frames or rails
Providers must place any equipment that would “likely cause an accident or a breakdown” out-of-service.
Trucks Must Pass Periodic Inspections
Trucking companies cannot operate their vehicles unless each part of the vehicles passed inspection within the last 12 months, per CFR § 396.17. The documentation of these inspections must be inside the truck. While FMCSA does not tell trucking companies the dates on which they must inspect their trucks, they must perform sufficiently frequent periodic inspections in order to comply with the 12-month inspection requirement.
Trucking Companies Must Keep Records
Under CFR § 396.21, trucking companies must keep records of all the inspections on all their vehicles, for at least three months from the date of the report. In many cases, trucking companies need to hold records for a year and a half.
Does it matter if a trucking company does not inspect its trucks as required?
Yes. In the event of an accident, inspection records are vital. If the company knew of defects and did not promptly correct them, the company can be liable if those defects were a contributing factor in the accident. But what happens if the trucking company does not inspect its trucks as required by law, or does not maintain the required records?
A company cannot duck responsibility for unsafe trucks by failing to document the defects. The failure to inspect and maintain inspection records is, in itself, negligence. This negligence, in addition to operating unsafe trucks, can lead to higher damages assessed against the trucking company or intermodal equipment provider.
The adverse consequences for failure to inspect trucks do not end with liability for the accident. Federal law imposes financial penalties on trucking companies and intermodal equipment providers that do not comply with the inspection requirements. These companies can also face the loss of their operating licenses.
Where can I get help if a truck driver caused my accident?
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, call Max Meyers Law, PLLC for help. Our truck accident legal team will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Call us at 425-399-7000 today for your free, no-obligation consultation.
What damages are recoverable in a truck accident case?
Truck accidents often lead to significant injuries and pain and suffering. While nothing will give you back what the accident took from you, you can recover several types of damages in a truck accident case.
For help with your case, call a truck accident attorney from Max Meyers Law PLLC: 425-399-7000.
What damages can I recover in a truck accident case?
Medical damages: Injuries from a truck accident are often severe. Truck accidents can cause traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, amputations, or internal injuries, all of which can cost thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
You can recover compensation for all your medical expenses. This includes:
- Medical bills
- Costs of ongoing or future medical care
- At-home medical care/specialized care in a facility
- Any surgical costs
- Physical therapy appointments
Make sure you keep all receipts and all medical bills you receive.
Disability and disfigurement: Truck accidents often cause disabling or disfiguring injuries. You can recover compensation for any adaptations you needed to make. For example, if your accident left you in a wheelchair, you can recover compensation for any vehicle or home modifications you needed to make.
Be sure to keep the receipts from the mechanic, dealership, or contractor.
Lost wages: Truck accidents can result in severe injuries, often requiring surgery or physical therapy. This can lead to a lot of time off work. If you need to take time off to recover or attend physical therapy or doctor’s appointments, you can demand compensation for lost wages.
You might also be able to recover compensation if your injury made it impossible to work full days. Keep track of all the time you took off work; be sure to include half days or time off for appointments.
Loss of earning potential: The injuries from truck accidents can make it impossible for someone to return to the same position s/he had before. If your injuries required you to take a demotion, find a new job, or retire completely, you can recover compensation for loss of earning potential.
Pain and suffering: The mere payment of your medical bills does not begin to compensate you for what you went through — the pain of getting injured, the suffering involved in medical treatments and recuperation. Pain and suffering damages can be available to compensate you after a truck accident.
You can also recover compensation for mental anguish, lost quality of life, and the development of any mental disorders from the crash (e.g., some truck accident survivors develop anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder).
Miscellaneous Expenses: There are quite a few things that truck accident victims can recover that they never even thought of. If you were injured in an accident, you may be able to recover the following:
- Expenses for hiring help around the house (e.g., hiring a landscaper because you cannot mow the lawn, hiring a nanny to pick your kids up from school, hiring a housekeeper to clean your house, etc.)
- Costs of transportation to and from doctor’s appointments
- Parking fees at the doctor’s office or hospital
Wrongful death: Unfortunately, truck accidents often end in death. If you lost a loved one in a truck crash, you can recover compensation for:
- Funeral or burial expenses
- Loss of support
- Loss of services (e.g., child care, household chores, etc.)
- Loss of guidance and consortium
- Lost wages/lost earning capacity
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
To determine exactly what you can recover, you need to have a truck accident lawyer look over your case.
Get Help from a Kirkland Truck Accident Lawyer Today
While you can recover quite a lot in a truck accident claim, the trucking company and its insurer will not make it easy for you. They will fight tooth and nail to ensure you do not get the compensation you deserve. Do not feel like you need to handle this on your own. You have a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer on your side.
Call Max Meyers today at 425-399-7000 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation and learn what you might be entitled to.
What constitutes aggressive truck driving in Washington State?
Aggressive driving is a problem everywhere. It is so problematic in Washington State that the Washington State Police (WSP) has spent the past few years cracking down on aggressive driving. All aggressive driving is dangerous, but aggressive truck driving can be deadly.
What is aggressive truck driving in Washington State?
Knowing what constitutes aggressive truck driving in Washington State is the best way to avoid it. All of the following are behaviors that comprise aggressive driving:
- Weaving in and out of lanes
- Using the horn unnecessarily
- Cutting in closely on other vehicles when changing lanes
- Flashing headlights at oncoming traffic
- Pulling in front of a driver, only to slow down while in his/her path
- Slamming on the brakes to get rid of a tailgater
- Driving too fast for conditions
Why is aggressive driving so dangerous when operating a semi truck?
Aggressive truck driving is more dangerous than aggressive passenger car driving because trucks are much larger and heavier than passenger cars. Accidents that occur due to aggressive truck drivers are often much more severe than aggressive passenger car drivers.
- A truck can take almost 200 feet to come to a complete stop. If you slam on your brakes in front of a truck that is tailgating you, an override accident is sure to occur.
- If an aggressive truck driver cuts you off, s/he can cause an underride accident.
- If a truck is traveling too fast for conditions, s/he can cause a jackknife accident if s/he needs to brake quickly.
- If a driver makes an unsafe lane change, s/he can hit drivers in adjacent lanes or cause a squeeze play accident.
What can cause aggressive driving?
Truck drivers operate under deadlines. If they were stuck in traffic earlier in their route, they might have a hard time getting to their destination on time. This might make drivers speed, make unsafe lane changes, or tailgate to get their shipment to its destination on time.
A driver might also tailgate or drive aggressively if s/he is fatigued, intoxicated, or driving while distracted.
In some cases, an accident victim may have unintentionally caused the driver to become aggressive. For example, if you were driving slowly in the left lane or if you accidentally cut off a driver, that driver might decide to tailgate you or cut you off to scare you or get you to speed up.
What effect does aggressive driving have on my accident case?
If you suffered injuries in a truck accident, it is important to evaluate whether aggressive driving was a factor. If you are able to establish aggressive driving caused or contributed to your accident, you can use this to hold the driver accountable for your injuries.
For example, if a truck rear-ends you, the driver might try to claim that you cut him/her off. However, if you can prove that you ensured you were a safe distance ahead of the truck and the driver, instead, sped up until s/he was on your tail, you can deflect liability and place it on the truck driver.
If you are involved in a squeeze play accident, the trucking company’s insurer might try to blame you for being in a truck’s blind spot. However, if you can prove that the driver’s speeding and unsafe lane changes did not give you enough time to change lanes, you might be able to hold the trucking company liable for the driver’s actions.
How can I prove aggressive truck driving?
Unfortunately, in an accident, it is always a "he said" "she said" situation. However, if you can provide evidence that proves your side of the story, you may be eligible to recover compensation.
The evidence you might need includes:
- Eyewitness testimony (an eyewitness can testify that the truck driver was tailgating you and behaving aggressively prior to the accident)
- Accident reconstruction expert testimony
- Surveillance video of the crash
How can I get help if I was injured in an accident with an aggressive truck driver?
At Max Meyers Law PLLC we will sit down and meet with you to discuss the details of your accident. If it appears that aggressive driving may have been a factor in the accident, we will investigate the facts and gather the evidence necessary to prove your claim. We have years of experience handling truck accident claims and we know how to tackle the unique issues they present.
Call us today at 425-399-7000 for your free, no obligation consultation with a Kirkland truck accident lawyer.
Who is responsible for my truck accident: the truck driver or truck company?
Liability is much more complicated in truck accident cases than with auto accident cases. In a passenger car traffic accident, you typically only deal with the other motorist and his/her insurer. However, liability for truck accidents can extend beyond the truck driver to include numerous parties, all of which are interested in protecting themselves against liability.
For this reason, it is imperative that you speak with a Kirkland truck accident attorney as soon as possible to preserve your right to compensation: 425-399-7000.
Who is liable for my truck accident?
In most car accident cases, if the driver’s negligence causes an accident, the driver will be your liable party. However, in most cases, you will not hold the truck driver liable for your damages. If the truck driver’s negligence caused the accident, then you would typically file a claim against the trucking company, not the driver directly. This is because of a legal doctrine called respondeat superior, a law that provides that companies can be liable for their employees’ actions.
This is actually a good thing for truck accident victims because trucking company insurance policies are generally better and larger than a personal insurance policy. In other words, trucking companies have deeper pockets and you can likely recover a much fuller settlement by filing against the company.
However, this also means that you will likely be fighting an uphill battle. Trucking companies often have very large, experienced insurers and legal teams. In many cases, accident victims who take on trucking companies themselves end up jeopardizing their case or accepting far too little for their case.
Can a trucking company be directly liable for my accident?
Yes. A trucking company can be directly liable for your accident if the trucking company:
- Forced or encouraged its drivers to stay on the road past federally-mandated hours
- Hired a driver with a history of dangerous driving (e.g., DUIs, speeding tickets, etc.)
- Did not suspend a driver for driving while intoxicated
- Requiring drivers to text and drive
Are there times when a trucking company is not liable for my accident?
There are exceptions to this rule, though. If any of the following circumstances apply, then you may need to file against the truck driver rather than (or sometimes in addition to) the company:
- Independent contractors: Respondeat superior only applies to employees, not self-employed drivers. If the truck driver that hit you was an independent contractor rather than an employee, you will need to file against the driver. (Max Meyers will investigate your case to determine whether the driver was actually an independent contractor; in some cases, trucking companies will misclassify employees to save money or deflect liability.)
- Off duty: Employers are only liable for their employees’ actions when the employees were acting within the course and scope of employment. An employer would be liable if a driver caused an accident making a delivery, but if the driver was off the clock and had an accident while running a personal errand, then the company will not be liable.
- Intentional: If the truck driver intentionally caused the wreck or harmed you, then the trucking company is not liable. You can file a civil claim against the driver and pursue recovery.
What do I need to establish liability?
You will need to be able to show that the trucking company or other responsible party caused the accident as a result of its carelessness or negligence.
The items you may use as evidence to prove liability depend upon the circumstances of your accident. For instance, if the driver was texting while driving, we can subpoena his/her phone records to prove negligence. If s/he fell asleep at the wheel, we can obtain his/her log books to see if s/he overstepped the legal hours of service limits or his/her drug and alcohol test to see if s/he was intoxicated.
It is important to note that trucking companies tend to “lose” or quickly destroy evidence after an accident to protect their interests. Our team at Max Meyers Law PLLC can take steps to stop the destruction of evidence, collect any necessary evidence to prove liability, and obtain maximum compensation for you.
We will also determine whether there are any potential third parties responsible for your truck accident. We will build cases against any parties involved.
For a free consultation with a truck accident lawyer in Kirkland, call Max Meyers Law PLLC today at 425-399-7000.
I was in a chain reaction multi-car accident in Washington. Who is liable?
In every case, the person who causes a Washington car accident should be liable for the damages and injuries, but when there is a multi-car accident, sometimes more than one person is liable. This is because in multi-car accidents, multiple people can act negligently and cause or contribute to the accident.
First, let us consider a typical, two-car accident. Alice stops her car at a red light. Bob, who is texting, does not see her car and slams into her. In this case, Bob is liable. Liability in this case is pretty cut and dry.
What happens if more drivers or factors are involved?
Let us add more parties. In this case, Bob rear-ends Alice who, due to the force of being rear-ended by Bob, rear-ends Camille. Bob will likely be liable for both accidents.
What happens if we change our accident a bit? In this case, Alice rear-ends Camille (who is sitting at a red light) first. Bob, who is texting and does not see Alice stop, rear-ends Alice. In this case, we have two liable parties:
- Alice will be liable for rear-ending Camille.
- Bob will be liable for rear-ending Alice. However, Alice may be partially liable for Bob rear-ending her.
However, this situation can become more complicated if another party or factor (e.g., one of the parties had a burnt-out taillight) is involved. For example, if Camille’s brake lights were out, Camille could be liable for Alice rear-ending her (if Alice was following at a safe distance and following all traffic laws) and partially liable for Bob rear-ending Alice, even though Bob was texting.
If another driver caused the entire collision, s/he may be liable. For example, if Doug swerved to avoid debris in the roadway and sideswiped Camille causing her to brake quickly and set off a chain reaction of accidents, he could be liable, at least partially, for any resulting accidents.
Weather, construction, and other drivers (who are not involved in the accident) can also play a big role in multi-car chain reaction accidents.
Where can I get help if I was in a multi-car accident?
As you can see, chain reaction multi-car accidents are often complicated. A multi-car chain reaction accident can leave victims with catastrophic injuries; our car accident team can help you recover the compensation you and your family need and deserve.
We will work with accident reconstruction experts to determine exactly how the accident happened, who originally caused it, and which additional parties are liable.
Once we have determined the liable parties, we will manage communication with each party’s insurer. Dealing with one insurer is difficult enough; it becomes immensely more complicated when you add insurers to the mix. Fortunately, we have experience on both sides of the aisle when it comes to dealing with insurers. We know the tricks insurers might try to pull and we know how to defend against them.
And we do all this with no-upfront costs from you. We know how difficult recovering from an accident is; we believe you should have the freedom to recover from your injuries without worrying about how you are going to pay for a lawyer. We will do all the legwork, keep you informed about how your case is going, and help you in whatever way we can.
Note: All we ask of you is that you continue with your medical care. Follow all your doctor’s instructions to the T and do not overexert yourself. If you are worried about how you will pay for your medical bills before your case settles, read our post for your options.
Call us today at 425-399-7000 to set up your free, no-obligation consultation with Kirkland car accident lawyer Max Meyers. To make sure you are doing what you can to protect your rights before our consultation, feel free to read through our free eBook Car Accident Secrets Unlocked. We look forward to speaking with you.
Using Hands-Free Devices While Driving: Safe or Dangerous?
We all know distracted driving is dangerous. But in our eternal quest to increase our productivity through multitasking, we continue to engage in various types of distracting behaviors. Fortunately, the marketplace is flooded with tons of hands-free devices like Bluetooth cell phones and even voice command navigation and cell phone features built right into the center console of your car. But new evidence indicates using hands-free devices while driving is not as safe as we first assumed. Find out more about the safety of hands free devices from the Kirkland car accident lawyers at Max Meyers Law.
How dangerous is using your phone while driving?
According to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), sending a text message keeps your eyes off of the road for four to five seconds. Traveling at 55 miles per hour, this is enough time to drive across an entire football field.
During the time that your eyes are off the road, a pedestrian may step into your path or the driver in front of you may slam on her brakes.
Talking on the phone causes inattention blindness, an inability to stay in the lane, and a slower response and reaction time, according to the National Safety Council (NSC) in its report Understanding the Distracted Brain.
Are hands-free devices really safe to use?
Intuitively, we assume that hands-free devices, such as a Bluetooth headset for your cell phone, are safer to use while driving than traditional cell phone usage. After all, although it is illegal to talk on your cell phone in many states, those same states make exceptions for hands-free conversations. However, hands-free technology may not actually be safe.
According to the NSC, drivers are four times more likely to get into an accident while using a cell phone. Furthermore, they argue that there is no difference in this risk between traditional cell phone use and hands-free use. This is because talking on a cell phone limits your ability to focus on the road.
For example, the NSC claims that activity in the part of your brain that processes moving images decreases by up to 33 percent while you are talking on a cell phone. Furthermore, drivers who are speaking on a cell phone have a narrower field of view than those who are not distracted. This means that even if your hands are both on the wheel, you could still be involved in an accident.
And it is not just hands-free phone conversations that are dangerous. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety states that voice-to-text messaging through the car’s dashboard or Bluetooth system can actually be more distracting for drivers than traditional texting by hand.
And the distraction does not stop once you end your text. Mental distractions can linger for up to 27 seconds after sending a voice text.
Myth Busted: Hands-Free Technology is NOT Safe
It is not just the NSC and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety that agree hands-free technology is not safe to use. The MythBusters team set out to discover whether hands-free cell phone use is actually safer than regular cell phone use while driving.
In two separate studies, one with the hosts of the show driving on a closed obstacle course and the other with multiple drivers operating cars within a high-tech driving simulator, the results were the same: driving while using hands-free cell phone technology is equally as bad as driving while talking on a hand-held phone.
Contact Max Meyers Law if You Were Hurt in a Crash
Now that you know hands-free technology is not as safe as we initially thought, keep this in mind as you and your loved ones get behind the wheel. Whenever possible, postpone your calls until you can pull over to the side of the road or you reach your destination. Taking this precaution could save your life.
Regardless of the cause of your accident, if you or a loved one suffered injuries in a car accident, contact a car accident attorney at Max Meyers Law, PLLC at 425-399-7000 to set up your initial consultation today.
Should I sign a medical release from the insurance company?
Your medical records are likely to be key evidence in your Kirkland accident case, so it is no surprise that the insurance company wants to see them. You can expect both your own insurer and the other driver’s insurance company to ask for them soon after filing a claim. Before you share them, though, you should consider discussing your case with an attorney who is well-versed in Washington State personal injury claims. Signing a medical release form can hurt your case, so you must handle it carefully.
If you need help with a medical release or have other questions about your Kirkland accident claim, let the staff at Max Meyers Law PLLC go to work for you. Call us today at 425-399-7000 to schedule a time to discuss your case with Max.
What is a medical release form?
There are federal and state laws in place to keep your medical records private, so the insurance company cannot simply call your doctor and ask for them. Instead, it must request that you make them available by signing a medical release.
It is important to note that this release will likely not specify which records the insurance company can access. Instead, this release is usually a standard form that grants the insurance company access to your full medical history and any associated documents in your file. While the insurer will eventually need access to your medical records related to treatment for any accident injuries, giving it access to all your health history and other records is rarely a good idea.
How could signing a medical release hurt my case?
Allowing the insurance company access to your complete health history will never increase the compensation available for your claim. The insurer’s investigators will pore over your files and look for any possible way to reduce your payout or deny your claim.
For example, a high school football injury suffered more than a decade ago might come back to haunt you if it affects the same body part as your recent car accident injury. One of the most common reasons that insurance companies deny claims after seeing medical records is because of “pre-existing injuries.”
In some cases, not providing access to your medical records may also hurt your case. When it comes to your own insurance company, your policy is a contract between you and the insurer. You must uphold your end of the deal to get what it promises to pay out. The fine print of your policy may say you have to offer access by a certain time or provide medical records for a specific number of years before the accident.
How should I respond to a request for a signed medical release?
The best way to handle a request for a medical release is to give us a call. Our staff has extensive experience with the insurance industry. We review each client’s insurance policy to determine exactly what his/her obligations are and when. Once we have this information, we can ensure the insurance adjustor receives the records required while still protecting our client’s right to privacy.
We can also help with requests from the at-fault party’s insurer. There are a number of different methods we can use to limit the records available. Options include drafting a medical release that strictly limits access to the records. In a best case scenario, this gives the insurer a short period of time to look at records that pertain to treatment of accident-related injuries only.
Our preferred method is to request the records ourselves. We then provide copies of any pertinent documents to the insurance company, along with any other evidence to support the claim. This allows us to control the insurance company’s access directly.
Max Meyers Law: Kirkland Personal Injury Attorney
Washington State personal injury lawyer Max Meyers and his staff have a history of taking on insurance companies. We fight for our clients, getting them the compensation they deserve for their injury damages.
Call Max Meyers Law, PLLC today at 425-399-7000 to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
How do I pay medical bills before my personal injury claim settles?
When you sustain a serious injury, the bills start mounting rapidly. Even relatively minor injuries can result in thousands of dollars in medical bills. Severe and catastrophic injuries can mean tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars. You will also probably have to take time off work to recuperate from your injuries, placing additional stress on your finances.
You can recover your medical expenses and other losses with a personal injury claim, but it could be some time before your case concludes and you get your settlement check or award. Some cases take a couple of months, while more complicated cases could take years. Bill collectors are quick to start hounding you for payment. Learn how to pay medical bills before your personal injury claim settles here.
If you have funds assessable in savings or liquid investments, you can opt to pay for your medical expenses outright. You can simply replace the assets when your case settles and recover your losses.
Remember to keep a record of all the payments you have made and share the information with your lawyer. Bills and receipts will serve as proof of your financial losses for the insurer or court.
Personal Injury Protection Coverage
Most people do not have the cash or savings to pay for all their medical bills. However, if you have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage on your auto policy, you can file a PIP claim to cover your medical bills until your accident case settles. PIP covers the medical bills and a portion of lost wages for you and your passengers, regardless of who was at fault.
Check your policy, or speak with your insurance agent or attorney to see if you have PIP and what your policy limits are. PIP policies range from $10,000 to $35,000.
If you do not carry PIP coverage, but you live with a family member who does, you can use his/her coverage to cover your injuries.
Note: If you use your PIP and you win your personal injury case against the other driver (defendant), the defendant is not off the hook. The defendant or his/her insurer will reimburse your insurer for the PIP payments it made on your behalf.
If you carry private or employer-sponsored health insurance, you can use it to cover your needs until you get your settlement award. You might still have to pay for your deductibles out-of-pocket.
Keep in mind, though, that when your injuries are the result of another party’s negligence and you win a personal injury case against that party (the defendant), your health insurance company will likely seek reimbursement for all the payments it made on your behalf. This is called subrogation. The idea is that because the defendant caused your injuries, s/he should be ultimately responsible for paying for your medical bills, not your health insurance company.
So, if your health insurance company paid for $10,000 in medical care for your accident injuries, it will seek recovery for $10,000 when you win your case. Our team can explain how this process works and help you protect your settlement from insurance companies.
Agreement with Medical Provider
Sometimes, medical providers will be open to working out a deal with patients and hold off on billing until a personal injury claim settles.
Max Meyers will be happy to talk to your doctor’s office about your case and inquire about an agreement.
As a last resort, you may elect to apply for pre-settlement funding from a private lender. Pre-settlement funding (also referred to as lawsuit loans), is essentially an advance on your personal injury claim settlement. It can help you stay financially afloat and pay your bills until your check arrives.
The downside to this type of loan is that the interest rates are typically very high. Lenders take a substantial risk with borrowers because they are counting on the case to settle in the borrower’s favor. The high-interest rate is proportionate to their risk.
For more information about personal injury claims or for a free consultation with an injury lawyer in Washington, call Max Meyers Law today at 425-399-7000.
Can I file an injury claim with minimal vehicle damage?
The absence of vehicle damage should not impair your ability to collect an injury settlement. However, many insurance companies deny injury claims because the vehicle damage is not consistent with the claimant’s injuries. While insurance companies are within their right to question your injuries if there was little vehicle damage, some injuries can occur without vehicle damage. If you are having trouble recovering compensation from an injury claim with minimal vehicle damage, Max Meyers can help.
Does my vehicle have to show damage on the outside?
No, a well-built bumper in a rear-end collision might show no signs of damage. However, the force of the impact could cause internal damage to your bumper, trunk, and even wheel alignment. Most manufacturers use a foam and steel core to make their bumpers and then cover it with an external plastic shell. This plastic shell will take the brunt of the impact, pushing the plastic back into the foam.
Plastic is pliable, and a dent can easily pop back into shape on its own, leaving little to no signs of impact. However, the interior core could suffer damage and therefore reduce your protection in a later, more serious accident.
It is important to have a mechanic inspect your vehicle for hidden damage and include his/her report in your claim.
How can I be injured if my vehicle has no damage?
Today's vehicle manufacturers are designing smarter cars, capable of reducing damage in crashes. The addition of crumple zones and reinforced impact areas help a vehicle sustain less damage when another car hits it. However, even if your vehicle does not show outward signs of damage, the contents within — you and your passengers — can suffer serious injuries in a collision.
When a moving object such as a car comes to an abrupt stop, the items inside do not stop at the same moment. Therefore, upon impact, your body continues to move forward. This movement can cause whiplash, back injuries, and much more.
If the force forward is great enough, you could also suffer bruises and damage to your chest and abdomen from where the seat belt holds you back. If the airbags deploy, the bag force could injure your face, head, or arms.
How can insurance companies deny my injury claim for lack of vehicle damage?
Even though property damage should have no effect on your injury claim, insurers can and will use any excuse to deny your claim.
It is not right, but unless the insurer is acting in bad faith (e.g., committing deceptive practices, failing to uphold duties, etc.), it is likely not violating any rules.
What can I do to preserve my injury claim?
The insurance company might claim your injuries are pre-existing and could not have occurred from the car accident. If this is the case, your medical evidence should be able to prove them wrong.
We can collect your medical records from before the accident and compare them with your post-accident diagnosis. Additionally, doctors can sometimes determine how old an injury is by looking at scar tissue or scans of the area. When necessary, we can bring in medical experts to testify on behalf of your claim.
You should also make sure to call the police and have them investigate the scene to create a police report. If there are witnesses, their testimony could help prove how the accident occurred and verify that there was an impact between your vehicle and the other vehicle.
When You Are Injured, Do Not Take No for an Answer
The insurance companies will not pay out for a claim unless they have to. If you do not pursue your settlement with solid information and evidence of your right to injury damages, you will likely lose the compensation you deserve. Max Meyers Law is here to help Seattle residents avoid this situation, no matter how little damage is visible on their vehicle.
Call a car accident lawyer at 425-399-7000 to discuss your options during a free consultation.
What is a structured settlement in a car accident case?
A structured settlement pays an injury victim the compensation from his/her claim over time instead of in a single lump sum. Some injury victims opt for a structured settlement in a car accident case, while others end up with one through a court order.
Before you choose a structured settlement, or if the court ordered one in your case, there are a number of things you need to know about how this will affect your pay out.
At Max Meyers Law, we can help you understand the pros and cons of a structured settlement, and ensure you structure your settlement in a way that works for you and your family. Call our Kirkland office at 425-399-7000 to schedule a time to discuss your case with Washington State car accident lawyer Max Meyers.
Why do some injured parties use structured settlements in Washington State car accident claims?
Most victims receive car accident settlements in a lump sum payment. This type of payout offers the victim and his/her family quick access to a lot of money they likely need, but it also has a number of drawbacks. With an influx of cash, families often struggle to budget funds for long-term care and many run out of money long before the victim receives all the care s/he needs.
While you can choose your payment type, courts often order structured settlements when the victim is a minor. Because car accident settlements should cover the ongoing care costs of the victim, it is important to ensure the money is available when care is necessary. A structured settlement offers a steady influx of funds to cover these costs, without the family having to budget the money or worry about theft or fraud.
What does Washington law say about structured settlements?
Washington State offers protection for accident victims who receive structured settlements through the Structured Settlement Protection Act. This law requires a court review of any proposed structured settlement, and a number of mandatory disclosures, including:
- A schedule for payments, including amounts and dates of transfer
- The value of each payment, known as the “discounted present value”
- Amount of any up-front cash payments
- Any expenses stemming from the annuity
Many people worry about paying taxes on a Washington State personal injury settlement. However, this is not a concern you should stress about. Both a lump sum settlement and a structured settlement from a Kirkland car accident claim are tax-free. The compensation from most personal injury cases is non-taxable according to federal law.
Note: Compensation for lost wages is taxable.
Do I need a lawyer to help me with my structured settlement?
It is difficult to weigh all of the factors that come with taking a structured settlement, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. You will also need to consider how to design the structure to best suit your family’s current and future needs.
You will receive a part of your settlement immediately, to cover your current bills and to pay your attorney. Then, a broker will pay out the remainder of your settlement over a set time period, such as 20 years or the life of the victim. These payments typically come monthly.
Not every month has to be the same amount, though. Structured settlements offer a lot of leeway to include predictable expenditures. This allows you to build in options for things like replacing a wheelchair, paying for your child’s college tuition or other needs. However, it is important to design your settlement in a way that works well for your family. Once the structured settlement is in place, you cannot alter it.
For this reason, you should have a lawyer with structured settlement experience help work out the various complexities that come with a structured settlement.
Max Meyers Law: Your Kirkland Structured Settlement Lawyer
At Max Meyers Law, we can work with you to determine if a structured settlement is right for you. Our Kirkland car accident attorney can ensure you see the full picture of your family’s current financial situation and anticipate your future needs. Lastly, we can negotiate a structured settlement agreement that is fair and equitable.Call our office today at 425-399-7000 to schedule a time to meet with Max Meyers, and discuss your Washington State car accident claim.
Can I change lawyers in the middle of my car accident case?
Yes. If you are not satisfied with your auto accident attorney, you have the right to schedule a consultation with another attorney, switch lawyers or even drop your lawyer all together and represent yourself. However, just because you can drop your attorney, represent yourself, or change lawyers in the middle of a car accident case does not mean it is always a good idea.
For example, at Max Meyers Law, we would never suggest that you represent yourself in a car accident case where you stand accused of contributory fault.
There may be a time, though, when you need to consider switching lawyers. There is no doubt that navigating through a personal injury case is stressful, and emotions often run high. Disagreements are bound to happen between attorneys and their clients.
But if you cannot communicate with your lawyer, or if you would prefer someone with a different outlook on your claim, then you may need to consult with a different Kirkland car accident attorney. There is no doubt that having the right representation can impact the outcome of your claim.
Are there rules and regulations that protect me if I switch attorneys?
Washington State law gives you the right to change lawyers at almost any point during your car accident case. We encourage you to communicate your concerns with your lawyer as clearly as possible, and attempt to work out any differences before considering making a change. However, sometimes a change is necessary.
If you opt to switch lawyers, the Rules of Professional Conduct state that your former attorney must still act in a way that protects your best interests. This includes maintaining all of the protections required in an attorney-client relationship such as confidentiality. If the attorney violates any of these rules, s/he may face sanctions from the Washington State Bar, and could even lose his/her right to practice law in the state.
What happens with my case file?
Under Washington State law, all of the documents associated with a car accident claim belong to the client who is paying for the legal services. This means that you retain your file if you ask your lawyer to withdraw from your case.
Some attorneys may make this process more difficult than others, but most will forward all original papers and other documentation to your new attorney as soon as possible.
How will I handle paying attorney’s fees?
Since most lawyers handle Washington personal injury claims on a contingency basis, paying your attorney typically happens when your claim settles. This does not usually change when you swap attorneys. Your new attorney should arrange to pay your first attorney any money due after you win compensation.
How much you owe your original attorney depends on a number of factors, including:
- How many hours of work s/he put into your case
- The fee agreement you signed
- Whether you paid a retainer
- Any unethical behavior on his/her part, or other defenses
Depending on why you changed lawyers, we may be able to help you negotiate a lower payment to your first lawyer or work with you to keep you from paying any additional expenses above and beyond what you expected to pay. It is also important to note that if you paid a retainer, your lawyer should refund any unused portion at the time you ask them to withdraw from the case.
How could this affect my car accident case?
The biggest downside to switching lawyers is that it often prolongs the case. It takes time for the new lawyer to learn about your case, any negotiations, and any motions the first attorney already filed. For this reason, it may not be the best time to switch right before a court date.
At the same time, though, having a lawyer who fits your personality and understands your needs is an important part of walking away with a fair and just settlement in your case.
If you question the quality of your representation and having an open and frank discussion with your attorney has not changed anything, it may be time to schedule an appointment with Kirkland personal injury lawyer Max Meyers.
Max Meyers Law: Kirkland Car Accident Attorney
Car accident lawyer Max Meyers and his team at Max Meyers Law understand the important role a lawyer plays in guiding their clients through the car accident claims process. Having the wrong lawyer on the case increases stress, and can leave the accident victim and their family feeling doubtful about securing a just settlement.
We want you to feel reassured and taken care of during the entire process. You can reach our Kirkland office to schedule a free consultation today at 425-399-7000.
Who is at fault for a texting while walking accident?
Distracted walking is a bigger problem than most people think. Many would not think twice about walking while texting, reading, listening to music, or balancing a package; however, these behaviors can lead to devastating walking while texting accidents. While most people think the driver is at fault in a pedestrian accident, liability can be more complicated if the pedestrian was distracted.
Who is liable if a car hits a distracted pedestrian?
Liability will be different in every distracted pedestrian accident. The actions of each party will result in one of three liability situations.
A distracted pedestrian and a focused driver.
A focused driver who is driving within the limits of the law might not be liable for the accident if the pedestrian did not give the driver enough time to stop.
The driver must be able to prove s/he was not driving impaired, distracted, or dangerously.
A distracted pedestrian and a distracted driver.
When distractions affect the pedestrian and driver, both parties might share the liability. Sharing liability does not mean you cannot recover compensation. To recover the most damages in this situation, you must prove the driver was more distracted than you were.
A distracted pedestrian and a reckless, aggressive, or drunk driver.
Even though the pedestrian in this example was distracted, the insurance company could find the driver more at fault because s/he willingly engaged in dangerous behavior.
The pedestrian will need to prove the driver was aware of the danger s/he posed. To hold the driver completely liable, the pedestrian would have to prove the accident would have happened even if s/he were not distracted.
For example, if the driver ran a red light and hit a distracted pedestrian while crossing at an intersection (when the pedestrian had the right-of-way), the insurer or court might find the driver totally liable.
Why are distracted pedestrians a problem?
When we think about distractions on the road, most people tend to go directly to drivers. While driver distraction is a significant problem on our roads, distracted pedestrians are also a cause for concern.
When a pedestrian is distracted, s/he is unaware of their surroundings, which can lead to dangerous actions and decisions. For example, a pedestrian with loud music playing through his/her headphones might not be able to hear approaching traffic or sirens and step into the road without noticing a nearby vehicle.
Even though pedestrians can maneuver easier than vehicles, if they step too closely into the path of a vehicle, the vehicle might not have time to stop. The faster a vehicle goes, the longer it takes the vehicle to stop. Additionally, a fast-moving vehicle will hit a pedestrian with more force and cause more serious damages.
How can I protect my right to recovery if I was injured while walking while distracted?
You are entitled to compensation for your injuries as long as you are not totally at-fault for the accident. Washington State's pure comparative negligence laws allow each driver to be majorly at fault and still recover compensation.
Therefore, even if your distraction was the main cause of the accident, as long as the insurance company finds you 99 percent at fault or less, you will still be able to collect the remaining percentage as a settlement.
For example, if the insurance company finds you to be 75 percent at fault and your insurance settlement is for $100,000 you would still be able to collect the remainder — 25 percent or $25,000 — as your compensation.
While $25,000 seems like a lot of money, pedestrian accident injuries can quickly top that. For this reason, you will want the insurer to find you played as little role in causing the accident as possible.
The insurance adjuster will assess your degree of fault based on the evidence you provide to support your claim for damages. In a pedestrian accident, your evidence might include:
- Police reports
- Photographs or video of the accident
- Eyewitness or expert witness statements
- Medical records
When you work with a Washington pedestrian accident lawyer, you have the advantage of working with a professional who knows the ins and outs of the injury claims process. Max Meyers Law provides free, no-obligation consultations to injured pedestrians seeking information about their rights to recovery.
Call us at 425-399-7000 to learn about how we can help your claim.
Can not wearing a seat belt affect my accident injury claim?
Most likely no. Not wearing a seat belt should not affect your injury claim, even though it will likely lead to more severe injuries. Learn more here.
Do I have to wear a seat belt in Washington State?
Yes. In Washington State, the law requires everyone to wear a seat belt. Passengers under 16 must either wear a seat belt or be secured in a child restraint device.
If you are not wearing a seat belt at the time of your accident in Washington State, you have broken the law. In addition to breaking the law, you have likely contributed to your injuries. In many cases, this would be enough to prove comparative negligence.
What is comparative negligence?
Comparative negligence is a way of apportioning money damages based upon the fault of the people who were in the accident. If, for example, the other driver ran a red light and caused the accident, s/he will take the blame. However, if you were speeding or texting at the time of the collision, you might take some of the blame.
In this case, the insurer might assign the other driver 90 percent and you 10 percent. This means you can only recover 90 percent of your settlement (e.g., $90,000 if you asked for $100,000).
Also, depending on the state, you might have to be less at fault than the other driver to recover damages. However, because Washington State follows a contributory fault rule, drivers can be 99 percent at fault and still recover damages. However, as we mentioned above, your proportion of fault will decrease your settlement amount.
So, if not wearing a seat belt is against the law, why does it not affect my claim?
In many states, contributing to the accident or to your injuries will decrease your settlement or bar you from recovering anything. In Washington, however, the law is a little different.
Although the law requires everyone in a moving vehicle to wear a seat belt, the law specifically prohibits using the failure to do so as proof of negligence.
RCW § 46.61.688(6) states, “Failure to comply with the requirements of this section does not constitute negligence, nor may failure to wear a safety belt assembly be admissible as evidence of negligence in any civil action.”
While this prohibits insurers from using it as negligence, you can be sure that the other party’s insurer will do whatever it can to reduce your settlement. For this reason, you need an attorney with experience defending accident victims against insurance companies.
Where can I get help with my claim?
First, we want to note that you should always wear a seat belt when driving or riding in a car. However, if you were not wearing your seat belt at the time of your accident, you are still entitled to compensation. Contact Max Meyers Law PLLC today to schedule a consultation and see how we can help you win your case.
Call us today at 425-399-7000.
What if my damages exceed the at-fault driver's insurance coverage limits?
Accidents can lead to serious — and expensive — injuries. While you can recover compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurer, most drivers only carry minimum car insurance coverage. If your accident-related damages exceed insurance coverage limits, our Washington auto accident attorney advises that you may have other options to pay for your damages.
Depending on your unique circumstances, these options can include:
Underinsured Motorist Protection in Washington
Underinsured motorist protection (UIM), not required under Washington State law, will cover what the other driver’s insurance coverage will not. UIM can pay for your damages that exceed the at-fault driver’s liability coverage, up to your policy’s limit.
Remember that UIM is optional. If you did not purchase it, or you did not choose a high enough amount of UIM coverage (in most cases, your UIM coverage will need to be higher than the other driver’s liability coverage to collect compensation), this coverage will not help.
Your Personal Injury Protection Coverage
Personal injury protection (PIP) is another optional coverage available to drivers in the State of Washington. PIP coverage, available between $10,000 and $35,000, can help pay some of your damages, including medical bills and lost wages.
If you do not have PIP coverage, but someone in your household does, you can use his/her coverage to pay for your injuries.
The Driver’s Umbrella Liability Policy
Some people have an umbrella liability policy as additional coverage with their insurance. If the driver has an umbrella policy, you can use it to recover damages that exceed his/her automobile liability coverage.
It is important to note that the driver’s insurer will not make this information readily available. Some investigation may be necessary.
The Driver’s Employer
Another possible option is making a claim against the driver’s employer. If the at-fault driver was on the job, whether in a company car or not, you might be able to hold the employer liable for some or all of your damages under the concept of vicarious liability company will defend against your claim aggressively; we will fight for you to get the full amount you deserve.
Your Health Insurance Policy
You might also be able to use your health insurance if you have exhausted all other options. Before relying on your health insurance, check your policy to ensure that it does not specifically exclude car accident injuries.
Note: In many cases, your health insurance company will expect you to pay back whatever costs it covered from your accident.
A Third Party
In some cases, more than one person is responsible for an accident. If there is another liable party in your accident, such as another driver, the government entity in charge of road maintenance, or a manufacturer responsible for a defect, you may be able to recover compensation from that party.
The Driver’s Personal Assets
If you did not purchase UIM or PIP coverage, do not give up hope. You can file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to obtain a judgment. If the driver has substantial assets, this could be worthwhile.
We can determine whether filing a suit would be beneficial in your situation.
There are multiple options for recovering compensation if your damages exceed the at-fault driver’s liability insurance coverage limits. These options can be tricky to navigate.
A lawyer can help you explore these various options and choose the path that is best for you. It may be possible to pursue more than one of these options, depending upon the facts of your case.
Where can I get help determining my options?
Even though your insurer should be working for you, this is rarely the case. Recovering the compensation you need from your own insurer can be just as difficult as recovering it from another insurer. But you are not alone.
If you or a loved one was injured in an accident and the other driver’s insurance will not fully cover your damages, you need the advice of a Kirkland auto accident attorney. At Max Meyers Law PLLC, we will determine your options, negotiate with your auto or health insurance company, or represent you in court if we believe that is the best option for your case.
Is Washington a no-fault car insurance state?
No. Washington is not a no-fault state. Washington State is a comparative fault state, meaning the fault of all parties involved in a car accident comes into play when determining compensation for damages. However, Washington State residents have the option to add no-fault personal injury protection (PIP) car insurance coverage to their policy.
Why would a driver want PIP insurance coverage?
Ten thousand dollars of PIP insurance coverage is the minimum amount of PIP coverage you can add to your standard Washington State car insurance policy.
This insurance covers injuries to yourself and your passengers in the event of an accident, regardless of who was at fault. PIP coverage will pay your medical bills as you seek treatment, and some policies might cover wage loss benefits for severely injured persons.
What happens if I only have the minimum PIP coverage amount or rejected PIP coverage?
If you only have the $10,000 PIP coverage and your damages go beyond that limit, or you do not have PIP coverage, you might have these options for additional recovery.
Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is an optional type of coverage that can help cover your damages if the other driver does not have insurance, does not have high enough limits, or flees the scene.
If you have exhausted all of your options, you can turn to your health insurance. Check your policy to see whether it excludes car accident injuries as many policies do.
Note: In many cases, your health insurance will want you to pay back what it covered if you win a settlement.
Depending on your degree of fault in the accident, you may have a third option of filing a claim with the other driver's insurance.
Will I still be able to file a claim against the other driver if I use no-fault benefits?
Yes, the PIP benefits pay immediate costs of medical care and wage loss when applicable. You will still be able to file a claim with the other drivers' insurance policy; depending on the limits of the driver’s policy and how responsible for the accident s/he is, his/her insurance will first reimburse your PIP insurance for the costs your policy covered.
Continuing to pursue a claim against the other driver when s/he is majorly at fault is important if you suffered catastrophic injuries.
PIP limits start at $10,000 minimum and go as high as $35,000. However, many injuries cost well beyond $35,000 in hospital care, rehabilitation, and long-term or permanent care. Therefore, the other drivers' insurance will need to cover the costs that your PIP insurance does not cover.
Where can I get help with filing a car accident claim?
Contact Max Meyers Law at 425-399-7000 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation regarding your options for compensation after a car accident.
How do I know if my teen is ready to drive alone?
One of the things that causes parents to worry the most is when their teens start driving. It is difficult to be objective about whether your teen is ready to drive alone. You can take the subjectivity out of the equation by walking through the following questions:
1) Has your teen completed the Washington state graduated driver program?
While Washington State’s graduated driver licensing (GDL) program does not prohibit teen drivers (with a valid license, not an instruction permit) from driving alone (except at night), it is best to ensure your teen has completed the GDL program before sending him/her off on her own.
2) Does your teen understand the importance of safe driving?
Many teenagers view driving as a sign of their independence and as a way to have fun away from their parents. If your teen sees driving as merely a joyride and does not appreciate the gravity of the harm that can come from his/her negligent actions, your teen is not ready to get behind the wheel alone.
3) Does your teen check his/her cell phone when driving?
Even if it has a hands-free mode, the safest practice is for your teen never to use his/her cell phone while driving. It can be a distraction, and with his/her limited amount of practice time behind the wheel, your teen might not be prepared to handle a sudden emergency driving situation if s/he is distracted by talking on the phone while driving.
While your teen likely will not use his/her phone while in the car with you, look at where s/he places the phone. Is it in his/her lap or tucked away in the center console? Where s/he places the phone might give you an idea of whether s/he will use the phone when driving alone.
Note: Under Washington State’s GDL laws, it is illegal for drivers with intermediate licenses to use a cell phone, even in hands-free mode.
4) Does your teen always use his/her seat belt, whether as a driver or a passenger?
Wearing seat belts saves lives and reduces the severity of injuries. If your teen does not wear a seat belt every single time s/he is in a car, regardless of whether s/he is a driver or a passenger, s/he does not demonstrate a sufficient appreciation for the harm that can occur in a car accident.
5) Does your teen follow safety rules consistently?
Does your teen consistently follow all relevant safety rules while driving, or does s/he cut corners on following safety rules? Many teens find safety rules to be boring and unnecessary things that get in the way of their having fun. A teen with this mindset is not ready to drive solo.
6) Does your teen tend to speed when driving?
Speed is one of the leading factors in fatal accidents involving teen drivers. If your teen has a “lead foot,” s/he may not be ready to drive alone. With the limited amount of time s/he has spent behind the wheel, s/he does not have the experience needed to handle sudden crises at high speed.
7) Does your teen make good decisions?
Poor decision-making can have irreversible consequences when behind the wheel. It is better to wait until your teen consistently shows good decision-making skills before allowing him/her to drive solo.
8) How emotionally mature is your teen?
Teens tend to be all over the board in this subject. If your teen acts more grown up, it might be appropriate to allow him/her to drive alone. If not, it would be best to wait until your child has had time to mature, rather than risk a serious accident.
9) Have you been a good role model for your teen driver?
Regardless of what you have told your teen about safe driving habits, what kind of example have you been to your teen? Do you text while driving? Do you use your cell phone in standard mode, instead of hands-free mode? Do you always wear your seatbelt and consistently follow safety rules? Our children are more likely to do as we do, and not as we say.
Before you let your teen get behind the wheel alone, check out these tips for teen driving.
Who is at fault for an accident if one driver is turning right and one is turning left onto the same road?
It depends on many factors, such as which driver had the right of way and whether any drivers were disobeying other traffic laws at the time of collision. To determine who was liable for your accident, consider the following situations:
Who is liable for an accident when the left turning driver had a green left turn signal?
When the driver turning left is doing so in compliance with a green left turn arrow, that driver has right of way. RCW § 46.61.050 requires drivers of all vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians to obey any and all official traffic control devices. This means that if a driver made a right on red against a driver turning left on green, s/he will be liable for violating traffic laws and causing an accident.
Note: This does not, however, allow the left-turning driver to plow into the right-turning driver. A left turning driver must yield to a driver who is already in the intersection or who cannot stop in time per RCW § 46.61.055. If a driver turning right, on red or green, is mid-turn, the left-turning driver must wait until s/he has 100 percent clearance before making the turn.
Who is liable if the left turning driver had a green light, but no turn arrow?
RCW § 46.61.185 provides that a left turning driver must yield right of way to any vehicle that is coming from the opposite direction, especially if that oncoming vehicle is already in, approaching the intersection, or clearly plans to turn right.
This means that if both parties have a solid green light, the driver turning right will have the right of way. However, the right-turning driver should always check for left-turning drivers before entering the intersection. And in no situation should the right-turning driver begin a turn if s/he sees the left-turning driver beginning to turn.
Who is liable if the left-turning driver had a red light or stop sign?
Of course, if the left-turning driver ran a red light or stop sign, s/he would be at fault (per a violation of RCW § 46.61.050). If the left turning driver came to full stop at the stop sign, and then proceeded as legally required, s/he would not be at fault.
If both drivers at a four- or two-way stop began the turn at the same time, fault would depend on which driver arrived first. For example, if the right-turning driver arrived at the stop before the left-turning driver, s/he would have the right of way to turn.
Can both drivers be at fault for an accident?
Yes. It is possible for both drivers to be at fault in an accident. For example, if a left turning driver saw the right-turning driver approach the intersection and turned anyway, s/he would be at-fault. However, if the right-turning driver turned even though the left-turning driver’s intentions were clear, s/he might share liability.
Both drivers might also share liability if both disobeyed traffic laws such as running a red light, or if both were distracted or intoxicated at the time of collision.
Where can I get help with my accident?
As you can see, when both drivers are making turns at the time of the accident, things can get complicated. You can count on the insurance companies to deny any liability and accuse the other driver of being at fault. And because the law can be murky and has many exceptions, these claims can be difficult to prove.
You do not want to handle this type of accident claim on your own. The Kirkland car accident lawyers at Max Meyers Law PLLC will evaluate your claim, and fight the insurance company to get you everything you deserve. If the insurer is disputing liability, we will work with accident reconstruction experts to determine which party had the right of way during your collision.
Call us today at (425) 399-7000 to schedule your free consultation and discuss your case.