Car accidents are one of the most common hazards we all face in daily life. From minor fender-benders to catastrophic, multi-car pileups, getting into an accident in a motor vehicle can end a life or change it forever. At Boohoff Law, one of our principal areas of focus is the representation of Seattle residents and visitors who have suffered injuries in car accidents.
The Seattle Department of Transportation’s annual traffic report illustrates the constant challenge to our city posed by car accidents. In 2017, Seattle police reported 10,959 motor vehicle collisions on city streets. According to the report, in 2017 there were a total of 187 fatal and serious injury collisions on Seattle streets. Data available from the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) reflect an even worse tally in 2018, with 212 crashes that resulted in serious injury or wrongful death.
If you suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one in a Seattle-area car accident, you may have the right to recover compensation from those whose actions caused your loss. Contact the experienced, skilled car accident attorneys at Boohoff Law today to learn more.
What Sets Boohoff Law Car Accident Attorneys Apart
Attorney Tatiana Boohoff and the team of legal professionals at Boohoff Law bring years of combined experience to the task of representing victims of car accidents. Founded more than a decade ago, Boohoff Law’s mission is to serve Seattle residents and visitors victimized by personal injury with skill, determination, and a commitment to personalized client service.
A graduate of top-ranked Boston University School of Law, Tatiana Boohoff leads a team that focuses its efforts exclusively on advocating on behalf of personal injury victims who need help recovering compensation from those whose actions did them harm.
You don’t need us to tell you that car accidents can cause serious harm. Because cars are the number one form of transportation in the U.S., every one of us has pretty good odds of getting into a car accident at some point in our lives. For most of us, it’s a scary but survivable experience. Some of us, however, are less lucky. People die in car accidents every day in our country, and many of those who survive face lives completely altered by the injuries they suffered.
Common Causes of Car Accidents
Car accidents happen for a host of reasons, including behavioral, environmental, and situational. A small number of car accidents are inevitable and can’t be prevented. Most of them, however, could at least be prevented, and many result from poor decisions by someone who should have done better. Among the most common human-related causes of car accidents are:
Alcohol and drug impairment. According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC), “[d]river impairment due to alcohol and/or drugs is the number one contributing factor in Washington fatal crashes and is involved in nearly half of all traffic fatalities.” Increasingly, drivers involved in fatal crashes have been found to have both drugs (typically marijuana) and alcohol in their systems.
Driver distraction. The WTSC recently made this sobering statement about distracted driving that sums up its risks: “In Washington State, distracted driving is a factor in nearly one of every three traffic fatalities and more than one of every four serious injuries. From 2015-2017, distraction-involved fatalities increased 27.1 percent and serious injuries 33.8 percent compared to the previous three years. Distraction ranks only behind impairment as a prevalent risky behavior in traffic fatalities and serious injuries.”
Speeding. Although driver distraction overtook speeding in 2015 as the second-most common factor in fatal car accidents in Washington, speeding remains a significant cause of car accidents in the state, playing a role in more than 1 in 5 accidents resulting in a fatality or serious injury in 2018, according to WTSC crash data.
Driver fatigue. Fatigue can have the same effects on driver performance as drug or alcohol impairment, as this tragic story from WSDOT’s blog reflects.
Vehicle malfunctions. Sometimes, a crash happens because something went wrong with a vehicle. Some of these are typical, such as a blown tire or broken tail lights that fail to warn of a slowdown. Others are more unusual, and may signal that some part of the vehicle had a dangerous defect.
Road conditions. Drivers have an obligation to operate their vehicles in a manner appropriate for road conditions. That is not always an easy task. Wet roads, in particular, contribute to a significant number of Seattle car accidents.
These are just a few of the more common ways car accidents occur on Seattle-area roadways. There are lots more. Every car accident has its own unique facts and circumstances, which is why it is critical for accident victims to retain the services of an experienced car accident lawyer with the know how to investigate and litigate a car accident injury.
Common Car Accident Injuries
Car accidents result in fatalities far too often, as the statistics cited above bear out. But, even survivors of car accidents can face severe injuries and health complications, and a lifetime of medical and financial needs. Some of the more common severe injuries car accident victims sustain include:
- Traumatic brain injuries that leave victims with cognitive impairments or minimally conscious;
- Spinal cord injuries resulting in partial or total paralysis;
- Crushed or traumatically-amputated limbs, particularly the legs of drivers and passengers in a front-end collision;
- Burns from explosions and disfiguring scarring from lacerations caused by sharp metal and glass;
- Broken bones and orthopedic injuries; and
Severe internal and soft tissue damage, which can include chronic neck pain from severe whiplash.
Severe injuries from car accidents can heal, but unfortunately full recovery from some injuries leaves accident victims badly impaired or disabled, and in need of a lifetime of care and medical support. An experienced Seattle car accident attorney takes the time to understand the severity of a car accident victim client’s injuries, and to make sure she seeks an appropriate amount of damages to cover the client’s long-term medical needs.
Common Parties With Legal Liability for Car Accidents
Determining the causes of a car accident and the severity of a client’s injuries are just two of the many tasks an experienced Seattle car accident attorney will typically perform on a client’s behalf. Another important step in most car accident cases is the process of identifying each and every party who may have legal liability to the lawyer’s client. In some cases, that is a simple inquiry. But it’s frequently less straightforward than you’d think. Here are some of the parties commonly held to account under the law for a car accident victim’s injuries:
Other drivers. Every driver has a duty to share the road responsibly. Unfortunately, many drivers do not. Distracted driving, impaired driving, aggressive driving, and just-plain careless driving can all cause an accident, and leave the driver with legal liability for the injuries those behaviors caused.
Commercial entities. Not all accidents involve personal vehicles. Many instead involve cars and trucks operated by a business or some other corporate entity. Businesses and other entities that own or operate vehicles that end up in a crash may face liability for the accident.
Government entities and contractors. Our taxes go, in part, toward paying for our state and local governments to design, build, and maintain safe and secure roadways. Sometimes, however, our governments fail to do an adequate job. A poorly-designed road with dangerous curves, a poorly-built road with inappropriate road material, or a poorly-maintained road with gaping potholes or visual obstructions, all can lead to a government entity having legal liability for injuries those conditions cause.
Car and car part manufacturers. Cars represent a significant purchase for most Washingtonians. If the manufacturer of a car or its component parts puts a defective product on the road, Washington law may hold that manufacturer legally liable an accident the defects cause.
Of course, we mentioned earlier, every car accident is unique. Who has legal liability to a car accident victim may differ substantially from case-to-case. That is why it is so important to have an experienced Seattle car accident attorney on your side to make sure you find every party with potential legal liability for your injuries.
Common Damages for Car Accident Injuries
As a general matter, Washington car accident victims and the representatives of those tragically killed in car accidents have legal rights to pursue damages as compensation for their injuries and losses. The law broadly categorizes these damages as economic (or special) damages, and non-economic (or general) damages.
Economic damages compensate a car accident victim for the fixed, out-of-pocket expenses directly connected to the accident and resulting injuries. Typically, they include:
- Un-reimbursed medical bills;
- Chronic or long-term care costs;
- Assistive medical devices and home modifications;
- Physical therapy;
- Property damage;
- Lost wages from time off from work while recovering; and
- Lost income or employment opportunity due to injuries.
In some Washington car accident cases, the party with legal liability to the car accident victim may have the right to make periodic payments of economic damages rather than paying those damages as a lump-sum.
Non-economic damages pay a car accident victim for subjective injuries that are more difficult to value, such as:
- Pain and suffering;
- Damage to personal relationships (a.k.a. loss of consortium/companionship/parent-child relationship); and
- Negative impacts on quality of life.
In contrast to the laws in many states, in Washington, non-economic damages cannot exceed 43 percent of the average annual wage in Washington multiplied by the victim’s life expectancy at the time of the accident (minimum 15 years). Washington law also does not usually permit a court to award punitive damages for a car accident.
Don’t Delay in Contacting Boohoff Law
At Boohoff Law, we understand how difficult life can feel after a car accident turns your world upside down. Contending with the pain of recovering from an injury or mourning a lost loved one is only the beginning. Financial strain can also set in, and you may find new demands on your time from insurance adjusters and police investigators, among others.
We get why hiring a lawyer during this difficult time might not seem like a top priority. But, it is. In fact, with every day that passes after you suffer an injury in a car accident, your chances of recovering maximum compensation from those whose actions harmed you will begin to decline. Here’s why.
The general statute of limitations on personal injury claims in Washington is three years. In some car accident cases, that window barely provides enough time for investigating and pursuing a claim. Even if the time is adequate, however, the passage of time can make evidence harder to find and analyze, and can dim the memories of critical witnesses. If possible, you should have an attorney on your side investigating your accident immediately.
You can also be sure of one thing: Insurance companies for the parties who have legal liability to you aren’t wasting any time. You may have already received a phone call from an insurance adjuster asking you to sit for an interview, or dangling what might seem like a tempting settlement offer. Before you act, speak with an experienced Seattle car accident attorney. Insurance companies do not have your best interests at heart. Their mission is to minimize their own financial exposure to you. A lawyer can help protect you against tactics insurers employ to try and reduce the value of your claim.
Call Boohoff Law’s Seattle Car Accident Lawyers Now
Tatiana Boohoff and the team at Boohoff Law represent car accident victims day-in, day-out throughout the Seattle area. Their mission, always, is to protect and advance their clients’ rights to seek accountability and compensation for injuries and tragic losses.
Don’t wait to connect with one of our skilled, compassionate car accident lawyers. If you sustained a serious injury or lost a loved one in a Seattle-area car accident, we want to help in any way we can. Contact Tatiana Boohoff and her colleagues at Boohoff Law or dial (877) 999-9999 to schedule a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation. We promise to treat you with dignity, respect, and compassion in this difficult time.
“Everyone here is so helpful. They jumped through every hoop necessary to get me the settlement I rightfully deserved. Tracey and Maria are super sweet. They made me feel right at home. I absolutely recommend Boohooff Law and will use them again in the future if I am ever in a similar situation. Thank you all at Boohooff who helped me with my case!”
– Brandy K.