Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit?

The loss of a loved one leaves a void nothing can replace. When their death is the result of another person or entity’s wrongful act, neglect, or default, there are legal options. A wrongful death lawsuit may provide you and your family with some form of closure and financial security. If you choose to pursue this route, recent updates to Washington law make it important to seek out the services of a professional who understands the changes. If you’ve recently lost a loved one due to someone’s negligence, contacting a wrongful death lawyer is a smart idea. They can assist assist you with any legal questions you might have about experiencing the loss of a loved one. Speak with the professionals at Boohoff Law today.

Defining Wrongful Death

Wrongful Death Lawyer To file a wrongful death claim, you must prove that your loved one died due to someone else’s negligence. Negligence means that the responsible party failed to use the same level of care a reasonable person would use in the same circumstances.

A wrongful death case is a civil lawsuit. If successful, the result is financial compensation. The responsible party may also face criminal charges that result in jail time, fines, or other punishment, but those charges must be filed by a state prosecuting attorney. Washington law allows plaintiffs to pursue a civil lawsuit whether or not a criminal charge has been filed.

Common Causes of Wrongful Death

There are a variety of scenarios where a wrongful death may occur. The following examples are just a few common causes of deaths that often result in wrongful death litigation.

Auto Accidents

According to the Washington Department of Transportation (WDOT), auto accidents cause more than 500 deaths in the state every year. There are several contributing factors to reckless behavior that result in traffic deaths, including:

Impaired driving – Drunk driving accidents plague the nation’s highways and city streets. A driver who is drunk or under the influence of drugs is a deadly force behind the wheel. Impaired drivers kill thousands of motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians every year.

Speeding – In today’s busy world, everyone is in a hurry. Speeders who think they can beat a traffic light are especially dangerous in intersections. A side-impact collision is often deadly when the speeder impacts another car’s front door panel. Speeding is just one form of aggressive driving that can quickly escalate into road rage.

Distracted driving – The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines distracted driving as any behavior that takes:

  • Your eyes off the road;
  • Your hands off the wheel; and/or
  • Your mind off driving

Texting while behind the wheel involves all three forms of distracted driving behavior. In fact, according to the CDC, reading or sending a text while driving at 55 miles per hour takes your eyes off the road for about five seconds—long enough to cover the distance of a football field in your car. Other distracted driving behaviors include eating, applying makeup, or reaching for objects.

Inexperienced drivers – The newfound freedom of a driver’s license and a lack of maturity can be a deadly combination when it comes to teen drivers. Peer pressure to speed or to drink, along with distracting passengers, place other drivers in harm’s way. Zero tolerance laws regarding teen drinking and punishments such as license suspension do little to stop teens from causing deadly accidents.

Medical Malpractice

Receiving medical care for a simple procedure or illness shouldn’t result in death. Overworked doctors and miscommunication among staff can lead to serious medical errors. A study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that medical errors kill more than 250,000 people a year.

Examples of medical malpractice cases that can result in death include:

  • A misdiagnosis – One of the most frequent medical errors, a misdiagnosis sends patients down the wrong treatment path. Unnecessary tests, procedures, and medications delay treatment of the true medical issue. By the time doctors discover the true diagnosis, it can be too late.
  • Medication mistakes – A report by the Institute of Medicine estimates that medication errors injure 1.5 million Americans every year. Missing medications, receiving too much medication or the wrong kind can lead a loved one’s death.
  • Infections – The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that hospital-acquired infections affect more than 1.7 million people each year. Infections can become deadly when combined with a weakened immune system.
  • Never events – These medical errors are called never events because you truly never expect them. Never events include such errors as operating on the wrong limb or leaving items inside a body during surgery. Depending upon the circumstances, never events can lead to deadly consequences for your loved one.

When a loved one receives the wrong treatment, it only compounds their original health issues. Patients place their trust in healthcare professionals and rely on them to provide the best care possible. Preventable mistakes that destroy that trust and result in death demand accountability. If a medical mistake cost your loved one their life, it’s time to discuss your options with a medical malpractice attorney.

Defective Products

Consumers trust that products are safe when they make a purchase. When a product results in your loved one’s death, a wrongful death claim is a possibility. The reason a product killed your loved one may appear obvious, such as defective part, or it may require investigation. Common examples of defective products that can result in wrongful death litigation include:

    • Cribs, high chairs, or other baby products;
    • Automobile parts;
    • Medical devices;
    • Appliances; and
    • Sporting goods.

Wrongful death litigation involving defective products is complex. For example, a defective auto part can lead to a claim against the part maker and the auto manufacturer. Understanding how to secure the maximum compensation possible requires the skills of a personal injury attorney.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit

The law is specific when it comes to who can file a wrongful death suit. Current state law allows the following people to file wrongful death litigation:

  • The victim’s spouse;
  • The victim’s state-registered domestic partner;
  • The victim’s child or children, including stepchildren; and/or
  • A personal representative on behalf of the victim’s estate.

If none of the above people exist, a victim’s parents or siblings may file wrongful death litigation. Recent changes to Washington law now allow parents and siblings to pursue litigation even if they do not live in the United States. They also no longer have to prove they were financially dependant upon the deceased.

The parents or legal guardians of an adult who was a wrongful death victim must prove their “significant involvement” in the victim’s life to be eligible to file a wrongful death suit. As plaintiffs, they must prove they had a parent-child relationship around the time of death that was of an emotional, psychological, or financial nature.

Personal representatives are appointed by Washington State probate courts whenever a person dies and their assets and personal property—their estate—must be distributed by the court, whether or not they had a will at the time of their death. Washington law requires a personal representative to represent the deceased person’s estate in a wrongful death lawsuit. A personal representative is either court-appointed or a trusted friend or family member chosen by the family.

Washington courts only allow for one wrongful death suit in the event of a person’s death due to negligence, however, more than one party may join the suit. For example, each parent is entitled to recover for their own loss apart from the other parent. This is regardless of their marital status. Should one parent bring a wrongful death action and the other parent is not named as a plaintiff, notice of the suit and a copy must reach the other parent and anyone else who may have a right to recover. If another party wants to join the lawsuit, they must do so within twenty days of being notified.

When a family loses a loved one due to another person’s negligence, emotions almost always run high. It is a time of grief, stress, and anger. Deciding to pursue a wrongful death claim is an important decision and a family’s right under Washington law. A personal injury attorney can help you to better understand exactly who can file when it comes to you and your family.

Common Types of Damages

No amount of money can replace your loved one, of course. But fair compensation for the following types of damages can help relieve your financial stress following a loved one’s unexpected death. Plaintiffs may be entitled to economic and noneconomic damages that result from the death. While each case is different, you may be entitled to:

  • Funeral and burial expenses;
  • Final medical bills for the deceased;
  • Lost wages and income the deceased would have earned had they not died;
  • Damages for any pain and suffering experienced by the deceased during their final injury or neglect; and
  • The loss of intangible benefits by survivors of the deceased, such as companionship.

In addition to recovering the decedent’s economic losses, the plaintiffs are entitled to damages for the decedent’s pain and suffering, anxiety, emotional distress, or humiliation. The amount awarded depends upon the facts of the case.

A personal injury attorney may succeed in negotiating a settlement without going to court. Should representatives for the defendant reject such efforts, any attorney you hire should be unafraid to go to trial.

The average cost of a funeral in the United States is between $7,000 and $9,000. This unexpected expense, along with other possible financial concerns, can make the time after a loved one’s death unbearably difficult financially as well as emotionally. No one should pay out-of-pocket, or endure financial hardship when a loved one dies due to someone else’s negligence.

When a Wrongful Death Attorney May Help

Losing a loved one is traumatic enough. When their death was preventable, it is downright tragic. Recent changes to Washington’s wrongful death laws are beneficial to those who lost a loved one due to someone else’s wrongful actions. A highly experienced personal injury attorney knowledgeable about the updates can help navigate you through this difficult time.

While insurance companies may offer you an attractive settlement, speak with an attorney first. Your time of grief is no time to accept an initial settlement offer. The insurance company representatives want to settle the case quickly and do not have your best interests in mind.

Preparing a wrongful death claim takes time. Reviewing your loved one’s final medical bills and lost earning potential involves detailed research. Chances are that the research will show that the initial settlement offer isn’t nearly enough to cover expenses or to protect your future.

If you’ve lost a loved one due to another person’s negligence, discuss your case with a personal injury attorney. Most attorneys offer free case evaluations and they can provide you with options for moving forward.

Time Is of the Essence

The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim in Washington is three years. This may seem like a lot of time, however, the sooner an attorney reviews your case, the sooner they can get to work. Time passes quickly during the grieving process, and with so much on your mind, it is easy to let time slip away.

Be proactive in seeking justice on your loved one’s behalf. Their tragic death and your tremendous loss were preventable. This knowledge is heartbreaking and you deserve fair compensation. When it comes to wrongful death litigation, don’t try to go it alone and do reach out to a professional personal injury attorney as soon as you can. Let them handle the details of the case so that you can focus on the grieving process.

Time is of the essence so don’t delay. Losing a loved one due to a drunk driver, a medical mistake or a defective product isn’t fair. You trust other drivers to share the road, doctors to not make mistakes, and manufacturers to put only safe products on the market. A death involving a breach of this trust is possible grounds for a wrongful death claim.

Call a Washington Personal Injury Attorney for More Information

Personal Injury Attorney Tatiana BoohoffLearn more about your options regarding a wrongful death claim by reaching out to a personal injury attorney. Their knowledge and experience can greatly assist you in understanding the process. A wrongful death claim takes time, so don’t delay. Witnesses’ memories may fade and evidence can become lost. The sooner you contact an attorney, the sooner they can collect what they need for your case.

Breathe easier knowing your case is in good hands. A personal injury attorney experienced with wrongful death claims provides the legal representation you need during such a tragic time.


Call (877) 999-9999 or email Boohoff Law today – available 24/7

What to Do After a Car Hit You as a Pedestrian

Pedestrian Accident What to do Almost all Washington residents walk every day, and the Washington Traffic Safety Commission estimates 25 to 30 percent of the state’s population depends on walking as their primary or only mode of transportation. Whether you walk for exercise, to enjoy the outdoors, or to commute for work, you face the risk of a car striking you. Perhaps you have already been a victim of a pedestrian accident, so you are all too familiar with the dangers of being a pedestrian. In any case, you might be wondering about the steps you need to take after a car hits you while you are walking.

Pedestrians have no protection against a car, so accidents are often severe, and can be fatal. The pedestrian accident attorneys at Boohoff Law understand those who have been struck by a car likely cannot do much, if anything, immediately following an accident. Yet, to provide as much valuable information as possible, we also write this guide for those who have a friend or family member who can help them in the immediate aftermath of a pedestrian accident. Whether you are a pedestrian accident victim, or a family member or friend of the injured victim, the following things serve as a to-do list in the minutes, hours, and days after a pedestrian accident.

 

Prioritize Your Health and Safety

It’s likely someone will immediately call 911 after a car hits you. You might be conscious and you might even be able to stand or move, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need medical treatment. If you aren’t automatically transported to the nearest emergency room via ambulance, you need to accept medical treatment at the scene of the accident or make sure a friend or family member gets you to the hospital immediately. If you can move to the side of the road away from traffic, you should do so to maintain your safety.

Adrenaline can cause you to feel fine after an accident, but in fact, you could have internal injuries of which you are not yet aware. Similarly, if you hit your head during the accident, you might not notice the symptoms of a traumatic brain injury for hours or days afterward. A doctor needs to thoroughly examine you and document your accident and injuries. Medical documentation serves as convincing evidence for insurance companies and the court, if you file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who hit you.

 

Gather Contact Information

If you are physically able, you need to get information from the driver who hit you. When law enforcement arrives at the scene, they will most likely take care of this, but it’s always in your best interest to ask for it yourself, as well. In addition to getting the driver’s name, address, phone, and/or email, you should also ask for their insurance information and write down the make and model of their vehicle, as well as their license plate information. Additionally, you should ask for contact information from any occupants in the car or witnesses who stopped to help, and record any police officers’ name, badge number, and department when they arrive at the scene of the accident.

Remember to keep your discussions brief when you gather information. Don’t fully or partially admit fault in a pedestrian accident, even unintentionally. Motor vehicle drivers have a special duty of care towards pedestrians, so even if you admit to jaywalking, you still might be able to seek compensation. Yet, you do risk not being able to file a lawsuit and the insurance company devaluing your claim. It’s in your best interest to not discuss the facts of the case with anyone.

 

Take Photos at the Scene

Provided you are physically able to move after the accident, use your cell phone to take video and/or photos of the scene of the accident. This will aid with insurance claims, settlements, and lawsuits by providing solid evidence about the details of the accident. You should take pictures of any damage done to the vehicle when the driver hit you, as well as any visible injuries you have as a result of the accident, and any skid marks the vehicle might have made if they applied their brakes before striking you. If you didn’t record the make/model of the vehicle and the license plate, you should also snap some photos of these items too.

When the driver struck you, other collisions might have also occurred depending on the level of traffic. Make sure to take photos of those collisions and associated damage. Once clean up crews arrive on the scene, potentially valuable evidence might be lost forever. These additional photos can help build a stronger case against the driver who hit you if you file a personal injury lawsuit.

 

Record Conditions of the Accident

The police report will likely record all these things, so you don’t have to worry if you aren’t able to record conditions. Yet, it’s always better to take note of these things when you can, in case the law enforcement officer gets it wrong. You should take special note of the location, time, and date, as well as any hazards or road conditions that might have contributed to the accident. For example, if a car hit you when it was icy out, this might be important because it suggests the driver might have been traveling too fast for conditions, or they wouldn’t have struck you. You should also record any weather conditions such as whether it was raining, overcast, sunny, etc.

 

Obtain a Police Report

Often you will have to wait for law enforcement to finish the final copy of their accident report, so it won’t be immediately available to you. Ask the officer(s) at the scene of an accident to provide a final copy of the police report to you as soon as it is available. Find out if the officer will mail you a hard copy, email you a copy, or if you need to pick up a copy of the report at their station. In many cases, you can obtain a collision report online.

Police reports are valuable for two reasons. First, they allow you to double-check the information you recorded from the accident and make sure the story is right. Second, they establish fault, put you at the scene of the accident and remove a substantial amount of questions and doubt for insurance claims and personal injury lawsuits.

 

File an Insurance Claim

Washington is a tort liability state, which means the at-fault party in a traffic accident is financially liable for damages. Initially, you might have to use your own health insurance to cover your medical treatment, but ultimately the driver’s insurance carrier should be picking up the tab, especially when liability is clear.

The driver who struck you might or might not file a claim with their auto insurance carrier. Most carriers require a driver to file a claim when the driver causes bodily injury. Failure to do so can result in the cancellation of coverage. Yet, you should ensure the driver’s insurance company knows about the accident by filing a claim with them yourself. Remember, insurance companies will do everything to avoid paying a claim, so don’t offer details about the accident. Only offer the bare minimum information to let the company know about the accident. Ultimately, it’s in your best interest to let an attorney handle the communication with the driver’s insurance company.

 

Keep a Journal

You’ve likely taken pictures of any visible injuries immediately after your pedestrian accidents. As the days go on, continue to document your injuries in a journal by snapping pictures of your visible injuries each day, every other day, or when you notice a significant change. If your spouse, child, or other loved one has been injured, you can document their progression in a journal each day. A journal provides hard evidence demonstrating which injuries are healing, which are worsening, and which remain the same. When insurance companies settle claims and courts award damages, the severity of injuries matter, but so does the likelihood of a full recovery.

Not all physical injuries are visible and being the victim of a pedestrian accident can also cause mental anguish and emotional distress. In addition to taking photos, you should keep a written daily record of progress, how you are feeling, and the emotional struggles you might be coping with. When courts award damages for a personal injury claim, some of them are for non-economic losses like pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement, and others having to do with changes in personal relationships. A journal that documents the intangible aspects of your injuries provides an additional tool for an attorney who negotiates or litigates your case.

 

Keep Proof of Economic Loss

When you are involved in a pedestrian accident, it is extremely important to keep records of economic losses related to your injuries. You will have medical bills for a variety of things like an ambulance ride, emergency room visit, hospitalization, X-rays, medication, and doctor visits. If you or your loved one’s injury is severe or catastrophic, your expenses might also include physical therapy, assistive devices, and long-term nursing care.

You should also keep gas receipts for travel to and from doctor appointments and receipts for any domestic replacement services you needed such as lawn care, cleaning, cooking, etc. In situations where pedestrian accidents result in severe injuries that require extensive recovery or permanent disability, victims might have to modify their homes to make them more accessible. For example, you might need to build a wheelchair ramp, install handrails in the bathroom and shower, or purchase a special hospital bed. Save the receipts for these home modification expenses, which also add to the value of any settlement or claim.

Additionally, it’s highly likely you will miss work for days, weeks, or longer if you suffered a severe injury. Even if you anticipate a full recovery, healing takes time and varies based on the location, severity, and type of injury. You will need to have documentation to prove your income before the accident, and to account for lost wages. You should also document any paid time off, including personal days and sick days that you were forced to use as a result of your accident and injury. This information will help a lawyer place a monetary value on your claim. If your pedestrian accident resulted in a permanent disability, proof of income will also help value your claim by providing evidence for the loss of future earnings.

 

Consult an Experienced Pedestrian Accident Attorney

Personal Injury Attorney Tatiana BoohoffNot all traffic accidents require the skills and expertise of a personal injury attorney, but pedestrian accidents are in a special class of their own. Unless a car hit you so slowly that it didn’t even knock you down and you were able to walk away and go about your daily life, you will most likely need to consult a pedestrian accident lawyer. At Boohoff Law we will help investigate your accident and build a case against the driver who hit you, but most importantly they will communicate with the driver’s insurance company.

Although exceptions exist, in the vast majority of pedestrian accidents, the driver’s auto insurance carrier will be held financially responsible for the accident. The insurance company knows this, but wants to avoid paying the full amount an injured pedestrian deserves. This leads many insurance companies to offer quick settlements to victims, which are typically much lower than the value of the claim but high enough to entice victims to accept and ensure the insurance company isn’t ordered by a court to pay out a much higher amount later on. They are especially tempting to pedestrian accident victims who are struggling financially with medical bills and lost wages.

Speaking with a skilled attorney will diligently pursue the best outcome for your case and help you get the compensation you deserve.

Violating Traffic Laws Causes Motorcycle Accidents

The Washington Traffic Safety Commission reports that motorcyclists suffer far more injuries and fatalities as a group than others on the road. Approximately three percent of road traffic throughout the state is motorcycles. Yet, motorcycle collisions account for 15 percent of traffic fatalities and 19 percent of traffic crash-related injuries; discouraging statistics that have remained constant for more than 10 years.

Even when bikers take all precautions, drive safely, and wear a helmet, they still face the risk of injury or fatality because of other drivers on the road. Whether purposely or accidentally, motor vehicle drivers who violate traffic regulations put motorcyclists in great danger. Traffic laws are in place to make everyone who shares the road safer. Understanding how violating these laws can lead to a motorcycle accident might help you avoid an accident, whether you are on two wheels or four. Below you will find descriptions of some of the most common traffic violations that endanger motorcyclists on the road. If you have already been involved in a serious motorcycle accident schedule a free consultation today with a motorcycle accident lawyer to see how you can get compensated.

Following Too Closely

Motorcycle accident lawyer

Under Washington law (RCW 46.61.145), a motor vehicle driver “shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.” Tailgating is often a result of being impatient or being rushed, but other times it’s simply a bad driving habit, especially in younger drivers. When following a motorcycle too closely, motor vehicle drivers risk a collision or running over a biker. Tailgating doesn’t allow a driver enough time or distance to react to what might occur in front of the vehicle.

Consider the following situation. A car, who is followed by a motorcycle, slams on their brakes because a deer crosses the road. The motorcyclist is keeping a safe distance, but as he applies his brakes his tire blows out, he skids, and within seconds the biker is lying on the ground next to his bike. The vehicle following the biker is tailgating, so he doesn’t have time to stop quickly enough and he runs over the biker. Road hazards can set off chain reactions in traffic and any driver who tailgates is not only breaking the law, but can easily cause a rear-end collision or strike a motorcycle as in the above example.

Drivers education programs recommend leaving a two-second gap when following another vehicle, and defensive driving programs recommend increasing the distance to four seconds, especially in poor weather conditions, poor road conditions, or heavy traffic. Although Washington law provides no set following distance, if a vehicle follows a motorcycle closely enough to cause a collision, the driver has likely violated the law.

Disobeying Traffic Control Devices

In the vast majority of cases, ignoring stop signs, yield signs, traffic lights, and other traffic control devices is not a conscious decision. A driver might be distracted or hasn’t properly scanned the road or looked far enough ahead to notice traffic signs and signals. Regardless of their intentions, ignoring traffic control devices can cause a severe or deadly motorcycle accident. Ignoring speed limit signs might result in a driver going too fast for conditions and causing an accident. Rolling through a stop sign puts a driver in the cross-traffic lane, making it difficult for other drivers, including bikers, to avoid a collision.

One example of a traffic sign that many people ignore on purpose is a no U-turn sign after they’ve missed a turn or find themselves traveling in the wrong direction. When motorists make an illegal U-turn, it is typically an erratic quick turn that can easily cause an accident. Motorcycle riders are particularly at risk in this situation because it’s highly likely the driver is distracted or frustrated and hasn’t carefully evaluated the traffic around them. Motorcycles are sometimes difficult to see and a driver can easily cut a motorcycle off or turn into one when they are making an illegal U-turn.

Failure to Use Turn Signals

Washington Law (RCW 46.61.305) requires drivers to use turn signals to change lanes and make a turn. Specifically, drivers must give a signal at least 100 feet before turning. The law also states that “no person shall stop or suddenly decrease the speed of a vehicle without first giving an appropriate signal” when they have the opportunity to do so.

When drivers properly use their turn signals they send information to those with whom they share the road about their intentions, so others have the opportunity to properly respond. But when a failure to signal causes a rear-end collision, it’s likely a court will still find the rear vehicle at fault. In the vast majority of cases, law enforcement and the court will determine that the collision occurred because the rear vehicle was following the lead vehicle too closely.

Many drivers get lazy about turn signals and assume people around them know where they are going. In fact, a national study of 12,000 vehicles in 2012 revealed that almost 50 percent of drivers don’t signal when changing lanes, and about 25 percent don’t use their signals when turning. The study also found that approximately two million traffic collisions each year across the United States are a result of drivers failing to use their turn signals; more than twice the amount of accidents caused by distracted drivers as reported by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Bikers are especially vulnerable to accidents when drivers change lanes without signaling on a highway or interstate with two or more lanes. As previously mentioned, motorcycles are difficult to see, and a driver who changes lanes might run into a biker. If the driver fails to signal their intentions to change lanes, the motorcyclist has no way to avoid a collision.

Speeding

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration estimates that speeding accounts for more than one quarter of all traffic fatalities across the United States. Speeding increases the force upon impact during a collision, causing speed-related crashes to lead to fatalities more often than other types of traffic collisions. This is of special concern to motorcyclists who have far less protection (basically only motorcycle helmets) than cars from careless drivers who drive over the posted limit or too fast for conditions.

Speed limits are in place to protect those who travel on the nation’s streets, roads, and highways. States have different variations of speeding laws, some more open to interpretation than others. Washington’s speeding laws (RCW 46.61.400) are clear, and include the following guidelines and limits:

  • No driver can operate a vehicle on a highway at a speed “greater than is reasonable and prudent” when road hazards are present.
  • When no hazards are present and conditions are safe, Washington drivers must adhere to the following maximum speed limits:
    • 25 miles per hour on streets in cities and towns;
    • 50 miles per hour on county roads; and
    • 60 miles per hour on state highways.
  • Drivers must operate their vehicle at an appropriately reduced speed in the following scenarios:
    • When approaching and crossing an intersection or railroad crossing;
    • When approaching and going around a curve;
    • When approaching the top of a hill;
    • When traveling on a narrow or winding road;
    • When pedestrians present a special hazard; and
    • When weather or highway conditions call for reduced speed.

Drivers might be running late, stressed out and impatient, or simply in a hurry, so they choose to speed. Violating the law and traveling above the posted speed limit or too fast for conditions makes it more likely they will lose control of their vehicle and cause an accident. Motorcycles in the vicinity of speeding drivers are at risk of being involved in a life-threatening accident.

Driving Too Slowly

Driving slowly might not cause fatal accidents often, but it still can lead to serious traffic crashes resulting in severe injury, especially for motorcyclists. Washington law (RCW 46.61.425) requires motor vehicle drivers to travel at a minimum speed that doesn’t “impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law.”

This law also assumes drivers are otherwise operating their vehicle under the legal maximum speed. Drivers who go too slowly usually create an annoyance for others on the road, but when it becomes really dangerous for others, including bikers, is when drivers are driving too slowly in the left lane of a highway or interstate.

What was once just proper driving etiquette—slower traffic staying to the right—is now law in most states, including Washington. Drivers must stay to the right when traveling on multi-lane roadways unless they are passing another vehicle, preparing to merge or make a left turn or exit, or when traveling at a greater speed than the flow of traffic.

When drivers go too slowly in the fast lane, they slow all traffic. All it takes is for one car to hit another and create a chain reaction. Motorcycle riders involved in multi-vehicle accidents or pile-ups generally do not fare well. Even if they live through an accident like this, bikers risk being pinned between or under other vehicles or trucks impacted by the slow driver.

Driving While Distracted

A driving distraction is anything that takes your mind, hands, or eyes away from the road. Cell phone use involves all three types of distractions, which is why most states make cell phone use while driving illegal. In Washington, drivers can only use their cell phones while driving if they are using a hands-free feature that only requires them to push one button or make a quick swipe. Washington drivers can also use their cell phones when they are parked, out of the flow of traffic, or calling emergency services. The Washington Traffic Safety Commission estimates 70 percent of observed distracted drivers were on their cell phones.

Yet, it isn’t only cell phone use that puts bikers in danger of an accident, but other distracting behaviors, too. These include:

  • Eating and drinking;
  • Helping passengers in the back seat;
  • Watching an event outside of the vehicle, typically a traffic accident;
  • Personal grooming such as putting on makeup, combing hair, etc.;
  • Adjusting the radio, climate control, or other vehicle features; and
  • Daydreaming.

The safe operation of a motor vehicle requires a driver to see a hazard and adequately process the information to properly respond to the hazard. Distracted drivers are not capable of doing this, which puts motorcyclists and others in danger of a severe or fatal accident.

Driving Under the Influence of Controlled Substances

Most people think of alcohol when they think of driving under the influence; however, many other controlled substances can impair a driver and put others in danger. Between alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs, including prescription medications, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission estimates that 50 percent of traffic fatalities each year are a result of impaired driving. Impaired drivers have a slower reaction time and cannot process information as quickly as usual while driving. This can result in severe accidents for all involved.

The legal threshold for alcohol in Washington is 0.08 blood or breath alcohol concentration, just as in every other state. Law enforcement has more discretion to determine that a driver is impaired when drugs are involved because drug use is more difficult to quantify.

Motorcycle riders are especially at risk for a DUI-related accident at night. Motor vehicle drivers already need to pay special attention to bikers to safely share the road, which becomes more difficult at night. Impaired drivers on the road add a layer of danger for bikers. Those who are far above the legal limit and exhibiting the highest levels of impairment can easily swerve into a motorcycle, come up too fast from behind and collide with a biker, or cut a motorcycle off in traffic.

Call a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer for More Information

Personal Injury Attorney Tatiana Boohoff

Motorcyclists always need to drive defensively to maintain their personal safety on the road. Yet, when motor vehicle drivers choose to violate traffic laws, bikers need to be on particularly high alert. If you have suffered injuries as a result of a motorcycle accident caused by a careless motorist, you might be eligible for damages in civil court. Contact a motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible to determine your eligibility.


Call (877) 999-9999 or email Boohoff Law today – available 24/7

Types of Serious Injuries That Can Change Your Life

A sudden and serious injury can forever change your daily life. Things you take for granted like walking, talking, hearing, and seeing can disappear in an instant due to no fault of your own. These types of injuries often result in never-ending medical expenses and can leave you unable to return to work. A severe and life-altering personal injury demands justice. To learn how a personal injury claim might help you in your particular circumstances, consider reaching out to an attorney today. At Boohoff Law consultations are free and a skilled personal injury attorney is ready to answer any of your questions. call today.

Common Causes of Serious Injuries

Types of Injuries

Most people take reasonable care as they go about their day. Whether in their car or at work, using caution and avoiding unnecessary risks makes it likely that they will return home safe and sound.

But when people behave recklessly, they place others at risk for serious injury. Their negligence means they fail to take the same precautions you likely take to attempt to remain free from harm. Common causes of serious injuries include:

Car accidents – Operating a motor vehicle is a serious responsibility. Drivers who engage in reckless behavior behind the wheel cause thousands of accidents every day. From drinking and driving to distracted driving, too many drivers fail to responsibly share the road.

A serious car accident can leave you with extremely serious and long-term injuries. An accident is over in a second but the physical and emotional damage may last a lifetime.

Workplace accidents – According to the National Safety Council, every seven seconds a worker is injured on the job. Contact with equipment and other objects results in 26 percent of workplace injuries every year.

A company’s failure to enforce safety regulations and coworkers’ reckless behavior can put you at risk of serious harm. Examples of workplace accidents include falling from unsecured ladders or being struck by moving machinery.

Slip and falls – Wet floors, stairs with no handrails, and poor lighting can lead to slips and falls. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that slips and falls are the leading cause of Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs).

Visiting a store and tripping over a cord across the floor can lead to striking your head. A blow to the head associated with a fall can result in serious and sometimes irreversible brain damage.

Dog bites – Animals are often unpredictable. Even a dog you know and see frequently can bite you for no apparent reason. A dog bite is a serious matter due to the risk of infection and rabies. Dogs have round teeth and strong jaws, resulting in a deep bite that can affect your muscles, bones, and nerves. More than 27,000 people require reconstructive surgery every year due to dog bites.

Children are at particularly high risk around dogs. Children are also often injured in amusement parks and on playgrounds. A property owner’s failure to maintain equipment and to prevent safety hazards can mean that the owner is at fault for your child’s injuries.

An injury victim can pursue a civil lawsuit against the person responsible for their injuries whether or not the state files criminal charges against that person. A successful civil lawsuit requires the help of a professional bite injury lawyer. It is imperative to seek the help of an attorney who understands how Washington law applies to obtain a successful outcome.

Be careful who you trust following your injury. If your neighbor’s dog bites you, they may want to try to personally settle the issue with you and that’s not a good idea. You must look out for yourself and your needs and leave work and personal relationships out of the picture.

Don’t cut your financial future short by agreeing to a low settlement amount. You deserve access to quality medical care now and going forward. No one else is walking in your shoes. Stand up for yourself and your family and fight for fair compensation.

Types of Serious Injuries

Another person’s reckless behavior can easily cause you multiple serious injuries. For example, a dog might bite you and cause you to fall, resulting in a head injury in addition to the bite. A car accident may leave you with burns and broken bones. While thinking of these serious injuries isn’t pleasant, it is the grim reality of what can happen when others are negligent.

Common types of serious injuries include:

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) – The CDC defines a TBI as a sudden bump, blow, or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts normal brain function. A TBI can range from mild to severe. For patients who receive a severe TBI, the injury often harms the following functions:

  • Cognitive function: Memory and concentration.
  • Motor function: Balance, coordination, movement.
  • Sensation: Hearing, vision, taste, and touch.
  • Behavior and emotions: Anger, depression, and moodiness.

A loved one with a severe traumatic brain injury may need extensive physical and occupational therapy. Their care may become more than you can handle, and you may need to admit them to a personal care facility. The average cost of a nursing home in Washington is $266 per day, a cost that can quickly escalate over time.

Spinal cord injury – The spinal cord plays an important role in relaying messages between the body and the brain. When the spinal cord becomes damaged, those messages often cannot deliver the signals necessary for movement.

A spinal cord injury is often referred to as a complete or incomplete injury. A complete injury means there is no movement or sensation below the point of injury. An incomplete injury typically means there is some movement or sensation. Spinal cord injuries often result in some form of paralysis, making a power chair necessary for mobility.

Power chairs average around $7,000 but can cost as much as $30,000. Other added costs often include home and vehicle modifications. A standard mini-van can require as many as 40 modifications while a new, accessible van can start at $30,000. Items like power chairs and accessible vehicles need replacing throughout an accident victim’s life.

Types of Severe Injuries Broken bones – With more than 200 bones in the human body, there is a high risk of breaking one or more in an accident. A fractured bone can result in an open, compound break where the bone penetrates the skin. Perhaps the most serious type of fracture is a comminuted fracture where the bone shatters into three or more pieces.

Depending upon the type of fracture you have suffered, you may require future surgeries and a cast to limit mobility while the bone heals. Recovery from a serious bone fracture is a long and often painful process. Once the bone heals, many patients require extensive physical therapy.

Burns – A burn is a serious injury that usually requires treatment at a burn treatment facility. In some cases, such a facility may require a patient’s family to travel a distance to visit them, leaving them homesick and lonely.

A patient with serious burns may require skin grafts and plastic surgery. Burn patients are at high risk for infections and rely on professional medical care to keep their burns clean.

A burn injury is difficult both emotionally and psychologically for victims. Along with a skilled burn injury lawyer, joining a support group with other burn victims can sometimes help patients with their recovery journey.

Head and neck injuries – The inability to move your neck or turn your head can limit you in more ways than you realize. Serious injuries such as whiplash can severely limit movement for some time. The same is true with back injuries that prevent you from lifting items or resting comfortably in bed.

Herniated or ruptured discs can require surgery. Braces used to support the head and neck limit your mobility and are often uncomfortable, but necessary, for healing.

Internal injuries – You may not feel any pain or see any blood after a sudden accident. Don’t let the lack of pain or any visible signs of injury keep you from seeking medical attention. Some of the most dangerous injuries are invisible to the naked eye. Internal bleeding and/or organ damage are injuries only a medical professional with access to testing equipment can determine.

Internal injuries are identified through a blood test, an MRI, or a CT Scan. Delayed diagnosis and treatment can result in additional problems and, in severe cases, death.

A serious injury can compound any existing medical conditions. This only adds to your misery as you deal with new doctors, future procedures, and expensive medications. Experiencing a serious injury due to someone else’s negligence is traumatic.

When another person’s reckless actions result in serious harm to you or your loved one, you have options. The most important thing to keep in mind is your financial future. If your injury is so severe that you are unable to return to work, the stress of your medical bills and lost wages can overwhelm you.

Take control of your future by discussing your case with a personal injury attorney. No one should pay out-of-pocket for injuries another person caused through their negligence. Your loss of future earnings and potential medical expenses are something a highly skilled attorney can fight to have covered on your behalf.

Serious Injuries Are Stressful

A serious injury causes physical, emotional, and financial stress for victims and their families. Fighting for justice by pursuing a personal injury claim is your right. The process takes time, and you must start sooner rather than later. You need to file your case before the statute of limitations expires.

Most personal injury attorneys offer free case evaluations, so you have nothing to lose. Gather your evidence and learn about your options for securing compensation. Each case and outcome is different, and the sooner an attorney reviews your case, the sooner you can get on with your life.

Other peoples’ careless and reckless behavior isn’t funny or cute, whether it is a dangerous workplace prank or a dog that suddenly bites. A drunk driver or negligent property owner can also cause you serious injuries that change your life. Your pursuit of justice might prevent the same thing from happening again to another innocent victim.

Personal injury attorneys who work with accident victims understand that this is a traumatic time. With care and compassion, they can keep you informed about what is happening in your case while aggressively fighting for fair compensation on your behalf. No amount of money can return you to your former life, but it can provide for your future medical care. Protect your future by discussing your case with a Washington personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

Personal Injury Attorney Tatiana BoohoffInsurance companies like to settle claims quickly—that is why they reach out to victims soon after the accident. While their initial offer may seem like a lot of money, chances are it will not cover your future medical needs. Medical costs continue to rise over time and you should not go without medical care due to a lack of funds.

Realize that insurance company representatives are looking out for the insurance company and not for you. The initial offer from most insurance companies is typically much less than you deserve. Don’t settle but rather consider filing a personal injury claim. If successful, the financial outcome may result in a more acceptable settlement offer.

Filing a personal injury claim requires the services of an experienced personal injury attorney. Don’t try to negotiate with insurance companies on your own or try to navigate Washington law without legal representation. This will only add to your stress and these processes are difficult to get through successfully without professional assistance.

A personal injury attorney is on your side. They understand how insurance companies operate. An attorney will work hard to negotiate a settlement that is fair for you. If they are unable to do so, the right attorney will take the case to trial.

Knowing that your case is in good hands gives you the peace-of-mind you need to rest. Adjusting to the new changes in your life is difficult enough—you don’t need an aggressive insurance representative badgering you to accept the initial settlement offer.


Call (877) 999-9999 or email Boohoff Law today – available 24/7

The Hazards of Reckless Driving

Every year, more than 1.25 million people die in accidents on the road. Millions more suffer serious, often life-altering injuries. Many of these injuries and deaths occur due to reckless driving accidents. Unfortunately, all too many people continue to engage in reckless driving behaviors despite knowing they significantly increase their risk of causing a serious accident. If you or a loved one has already experienced a traumatic accident with a reckless driver contact a skilled auto accident attorney to discuss your legal options.

What Is Reckless Driving?

Reckless Driving Accident AttorneyReckless driving fails to take the rules of the road or basic safety precautions into account. Generally, police officers classify reckless driving as a more serious offense than careless driving: reckless driving deliberately ignores safety protocols, while careless driving generally involves a general lack of attention to the road. Washington law notes, “Any person who drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.” Reckless driving may include:

  • Traveling at excessive speeds. Most states automatically issue a reckless driving ticket to drivers who travel at speeds well over the posted speed limit. Generally, state law enforcement officers issue these tickets when a driver is traveling more than 25 miles per hour over the posted speed limit. At least when it comes to Washington Law.
  • Ignoring traffic laws. Drivers who swerve in and out of lanes may find themselves convicted of reckless driving, as may those who deliberately ignore posted traffic signals or signs.
  • Racing. Drivers may choose to deliberately race their vehicles down roads used by other people, posing substantial danger both to themselves and to anyone else who uses the road. Racing becomes particularly dangerous when drivers take up both lanes of a two-lane road or attempt to cross into the other lane of traffic to gain an advantage.
  • Passing on a blind curve. Most roads clearly indicate where passing can occur safely with a broken yellow line. On roads with a solid yellow line, drivers should avoid passing one another, even if the front vehicle is traveling excessively slowly. Passing on a blind curve can make it impossible to see oncoming traffic, substantially increasing the risk of an accident.
  • Ignoring or going around railroad barriers. Railroad barriers exist to prevent cars from moving onto the train tracks as a train passes by. Ignoring these barriers can result in getting hit by a train—and drivers who ignore them without getting hit may quickly face reckless driving charges.
  • Passing a school bus with its stop sign extended and lights flashing. Any time a school bus extends its stop sign and flashes its lights, it is indicating that children can board or exit the bus. Ignoring this signal can put children in significant danger. Even passing a school bus at a slow rate of speed can leave drivers facing reckless driving charges.
  • Trying to avoid or outrun a police officer. Some drivers will go to extraordinary lengths to get away from law enforcement officers. Unfortunately, speeding, swerving, or engaging in other illegal actions to avoid an officer can count as reckless driving.
  • Drunk driving. Many people under the influence of drugs and alcohol are more likely to engage in reckless driving behaviors. In some cases, the act of operating a vehicle while under the influence by itself can result in reckless driving charges.

Potential Consequences of Reckless Driving

Reckless driving carries with it a substantially increased accident risk. Traveling at excessive speeds requires a much faster response time and can lead to significantly greater injuries if you do have an accident. Not only that, reckless driving can carry other severe penalties.

  • Tickets and fines. If a police officer catches you engaging in reckless driving behavior, especially if your reckless behavior results in an accident, you may receive a ticket and associated fines.
  • Loss of your license. Engaging in exceptionally reckless behavior or engaging in reckless driving behavior on multiple occasions can result in license suspension. In some cases, you may have your license permanently revoked for ongoing reckless driving.
  • Increased insurance premiums. When you engage in reckless driving, you raise your accident risk, and your insurance company does not want to bear the burden. As a result, your insurance premiums may go up, sometimes significantly, when you get caught driving recklessly.
  • Difficulty acquiring some positions. If a job requires you to regularly operate a motor vehicle, you may have trouble getting that job after a reckless driving conviction. You may also struggle to gain employment in some government offices or other facilities that require a high level of trust and ethical behavior.
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. If you choose to drink and drive, leading to reckless driving behaviors, you may be required to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. This may come with reduced driving privileges, including a restricted license that only allows you to operate your vehicle at specific times or to get to school or work.
  • Jail time. In some cases, your reckless driving behavior may result in time in jail. You may have an increased likelihood of spending time behind bars if your recklessness led to an accident that caused serious injuries or death.

Avoiding Reckless Driving

As a driver, you bear responsibility to everyone else on the roads to help keep the roads as safe as possible. Each time you get behind the wheel, you help determine the safety of every driver or passenger around you. Are you struggling to avoid reckless driving behaviors? Try some of these strategies.

  • Refresh yourself on the rules of the road. Improve your familiarity with the Washington Driver Guide. Make sure you understand when you can appropriately pass, the average speed limits on highways and in rural areas, and any other information that could impact your ability to safely navigate Washington roadways.
  • Slow down. Make note of the speed limit every time you drive, and make a habit of remaining at or below that speed, especially in dangerous weather conditions. If you have a habit of speeding, you may need to retrain yourself to adhere to the speed limit.
  • Leave plenty of time to arrive at your destination. Often, reckless driving behavior arises out of a sense of being rushed. When you must hurry to reach your destination, you may struggle to drive safely. Leaving plenty of time, on the other hand, can make it easier to avoid reckless driving behaviors.
  • Pay attention to the road around you. Avoid multitasking or distracted driving, and make a habit of looking at everything going on around you. Observe traffic patterns and other drivers around you. Often, especially in unfamiliar areas, this can prevent you from accidentally engaging in reckless driving behavior.

How to React to a Reckless Driver

While you may control your own driving behaviors, you cannot control how someone else behaves behind the wheel. You can, however, decrease the impact reckless drivers may have on you and your passengers. Try these strategies to help keep you safe from reckless drivers.

If You Get in a Car with a Reckless Driver

Most people do not deliberately get in the car with a driver known for reckless behaviors. If you do know someone has a reputation for driving recklessly, try to avoid riding with them—and after one reckless ride, try to avoid going with them again in the future. When you find yourself stuck in the car with a reckless driver, try these strategies.

  • Call attention to the behavior. If you notice the driver of your vehicle driving at excessive speeds, swerving through traffic, or operating a cell phone while driving, call attention to it and ask them to stop. Many drivers may fail to take note of their own reckless driving behaviors, especially when distracted or ill, while others will show willingness to curtail reckless behaviors when asked by their passengers.
  • Stop the ride. If your Uber or Lyft driver is behaving recklessly, cancel the ride and note the reason for that cancellation in the app. Be sure to leave a review so that future riders know to avoid that particular driver. When in the car with a friend or loved one, let them know that you want to get out. Try not to “wait it out” or “hope for the best” to avoid rocking the boat. Reckless driving often has serious consequences, and you don’t want those serious consequences to be injuries to you or others in the vehicle.
  • Call for help, if needed. If you find yourself stuck in the car with a reckless driver who will not pull the car over or allow you out of the vehicle, summon help. Call 911 and wait for the driver to get pulled over. You do not have to make yourself unsafe for a ride.

If You Spot a Reckless Driver on the Road

Seeing a reckless driver on the road makes many people tense up, prepared for the driver to do anything. While you cannot stop another driver’s behavior on your own, you can take steps to keep yourself and your passengers safe.

  • Do not engage the other driver. Resist the urge to, for example, block in a reckless driver so that they cannot pass you. Do not make hand signals or other gestures that could incite anger in the other driver. Road rage can cause even more dangerous driving behaviors or cause the driver to react badly to you and your passengers, including choosing to follow you until you stop to attack you. Instead, continue driving as normally as possible while near the reckless driver.
  • Get out of the way, if you can. Pull off to the side of the road, if needed, and wait for a reckless driver to pass. Getting out of the way will decrease the odds that a reckless driver will injure you or your passengers. If you notice a reckless driver growing enraged with you, move your vehicle to a safe location. Try not to exit the car until you know that the other driver has moved on to another location or until help has arrived.
  • Call 911. If you notice ongoing reckless driving behavior and worry about the safety of others on the road, pull into a safe location and call 911 or have one of your passengers call 911. Report the make and model of the car, the license plate number, and your current location. Police officers will take steps to stop the reckless driver.

How Does Reckless Driving Cause Accidents?

Reckless driving can increase the risk of an accident and cause more serious injuries during an accident. As a driver, it can lead to more serious penalties after an accident, including higher fines or loss of your license. If you suffer injuries at the hands of a reckless driver, however, the other driver’s behavior may have a significant impact on your case. Consider:

  • Reckless driving helps determine fault in the accident. If you know the other driver engaged in reckless driving behavior, it may increase the responsibility that driver bears for the accident. However, if you contributed to the accident through reckless behavior of your own, including speeding or ignoring traffic signs, you may still share liability for the accident, which can reduce the compensation you receive.
  • Boohoff Law P.A.Reckless driving on the part of the other driver does not change the compensation you receive. The insurance company will typically base the compensation you receive for an accident off of the extent of your injuries, any damage to your vehicle and personal possessions, and the coverage offered by the driver’s insurance policy. The driver’s behavior at the time of the accident does not change the compensation you have the right to seek, nor will it change the way the insurance company interacts with you.

Speak with an Auto Accident Attorney

If you suffered injuries in a serious accident due to another driver’s reckless behavior, you may need a car accident attorney. Contact a car crash lawyer as soon as possible after your accident. The sooner you contact Boohoff Law, the sooner they can start working on your behalf, from collecting evidence to negotiating for the compensation you deserve for your injuries.


Call (877) 999-9999 or email Boohoff Law today – available 24/7

Drunk Driving Accident: Why You Need a Car Accident Attorney

The same moment you get behind the wheel of your car, someone else is getting behind the wheel of their vehicle, drunk. If the two of you meet on the roadway, the results can be devastating for you and your passengers. If you think a drunk driving accident won’t happen to you, think again. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), estimates that two out of three people will have an encounter with a drunk driver on the road during their lifetime. If you or someone you love was injured due to a drunk driver’s negligence, consider a drunk driving injury attorney to discuss your options. Contact Boohoff Law today to discuss your legal options.

Why People Choose to Drink and Drive

Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer

Numerous public safety campaigns denounce drinking and driving and promote smarter choices, like calling for a ride. Despite public relations efforts targeting this nation-wide problem, people continue to engage in reckless drunk driving behavior. Whether they are drinking to reduce stress or to celebrate a special occasion, their choice to drive home afterward can drastically change your life.

There are several reasons why people choose to drink and drive. One key reason is because of the way alcohol affects the human brain. Alcohol’s impact on brain chemistry causes a person’s neurotransmitters to influence their thought processes. The result leaves drunk drivers feeling invincible—incapable of being conquered, overcome, or subdued. The thoughts that home isn’t far away and that getting caught “won’t happen to me” add to the false sense of security drunk drivers experience.

Stopping a drunk driver before they crash into you is nearly impossible. Washington is among the few states where sobriety checkpoints are illegal and considered a violation of citizens’ personal rights. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), individuals drive drunk an average of 80 times before their first arrest. The consequence of an arrest and conviction in Washington includes license suspension, fines, and possible jail time.

For some drivers, arrest and punishment are not enough to deter them from repeating their dangerous behavior. One study estimates that 30 percent of offenders continue to drink and drive once they are allowed back behind the wheel.

No amount of defensive driving can prevent a drunk driver from colliding with your car. If this happens to you, call 911 immediately, accept medical attention, and cooperate with law enforcement. Once the dust settles and you know the extent of your injuries, consult with an attorney to discuss your case.

How Alcohol Affects a Driver

Operating a motor vehicle requires certain skills, including the ability to think clearly and react quickly. Alcohol impairs these skills and more as it impacts a person’s brain function and central nervous system.

To determine a driver’s Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level, law enforcement officers use either a breathalyzer or a blood test. BAC is a measure of the percentage of alcohol in a person’s blood at any given time. In Washington, the legal BAC limit is 0.08 for drivers 21 years and older, 0.04 for commercial drivers, and .02 for underage drivers.

Alcohol begins to affect the body at 0.02 BAC. During this early stage of drinking, a driver experiences a loss of judgment and a decline in visual function. By 0.05 percent, problems like lowered alertness and difficulty steering start to develop. Once a driver reaches the legal limit of 0.08, they have poor muscle coordination and a reduced capacity for processing information.

How quickly one becomes impaired when drinking depends upon a variety of factors including one’s gender, age, and weight. The NHTSA reports that in 2017, 21 percent of fatal drunk driving accidents involved men while 17 percent involved women.

Underage Drinking and Driving

Receiving a driver’s license is one of life’s many milestones. For teens, this new pass to freedom also comes with inexperience and peer pressure. Both are dangerous for other drivers sharing the road with teens.

Underage drinking is illegal in Washington. Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of alcohol at any level is also illegal for people under 21. Washington has a Zero Tolerance Law, meaning anyone who is caught driving with a BAC of 0.02 to 0.07 percent results in a possible license suspension for 90 days.

Strict punishments often have little meaning for teens seeking peer acceptance. Social media—where pictures of parties and drinking abound—influence teen decisions regarding alcohol. Consider the following statistics regarding drinking and driving:

  • 20 percent of teens reported riding with an impaired teen driver at least once within the past month;
  • Teens who ride with impaired drivers or who drink underage are more likely to drive impaired; and
  • Teen drivers are less likely to drink and drive than adults, however, when they do, the crash risk is significantly higher.

Teens are known for taking risks. This is due in part to the fact that the parts of their brains governing impulse control and decision making aren’t fully developed. Teens are also less likely to fully understand the consequences of their actions.

Encountering an inexperienced and drunk teen driver is not a matter of if but rather when. Their negligence behind the wheel demands accountability, just as it does for adults. If a teen driver’s reckless behavior caused you serious bodily harm, you deserve justice.

Common Injuries Caused by Drunk Drivers

With an average weight of 4,000 pounds, a vehicle operated by a drunk driver becomes a dangerous weapon. There is little time for you to react when an out-of-control car hits you head-on, t-bones you in an intersection, or rear-ends you. You may never see the vehicle coming and even if you do, there’s little chance of avoiding the collision.

The brunt force of the impact can result in one or more serious injuries. Here are just a few examples of traumatic injuries that can result from a collision with a drunk driver:

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) – The CDC defines a TBI as a sudden bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or a penetrating head injury that disrupts normal brain function. A severe Traumatic Brain Injury can affect a person’s cognitive and motor function. It can also affect their senses, such as hearing or vision. Your loved one may never return to the person you knew before the accident.

Your loved one may need specialized care at home or in a nursing home. The average monthly cost of a private nursing home room in Washington is $9,700, higher than the national average of $8,300. While you want the best care possible for your loved one, these costs can quickly escalate into an unmanageable amount. Pursuing a fair settlement that will cover current and estimated future costs is essential for obtaining quality care.

Spinal cord injury – The spinal cord performs important work in your body by communicating with the brain. The brain and the spinal cord control three main bodily functions:

  • Motor: Directing your body’s voluntary muscle movements.
  • Sensory: Monitoring sensation through touch, pressure, temperature, and pain.
  • Autonomic: Regulating digestion, urination, blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature.

An injury to the spinal cord is either complete or incomplete. A complete injury means there is no sensation or movement below the point of injury. An incomplete injury means limited sensation and movement is present. Both types of spinal cord injuries can result in short-term or permanent paralysis, making a power chair, home modifications, and vehicle accessibility modifications necessary.

The costs associated with a spinal cord injury can reach into the millions of dollars each year. Replacing medical equipment and frequent hospital stays can add to the ever-growing medical costs for your loved one.

Broken bones – With more than 200 bones in the human body, the chances of breaking one or multiple bones in a car accident is very real. A severe break may require surgery and extensive physical therapy. Patients with broken limbs often need assistance with daily tasks while they heal.

Neck and back injuries – A neck injury can make the simple movement of turning your head painful or impossible. A back injury can also limit movement, preventing you from lifting your child or sitting at your desk. Surgeries, braces to support the injury, and long recovery times are common with these types of injuries.

Internal injuries – Perhaps the most dangerous types of injuries are those that cannot be seen with the naked eye. You may feel fine following a collision with a drunk driver, yet internally, you may have bleeding or organ damage. Internal injuries are why it is so important to accept transport from the scene to a hospital.

Only a trained medical professional can properly diagnose internal injuries. By using such tests as an MRI or a CT Scan, a doctor can properly address any urgent problems like internal bleeding.

Planning for your long-term medical needs is essential to receiving the care you deserve. Unexpected complications relating to your injuries can occur or you may need to relocate closer to a larger medical facility. Medical costs only increase over time, and financially securing your future is imperative.

Why Fair Compensation Matters

Insurance company representatives typically prefer to settle cases quickly. When you receive an initial settlement offer, the amount may appear attractive to you and your family. The reality is that an initial settlement amount usually isn’t nearly enough to cover your future medical needs.

The aftermath of a traumatic accident leaves you in no position to make serious financial decisions. And representatives from insurance companies always offer the least amount possible—their interest is in protecting the company they represent and not you.

Having someone on your side who understands car accident law is essential for receiving a settlement you deserve. It affords you the peace-of-mind you need to rest and to focus on your health.

While each case is different, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. This is why discussing your case with a car accident attorney is a smart idea. No one should suffer physical, financial, and emotional stress due to another driver’s negligence.

Drunk Drivers Are Everywhere

The sad reality is that drunk drivers surround us as we drive. We may not know that someone just made the careless decision to get behind the wheel drunk until it is too late.

Stricter laws and punishment help but don’t always deter future behavior. A shocking 50 to 75 percent of drivers who lost their license due to a DUI conviction reportedly drive illegally without their license. Even more shocking are reports from the FBI stating that every day, 300,000 people drive drunk in the United States. Of those, only 4,000 are caught by law enforcement.

As long as people continue to take risks with alcohol and driving, you and your family are in harm’s way. Experiencing catastrophic injuries due to no fault of your own demands justice. Some car accident attorneys offer free case evaluations. By reviewing your case with a highly skilled attorney, you can learn about your best options for moving forward.

A Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Can Give You More Information About Your Case

Personal Injury Attorney Tatiana BoohoffMeet with an attorney as soon as possible. The statute of limitations for filing your case imposes a strict timeline for pursuing litigation. Be sure to gather any evidence, such as photos of the accident scene and contact information for witnesses. This information can greatly assist an attorney in evaluating your case.

Drinking and driving is irresponsible and dangerous. Some drivers never learn and continue to risk other people’s safety by getting behind the wheel drunk. Choosing to drive after a few drinks is a personal—and reckless—decision.

Having someone you can trust on your side during this difficult time is priceless. It allows you to focus on your top priorities, such as your health and your family. Drunk drivers are everywhere and until people stop choosing to engage in this irresponsible behavior, we are all at risk. Choose to protect your future by discussing your case with an attorney rather than directly with insurance representatives. You have a right to protect your best interests. If a drunk driver changed your life, be proactive about pursuing possible compensation. Contact the skilled attorneys at Boohoff Law today.