Can I represent myself after a car crash in Washington?

Think twice before representing yourself. 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.