Car crashes can be difficult to handle even in the best of circumstances, which often leads to people making mistakes in terms of what they describe, how they report the information, and who they report it to. If you want to learn more about protecting yourself (and getting the settlement you deserve), we’ll tell you more about how to deal with it all. 

Most Common Car Accidents in Washington

Car accidents in Washington state are unfortunately common, and an auto accident lawyer in WA can tell you that the numbers are moving in the wrong direction. In 2022, there were around 17,000 car crashes caused by distracted driving and around 6,000 due to drunk drivers. Whether it’s a T-bone or fender-bender, likely, either speeding or a failure to yield was also involved.

You may think that common car accidents would be simple to resolve simply because the police and insurance companies are familiar with them. However, a Washington car accident lawyer can attest that this is far from the case. Given the number of people involved, it’s remarkably common for people to either get things wrong by accident or manipulate the situation to avoid responsibility. 

What to Do After a Car Accident 

Safety is always the top priority after a car crash in Washington state. A Washington auto accident attorney would advise you to store flares and basic first aid supplies in the trunk. This makes it possible to both alert other drivers to the crash and potentially mitigate serious injuries. Avoid moving injured people (when possible), and call 911 immediately. If you don’t have cell phone service, look for a roadside assistance phone for help. 

In a less serious accident, you should steer the cars off to either the shoulder, parking lot, etc. From there, exchange information with the other driver(s) and call the police. Washington state requires you to report the accident if there’s over $500 in damage. A Washington car accident attorney will tell you to keep the following in mind after the collision:

  • Name and contact information of all drivers, passengers, and witnesses. It may not seem like you need this information at the time, particularly if people agree on the scene who was at fault. But stories can change in a heartbeat, so it’s important to get all the facts before you leave. 
  • Driver’s license numbers and license plate numbers. This information can help legal authorities track people down in case they stop responding to official notices. Make sure to find out who the registered owners are of every car involved. 
  • Insurance information: A car accident lawyer WA would advise you to have the names of the other driver’s insurance carriers in case you need to follow up. 
  • Stay quiet: Unless you’re speaking to the police, do not make accusations or admit fault of any kind. 
  • Take photos: Photos at the scene of the accident can help insurance carriers or legal professionals piece together what happened during the collision. 

This information is not always easy to get, particularly if you’re shaken from the accident, involved in a hit-and-run, or dealing with angry drivers or indifferent witnesses. The best you can do in these instances is keep your wits about you so you can make your case when you’re more level-headed. 

Dealing with the Stress of a Car Accident 

Trauma after a car accident is exceptionally common, even if the car accident seemed to be ‘minor’ from the outside. Sometimes any force from a collision can trigger deep anxiety about what would have happened if the impact had been worse. Whether you had loved ones in the car or not, a split-second accident can have long-lasting consequences. Here are some easy ways to deal with the pressure:

  • Prepare for the claim: Having all of your information together can help you feel calmer about dealing with your insurance carrier and the police. 
  • Take time out: It’s easy to gloss over your emotions during this time, but this will only ensure that the trauma comes out in other ways. Self-care won’t just give you a breather when you’re overwhelmed, it can make you more resilient when the next step kicks into gear. 
  • Prioritize sleep: Going hand-in-hand with self-care, this tip is all about giving yourself enough space at night to distance yourself from the accident. 

In the most extreme cases, consider contacting a mental healthcare professional. For instance, if all you can do is think of the crash, even while asleep, talking through the feelings with a trained professional can be the best way to process it all. 

How to Report a Car Accident 

There are several parties involved if you experience a car accident in Washington state. Reporting a car accident typically starts with the police. You can then go through the Washington State Patrol Online Motor Vehicle Collision Reporting (OMVCR) system to complete and submit your paperwork. You’ll also need to contact your insurance carrier and tell them of the collision, typically within 24-48 hours.

A reputable Washington auto accident attorney would recommend contacting the police and filing a report no matter what. The financial damages are often higher than many people think, so it’s important to have plenty of documentation. This can also make it easier to get the settlement you want from the insurance company. 

How a Car Accident Lawyer in WA Can Help 

There are so many things to consider after your car accident, and insurance carriers often count on you missing at least a few things during the whole process. This isn’t simply just to cut down on the amount of time they spend on your claim, it’s also to avoid paying out a larger settlement. If you’re starting to feel like the deck is stacked against you, an auto accident lawyer WA can step in and take a lot of the pressure off. However, even if you’re at the beginning of your claim, they can prevent the situation from spiraling out of control. 

Craig Swapp & Associates can help you find a Washington car accident lawyer who understands how the crash truly affected you. Expenses from a collision are more than just auto repair bills and doctor visits. From lost wages at work to babysitters at home, the costs can add up quickly. If you want to give yourself the best chance of getting it all back and alleviating stress at the same time, hiring a Washington car accident attorney can be a game-changer. 

Written By: Ryan Swapp     Legal Review By: Craig Swapp