After a motor vehicle accident in Washington, injured drivers are expected to deal with reporting the accident, filing an insurance claim, all while recovering from their injuries. When the insurance company denies your claim or delays giving you your settlement money, it can make the stress of dealing with physical injuries even worse. However, if you act quickly to contact an experienced Clark County auto accident lawyer, your lawyer will make sure you get the compensation you deserve so you can focus on recovery.
Washington Car Crash Stats
According to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), in 2015 there were more than 117,000 total traffic collisions. This included almost 500 fatal accidents and more than 1,750 serious injury collisions. A crash occurred every 4.5 minutes and a person was killed in a car accident every 16 hours.
Many of these accidents involved some traffic violation at the time of the accident, including speeding, cell phone use, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Inattention or distracted driving was the most frequent contributing circumstance. The highest number of crashes occurred on Friday, with the prime hour for accidents being from between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Clark County had the 4th highest rate of total collisions, with over 4,900 accidents in 2015. Of those, 21 were fatal accidents and more than 1,800 involved a serious or minor injury. With so many accidents occurring every year in Washington, it is no surprise that most drivers will get into more than one accident at some point over their time as a licensed driver.
Auto Accidents Claims Process
The first thing you should do after a car accident is to make sure you and anyone else involved is ok. Traffic accident injuries can be tricky. Even if you feel fine, you may only realize the next day that you have suffered a painful neck or back injury. You should always consider having a doctor evaluate your injuries so they will not get worse.
Exchange information with any other drivers involved in the accident, including:
- Contact information,
- Insurance information, and
- License and vehicle information.
In addition to getting information from the other drivers, you may want to get the contact information of any witnesses. Most people carry around their smart phone, which you can also use to take pictures or video of the accident scene and vehicle damage.
According to the Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL), if no law enforcement officer investigates the collision, each driver involved must submit a report within 4 days of the collision. This includes accidents that involved injury or death or property damage in excess of $700.
Collision report forms can be obtained from local law enforcement. If a law enforcement officer investigated the collision, the officer will file the report. You can obtain a copy of the report from the Washington State Patrol.
After an accident, you are generally required to report the accident to your insurance company. However, be very careful about talking to the other driver's insurance company. You should consider contacting a lawyer if you were injured in a car accident and let your lawyer talk to the insurance company.
The insurance company may try and get you to accept a quick settlement or delay your claim long enough so that you just accept whatever they offer. However, a serious injury accident can continue to cost you money for years to come. You should not have to accept a low-ball settlement from the insurance company if you are injured in an accident. A Washington auto accident lawyer will advocate for you to get you the settlement you deserve.
Damages Available in a Car Accident
Under Washington's personal injury laws, you are entitled to compensation from those who were responsible for causing your auto accident. Car accident damages depend on the seriousness of the accident, and can include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Vehicle repair
- Pain and suffering
If you suffered permanent injuries, your damages should also account for your future losses and continuing medical treatment. Your auto accident lawyer can consult with medical experts and occupational experts to properly evaluate your full damages after an accident.
Auto Accident Injuries
Injuries in a car accident can range from minor to life-threatening. There are a number of factors that go into how serious car accident injuries can be, including:
- Vehicle speed
- Use of seatbelts
- Deployed airbags
- Vehicle type
- Type of accident (head-on collision, rollover, etc.)
- Age of passengers
However, even low speed car accidents can result in serious injury. Rear-end collisions and fender benders can cause serious neck or back injury, even at a low speed and while the driver was wearing a seatbelt. Unfortunately, these injuries are not always obvious.
Many accidents end with the drivers parting ways thinking there was no serious injury. However, a day or two later, the driver may develop serious pain or not even be able to get out of bed. Head, neck, and spinal injuries can be difficult to diagnose and treat. If there is any question, you should seek medical attention after an accident to address the potential of a more serious injury.
Wrongful Death Auto Accident Claims
When a loved one is killed in a car accident, the grieving family members may be left dealing with medical bills, funeral costs, and the loss of the family source of income. The last thing the family is thinking about is a lawsuit but it may be the only way to hold the responsible party liable for the damage they caused.
Under Washington's wrongful death statute, certain family members can recover damages caused by the wrongful act of another. Damages in a wrongful death claim can include losses suffered including loss of service, loss of affection, and loss of consortium.
Those who can file a wrongful death lawsuit include the spouse and children of the deceased. In some cases, the parents or siblings of the deceased may be able to file a claim if they were dependent on the deceased and if there is no surviving spouse or children. In most cases, the surviving family members only have 3 years to file a wrongful death claim under the statute of limitations. In some cases, the statute of limitations could be longer or shorter, so talk to your lawyer about how long you have to file in your case.
Clark County Car Accident Attorney
After a car accident, you need an experienced lawyer on your side to make sure you get the full compensation you are entitled to under Washington personal injury laws. Quinn Posner at Posner Law Office, P.C. will watch out for you and your best interests and fight for your rights. Quinn Posner represents injured clients in Camas, Washougal, and Clark County. Call today for a free car accident consultation.