A car accident is a sudden and traumatic event that is over in seconds yet it can affect your life forever. Once the shock wears off, the overwhelming reality of your situation sets in. You develop serious concerns about your finances and employment. At the same time, you deal with medical procedures and pain from your injury.
We take a chance any time we get behind the wheels of our cars. No matter how defensively you drive, other drivers often choose reckless behaviors that cause harm to those around them. If you’ve experienced a serious injury due to the negligent actions of another driver, contact a Seattle car accident attorney without delay. It is a smart first step toward protecting your financial, physical, and emotional future.
Typical Causes of Serious Car Accidents
Dangerous drivers surround us along Seattle streets and highways, although we don’t always know they are there. Concentrating on the road and your own driving leaves you little time to notice the actions of others. By the time you do, it is usually too late to prevent a crash. There are a variety of behaviors that can cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle. A driver may exhibit one, or a combination, of the following behaviors:
Distracted driving – According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nine people are killed each day in the United States and more than 1,000 injured due to distracted driving. The CDC lists the three main types of distraction as:
- Visual – Taking your eyes off the road
- Manual – Taking your hands off the wheel
- Cognitive – Taking your mind off driving
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that their annual Traffic Safety Culture Index found that 88 percent of drivers believe distracted driving is on the rise. Texting while behind the wheel is quickly becoming one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving. This behavior is especially hazardous because it encompasses all three types of distraction: visual, manual, and cognitive.
The CDC shares that sending or receiving a text at 55 miles per hour takes your eyes off the road for five seconds—long enough to cover the distance of a football field.
As vehicle technology advances, so does the potential for serious crashes. AAA research discovered that programming a navigational system is one of the most distracting tasks, requiring an average of 40 seconds to complete.
Distracted driving isn’t limited to technology. It can include such actions as applying makeup, reaching for objects, or eating while behind the wheel.
Driving under the influence (DUI) – In Washington state, DUI laws apply to the following:
- Prescription drugs
- Illegal drugs
- Over-the-counter medications
With recreational marijuana legal in Washington, there is real potential for encountering a driver high on tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—the drug responsible for most of marijuana’s side effects. State law states it is illegal to drive with 5 ng/ml or more of THC in your blood for those age 21 and older. For drivers under the age of 21, it is illegal to drive with any amount of THC in their blood.
Drunk driving continues as one of the nations’ deadliest causes of car accidents, despite numerous public safety campaigns. Drivers who combine alcohol with drugs place themselves and others at increased risk for serious harm and even death.
Aggressive driving – In a recent study, AAA found that 88 percent of drivers admitted to expressing anger, aggression, or road rage while behind the wheel at least once within the previous year.
There are several indicators that someone is an aggressive driver. The warning signs include:
- Weaving in and out of traffic
- Running red lights
- Speeding in heavy traffic
- Blocking cars attempting to pass or to change lanes
- Cutting in front of a driver then slowing down
- Changing lanes without signaling
Aggressive driving can quickly escalate to road rage when the driver takes the following actions:
- Throwing objects
- Using obscene gestures or cursing
- Forcing a driver off the road
Purposely tailgating is one of the top behaviors that instigates the potential for a crash. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that more than 100 million drivers admit to the behavior within the past year.
A driver’s license is a privilege, and not a right. Everyone has a responsibility to share the road and to refrain from reckless behavior behind the wheel. When the careless actions of another driver cause you serious harm, it is imperative that you contact a Seattle personal injury lawyer without delay.
Common Injuries From Car Accidents
A serious crash can leave you with injuries that may never heal. The sudden and harsh impact may affect your ability to perform daily tasks, resulting in expensive and ongoing medical care. Here are just a few examples of catastrophic injuries that are common results of serious crashes:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI) – The CDC defines a TBI as a sudden bump, blow, or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury. Car accidents are among the leading causes of TBIs. When a TBI is severe, it has long term and possibly permanent effects on a person’s cognitive and motor function. Sensation issues such as vision and hearing are also a possibility with a severe TBI.
- Spinal cord injury – The spinal cord does important work in relaying and receiving information to and from the brain. A spinal cord injury is often described as complete or incomplete. When it is a complete injury, there is no sensory or motor function below the injury. An incomplete injury means there is some ability to convey messages to the brain and limited sensation and movement below the injury.
- Neck and back injuries – Severe injuries to your neck or back can result in multiple surgeries and extensive physical therapy. These injuries may require you to wear a brace, resulting in a limited ability to perform certain functions at home and at work.
- Broken bones – One broken bone is bad enough, but chances are a serious crash will leave you with multiple broken bones. A broken bone in a limb such as your arm or le, compromise your ability to lift items or to simply walk. Depending upon the type of break in the bone, you may face surgery and a long recovery.
- Internal bleeding – An internal injury isn’t always visible to the naked eye. Diagnosing internal bleeding requires a professional health care provider. Even if you feel fine after an accident, always get checked by a medical professional. You never know what symptoms will arise after you leave the accident scene.
Any serious injury from a car accident can prevent you from returning to your place of employment. Your chosen career and ability to provide for your family can end depending upon the extent of your injuries.
The High Costs of Serious Accident Injuries
Regardless of whether you have health insurance, medical costs continue to rise. Your medical expenses may not stop once you leave the hospital, due to your need for expensive medications, services, and equipment.
For injuries that result in a need for nursing home care, the costs are astronomical. The average nursing home costs approximately $8,000 a month. Other expensive needs may include a power chair, which averages $12,000-$24,000 with frequent replacements needed. Home modifications and accessible transportation are also expenses that may need replacing over time. Depending upon the severity of the injury, a need to relocate closer to a larger medical facility is sometimes another expensive necessity.
Future medical expenses and care are something that aggressive insurance companies usually don’t consider when offering you a settlement. At Boohoff Law, we consider these expenses and research them extensively to better understand your future financial needs.
Contact a Car Crash Attorney for More Information
Seattle police reported more than 10,000 vehicle collisions during 2017. This data demonstrates that it is almost not of matter of if but rather a matter of when people may experience a serious collision. Take two important steps when you are seriously injured in a crash due to the negligence of another driver:
- Seek medical attention immediately. Remember that not all injuries are visible—some internal injuries may not show any symptoms.
- Contact an auto accident lawyer. Seeking the advice of an experienced Seattle personal injury attorney is top-of-the-list in actions you must take to protect you and your family’s future.
It is not uncommon in the days and weeks following a crash to hear from the other driver’s insurance company. Chances are they will offer you a large sum in order to settle the case quickly. While the initial offer may appear attractive, it most likely isn’t enough money to cover your long term medical expenses.
Having someone to represent your best interests is crucial for securing the compensation you deserve. While each case is different, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Negotiating with insurance companies isn’t easy. It is something you need an experienced law firm to do for you. Look for someone who knows the tactics insurance companies use to delay or deny payment, particularly when it comes to Washington law.
When it comes to litigation in personal injury cases, time is not on your side. Let an experienced car accident lawyer review your case as soon as possible. Should you proceed with litigation, you must do so so before the statute of limitations expires. The time required to interview witnesses and to conduct research is why contacting an attorney is a top priority. As you become focused on future surgeries and rehabilitation, time can easily slip away. The accident that resulted in your painful injuries was unfair, and the driver must be held accountable for their actions. If you lost a loved one due to the negligence of another driver, discuss your options for a wrongful death case.
You want someone who keeps their clients informed throughout the process. You never want to wonder about the status of your case, so your lawyer should always welcome your calls and questions. A caring and professional team should prove willing to meet with you at your home or the hospital if necessary.
If a lawyer cannot reach a fair settlement with an insurance company, you want someone who is unafraid to go to trial.
No one should suffer physically, financially, or emotionally due to the reckless behavior of another driver. A quick trip to the store or your commute to work can turn to tragedy in a second when another driver chooses to drink and drive or to text a friend.