You might be the most careful driver in Seattle, but you cannot control how others drive, which means that every time you go out, even just a few blocks, you could encounter a vehicle accident. If someone injured you in such a crash, contact a Seattle car wreck lawyer at Boohoff Law.
What Should You Do Right After A Car Accident?
If you are physically able, you can help your case after a car accident by taking these 10 steps:
- Call 911 while you are checking on the other drivers. Let the dispatcher know if anyone has serious injuries.
- Get the other driver’s name, address, phone number, registration information, and insurance information.
- Give the other driver your name, address, phone number, registration information, and insurance information.
- Get the name and phone number of any witnesses.
- Take pictures of the accident scene from all directions, including any skid marks or other marks left on the road and damage to guardrails, signs and other traffic controls.
- Give the police any information that you can, but never admit fault.
- If the accident is minor and everyone in the wreck can drive, move the vehicles out of traffic if you can do it safely. If one vehicle will not start or drive, leave all of the vehicles where they are.
- Get medical attention as soon as you are released from the accident scene, even if you think your injuries are minor. In many cases, injuries do not show up for hours or even days.
- Contact your insurance company to let it know that you were in an accident. Only give the insurance company your name and your policy number. Let the representative know that your car accident lawyer in Seattle will call with details of the accident. The representative could use something you say against you. Even if you do not admit to any fault, the insurance company will try to twist what you say to show that you are at fault, so they have a reason to pay less money.
- Contact an experienced car accident lawyer at Boohoff Law as soon as possible after the accident.
Reasons to Retain Boohoff Law’s Seattle Car Wreck Attorneys
You might think it’s easier to just settle with the insurance company for medical expenses, but insurance companies rarely pay enough on accident claims to cover medical expenses. If you have long-term or permanent injuries or the defendant’s actions were negligent, you probably will not get enough to cover everything.
Insurance companies are more concerned with their bottom line than they are with your injuries. Thus, they offer the least amount possible in the hopes that you will accept it, even if it does not even cover your medical expenses.
Additionally, if the accident involved a commercial driver, your case just got more complicated. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, you might collect from the driver, owner of the commercial vehicle, the company using the commercial vehicle if that company leases the vehicle, the dispatcher if he or she had anything to do with the driver’s actions, the distribution center, and/or the vehicle manufacturer.
Washington is not a no-fault state, so you should purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage as well as personal injury protection coverage, though Washington’s insurance laws do not require it. That will cover you if the at-fault driver doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your losses—but it may require that you hire a Seattle car wreck lawyer at Boohoff Law to sue your own insurance company to recover the compensation you deserve. As it turns out, your own insurance company is no happier to pay out on a claim than another driver’s is.
Finally, if the defendant’s actions were grossly negligent, you might collect punitive damages. Generally, unless you can get an insurance company to agree to punitive damages, a court orders the defendant to pay. Punitive damages are not ordered to make you whole, but to punish the defendant for his or her negligent actions that caused the accident.
Types of Injuries in Motor Vehicle Accidents
When you get in a motor vehicle accident, your injuries could range from minor to major. The types of vehicles involved in the accident, speed, and other factors all determine the severity of your injuries. Sometimes, people get lucky and have a wreck that looks like it should have killed you, but you escape with nothing worse than a broken bone, bruises, and cuts. Sometimes, someone dies in a car wreck when the vehicles have minor damage because that person was thrown from the vehicle or suffered from internal injuries from hitting something in the vehicle.
- Death: A person might die at the scene or could succumb to his or her injuries hours or days later.
- Traumatic brain injuries: A mild concussion is considered a traumatic brain injury (TBI), and often has no long-lasting damage accompanying it. However, most traumatic brain injuries affect you for months or even years. Sometimes a traumatic brain injury does permanent damage. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 56,800 people died from traumatic brain injuries and 2.53 million people visited the emergency room for a TBI in 2014.
- Back, spinal cord, neck, and shoulder injuries: Any of these types of injuries could result in long-term or permanent damage, including paralysis.
- Broken bones: You could suffer from a fracture or compound fracture. A compound fracture is when the bone breaks the skin, which increases the risk of infection because of the open wound.
- Sprains, strains, and other soft tissue injuries: Most of these injuries heal within a few weeks. However, if you pull a muscle, it could require surgery, which then takes several weeks for recovery, plus weeks of physical therapy. If the pulled muscle requires surgery, you now have an open wound, which is susceptible to infection.
- Bruises, bumps, cuts, and scrapes: Many of these might be painful, though they usually heal within a week or two. Cuts and scrapes are open wounds and are susceptible to infection.
- Post traumatic stress disorder, depression, and other psychological injuries: You might suffer from psychological injuries if the car wreck was severe, if your injuries take longer than normal to heal or if your injuries are long-term or permanent.
Let your Seattle car accident lawyer know if you have underlying conditions that might delay healing. Some diseases such as diabetes and certain medications that depress your immune system and could cause your injuries to heal slower. If those injuries include open wounds, you are more susceptible to infection because the wound is open longer, and in some cases, because your immunity is much lower.
The Value of Your Car Wreck Case in Seattle
Car accident victims might be entitled to three types of damages: Economic, non-economic and punitive damages.
Sometimes called special damages, economic damages have a dollar amount attached. Special damages include:
- Past medical expenses for those expenses you incurred for injuries as a result of the accident;
- Future medical expenses, including additional surgeries, follow-up appointments and physical, cognitive and psychological therapy when needed;
- Past lost wages for the time you missed from work due to injuries sustained in the car wreck;
- Future lost wages if you cannot work due to long-term or permanent injuries;
- Future lost wages if you can go back to work, but you cannot do the work you used to do, and cannot earn the money you earned before the accident; and
- Burial and funeral expenses if you lost a loved one in a car crash.
Sometimes called general damages, non-economic damages do not have a dollar amount attached to them. The court usually awards general damages if your injuries are long-term or permanent and include:
- Pain and suffering, which is only awarded for long-term injuries. For example, you cannot get pain and suffering for a broken leg. However, if the broken leg causes an infection that has you in and out of the hospital for months, or if the leg never heals properly and causes pain for more than a year, you could get compensation for pain and suffering.
- Loss of companionship if you cannot enjoy family outings and events that you normally participate in.
- Loss of consortium if you can no longer have a physical relationship with your spouse.
- Loss of use if you lose the use of a leg, arm, sight, or other body part or function that you previously enjoyed.
- Disfigurement and/or scarring if injuries, including burns, leave you with marks on your body.
- Inconvenience if you have to hire someone to do chores you normally did yourself. Your chores could range from home maintenance, lawn maintenance, grocery shopping or even cooking and cleaning the house.
Washington statutes limit non-economic damages to 43 percent of the average annual wage. Additionally, the courts use life expectancy tables adapted by the insurance commission to determine life expectancy, which it also uses to determine non-economic damages. However, pursuant to the statute, the number assigned for life expectancy cannot be below 15 years.
Washington does not allow punitive damages, a type of damage the court awards when the defendant’s actions are grossly negligent.
Figuring Damages for Long-Term or Permanent Injuries
Insurance companies do not have a set method for determining how much they will pay for general damages. In fact, you might even have trouble collecting enough compensation for all of your special damages, especially if the insurance company thinks you got more care than you needed from doctors.
To come up with a fair and reasonable number, an attorney might add up all of the special damages and then multiply that amount by a multiplier of one through five to get a fair number for general damages. The more severe the accident, the higher the multiplier. However, even with a multiplier of five, the number might be too low because of the extent of the injuries you received. Always discuss general damages with your attorney.
Fighting the Insurance Companies
Insurance companies will often deny compensation if they think that you are “milking” your injuries. Always document every doctor’s appointment, surgery, therapy session regardless of the type of therapy. Severe accidents often cause post traumatic stress disorder. Long-term injuries often cause depression and distress, especially if you start feeling like you are a burden to your family because your injuries take longer to heal.
Make sure your doctor documents your progress so that it is harder for the insurance company to dispute your claims of needing additional medical care. This is especially important if you have underlying conditions that delay recovery and healing.
Car Accidents and Negligence
Often, a car accident is just that: an accident. Someone might have a medical emergency or might lose control of his vehicle because of a patch of black ice, even though he was driving well below the speed limit.
Other times, someone’s negligent behavior might cause an accident. Negligent behavior might include:
- Driving erratically when you are upset.
- Fleeing and eluding.
- Driving under the influence.
- Driving while distracted, whether you are distracted because you are looking at your phone, talking on the phone, looking at the stereo, eating, or any other activities that take your attention away from the road. Even when your eyes are on the road, what you are doing could distract you enough so that you do not realize what is happening in front of you.
A car accident attorney might find other negligent behavior during the investigation of your accident.
Contact a Seattle Accident Lawyer at Boohoff Law
Instead of going up against an insurance company yourself and taking the chance that you will not get enough compensation to cover your injuries and/or your losses, contact Boohoff Law at (877) 999-9999, experienced car and truck accident lawyers.
2200 6th Avenue, Suite 768
Seattle, WA 98121