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 Should I Contact a Car Accident Lawyer?
Even minor car accidents can feel overwhelming—and major crashes that involve significant personal injury and property damage can turn your whole life upside down. Because of the stress, confusion, pain, and anxiety of the situation, it can be tempting to make everything go away as soon as possible by simply agreeing to whatever the insurance companies offer, not trying to determine what you’re owed under the law, and just getting everything over with without asking questions.
If you genuinely want to receive the compensation you legally deserve after a traffic collision that wasn’t your fault, you need to speak to a Washington car accident and injury attorney. Not only can we determine your damages accurately, but we can fight insurers and argue your claim while you focus on what’s truly important: recovering from your injuries and getting back to your everyday life.
However, if you never contact us, we can’t help you. Below, we outline when it’s okay to skip calling a car accident attorney, when you should pick up the phone after a wreck, and why it’s better to be cautious and consult a legal professional.
The Right Time to Call a WA Car Accident Attorney
This answer is easy: as soon as possible. The more time you let pass, the greater the chance that essential details will be missed. Additionally, insurance companies will push on building a storyline that negates your claim, even if you weren’t at fault. Also, remember that Washington has a statute of limitations on personal injury claims. This deadline outlines how long you have to file a claim, which is three years from the date of the incident.
The following should be your top priorities ASAP after a traffic collision.
Getting Medical Attention
Your health and safety surpass everything, even getting legal help! If you were injured in an accident, go to the emergency room as soon as you can to be evaluated and treated, even if you believe any injuries are only minor (post-accident adrenaline can trick you into thinking you feel fine). It’s just as important to follow through on all appointments, treatments, medications, and therapies that medical professionals assign you
Collecting Information and Evidence
After your car crash, having as much information as possible is key to arguing your case later. While at the scene, if you’re not too hurt, be sure to get the names and contact information of the other drivers as well as any witnesses or responders. Also, if you’re healthy enough, take pictures of the scene and any damage.
Contacting a Lawyer
Your third priority should be to request a free consultation with a local injury attorney. Do this before you talk to insurance companies or make any official, recorded statements about what happened. An initial conversation with most accident lawyers is free, and can put you on the right path to getting the compensation you deserve.
Car Accidents That Don’t Require an Attorney
A limited number of crashes don’t require the help of a Washington car accident attorney. For example, if your crash meets the parameters below, you likely don’t need legal help.
- You weren’t injured.
- No one else at the scene was injured.
- The damage to your car and other involved vehicles is superficial or minor.
- The other party was clearly at fault and all parties agree to this fact.
- You didn’t miss a significant amount of work
- You didn’t incur any significant damages from the accident.
However, even if all of the above is true, it never hurts to contact an attorney experienced in this area of law for a free consultation to make sure you have all your bases covered and can handle resolving a claim without legal help.
Car Accidents That Often Require an Attorney
So when is it necessary to have legal counsel after a traffic accident? Usually in circumstances that involve significant injuries and damages, or when there’s a need to determine negligence or prove fault. So reach out for a consultation if:
- You and/or someone else in the crash were injured.
- Your loved one lost their life in the accident.
- There was serious damage done to vehicles or property at the scene.
- The insurance company denied your claim.
- An insurance adjuster is asking for a recorded statement.
- Fault isn’t crystal clear.
- You missed a significant amount of work and income because of the incident.
- You experienced other damages in the accident that may be difficult to calculate.
- You suffered injuries that are likely permanent.
Even if you believe you’re being treated fairly in this situation, an experienced Washington attorney like the professionals at Max Meyers Law can verify that you’re getting everything you deserve—and on a reasonable timeline. They can also look at the evidence and calculate your damages accurately as someone who is on your side and on your team.
How a Kirkland Car Accident Attorney Can Help
Sometimes it might feel like contacting a Kirkland car accident attorney is an extra step in an already complicated process, requiring more work. But in reality, an injury lawyer intends to make everything easier so you receive proper compensation and justice.
While it can be scary or intimidating to make the first call, the benefits are significant. A knowledgeable attorney can:
- Has only your best interests in mind.
- Acts as your advocate from the beginning to the end of your case.
- Navigate the details of Washington state traffic accident laws.
- Answer any questions you may have about the legal process surrounding your case.
- File the claim and stay on top of other necessary documentation.
- Handle all communication with insurance companies for you.
- Accurately determine the amount of compensation you deserve.
- Make certain your case moves forward so the statute of limitations doesn’t expire.
- Prepare for and defend your case before a judge and jury, if necessary.
- Give you peace of mind that you’ve approached your case correctly.
If you aren’t sure if you need an attorney in the wake of your accident, simply request a free consultation. At Max Meyers Law, our legal team listens to your story and examines the facts, then lets you know if you’ll benefit from legal representation or if you can handle the process yourself with good results.
Should I pursue a dram shop claim in Washington after a drunk driving accident?
Almost everyone knows that drinking and driving is not only against the law but also patently unsafe. However—and despite years of legislation—a stunning percentage of Americans admit to having driven a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. And with alarming regularity, accidents happen.
Under Washington state law, drunk driving accident victims have a legal right to file a claim for compensation against the person or party who caused their accident. When restaurants, bars, and social hosts continue to serve alcohol to clearly intoxicated visitors or to minors, they could be held liable for the costs of their own negligence.
Washington State’s Dram Shop Laws
The Evergreen State, along with most other states, has enacted “dram shop” legislation. Dram shop laws provide a critical opportunity for accident victims to file legal claims against third parties that enable or otherwise facilitate an intoxicated motorist’s inebriation.
In Washington, dram shop claims are often categorized as either of the following:
- First-party dram shop claims. This is a lawsuit filed against a commercial establishment—perhaps a bar or nightclub—that sells or serves alcohol to a person under 21 years of age, resulting in injury to the minor.
- Third-party dram shop claims. This lawsuit is filed against a commercial establishment that serves alcohol to a person who’s already intoxicated, resulting in injury or death to another party.
Dram shop laws demand that any person or business that serves alcohol presume that a heavily intoxicated person could cause injury to themselves or others. When representatives of bars and other establishments neglect their legal responsibilities and endanger the public, they could be held liable for the costs of any resulting accident.
Social Host Liability in Washington State
Washington’s dram shop laws provide accident victims with an opportunity to recover damages from irresponsible commercial businesses.
However, dram shop laws cannot typically be used to file a personal injury lawsuit against a private party—or social host—who serves alcohol to invited guests. Under most circumstances, a social host can only be found liable for accident-related damages if they serve alcohol to visitors under the age of 21.
The Potential Defendants in a Dram Shop Claim or Social Host Liability Lawsuit
Some accidents are simply unavoidable. However, when another person or party’s negligence causes an accident, they could be held responsible for the costs of any accident-related injuries.
The potential defendants in a drunk driving or dram shop claim include, but aren’t limited to:
- An intoxicated driver
- Social host
If successful, a dram shop personal injury lawsuit could provide victims with the resources needed to begin rebuilding their lives.
Damages Awarded in Dram Shop Claims
If a Washington court finds that a drunk driver or dram shop defendant is liable for an accident, it may award damages to the victim, which are defined as compensation for injuries caused by a negligent third party. Injuries can be physical, financial, or emotional.
Damages are typically categorized as any of the following:
- Economic damages. This award provides financial recovery for objective, tangible losses, including reimbursement for paid medical expenses, compensation for anticipated care, and lost income from work.
- Non-economic damages. These cover comparably intangible losses, such as emotional pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment.
- Punitive damages. Unlike economic and non-economic damages, punitive damages are a court- or jury-imposed award intended to punish an incredibly negligent defendant.
Washington, unlike some states, currently doesn’t cap the damages available in most dram shop claims. However, a strict statute of limitations applies to most personal injury claims. If you wait too long to contact an experienced Seattle-area dram shop attorney, the statute of limitations could lapse, and your claim could be dismissed on a technicality.
Why is the insurance company delaying my car accident claim?
In the aftermath of a serious Washington car accident, survivors often look to the at-fault motorist’s insurance company to recompense. However, negotiating a fair settlement is rarely easy. Even if you have a seemingly open-and-close case, the adjuster could take days, weeks, or even months to offer a settlement—a settlement that may fall short of your expectations, leaving you in debt and on the brink of financial insolvency.
Understanding Why Insurance Companies Delay Negotiations
Washington State requires every vehicle operating on public roads to be supported by liability coverage. Under the state’s fault-based insurance system, this liability coverage can be used to pay down the costs of an accident.
However, insurance companies often have motivations beyond good-faith negotiations. While they might have a legal obligation to provide compensation, they sometimes try to delay payment for as long as possible. A carrier might delay a claim for any one or more of the following reasons:
- The adjuster needs additional evidence to adjudicate or make a formal decision on the claim.
- The adjuster believes a claim is either fraudulent or exaggerated.
- The insurance company wishes to avoid incurring a loss and hopes the victim will either grow tired of never-ending negotiations and accept a lower settlement or simply bear the accident and medical expenses out-of-pocket
Some claims—especially claims relating to serious, life-altering injuries—take time to assess and adjudicate. The adjuster may be obliged to obtain, inspect, and evaluate a wide range of evidence, from crash scene data to medical records. Depending on the severity of an accident, simply poring over this paperwork can take weeks.
However, some delays have less to do with formalities than the insurance carrier’s own financial incentives. Since these companies are fundamentally for-profit enterprises, they may seek to preserve their profit margins by intentionally taking time to even initiate negotiations.
How Insurance Companies Create Self-Serving Delays
If the carrier wishes to avoid making an offer, it could fabricate delays by:
Demanding Endless Amounts of Evidence
After a serious Washington car accident, an adjuster needs limited access to:
- Crash scene evidence
- Medical records
- Eyewitness statements and testimony
When assessing an individual claim, the adjuster may consider the totality of this evidence to determine fault and calculate an initial settlement offer. However, insurance companies sometimes ask for records they know most people cannot procure, especially if weeks or months have passed since the initial accident.
Claiming Your Injuries Are Fraudulent or Exaggerated
Adjusters are sometimes skeptical of certain claims, especially those involving:
Insurance providers can’t be faulted for doing their due diligence on every case. However, if the adjuster takes an inordinate amount of time to conclude an investigation, they may not suspect fraud—they may simply be searching for an excuse to reduce your compensation or deny benefits.
Acting in Bad Faith
In a worst-case scenario, a carrier could act in bad faith, making it difficult to establish an initial point of contact. Even if it received your claim and stated it’s actively being reviewed, an adjuster might refuse to take your phone calls, ignore emails, and ask questions they know you can’t answer.
Why Delays Can Devastate Legitimate Insurance Claims
Insurance companies sometimes need more time to finalize a claim—but if they act in bad faith to avoid paying a significant settlement, they put accident victims’ lives and livelihoods on the line.
A delay could cause difficulties including, but not limited to:
- Late compensation. Even if the company eventually offers a fair settlement, you may have already accrued significant medical debt—expenses that you might be able to pay off with this compensation, but meanwhile, you experienced difficulties sustaining yourself in the months after an accident.
- Loss of evidence. If an adjuster or the court has any questions about liability, delayed negotiations can result in the loss of critical evidence. Without the right evidence, the insurance company may refuse to even consider your claim.
What does a car accident lawyer do?
An experienced Seattle-area car accident attorney can not only help you overcome the insurance company’s excuses, but he can also fight to secure the compensation you need and the justice you deserve.
The Advantages of Hiring a Washington Automobile Accident Attorney
Your Washington car crash lawyer does far more than argue your case in court. An experienced advocate can help you by:
Proving You Have Standing to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Car accident claims are often dependent on the availability of evidence. Like most other states, Washington’s civil code requires that personal injury plaintiffs establish the following elements when pleading a case:
- The at-fault motorist owed you a duty of care, meaning that they had a legal obligation to operate their vehicle in a reasonable and safe manner.
- The at-fault motorist breached their duty of care by acting negligently.
- The at-fault motorist’s negligence caused your injuries.
- You suffered damages that can be recovered in court.
An attorney will help you establish the standing needed to file a lawsuit by collecting evidence of the other motorist’s wrongdoing.
Collecting Evidence of Fault
Even if the other motorist has openly admitted liability, their insurance company might still refuse to grant the damages you deserve if you lack the evidence needed to not only establish fault but substantiate your injuries.
Your Seattle-area car crash lawyer could help you collect the evidence needed to prevail in court by:
- Reviewing law enforcement reports
- Taking photographs of the crash site
- Subpoenaing surveillance camera footage
- Obtaining a court order to review the at-fault driver’s cell phone call log and text message history
- Analyzing your medical records
- Interviewing eyewitnesses
- Collaborating with safety experts to prove that you did not cause the accident
- Referring you to medical specialists to assess your immediate medical needs and long-term care requirements
Calculating Your Damages
Washington allows automobile accident victims to obtain compensation for:
- Economic damages. Economic damages reimburse objective, quantifiable monetary losses resulting from an accident. Your economic damages could include your medical expenses, physical rehabilitation costs, and lost income from work.
- Non-economic damages. Non-economic damages are compensation for comparably subjective losses, such as emotional pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment in life, and disfigurement.
Since the Evergreen State does not cap the damages available in most personal injury claims, you could receive the compensation you need to rebuild your life and reclaim your independence.
However, calculating damages can be difficult, especially if you have continuing care needs or harder-to-quantify non-economic damages. Your attorney will refer to state law, court rulings, and precedents to determine a fair amount of compensation.
Standing Up to the Insurance Company
Insurance companies often do little to alleviate the pain and suffering caused by a car crash. All too often, accident victims expect that the at-fault motorist’s insurer will reimburse their medical costs and lost wages. However, this expectation is routinely challenged by adjusters who seem skeptical of every claim—adjusters who, it may seem, do everything in their power to deprive victims of their deserved compensation.
Since car crash lawyers have extensive experience advocating for their clients’ rights, we understand the strategies that insurance companies use to save money. We do not let adjusters bury our clients with paperwork or subject them to never-ending demands for ever-more medical examinations, phone calls, and statements.
Your attorney could take over communications with the insurance company, letting you focus on your physical recovery while we focus on holding the at-fault motorist and their insurer accountable.
How to Choose the Right Seattle Car Crash Attorney
When you visit a Washington car crash attorney for your initial consultation, you should prepare a list of questions. Consider asking the following:
- Do you have experience handling Washington car crash claims?
- What steps do I need to take to protect my legal rights to recovery?
- What information do you need to evaluate my case?
- Who will handle my claim: a senior lawyer or an associate?
- How often will you communicate with me about my claim?
- Do you expect clients to pay out-of-pocket, or do you take new cases on a contingency fee basis?
- Do you think that I have a worthwhile claim?
Before committing to a car crash attorney, do your due diligence: visit their website, read client testimonials, and see whether they have delivered worthwhile results to similar clients. Remember: a consultation is not legally binding, and you should never feel obliged to hire a lawyer who makes you feel uncomfortable or undervalued.
Do I need a lawyer if another driver caused my crash by running a red light?
Red-Light Accident Claims Aren’t Always Open-and-Shut
If you or a loved one has been injured after another motorist ran a red light and struck your vehicle, you could be entitled to significant compensation through an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.
While common sense should suggest that the other driver’s negligence caused the accident, establishing fault in insurance negotiations or in court could present unexpected challenges. Insurance companies are, after all, for-profit enterprises: for better or for worse, they are motivated primarily by profit—and paying large, comprehensive accident settlements is usually anything but good for profits.
Instead of accepting the evidence and taking you at your word, the insurance adjuster will likely try to save their employer money by finding any reason to devalue or deny your claim. They could:
- Use your words against you. Shortly after your accident, the insurance adjuster might ask you to provide a recorded statement. While providing a recorded statement might seem like an ideal way to tell your side of the story, the adjuster likely has motivations beyond hearing your account of the accident: in all probability, they will analyze your statement for any and all discrepancies, hoping to find a way to minimize their liability. Since simply apologizing for the accident could jeopardize your settlement, you should never consent to a conversation with an insurance adjuster without first consulting an experienced Washington car accident attorney.
- Use your medical history against you. Washington law allows insurance companies to request that accident victims submit to an “independent medical examination.” These examinations are conducted by supposedly impartial physicians, who will assess your post-accident injuries and write a report for the adjuster. However, independent medical examinations are often anything but impartial. While the examiner might be a trained and highly experienced practitioner, insurance companies usually refer clients to the same pool of physicians—physicians who are very aware of the fact that they owe much of their business to the insurance company and may be more inclined to issue adverse decisions against prospective claimants.
- Use your evidence against you. Even if you have a dashcam recording or other seemingly unassailable evidence, the insurance company could still find a way to use it against you. If you had been talking on your cell phone at the time of the accident—or even changing radio stations—the adjuster could claim that you were also negligent. If you are found partially at fault for the accident, then the insurance company could reduce your settlement proportionate to its, or the court’s, determination of fault.
How an Attorney Could Help You Overcome the Insurance Company’s Obstacles
You should never have to pay the price for another motorist’s negligence. Max Meyers Law could help you overcome the insurance company’s attempts to minimize your settlement by:
- Investigating the causes and circumstances of your accident
- Subpoenaing critical evidence, such as surveillance camera footage, the other motorist’s cell phone records, and vehicle “black box” data
- Interviewing potential eyewitnesses
- Referring you to skilled medical practitioners who could help evaluate your injuries and determine your long-term care needs
- Communicating with the insurance company on your behalf, letting you focus on your physical health and mental well-being while we advocate for your best interests in court
While Washington state does not currently cap the damages that car accident victims could receive in a settlement or court award, the Evergreen State does have a strict statute of limitations: if you wait too long to take action, the court could dismiss your complaint without giving you the chance to tell your side of the story.
Is car insurance required in Washington State?
Washington's Comparative Fault Law
Washington is not a no-fault insurance state. Instead, Washington has a comparative fault doctrine, meaning that the fault of all parties in a car accident is considered when determining damages. If your own negligence contributed to a crash, then your potential compensation could be reduced by a percentage proportionate to your level of fault.
Car Insurance Requirements in Washington State
Almost every state in the country requires that automobiles be insured, and Washington is no exception. State law mandates that every motorist has coverage of at least:
- Bodily injury liability coverage: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
- Property damage liability: $10,000
- Underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
- Underinsured motorist property damage coverage: $10,000 per accident
- Basic Personal Injury Protection (PIP): $10,000 per accident
Optional Car Insurance Coverages
Washington's minimum coverage amounts are sufficient to cover the costs associated with minor to moderate injuries, as well as some medical procedures. However, simply purchasing the lowest-price policy does not guarantee that you will be afforded the resources you need to recover after a serious automobile accident. You could bolster your protection by adding features such as:
- No-fault personal injury protection, which allows you to make medical claims on your own policy regardless of whether you were at fault for the accident.
- Collision insurance, which can help pay the cost of a car repair or replacement.
- Comprehensive insurance, which provides protection if your vehicle is ever damaged by a cause other than a collision, such as hail, fire, or vandalism.
- Rental reimbursement, which could cover the costs of a car rental if yours is ever damaged or destroyed in an accident.
- Underinsured motorist additions, which provide additional compensation if you are injured by a motorist who is either uninsured or has inadequate coverage.
Your Options for Compensation After a Washington Car Crash
Washington's pure comparative fault law allows motorists to:
- File a claim against the other motorist's insurer, even if you were partially or mostly to blame for the accident.
- File a claim with your own automobile insurance company, if you purchased additional no-fault personal injury protection coverage.
- File a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault motorist, with any potential award or settlement to be reduced proportionately to your own level of fault.
What Happens When Insurance Isn't Enough
Washington, like most states in the country, makes automobile insurance mandatory. While mandatory policies are supposed to protect motorists if they are injured in an accident, insurance companies are still for-profit enterprises. Unfortunately, insurers do not generate a profit when they pay the maximum amount of compensation to every deserving driver, regardless of how seriously they have been injured. Consequently, insurance adjusters often look for any reason to devalue or deny a claim. They could:
- Ask you to provide a recorded statement, and then use your own words against you.
- Argue that your injuries were caused by a pre-existing condition.
- Claim your negligence contributed more to the accident than it really did.
Insurance companies frequently contest claims and are often unwilling to negotiate in good faith with automobile accident victims. But despite what the insurance company might want you to think, you do not have to give in to heavy-handed pressure tactics and coercion.
Your Potential Damages After a Washington Automobile Accident
Max Meyers Law could help you obtain a fair, equitable settlement, even if the insurance company has already tried giving you the silent treatment. We could investigate the circumstances and causes of your accident, building a compelling, evidence-based case for compensation against anyone whose negligence may have caused or contributed to your injuries. This could include:
- The other motorist
- A negligent business
- The City of Seattle or a municipal corporation
- A car manufacturer
- An automotive parts maker
We could negotiate damages for:
- Your past, present, and anticipated medical expenses
- Physical rehabilitation
- Lost income
- Diminished earning potential
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment
Washington does not currently cap the amount of economic damages you could receive after an automobile accident, meaning that you could get as much money as you need to begin moving past a serious, Seattle-area car crash.
Contact Max Meyers Law Today
Max Meyers Law could fight for your rights, whether in insurance negotiations or before a judge and jury. Please send us a message online or call us at 425-399-7000 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation as soon as possible.
Can car accident damages include physical therapy expenses?
Paying for Physical Therapy After a Washington Car Crash
Washington is a fault state. When someone causes a car accident, they—or their insurance company—must pay for the other motorist’s damages. A claim for damages could cover:
- Past, present, and future medical expenses
- Prescription medication co-pays
- Physical rehabilitation
Insurance Companies and Physical Rehabilitation
Every Washington driver must have an automobile insurance policy. While you might expect that the other driver’s insurer will cover your accident-related expenses, you should never forget that insurance companies are for-profit businesses. Oftentimes, they are more interested in protecting their profit margins than providing a fair recovery. They employ many different tricks, tactics, and strategies to devalue car crash claims. So, even if your doctor says that you need physical rehabilitation, the insurance company might try to evade responsibility by claiming:
- You were responsible for the accident. Even if your car accident claim seems open-and-shut, the insurance company might demand evidence that the other driver’s negligence caused the collision. If you show them a police report, surveillance footage, or other seemingly irrefutable evidence, they might still try to argue that you were at least partially responsible for the crash—and that they do not have to pay you the full amount to which you would otherwise be entitled.
- You don’t really need physical therapy. Car insurance companies do their own math when deciding how to value automobile injury claims. Needless to say, this math usually relies on the opinion of their own medical experts, who might review your files and say that physical rehabilitation is not “medically necessary.”
- Your injuries were not caused by the crash. If you do not contact an attorney immediately after an accident, the at-fault motorist’s insurance company might peruse your social media accounts, ask for medical records access, and even try to speak to your doctor. If they can find any way to construe your injuries as “pre-existing,” they will refuse to pay for your physical therapy.
Protecting Your Rights After an Injury
Insurance companies are notorious for devaluating car crash-related injuries. However, Washington law is clear-cut: you should never have to pay for an accident you did not cause. You could protect your legal recovery by:
- Seeking immediate medical attention. Even if you do not believe you were seriously injured in the accident, you should still make an appointment with a medical professional. A physician could help identify and treat injuries you already have. If they believe you need physical rehabilitation, you will be able to show the insurance company that the doctor believes physical therapy is a necessity.
- Document your symptoms. You could create a pain journal or other record to document any symptoms you experience after a serious Washington car crash. Ideally, your pain journal will include regular entries detailing your medical symptoms, physical feelings of pain, and any prescription or over-the-counter medications you are taking to alleviate it.
- Speaking to an attorney. Insurance companies know that most car crash victims do not understand Washington’s complicated medical claims process. Even if they present you with a settlement offer, it might not account for your physical therapy and other anticipated expenses. They may even refuse to negotiate with you, citing a never-ending list of excuses. However, attorneys are familiar with the insurance industry’s tricks. We do not let our clients get bullied. Max Meyers Law could handle all of your communications with the insurance company, collecting, compiling, and analyzing the evidence needed to get you fair compensation.
Do You Need a Better Settlement? Contact Max Meyers Law Today
Max Meyers Law is a people-focused practice. Our dedicated team of Washington attorneys seeks to understand our clients’ needs. When we take a case, we stick up for our clients’ rights—and have the results to show for it. You do not need to bear a life-long burden of pain: please send Max Meyers Law a message online or call us at 425-970-8822 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation as soon as possible.
Should I sign a release of claim form after a car accident?
What Is a Release of Claims Form?
A Release of Claims form is a document that releases the other motorist and their insurance company from liability and any further legal obligation with regard to your injuries. By signing it, you effectively agree not to pursue any further damages related to the car accident in exchange for the settlement check. In plain English, it means once you sign the form and receive your settlement, that's all the money you'll get for your injuries.
In one sense, the Release of Claims seems reasonable enough. It simply means that once you've agreed on a settlement, the defendant is protected from you coming back and suing them again and again. But what if the settlement offer isn't enough to cover your total costs? What if your recovery incurs more expenses after the fact that you didn't anticipate? By law, the at-fault driver is still responsible for paying those expenses—but if a Release of Claims form is already signed, you've waived your rights to collect any more money. So in that sense, it can be a very dangerous document, especially if the insurance company tries to settle quickly. An overeager insurance company that presents you a Release of Claims form is usually trying to push you into accepting less money than your injuries are worth, then legally blocking you from coming after them for more.
Why You Shouldn't Be Rushed Into Signing a Release of Claims
When you have no income because you're unable to work and your medical bills are piling up, it's perfectly understandable to feel pressured to sign the release and get your money quickly. But here's why that's not a good idea:
- You may not know the full extent of your injuries. You can't anticipate any possible complications that might arise or extended treatments that might be needed.
- There may be long-term repercussions from your injuries. Some types of injuries can trigger other health problems that may not surface for years.
- You don't know about your future income. Your injuries could potentially hinder your ability to work for the long term, and your settlement may need to account for that possibility.
A settlement that is truly fair will take into account not only your current needs but also your anticipated future needs, not to mention the more intangible losses incurred by pain and suffering, psychological trauma, loss of consortium, and more. Bottom line: if you sign a Release of Claims form too quickly, you could end up being severely under-compensated for your injuries.
Never Sign a Release of Claims Form Without the Advice of Your Attorney
Granted, at some point, you'll likely have to sign a Release of Claims form before getting your check. The key is in knowing when it's safe to sign it—and the best person to tell you when you have a fair settlement is an experienced personal injury attorney. That's why we highly recommend that you never sign a Release of Claims before having an attorney review your settlement offer to help you decide whether or not it's in your best interests to sign, whether further negotiations are needed, or whether you need to go to court.
The Max Meyers Law Firm can advise you on what constitutes a fair settlement for your case, and we can help you get the full amount of compensation you deserve. Contact our offices to schedule a free consultation or call us at 425-399-7000.
Can I be compensated for the paid time off I had to take after my car accident?
If you were injured in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, chances are you’ve had to take time off from work even if your injuries weren’t that severe. If your company provides the benefit of paid time off (PTO)—e.g., sick days, vacation days, and personal days—you might have had to use some or all of this PTO. Perhaps you didn’t even use all of it on your hospital stay or time recovering at home; you may have used PTO for other things related to your accident, like arranging a rental car, dealing with insurance companies, and meeting with your attorney. You’re entitled to claim lost wages in your personal injury claim—but are you allowed to recover your PTO even though you were paid for that time?
The answer is yes. Here’s how and why.
“Lost Wages” Includes Other Forms of Compensation
When you’re injured and can’t go to work, you lose out on both income and benefits you could be earning if it weren’t for your injuries. Your lost wages include the benefits that would have been available to you had you not been injured—which includes your paid time off. A personal injury claim is designed to help you recover all forms of loss incurred by your accident, including the loss of benefits at work. Even though you may have been paid for some of your time off work, it’s still considered a loss because you wouldn’t have used that PTO if not for the accident.
Winning your personal injury claim won’t get those benefits back—in other words, your company isn’t going to put those paid days back into your “PTO bank” so you can use them again. (That’s another reason why it’s a loss.) However, your settlement can include reimbursement for the dollar value of the PTO you used related to your accident—and you’re well within your legal rights to include it in your claim.
How Paid Time Off Is Valued
How do you calculate the value of your PTO when including it in your claim? In many cases, the answer is simple: Whatever amount you’re paid for a day’s work, that’s the value for every day of PTO you had to take. So if you’re paid $150 a day, and you had to take five paid sick days and 14 vacation days, you can add $150 x 19 days, or $2850, to your claim.
However, in many cases, your daily wage isn’t the only consideration when figuring out the actual amount of loss incurred by taking your PTO. For example, if you receive commissions or bonuses on sales, you might not have had the opportunity to make those commissions and bonuses because you were not at work. Your PTO likely only covered your “base pay” in those instances, so your attorney will want to include in your claim an estimate of the additional amount you would have received in commissions or bonuses had you not been forced to take your paid leave.
Why You Need an Attorney
Since the recovery of lost wages is an area that’s not always clear-cut, insurance companies are likely to try to push back on claims that include PTO. They may argue, for example, that you were paid for that time or that you didn’t really need to take those personal days. It’s best to talk with an experienced personal injury attorney who can advise you on how to include PTO in your claim for lost wages. A good attorney will be able to overcome the objections involved and make sure you receive the full value for those lost benefits in addition to other lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, etc.
Paid time off can temporarily “soften the blow” to your finances, but it won’t stave off financial difficulty forever. The sooner you get an attorney involved after your injury accident, the sooner your attorney can get to work on your claim so you can recover your losses as quickly as possible. The Max Meyers Law Firm helps injury accident victims in Washington State get the settlements they need and deserve to get their lives back on track. Contact our offices to schedule a free consultation or call us at 425-399-7000.
Can I represent myself after a car crash in Washington?
Under Washington State law, you always have the right to represent yourself in civil actions, including personal injury cases. However, it's not usually wise to do so, especially if you are pursuing damages after being injured in a car crash.
Between determining fault, calculating damages, and negotiating with insurance companies, personal injury cases are complex matters that require the help of someone with extensive legal experience to obtain a fair settlement. Let's discuss some important reasons why you should consider hiring an attorney to represent you in a personal injury claim.
An Attorney Can Get You a More Generous Settlement
Washington is a comparative fault state, which means the damages you can recover are reduced by your percentage of fault. This means determining who is at fault—and by what percentage—can be very complicated and contentious. Determining how much to ask for in damages is equally complicated.
If you attempt to navigate these issues on your own, chances are you'll wind up with a far lower settlement than you need or deserve. While you will have to pay the attorney to represent you, their fee comes out of the settlement—and the amount of your settlement will typically more than make up the difference for what you would have received on your own.
An Attorney Knows How to Handle the Insurance Companies
One of the most difficult aspects of a personal injury claim is negotiating with insurance companies—and chances are you'll be no match for them on your own. Insurance adjusters are under pressure to reduce or deny claims, and they are very good at making their settlement offer sound like the very best they can do. Furthermore, insurance companies know how to word their questions in a way that they can often use your answers to minimize your claim if it goes to court.
A skilled personal injury attorney understands how the insurance companies work and how to negotiate with them to get the settlement you deserve. Being able to refer the insurance company to your attorney can save you from saying something that could be used to weaken your position legally.
An Attorney Knows When to Negotiate—and When to Litigate
Insurance companies are not always willing to settle. Many of them will refuse offers that seem fair, only to turn around and pay more when the case goes before a judge. At the same time, if you litigate your case and the insurance company can prove you were partially at fault, you could actually wind up with a lower settlement with additional court costs to pay. This is why it's important to have an attorney determine whether you need to take your claim to court or if it can be resolved through negotiations with the insurance company. A good attorney knows when a settlement offer is fair, and when it makes more sense to take your case to court.
An Attorney Can Help Defer Your Medical Bills
Washington State does not require drivers to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. If you don't have PIP, or if your PIP coverage runs out before your case is resolved, you could be facing collection actions for your unpaid medical bills. An experienced attorney can often step in on your behalf with your insurance company or medical providers to make deferred payment arrangements until your case is settled.
Get the Peace of Mind You Deserve
While you have the right to represent yourself in your own personal injury case, hiring a car accident attorney provides you with a whole set of additional resources and skills that, in the end, will improve your chances of a more generous settlement. Having an attorney will also give you much greater peace of mind knowing the legal piece is being covered while you focus on recovering from your injuries.
The legal team at Max Meyers Law understands the complexities of helping you get a fair personal injury settlement in Washington. Let us help you get the full amount to which you're entitled under the law. Contact our offices to schedule a free consultation or call us at 425-399-7000.
How do I obtain a police report for my car accident in King County, Washington?
If you've suffered broken bones, burns, or other serious injuries in a car accident in King County, Washington, the police report of the accident likely contains key evidence that you will need in order to file a personal injury claim. If you don't obtain a copy of this report, your claim could be significantly weakened. Fortunately, the State of Washington makes it relatively simple to obtain a copy.
Why You Need a Police Report
For any vehicle accident resulting in injury or property damage over $1,000, the State of Washington requires each person involved to file their own accident report to the Department of Motor Vehicles if the police do not come out and investigate. However, the people involved in a car accident may not remember exactly what happened leading up to or during the crash. Unless the forensic evidence is conclusive, this can quickly become a case of one driver's word against the other.
For this reason, you should always call 911 to request police response to any accident involving injuries. The police will then investigate and file a report. This report will be an authoritative account of what the police say actually happened based on an investigation of the scene and a review of witness accounts. This document can serve as key evidence to support your personal injury claim.
The police report will include the following information:
- Date, time, and location of the accident
- Descriptions of the cars involved
- Identification of the people involved
- Descriptions of damage done and injuries sustained
- Details that indicate which driver was negligent, if the evidence is clear
- Details on possible traffic infractions or criminal charges (e.g., speeding, texting while driving, DUI)
- Any citations issued for traffic violations
How to Get a Copy of the Police Report
You might assume that for any accident you're involved in, receiving a copy of the police report would be automatic—but it's not. While police reports are public, the police make these reports for their own purposes—essentially as documentation for possible traffic violations or criminal charges. If you intend to file a personal injury lawsuit, you'll need to request the police report.
Police reports are generally available within four days of the accident. The easiest way to obtain a copy is to go online to the searchable State Police database and request it. You can view the report for free, but we recommend paying the small fee to download and print a hard copy of the report.
If local police responded to the crash, you may request a copy of the police report from them directly. However, most people find it easier just to get it from the State Police website.
Won't I Get a Copy of the Report at the Accident Scene?
No, you won't. If you are handed anything by police, it's likely to be a simple Exchange of Information form. The actual police report won't be filed until after the police leave the accident scene.
Why You Need More Than Just the Police Report
The police report is an important piece of evidence, but it is not the only piece. To build a compelling personal injury case, you'll need evidence from multiple sources. This may include photos/videos of the accident scene, eyewitness accounts, etc. Additionally, the police report may not be as definitive in proving fault as you might like.
For best results, you should always contact an experienced personal injury attorney to help with your claim. A good attorney will be able to correctly interpret the information on the police report and combine it with other key evidence to build a strong case.
The legal team at Max Meyers Law has extensive experience with King County injury accident cases, and we know how to compile and present the evidence in a way that helps you receive maximum compensation for your injuries. Contact our offices to schedule a free consultation.
What Types of Long-Term Effects Are Possible For a Child Who is Involved in a Car Accident?
Anyone who has lived through a car accident knows that the experience will stay with you forever. This is especially true for those who experience a collision at a young age when the risk of long-term physical and psychological injury is especially high. Though every individual’s story is unique, our experience helping clients has revealed some commonalities in the types of long-term injuries experienced by children after a car accident.
Even minor collisions can produce a wide range of injuries for children, from simple cuts and bruises to permanent impairments which require life-long accommodation and medical support. For this reason, it is essential that any child who is involved in a car accident is seen by a medical professional, even if there are no immediate symptoms of injury.
Among the most tragic injuries which children experience after a car crash are:
- Brain injuries. Because their brains are still developing, it is difficult to predict how a traumatic brain injury (TBI) might affect a child over the course of their entire life. However, an analysis of medical data reveals that children who suffer even mild TBIs may have long-term impairments to their intellectual growth and physical abilities.
- Neck and spine injuries. Children are more susceptible to “cervical acceleration-deceleration injuries”—more commonly known as whiplash—which can result in life-long neck and back pain, permanent cognitive impairments, and even paralysis. Children under the age of eight are far more likely than older children or adults to experience a spinal injury that is undetectable by X-ray or CT scan, putting them at even greater risk for life-long impairments following a collision.
- Broken bones or organ damage. Because their bodies are smaller and lighter, children are more likely to be violently thrown around the passenger compartment during an accident. This increases the risk of broken bones or damage to internal organs following an accident, particularly since their bones are not as dense or strong as adults. Though they frequently heal with routine medical attention, these injuries can result in long-term pain.
- Scarring. Contact with debris like broken glass or jagged metal during the collision can create serious wounds which may leave a scar. Friction injuries—such as when the skin comes in contact with the pavement—and burn injuries resulting from a car accident can damage the skin permanently, leaving a child with limited mobility and disfiguring scars.
Children who experience a car accident are vulnerable to a number of mental issues. Certainly, those patients left with life-long cognitive or physical impairments are at a greater risk of experiencing depression in response to their changed circumstances. TBI can also result in permanent alterations to personality and emotional well-being due to physical injury to the brain, which highlights the way physical injury and mental injury resulting from an accident are interconnected.
Some children show symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (also known as PTSD) following a collision. This can result in sleep disorders as well as crippling anxiety. When the accident in question resulted in the death of another individual, children are particularly vulnerable to the experience of survivor’s guilt. The child, consciously or subconsciously, may feel remorse or shame for having lived through an accident when others did not. This experience can be especially harsh when the individual who died was a parent, sibling, or someone close to the child.
The Road to Recovery
It is essential that a parent whose child is injured following a car crash contact a top-rated, trial-tested attorney with experience fighting for injured children. In Washington State, a child under the age of 18 cannot bring a lawsuit on their own behalf, so it is up to you as the legal guardian to retain an attorney willing to stand alongside your family and demand the full and fair compensation that will secure the support your child needs now and in the future.
Contact our offices today to schedule your free consultation. When you speak with us, make sure to request your copy of our free book Car Accident Secrets Unlocked to learn more about how to protect and provide for your family following an automotive accident.
Who Is At Fault When a Student Driver Causes a Car Accident?
Earning a driver’s license is a rite of passage for young people, but before they hit the road on their own, new drivers need to enroll in a driver’s education program. In theory, those instructors help novice drivers understand the rules of the road, learn to operate their vehicles, and develop safe driving habits.
While this support is an essential part of learning to drive, it also presents a unique legal question: If a student driver causes an accident during their driver’s ed training, who is responsible for that accident? There are several possibilities.
The Student Is at Fault
To receive a driver’s license in Washington State, regardless of age, the applicant must pass an accredited driving course and log 50 or more hours of driving practice with a licensed adult. During that supervised drive time, the student driver is developing their skills and understanding, so it is unreasonable to expect them to have the same abilities as an experienced driver.
However, a student driver, even at the earliest stages of their education, is still expected to follow traffic laws, obey signs and signals, and drive responsibly. When a student driver behaves recklessly or carelessly, and that behavior causes an accident, that student driver is responsible for any accident or injury that follows.
Exceeding the speed limit, ignoring stop signs, becoming distracted by screens or conversation, or “goofing around” are all examples of behaviors that commonly result in accidents by student drivers. When these actions cause a collision, that student driver should be held responsible. Student drivers may not have car insurance, but most young drivers will be covered by their parent or guardian’s insurance.
The Instructor Is at Fault
Every teacher should maintain a safe learning environment, even if that “environment” is a four-door compact filled with teens. When instructing novice drivers, the instructor is expected to provide the experience and “extra set of eyes on the road” to support that young driver as they learn and protect other motorists from rookie mistakes. If that instructor does not maintain that due diligence, they may share some—or all—of the responsibility for an accident caused by the student in their care.
For instance, if a driving instructor is busy texting a friend while the student driver is behind the wheel, that instructor is behaving negligently and may share the blame for any accident which could have been avoided had they been attentive to their student. A driver’s ed teacher who dozes as their students drive, who fails to demand focused and orderly behavior from all students in the car, or who turns away from the road to strike up a conversation with someone in the back seat is similarly negligent, making them partially or wholly responsible when their student causes an accident.
The Driving School Is at Fault
The school itself may share the responsibility for an accident if it can be shown that they were negligent in one or more areas:
- Maintenance. Driving schools are responsible for maintaining their vehicles. If an accident was caused by mechanical trouble (e.g.: flat, under-inflated, or bald tires; malfunctioning front or indicator lights; engine or brake failure), the school itself could be held responsible for that accident.
- Hiring. When a business hires an employee, there is an expectation that they have taken reasonable steps to verify that the employee is qualified for that position. If it is shown that a driving school hired an instructor who did not hold the proper certifications, or who had a record of negligence in previous positions, the school could be held responsible for an accident that occurs during that instructor’s time with students.
- Oversight. The legal concept of vicarious liability states that a business can be held responsible for the reckless or negligent behavior of its employee if that behavior occurred during business hours and within the scope of their job description. Therefore, if it can be shown that the driving school did not train their instructors sufficiently, or did not intervene with an instructor whose behavior they knew (or should have known) to be reckless or negligent, the school itself may be held responsible for creating an unsafe environment for their students and other drivers.
All of the Above
Washington State’s comparative negligence laws allow for more than one individual to share legal responsibility for an accident, which means that a student driver AND their instructor AND their driving school could ALL be at fault. Because determining liability can be complex and contentious, if you or someone you love has been injured in an accident with a student driver, it is essential that you hire an experienced attorney willing to fight for full and fair compensation for your damaged vehicle, medical expenses, lost wages or employment, as well as pain and suffering.
Contact our offices today to schedule a free consultation so you can learn how the legal team at Max Meyers Law can help you win justice and peace of mind. When you call, be sure to request a copy of our free book Car Accident Secrets Unlocked, so you can learn more about how to protect yourself both on the road and off.
What Is Accident Reconstruction for a Car Accident?
When people disagree on what caused an accident or on details like the speed at which the vehicles traveled before impact, lawyers sometimes use accident reconstruction experts. These professionals perform scientific analysis of the vehicles, people, equipment, and the scene of the accident.
An accident reconstruction expert’s report can help us in settlement negotiations and, if need be, in the trial. Call the Kirkland auto accident lawyers at Max Meyers Law at 425-399-7000 today, to schedule a free consultation and case review.
Evidence Used by Experts for an Accident Reconstruction for a Car Accident
Accident reconstruction experts can evaluate what actually happened by exploring the evidence and applying accepted scientific principles and formulas. For example:
- Photographs of the vehicles and the scene of the accident: show the points of impact, the location of the collision, where each vehicle came to rest after the crash, and other local details.
- Videos: when security video or other recordings are available, the expert can calculate precise details. They can also measure distances, speeds, and time and determine the sequence of events.
- Measurements: the experts can go to the scene and make their own measurements, which can support or challenge the police report. Let’s say that the police report accuses you of causing an accident. Through taking her own measurements of the accident scene, an accident reconstruction expert might be able to prove that the police report was inaccurate and that the other driver caused the wreck.
- Physical evidence: can establish what happened before, during, and after the crash. The vehicles are physical evidence. When the expert examines the points of impact and extent of the damage to the vehicles, he might be able to prove that one of the parties is lying about who was at fault or the speed at which the vehicles traveled. The expert can also obtain valuable information from pieces that broke off of the cars.
- Related documents: if someone is claiming that brake failure or some other equipment malfunction caused the collision, an engineer may be able to review the specifications, engineering reports, and other manufacturing documents to evaluate the equipment in question.
Methods used for accident reconstruction for a car accident, include:
- Accident simulation
- Video analysis
- Impact testing
- Computational analysis
- Other methods
Accident reconstruction experts analyze cases involving:
- Large vehicles like trains, tractor-trailer trucks, buses, and construction equipment
- Medium vehicles like passenger cars and trucks, SUVs, and limousines
- Smaller vehicles like motorcycles, bicycles, mopeds, and ATVs
How We Can Use Accident Reconstruction to Help Prove Your Case
Judges and juries like to see scientific evidence. In motor vehicle accident cases, one category of scientific evidence is accident reconstruction (AR).
AR experts can show the judge and jury calculations, computer simulations, and other scholarly evidence to build our case on issues like these:
- Whether the occupant of a vehicle was wearing a seat belt
- If a seat malfunctioned
- A vehicle’s speed
- How long before impact a driver hit the brakes
- What happened after the driver braked
- The sequence of events that led to the crash, who hit who first, and what happened throughout the entire event
- Environmental factors
- What caused the event
- Additional contributory factors
An Accident Reconstruction Example
An SUV struck a bicyclist in an intersection. The SUV driver accused the bicyclist of drifting to the left side of the street, hitting the SUV head-on. The bicyclist sustained head injuries and had no memory of the event.
The AR experts proved that the SUV driver was lying and that the SUV driver was at fault. The driver turned right at the intersection, hitting the bike, that was going through the intersection in the bike path. The SUV driver failed to yield right of way to through traffic. The crash could not have happened the way that the SUV driver claimed that it did.
The AR expert proved these vital factors by:
- Analyzing the police report and photographs
- Visiting the scene of the accident and taking precise measurements
- Looking at the damage to the SUV and the bike
- Evaluating the bike rider’s injuries
Getting Help for Your Motor Vehicle Accident
There is a statute of limitations in Washington state for car accidents, so it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible after a car accident. We can help you through every step of the process, including settlement or trial discussions, collecting evidence, working with accident reconstruction experts, and more.
Call us today at 425-399-7000, to arrange your free consultation. We will not charge you to evaluate your case.
What is the Settlement for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome from a Car Accident?
Every thoracic outlet syndrome case from a car accident is different, so we cannot give a dollar amount that would be appropriate to settle your case. We can, however, discuss your case and investigate your accident, injuries, and damages to estimate a fair settlement value, and then fight for the compensation you deserve.
Several factors go into settlement value for thoracic outlet syndrome after a car accident, including:
- Severity of your injury
- How well your injury heals
- How your injury affects your life
- Financial effects of your injury
- Other damages related to your injury
Get a free consultation from a Bothell car accident attorney today, call Max Meyers at 425-399-7000.
The Severity of Your Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Injury
The thoracic outlet is the space between your first rib and your collarbone. Physical trauma from car accidents is one of the causes of thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS), according to the Mayo Clinic. TOS happens when the trauma compresses the nerves or blood vessels in the thoracic outlet.
TOS can make your neck and shoulders hurt, and can cause your fingers to feel numb. You may require surgery, physical therapy, or other treatment.
How the injury severity affects your settlement. The severity of your injury affects the medical treatment you require and the effects of the injury on your life. Your settlement should account for your medical bills and disability.
How Well Your Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Injury Heals
If your TOS heals completely, you can count yourself fortunate. Some people experience residual symptoms of TOS long after completing initial treatment.
Residual symptoms of TOS can include:
- Muscle wasting in your hand
- Pain in your neck, shoulder, and hand
- Numbness and tingling in your fingers or arm
- Weakness when you try to grip something
- Discoloration in the arm from obstructed blood flow
- Cold arm, hand or fingers
- Your arm fatigues quickly when you use it
- Your hand turns blue or lacks color
How Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Can Affect Your Life
When you suffer continuing problems from TOS, it can be hard to perform the daily tasks of living or working. This situation is particularly true if the injury affects your dominant arm or when you are performing tasks that require the use of both hands or arms.
If you cannot do your job as before, you might have to cut back your hours or seek a lower-paying job. In extreme cases, you might not be able to work at all. You might also need assistance at home with personal care, housekeeping, meal preparation, yard work, and home maintenance.
Your Financial Losses
We will collect evidence to show your economic losses. These damages can include any reasonable medical treatment you needed because of the accident, like the emergency room, hospital, surgery, doctor, prescription drugs, and physical therapy. The income you lost because of the crash and medical recuperation is also recoverable in a car accident claim.
We can also seek damages for the loss of your earning capacity, if the injury affected your job. Additionally, if you had to hire help at home because of the TOS, we can add that amount to the settlement demand.
Your Non-Economic Damages
Since you suffered physical injuries, you may also be eligible for non-economic damages. This category can include:
- Pain and suffering: for your physical discomfort, inconvenience, and emotional distress.
- Disfigurement: if you have extensive noticeable scars from the injuries.
- Loss of enjoyment of life: if the TOS makes you unable to do things that you used to enjoy, like playing a musical instrument or drawing.
Your Other Injuries from the Wreck
If you sustained other injuries in the accident, we will include the damages for all of your injuries in your claim. You do not have to pursue separate claims for different injuries as long as they happened in the same crash.
If You Were Partly at Fault, How Will Your Settlement for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Be Affected?
Do not assume that you cannot get compensation for your injuries if you were partially to blame for causing the car crash. You should not get stuck with all of your losses just because you made a mistake. As long as someone else was also at fault, our state’s rule on comparative negligence will allow you to receive some compensation.
The way Washington’s comparative fault works is that the law will reduce the amount of your settlement to account for your fault. For example, if you were 20 percent at fault, you will get 80 percent of your damages (100 percent reduced by 20 percent). If you would have gotten $100,000, you will get $80,000 after the 20 percent reduction for your partial negligence.
Getting Legal Help for Your Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Injury Claim
There is a time limit for filing a car accident claim, so contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
Call Max Meyers Law today at 425-399-7000, to get your no-cost consultation. We will talk with you about your case for free.
What Is the Settlement for a Pregnant Woman in a Car Accident?
The settlement value of every case is different because the facts vary from one car accident to the next. We need to explore the plaintiff’s financial, physical, and emotional damages. In a collision involving a pregnant woman, you have the additional variables of:
- Unique harm a pregnant woman can suffer in a car accident
- Injuries to the unborn child
Err on the Side of Caution If You Were in an Accident While Pregnant
Even if you feel perfectly fine and the wreck was a minor fender bender, you should see to your doctor or go to the emergency room for an assessment and evaluation of your and your baby’s health.
The force from a car accident may be enough to injure the baby. If caught early enough, medical professionals may be able to intervene and save the pregnancy.
You do not have to be in a significant collision to suffer injuries when you are pregnant. So, if you were in a car wreck, seek medical evaluation as soon as possible even if you do not feel injured.
Trauma Pregnant Women Can Sustain in Car Wrecks
Since you are growing and carrying another life inside you, a collision can harm you in different ways than if you were not expecting. The four main categories of medical issues the trauma team will assess are:
- Your immediate condition. They will evaluate whether you are physically stable and check your airway, breathing, and circulation.
- Obstetric injuries.
- Non-obstetric injuries.
- Fetal well-being.
What Constitutes Major Trauma for a Pregnant Woman in a Crash
The rules are different for evaluating trauma when you are expecting. If you experienced anything more significant than minor cuts or bruises, the hospital may treat you as having major trauma.
Some symptoms that may indicate a severe injury include:
- Abdominal injury
- Decreased fetal movement
- Vaginal bleeding or fluid loss
Recoverable Damages for a Pregnant Woman in a Car Accident
Some of the damages recoverable in your injury claim may include:
Doctors may keep pregnant women in the hospital for observation and monitoring after a car accident. Some women have to remain hospitalized for several days or weeks. It could be necessary to stay in the hospital for the remainder of the pregnancy.
The diagnostic tests, monitoring, and hospitalization can increase the medical expenses significantly over someone in a similar crash who was not expecting.
Your car accident claim should seek compensation for the costs of hospitalization after your accident.
Your settlement will not include your ordinary obstetric expenses, but it can include expenses above the cost of expected medical care for an uneventful pregnancy and delivery if we can tie the medical treatment to the accident.
The emergency room, diagnostic work, procedures, doctor bills, and hospitalization that were necessary because of the accident should be part of your settlement.
As with any negligence case, the income you lost because of the collision is compensable. When a pregnant woman suffers an injury in a car crash, lost wages can be significant, as she may require hospitalization and extended bedrest that keeps her out of work.
Necessary Childcare If You Are in the Hospital or on Bedrest
You may be able to recover compensation for what you had to pay someone else to perform tasks you could not do because of hospitalization or bedrest from a car accident.
If you have other children at home, your spouse or partner, friends, and family might pitch in to replace the care you routinely provided before the crash, but if your circumstances require hiring someone, we can pursue compensation for this expense.
Assistance in the Home
The law applies the same approach to other tasks, like cleaning and yardwork you cannot perform because of your injuries from the car accident. If you have to hire somebody to do household chores or yardwork that you normally do, you may pursue compensation for those expenses as well.
Protecting Your Right to Compensation After a Car Accident
We know that you have a million things on your mind if you suffered an injury in a car crash while pregnant. Be sure to call Kirkland auto accident attorney Max Meyers Law right away, so that we can take the legal matters off your plate.
Do not delay. If you miss the filing deadline, you will lose your legal right to a settlement or award of damages.
What Is the Statute of Limitations in Washington State for Car Accidents?
In Washington state, you have to file an action for personal injuries resulting from a car accident within three years of the wreck. (R.C.W. Section 4.16.080) If you do not meet this deadline, you may be unable to file a lawsuit to get compensation for your injuries.
An Insurance Company Cannot Change the Amount of Time You Have to File a Lawsuit
Notify the insurance company right away about an accident, but the insurer cannot change the legal deadlines for filing a lawsuit for your injuries. If an insurance company denies your claim, saying that you waited too long to file your personal injury claim, but you are within three years of the wreck, contact a Kirkland,WA car accident lawyer.
Do Not Wait Until the Eleventh Hour to Talk to a Lawyer About Your Case
A great deal goes into filing a lawsuit. Some of the possible steps we might take before filing a lawsuit, depending on the facts of your case, can include:
- Investigating the accident to determine who caused the wreck;
- Finding out if there are multiple liable parties;
- Working with experts in accident reconstruction to figure out how the collision happened; and
- Obtaining police reports that identify all the parties involved in the wreck and that may describe the weather and road conditions at the scene of the accident.
All these actions take time. After we complete our investigation and identify fault and liability, we prepare the required legal documents to initiate a lawsuit.
Act Quickly to Preserve the Evidence for a Car Accident
Although you might still have time left under the statute of limitations, you can lose essential evidence we need to prove fault if you wait too long to act. Here are a few examples:
- The insurance company declared one of the vehicles a total loss and sent it to the scrap yard, where it became a compacted hunk of metal and plastic, useless as evidence. If a defective design or part in the vehicle caused the wreck, you may have difficulty proving it without the vehicle available for inspection.
- You suspect that one of the drivers was texting while driving. Her cell phone carrier only keeps detailed records for a short period of time, which has passed. She denies that she was inattentive, and you have no records to prove to the contrary.
- One of the parties liable for your accident is a company, but the company has now gone out of business. You may now be unable to obtain records or documents from the company, let alone file a lawsuit to recover compensation from the now-defunct business.
Act Quickly to Obtain Eyewitness Statements
Police reports may only portray a part of the story. It might be necessary to talk with witnesses. When too much time passes, it can be difficult if not impossible to locate people. Further, eyewitness’ memories of the accident may begin to fade as time passes, so act quickly to locate and secure the testimony of eyewitnesses to the accident.
Tolling the Statute of Limitations
Under limited circumstances, you may be able to toll the statute of limitations for your car accident lawsuit.
Here are some of the scenarios where you may be able to delay the statute of limitations under RCW 4.16.190:
- Plaintiff is under 18. In such cases, the statute of limitations tolls until the plaintiff turns 18 years old.
- Plaintiff is incompetent or disabled. If the plaintiff is deemed incompetent or disabled and cannot understand the nature of the proceedings, the statute of limitations tolls until the person is no longer incompetent or disabled.
Tolling the statute of limitations is uncommon. If you were hurt in a car accident, act now to get help filing your lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires for your case.
Call Max Meyers Law today at 425-399-7000 today so that we can get the ball rolling for you. The consultation is free and there is no obligation.
Do I Need Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Washington State?
Washington State only requires drivers to buy and maintain liability coverage to pay the medical bills and property damage of other people if the policyholder is at fault for a car accident.
So, to follow the law on minimum auto insurance, no, you do not have to carry uninsured motorist coverage in Washington State. There are plenty of reasons, however, to buy this optional type of motor vehicle insurance.
Situations in Which You Will Wish You Had Uninsured Motorist Coverage
You will wish you had uninsured motorist coverage if you are in a car accident and:
- The at-fault driver is uninsured, in other words, does not have motor vehicle insurance. Some people do not buy the required auto insurance, or their policies lapse because of non-payment. Your liability insurance only pays the damages of other people if you cause a wreck, not your damages if somebody causes a wreck with you. So, if you only carry liability coverage, your insurance company will not pay your medical bills and other damages. If you have UM coverage, it will pay your damages if an uninsured driver caused the wreck.
- Your vehicle is in a wreck with a hit and run driver. Since the car did not stay at the scene, you have no way to find out which insurance company should pay your damages. If the other driver caused the crash but took off, your liability coverage does not cover your damages. Your uninsured motorist coverage would cover your damages.
- An uninsured or hit-and-run driver struck you when you were a pedestrian or bicyclist. Your uninsured motorist coverage may cover you if you were a bicyclist or pedestrian at the time of the wreck.
Related Coverage: Underinsured Motorist Coverage
The minimum required coverage in Washington State is:
- $10,000 for property damage
- $25,000 for the injury or death of one person
- $50,000 total for all injuries or deaths in an accident
The medical bills in a significant crash can exceed the minimum coverage of $25,000. If the at-fault driver carries only the minimum coverage or has higher limits, but they are not enough to pay all your damages, you will be stuck with the excess medical bills to pay on your own.
To avoid getting caught in this situation, you can buy optional under-insured motorist (UIM) coverage as part of your auto insurance. The way UIM coverage works is that the at-fault motorist’s insurance pays first. After you reach the policy limits from that company, your UIM insurance should cover your damages that exceed the other driver’s coverage.
Another Option to Protect Yourself: PIP
Personal injury protection (PIP) is a first-party coverage that can pay some of your damages from a car accident, whether you or the other driver was at fault.
Washington State does not require drivers to buy PIP coverage, but your insurance company has to offer it. PIP can pay medical expenses, lost wages, and funeral expenses. PIP usually has relatively low policy limits, but the coverage can make the difference in having enough money to pay your damages.
Learn more about other types of optional car insurance coverage that may help after an accident with an uninsured or hit and run driver.
Get Help After a Car Accident With an Uninsured or Hit and Run Driver
If you suffered an injury in a car crash caused by an uninsured or hit and run driver, and you have questions about whose insurance coverage should pay your losses, call the Kirkland car accident attorneys at Max Meyers Law today for a free consultation.
We will be happy to evaluate your claim, analyze the insurance policies, and help you pursue a claim for damages. Call us today at 425-399-7000.
Who's at Fault for a Parking Lot Accident?
Fault for the parking lot accident depends on how the accident happened, and which party acted negligently or violated traffic laws.
This is an overview of common causes and types of parking lot accidents, how to prove fault, and which party or parties may be liable. For legal help with your parking lot accident case, call the Kirkland car accident lawyers at Max Meyers Law today for a free consultation.
Types of Parking Lot Accidents
- Failure to yield to a pedestrian
- Failure to yield to another vehicle
- Backing out a parking space without looking for other vehicles or pedestrians
- Speeding or aggressive driving
- Distracted driving
Evidence to Establish Who Caused a Parking Lot Wreck
The evidence you may use to prove fault for the parking lot accident will depend on what evidence is available. Some of the common types of evidence used in parking lot wreck cases include:
- Surveillance video from parking lot or store cameras
- Cell phone video (if anybody recorded the incident)
- Eyewitness statements
- Police/accident reports
If you were involved in an accident in a parking lot, write down the other party’s contact and insurance information. Jot down eyewitness names and phone numbers. And call the police to report the accident. Also, be sure to seek medical care.
Any evidence you gather may help prove fault and liability for your accident. We can further help you collect evidence and request testimony from eyewitnesses. Call 425-399-7000 for help.
Who Can Be Liable for a Parking Lot Collision
Whoever made a mistake that caused or contributed to the wreck can be responsible for the damages. Some of the parties who can be at fault include:
- A driver who drove too fast for the circumstances, failed to keep a careful lookout, did not take reasonable action to avoid a crash, or failed to yield to a pedestrian or another vehicle.
- The shopping center or store if the parking lot contained inherently dangerous conditions, such as an unsafe crosswalk in which vehicles do not have a clear view of pedestrians.
- A vehicle manufacturer if a vehicle defect contributed to the wreck, such as faulty brakes or accelerators.
- A pedestrian who darted out from between parked cars or stepped into the path of a vehicle without looking.
- A passenger whose horseplay distracted the driver, blocked his vision, or otherwise contributed to the wreck.
Factors That Govern Liability in Parking Lot Accidents
Here is how the law evaluates who is at fault in parking lot accidents:
- We all have a duty of care. Pedestrians must pay attention to their surroundings, keep a lookout for vehicles and other hazards, and proceed with caution. Drivers have a duty to drive at an appropriate speed for the circumstances while keeping a close lookout for pedestrians and other cars.
- Breaching the duty of care (negligence). When someone fails to meet the duty of care, he or she is negligent. A pedestrian who walks into traffic without looking breaches the duty to pay attention to surroundings. A driver who backs out of a parking space without checking for other vehicles or pedestrians is negligent.
- Causation. The other party’s negligence must have caused the accident. If a driver was not paying attention and strikes another vehicle, then that driver’s negligence caused the wreck. Or if the pedestrian walks into traffic without looking and causes a driver to swerve and strike another object, then the pedestrian’s negligence caused the wreck.
- Damages. The claimant or plaintiff must have suffered damages (e.g., medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering). The types of damages that are recoverable in a parking lot accident case depend on the physical, emotional, and financial effects of the accident on the parties involved.
Get Help After a Parking Lot Crash
Our accident injury team is waiting for your call so that we can help you. Max Meyers Law can help injured drivers and pedestrians who were involved in accidents in parking lots.
We will arrange a free consultation when you call 425-399-7000. We do not charge legal fees unless and until you get compensation.
Who's at Fault for a Side-Impact Car Accident?
Sometimes a driver runs a red light and slams into another vehicle, making it relatively easy to assess fault. At other times, however, both drivers blame each other for the wreck. The facts of the case, as our Washington State car accident attorney explains, will determine who is at fault.
Determining Fault for Different Types of Side-Impact Collisions
Here are some of the common side-impact accident scenarios:
Driver Drifts Into Other Lane
A driver who drifts into the other lane could sideswipe another vehicle. Some possible reasons a driver could drift into an adjacent lane include:
In most cases, the driver who drifted into the other lane will be at fault for the wreck. In some cases, an insurance company might try to argue that the claimant/plaintiff is partially at fault for failing to avoid the wreck.
See our article on comparative negligence and call Max Meyers for help fighting allegations of partial fault:
A side-impact wreck can happen in two ways when one driver is turning left:
- Car turning left strikes another car
- Car going straight strikes a car making a left turn
We will explore the behavior of both drivers to learn whose negligence caused the collision.
If the turning vehicle was supposed to yield the right of way but did not, and hit a car, the turning driver is responsible.
On the other hand, if a driver was making a legal left turn with a green turn arrow and someone ran a red light and crashed into the turning driver, the non-turning driver is liable.
Running a Stop Sign or Red Light
Intersections are inherently dangerous. If a driver does not follow the rules that govern intersections, the driver can strike the side of another car.
For example, a driver who fails to stop at a stop sign, runs a red light, or otherwise violates a traffic law at an intersection can cause a crash. Also, a driver who is confused, impaired, or inattentive can be oblivious to the other cars and unsafely enter an intersection.
Driver Loses Control of the Vehicle
If a driver loses control of his vehicle, he can strike the side of another car. Liability will depend on the reason the driver lost control.
For example, if the driver was driving too fast in inclement weather (e.g., snow, rain) and this caused the car to go into an uncontrolled skid or spin, the fault is on the driver. On the other hand, if the car goes out of control because of a mechanical failure, the car manufacturer could be responsible.
Damages in a Side-Impact Collision
You can get the same types of damages for a side-impact accident that you can for any other kind of collision. Ultimately, the recoverable damages for the side-impact crash will depend on the economic and non-economic effects of the accident on the claimant/plaintiff.
Some possible recoverable damages include:
- Medical expenses to treat your injuries
- Income you lost because of your injuries
- Decreased earning potential if your injuries prevent you from making as much money as you did before the accident
- Pain and suffering for your physical pain and emotional anguish
- Ongoing or long-term care because of your injuries
Please speak with a lawyer to discuss your accident and for help pursuing the full amount of your damages. Call Max Meyers Law at 425-399-7000 for a free consultation.
Comparative Negligence if Both Drivers Were Negligent
Washington State uses the doctrine of pure comparative fault, which means that you can still get a recovery for your losses even if you were partly to blame for the crash.
The law will reduce the amount of your recoverable compensation in proportion to your negligence.
For example, if your damages were $100,000 and you were 20 percent responsible for the accident, comparative negligence would reduce your damages to $80,000 to account for your percentage of fault.