Seattle Auto Accident Attorney
If you have been injured in an auto accident there some things you should know right away. Insurance companies often resist paying a fair amount for personal injury claims. Insurance companies often resist even paying medical bills. You should contact an auto accident attorney early for a free personal injury case evaluation.
In the meantime, if you have been injured in an auto accident
- Do not give a recorded or written statement, except to the police or your own insurance carrier.
- Do not sign anything without an attorney reviewing it first.
- Take pictures. Take photographs of the property damage and accident scene. Take pictures of any scarring or bruising.
- Do not discuss your injuries with the at-fault insurance company. You should discuss only the damage to your car and the need for a rental car or “loss of use” compensation.
- Do not agree to an “independent” medical exam with anyone, including your own insurance company, without first speaking to an attorney.
Medical Attention for Auto Accident Related Injury
If you have any doubts, seek medical attention for your injury either at the emergency room or as soon as possible with your primary care physician. This is important for two reasons: first, and most importantly, there could be something seriously wrong that requires prompt medical attention. Any delay in care could exacerbate the condition. Second, your injury requires documentation. Without documentation, any claim you might pursue later could be adversely effected. If you don’t obtain treatment, the other driver’s insurance company will assume that you have not suffered any injury.
Insurance Coverage for Auto Accidents
If you have been injured in an auto accident that is the fault of another driver you are entitled to property damage, lost wages, and medical expenses, as well as compensation for pain and suffering. Even if the accident is not your fault, an injured person’s actual medical expenses are not awarded automatically. Instead, the injury victim must prove that the medical expenses are reasonable, related to the auto accident, and necessary.
The party at fault may not have enough, or any, insurance. In that event you will need to consider how to ascertain what other assets the party may have and how to establish a claim under your uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist coverage.
If your insurance company – whether auto insurance or health insurance – paid any benefits to you and you collect from an at fault party, then your insurance company is legally entitled to be reimbursed. This is also true of DSHS benefits as well as worker’s comp (or “L&I”) benefits. This legal rule is called subrogation.
Attorney Fees in Auto Accident Cases
Auto accident attorney fees are generally on a contingency fee basis. That is what we offer. If our client does not recover any damages, we do not get paid.
The attorney fees come out of the injury settlement. But, the insurance company or governmental agency may be legally obligated to pay a pro rata share of your legal expenses if you retain an attorney. This may apply by state law, federal law, and/or contract.
Read any personal injury retainer agreement carefully before signing it. You should know whether you pay any additional attorney fee for this pro rata reduction. Ask any injury attorney you are considering hiring if the attorney keeps any of the Mahler or other pro rata reductions.
Washington law on Automobile Accidents
The legal rules to determine who was at fault will depend on the facts you can prove about how the car accident happened. Here are some common car accident scenarios.
- rear end car accident
- failure to yield car accident
- uncontrolled intersection accident
- injury to auto accident passenger
- auto accidents involving speed
- highway design defects
- buses and other public transit
- pedestrian injury accidents
The Auto Accident Police Report
For many auto accidents there is a police report. Although this is certainly a good place to start, the police report in and of itself does not determine who was at fault, even if one or more drivers in the car accident were cited for traffic violation.
The auto accident police report, and the fact that a driver was cited for a traffic violation in an auto accident, might not even be admissible as evidence in court depending the particular circumstances of an auto accident case.
The police report is hearsay, and any witness statements quoted or summarized in the police report are also hearsay, although exceptions often apply.
The police officer investigating an auto accident can cite a driver for traffic violation, but the police officer is not a judge, and does not have legal authority to make a final determination about who was at fault.
Free Auto Accident Personal Injury Case Evaluation.
This information about auto accident injury claims is very general and the topic is broad and complex. Contact us for advice about your particular circumstances. You have nothing to lose by getting a free personal injury case evaluation from a Seattle auto accident attorney.
Auto Accident FAQs:
The other driver was cited by police. Doesn’t that mean he is automatically responsible? Or: I was cited by police. Doesn’t that mean that I have no claim?
See our blog posts on auto accident personal injury claims
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