Seattle Car Accident Lawyer
Car accidents are often the unfortunate consequence of other drivers’ careless behavior. If another driver’s negligence has caused your injuries, contact a Seattle car crash lawyer as soon as possible.
You might not have even seen it coming, but it probably didn’t take long for you to understand you had been in a car accident. And in the days and weeks after that moment, it probably didn’t take much time for you to realize that your crash had the potential to cost you a lot of money.
The costs of a hospital stay, time away from work, a new car, and many other damages add up at lightning speed and immediately threaten your financial stability. That’s bad enough on its own, but the stress and suffering multiply when you face all these challenges with the knowledge that the car accident that is plaguing you wasn’t your fault.
If another party was at fault, he or she should have to help you deal with the financial fallout of your accident. Fortunately, Washington law makes provisions for victims in your situation.
You have the option to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver or other party to recover the compensation you need in order to handle your car accident. It may be your only option, and it isn’t likely to be easy. But a Seattle car accident lawyer from Craig Swapp & Associates can help you obtain the compensation you’re entitled to.
How Were You Hurt?
Central to filing a successful Seattle car accident claim is understanding the nature and severity of your injuries. Start with injury type. Then, consult with your doctors to gain an understanding of how your injuries will affect your life, how much recovery time you’ll require, how much pain you will feel, and other aspects of your injury.
Below, we have outlined a few injury types that are common to Seattle car accidents:
- Whiplash – When another driver slams into the rear of your vehicle, your head can quickly jerk backward and then forward. This sudden motion can cause whiplash, a painful neck injury that can require months of treatment and recovery.
- Brain Injury – A head-on collision or T-bone accident that causes your head to hit the steering wheel, windshield, dashboard, or window of your car can cause a brain injury—even in relatively low-speed collisions. Traumatic brain injuries can permanently disable victims, leaving them unable to support themselves.
- Spine Injury – Severe car accidents, including those that throw victims from their vehicles, often cause spine injuries. Among the worst spine injuries is paralysis, which can prevent you from walking or completing other motions necessary to carry out daily activities.
- Bone Breaks and Fractures – Almost any type of car crash can result in broken wrists, arms, legs, and other bones. These injuries take weeks, months, or sometimes years to heal and can keep you from enjoying many daily activities and put you in a lot of pain.
- Severe Burns – When vehicles collide, the damage can be devastating. It is not uncommon for engines to catch fire and cause debilitating third-degree burns, which can require extensive skin grafts and cause scarring or disfigurement.
No matter what type of injuries you endured, the liable party should be responsible for covering your losses. Your car accident lawyer in Seattle will stop at nothing to obtain maximum compensation in your claim.
From Cause to Fault
The success of your Seattle car accident claim is going to hinge on whether you can identify the party who is truly at fault for your crash. Name the wrong party, and you risk losing your ability to recover compensation altogether.
But when so many factors could cause car accidents in Seattle, how do you identify the at-fault party? As our experienced attorneys know, you have to start with identifying the cause of the crash. Each cause is going to implicate a unique set of potentially at-fault parties. The following are some common causes of car accidents in Seattle, as well as the parties they could implicate:
- Drunk Driving – This shouldn’t still be a problem on Seattle roads, but it is. When drivers make the irresponsible choice to get behind the wheel when they’re under the influence, they’re responsible for any accidents and injuries they cause.
- Drowsy Driving – It often comes as a surprise to drivers, but drowsy driving can be nearly as dangerous as drunk driving in some cases. Fatigue can slow drivers’ reaction times and make them less likely to see road hazards and oncoming vehicles. Drowsy drivers may also cause accidents when they fall asleep at the wheel.
- Distracted Driving – This is a growing problem that is concerning health and safety officials across the state of Washington. The list of possible driving distractions seems to grow every day. From cell phones to GPS systems, distractions in the car drastically increase the chance of accidents. If a driver was distracted when he or she caused your accident, he or she can be held responsible.
- Reckless Driving – It’s hard to call accidents caused by reckless drivers “accidents.” Speeding, running red lights, and rapidly shifting lanes without signaling are almost always intentional behaviors, and they’re very likely to cause collisions in Seattle. Reckless drivers can and should be held accountable for the damage they cause.
- Road Hazards – Seattle’s public roads are the responsibility of government agencies. When hazards like sharp curves, debris in the road, deep potholes, narrow shoulders, unsecured road construction zones, missing streetlamps or signs, or uneven lanes cause crashes, these agencies may be liable for the resulting injuries.
- Vehicle Problems – When brakes fail, airbags spontaneously deploy, and steering wheels stop functioning, injuries can happen. If those vehicle defects were the result of poor or careless manufacturing practices, the manufacturer of your vehicle could be held financially accountable for your damages.
Your attorney will conduct a thorough investigation to determine who should be named as the defendant in your case. By gathering photographic evidence, expert testimony, police reports, video footage, medical documentation, vehicle safety reports, witness statements, and other evidence, your attorney will be able to build a powerful case in your favor.
Washington State Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims
It is of utmost importance that your claim be filed before the statute of limitations runs out in your case. The clock starts ticking in one of two situations. The countdown can begin from the date that you were involved in the accident, or it can begin from the date that you are diagnosed with a condition that stems from the collision.
For instance, let’s say you felt fine in the first couple of days after the crash, but two weeks later you suffered from extreme neck pain and tightness in your shoulder. When you go to the doctor, you discover that you have whiplash caused by the car crash. The statute of limitations would begin from the date that you were diagnosed with a whiplash injury.
Failure to file your claim before the statute of limitations expires has unfortunate consequences: You will no longer be eligible to sue the at-fault party for your damages, and you’ll be stuck covering all of the costs you incurred. Don’t let this happen to you. As soon as you’ve been injured in an auto wreck, get help from a knowledgeable car accident lawyer.
What You Need to Know about the Insurance Company
Many claimants are under the impression that the insurance company is your friend. Sure, they’ll be the ones to settle your claim, but the truth of the matter is that the insurer has their best interests in mind, not yours.
As a for-profit industry, every time an insurance company pays out on a claim, they lose money. For these reasons they have a habit of doing anything possible to reduce the amount they’ll be expect to repay you.
Some of these unscrupulous strategies include manipulating the statements given to them by claimants who just want to do the right thing, and making low-ball settlement offers in the hopes of tempting claimants with some quick cash. Despite the fact that the insurer has made you an offer, they are more than likely making you an offer that’s well below what you’re actually entitled to.
By working with an attorney, you’re doing everything you can do to protect your settlement. Your lawyer will be prepared to deal with these insurer tactics and will negotiate with the insurance adjuster on your behalf so that there is little chance that you’ll walk away with less than you deserve.
Contributory Fault and How It May Impact Your Case
Calculating the compensation you should receive for your Seattle car crash is a big undertaking. You have to account for all your present and future damages, and then you have to account for any degree of fault you may hold.
That’s because Washington follows a doctrine called contributory fault. Under this rule, you can still receive compensation if you hold some of the blame for your crash, as long as another party holds the remainder of the fault. This is more commonly referred to as modified comparative negligence.
For instance, if you’re awarded $100,000 for your crash, but you hold 30 percent of the blame, your compensation will decrease by a corresponding 30 percent—to $70,000.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that modified comparative negligence in WA has a 50 percent threshold. This means that you can only pursue the recovery of your damages from the other involved party if your own culpability does not exceed 49 percent. Once you are found to be 50 percent or more at fault, not only will you no longer be able to file your car crash claim, but you could end up being the defendant in the other party’s case.
As can be seen, contributory fault can make a big dent in your compensation, but the most important determining factors are going to be your damages. Read on to learn more about the losses that may be included in your claim.
Secure Full Compensation for Your Suffering
The entire purpose in filing a car accident claim is to recover compensation for your losses. Some of the different types of damages that can be considered include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Vehicle damage
- Pain and suffering
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of consortium
- Wrongful death
- Loss of household services
- Mental anguish
- The effects of disfigurement or scarring
It will be up to your attorney to quantify your losses in a way that ensures that not a single loss goes unaccounted for when calculating the value of your claim. How much you are awarded will vary significantly on a case-by-case basis, but you can expect that how impactful your injuries have been and your level of fault will be contributing factors in the final award.
Seattle Car Accident FAQ
Being injured in an auto wreck would be difficult for anyone to go through, as it isn’t exactly a scenario you can plan for. Below, you will find the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions our clients have had in regards to their upcoming car crash claim.
How does auto insurance work in Washington?
Auto insurance may play a large role in your accident. Washington is a fault state. That means the insurer of the at-fault driver should cover your accident-related expenses.
Can I be compensated for a single-car accident?
Yes, under the right circumstances. If your crash was the result of a product defect or unsafe roads, you might be able to pursue compensation from the car manufacturer or government agency responsible for maintaining road safety.
What if I can’t afford a Seattle car crash attorney?
The attorneys at Craig Swapp & Associates work on a contingency fee basis. That means you don’t pay a fee unless we recover compensation for you, and your legal fees can come out of the compensation you recover so that you don’t have to worry about another bill being added to your plate.
Team Up with a Seattle Car Accident Attorney
As you pursue compensation for your car accident, you’re likely to come across several major obstacles. Chief among those will be the insurance company, which will do everything in its power to avoid compensating you.