Why Seek Legal Help After a Car Accident in Washington?
According to an article from The Seattle Times, which analyzed 2022 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) traffic accident data, Washington state traffic deaths rose 20% during the first nine months of 2022, compared to the same time period in 2021.
In fact, traffic deaths in Washington state increased, while the national average decreased. The Washington State Department of Health reports that “motor vehicle crashes are the second leading cause of unintentional injury death (after poisonings), and the leading cause of major trauma.”
Being involved in a motor vehicle accident can be very traumatic. In the immediate aftermath of a collision, victims may be in a state of shock, unsure of what to do next. A veteran car accident lawyer can help reduce the stress of dealing with your accident by:
- Handling the insurance claims process
- Collecting evidence & preparing the strongest possible case
- Coordinating your medical care
- Shouldering the burden of the legal process so you can heal
- Securing maximum compensation on your behalf
With the rate of car accidents on the rise throughout Washington state, insurance companies are seeking to protect their profits more than ever, even at the expense of their injured clients. Insurance companies may act like they are concerned with your best interest; in reality, their main concern is turning a profit, which they do by paying out as little as possible on each claim. Claims adjusters are trained to persuade you to settle, often for far less than you deserve.
At Carpenter & Zuckerman, we’re not swayed by insurance companies' attempts to avoid their financial responsibilities to injury victims. We see the same tactics time and again, and we know how to leverage the law to protect our clients’ rights. Our goal is always to deliver the maximum settlement possible to each of our clients, to ensure they have the financial resources necessary to heal and move on with their lives.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, contact Carpenter & Zuckerman in our Seattle, Washington office TODAY to learn how we can help you!
Common Causes of Car Accidents in Washington
With an estimated population of 7,740,745 people residing in Washington state as of July 1, 2021, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, car accidents are part of daily life on the busy freeways and surface streets throughout the state, and especially in the most populous cities, including Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, Vancouver, Bellevue, Kent, Everett, Renton, and Spokane Valley.
While vehicular accidents are an unfortunate reality that cannot be fully eliminated, understanding their common causes is the first step in reducing their occurrence. According to the Washington State Department of Health, the top three factors contributing to fatal crashes in the state are:
- Impairment (including alcohol, illicit drugs, and prescription medications
- Run-off-the-road collisions (especially on county roads)
Other common factors that contribute to automobile accidents include: distracted driving, reckless driving, inexperienced drivers, and weather-related accidents.
Gathering Evidence After a Car Collision
If you are involved in a motor vehicle collision in Washington state, it is important to gather as much evidence from the scene of the accident as you can, while prioritizing safety. Proper documentation of evidence can position you to obtain the maximum compensation possible for your damages. Follow these steps for gathering documentation at the scene of your Washington accident:
Call 911 if anyone was injured as a result of the accident
File a police report and request a copy for your records
Get medically evaluated as soon as you can after the accident
Take photographs of conditions at the scene, including weather & road hazards
Photograph identifying information, including drivers' licenses, VIN numbers, insurance cards, & license plates
Photograph damages, such as injuries and property damage
Gather contact information of involved parties & witnesses
Contact a personal injury attorney promptly after your accident
In addition to gathering evidence at the accident scene, it is also important to thoroughly document your out-of-pocket costs associated with the collision, including medical expenses, car repair receipts, and therapy bills, if applicable.
Car Accident Injuries in Washington State
Motor vehicle accident victims often assume that their injuries are less severe than they actually are. This is due to the fact that many accident injuries do not fully manifest until a day or two after the accident. For this reason, many victims decline to seek medical attention, whether due to their busy schedules or due to feeling embarrassed about seeing a doctor for what appears to be minor injuries.
Choosing to forgo medical care can prove to be a costly mistake. A successful personal injury claim depends, in part, on the quality of the plaintiff’s evidence. It is critically important to collect as much documentation of the damages you incurred as possible, including your medical condition immediately following the incident.
Common car accident injuries that may not be readily apparent at the scene, and which often take time to appear in their full severity include: soft tissue injuries, concussions, and back injuries.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue includes muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Whiplash is a very common soft tissue injury experienced by accident victims that often does not appear in its full severity until a few days after the accident. Whiplash occurs when the victim’s neck muscles are injured at the moment of impact during the accident. Upon impact, the victim’s head can be violently jolted forward, and then backward.
Head Injuries / Concussions
Head Injuries affect both drivers and passengers during automobile accidents. Head injuries include concussions, skull fractures, and traumatic brain injuries. During a motor vehicle accident, the force of impact can cause an accident victim's head to jerk around violently, sometimes resulting in impact with the steering wheel, dashboard, window, or windshield. Head injuries can range in severity from minor to life-threatening and should be evaluated by a medical professional as soon as possible.
Concussion symptoms are often delayed in manifesting. If you have been in a recent motor vehicle accident and have any of the following symptoms, promptly seek emergency medical attention:
Nausea or vomiting
Dizziness or trouble balancing
Dilated or uneven pupils
Ringing in the ears
Sensitivity to light
Marked changes to mood or personality
Inability to recall new information
Back injuries are common during a motor vehicle accident and can range in severity from minor soft tissue damage to complex spinal cord damage. Spinal cord damage is a potentially serious injury and can result in paralysis. Due to the serious nature of a spinal cord injury, it is critically important to seek a thorough and immediate medical evaluation after an automobile accident.
Determining Liability After a Washington Car Accident
Washington state differs from many other states when it comes to car accident liability. While some states have a no-fault car insurance system, Washington state’s car insurance system is based on fault. As such, accident victims can file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance, or file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party.
To prove another motor vehicle driver was at fault for an accident in Washington state, the plaintiff must establish the other driver’s negligence. Specifically, the plaintiff must show:
The other driver owed the plaintiff a duty of care when operating their motor vehicle. In Washington state, this means that a driver must exercise reasonable care when operating a motor vehicle, being careful not to harm others.
The defendant breached the duty of care and did not use reasonable caution when driving.
The plaintiff was injured as a result of the defendant’s breach of the duty of care. In Washington, the plaintiff must prove this causal link.
In Washington state, more than one party can be considered at-fault for causing a collision. In such cases, each party is assigned a percentage of the responsibility for causing the accident. Compensation is adjusted based on the specific percentage that each party is deemed liable. For example, if one driver is determined to be 90% responsible, they will receive 10% of the compensation; whereas the driver who is determined to be 10% responsible will receive 90% of the compensation.
In the state of Washington, the damages that can be recovered in a personal injury lawsuit are broken down into two distinct categories:
- Economic damages include the monetary damages you suffered as a result of the accident, such as lost wages, property damage, and medical bills.
- Non-economic damages include the non-monetary damages you suffered as a result of the accident, such as pain and suffering, and loss of consortium.
Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Cases in WA
If you are involved in an automobile collision in the state of Washington that was caused by another party’s negligence, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party to recover compensation for your damages. In Washington state, car accident damages can include both economic and non-economic damages, as described above.
Accident victims are bound by a statute of limitations in Washington state, which means they must file a lawsuit within a certain period of time from the date of the accident. In other states, the statute of limitations can vary for personal injury lawsuits, depending on whether the car accident involved injuries, death, or property damage. In Washington state, the statute of limitations for car accident lawsuits is three years across the board. However, the statute of limitations clock starts ticking at different times based on the particular case type:
Injury Accidents - three years from the date of the accident
Property Damage - three years from the date of the accident
Wrongful Death - three years from the date of death
Benefits of Contacting a Washington Car Accident Lawyer
Filing a personal injury lawsuit can feel like an added stress, especially when you are already dealing with the direct effects of the car accident itself, such as arranging car repairs and alternative transportation, seeking medical care for your injuries, and coping with the emotional impact of the accident.
You may find yourself caught between a rock and a hard place in the wake of your accident: you need compensation in order to manage the economic costs of the collision, but you also feel overwhelmed and unable to handle dealing with the insurance companies and trying to obtain a fair settlement.
Fortunately, a skilled car accident lawyer can help guide you through the legal process. A few of the benefits to retaining an experienced Washington car accident lawyer include:
A seasoned auto accident attorney can typically obtain a much higher car accident settlement by negotiating with an insurance company than an injury victim can on their own.
Some personal-injury law firms, including CZ Law, have a network of experienced physicians and medical specialists, and can coordinate medical care tailored to your specific needs.
An established law firm often has a network of professional resources, including expert witnesses and specialists, that can assist in winning your case.
An experienced law firm can shoulder the burden of your car accident case, so you can focus on healing!
Personal injury law firms, including CZ Law, often work on a contingency fee basis, which means you won’t pay any legal fees unless your case is won!
Contact CZ Law’s Washington Car Accident Lawyers Today
At Carpenter & Zuckerman, we know that our clients are suffering through a very difficult time in the wake of their car accidents. Our skilled and compassionate Washington auto accident lawyers are ready to help shoulder the burden. We possess the legal knowledge, experience, and professional resources to handle your car collision case, so you can focus your energy on recovering from the accident.
The seasoned car accident lawyers at CZ Law have been proudly serving injury victims for over 27 years. We have offices in Seattle, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, Orange County (Garden Grove), San Diego, and Bakersfield.
Call or fill out the online form for a FREE, no-obligation consultation! You will not pay any legal fees unless we win your case.
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