Reporting A Car Accident In Washington
If you are in a car accident in Washington, the police usually show up and take an accident report. This report can be a critical piece of evidence in assigning liability for the crash.
However, if the police do not show up, you are required to report the accident if there is any damage exceeding $1000, or if someone was hurt or killed.
Generally, it is a wise move to report any accident to the police no matter how minor. That way, there is an official record of the event if the other party decides to file a claim, or attempts to say you left the scene of the accident.
In Washington, you are required to provide your contact and insurance information to the other driver before leaving the scene. You also are required to render aid and assistance to anyone hurt in the accident.
Car Accident Settlements In Washington
Insurance settlement negotiation is an informal but complex process, but there are common features in most settlement processes.
First, you will submit a claim to the insurance company that shows evidence of damages from your Washington car accident. The insurance company will do an investigation examining the claims and any evidence. The insurance company may offer a settlement to you, but the initial settlement offer is often much less than what the case is worth.
If you accept the settlement, you cannot come back later and ask for more money.
On the other hand, if you think the insurance company is not offering enough money, you can give them a counteroffer and evidence to support your higher number. You can have many offers that go back and forth before agreeing on a number.
If you cannot come to an agreement, you will need to file a lawsuit. Most Washington car accident cases that involve substantial injuries and damages are best handled by an experienced Washington car accident attorney.
Washington Auto Accident Lawsuits
If the Washington auto insurance company doesn’t offer a fair settlement, you can take them to court. You could be entitled to medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
One of the most contentious parts of settlement and lawsuits is the pain and suffering compensation. Whether your accident is in Washington or another state, there will be disagreements about how much pain and suffering compensation you should get.
Pain and suffering is subjective, and insurance companies will almost argue that you are entitled to less compensation than you say. However, you are entitled to reasonable compensation for your pain and suffering if another person caused your accident.
After your accident, your medical bills and lost pay are only part of the stress and hassle of the incident. You also may deal with physical and mental pain from your injuries and treatment. You also could be dealing with disfigurement and scarring, and just overall trauma from the crash.
Pain and suffering in Washington state is assumed to mean the following:
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of self-esteem
- Life limitations
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Physical pain and discomfort
For instance, if you are burned in your car accident, the damage value from the pain can be much more than the medical treatments you needed. You could recover money for the discomfort and pain from the burns as well as the medical treatment. Also, you could be entitled to money for the scarring and disability the burns caused you.
Also, note that pain and suffering covers what you experienced up to now and what you could in the future. Some car accidents can affect your life for years or permanently, and this fact must be accounted for in the lawsuit.
The subjective nature of pain and suffering compensation is why you need to have a skilled Washington personal injury attorney handle your case. It is unlikely that someone without legal experience will be able to negotiate a fair pain and suffering settlement or make a strong case to a jury.
Your attorney knows roughly what your pain and suffering could be worth, based upon where the lawsuit is filed and your injuries. He or she can help you get the most compensation so you can get on with your life.
Pain And Suffering In Washington Auto Accident Laws
There is no formula that calculates damages for your pain and suffering in Washington after a car accident. Pain and suffering are subjective, so they can be challenging to prove. Insurance companies may say you are exaggerating your apin.
However, a Washington jury often will use your medical bills and multiply them by three or four to decide what you should get for pain and suffering. For instance, if your medical bills related to a broken leg were $15,000 and the jury says a factor of four should be used, you would get $60,000 in pain and suffering. You would get that money plus compensation for your lost wages and medical bills.
The factor method may not always consider everything that the case involves. For instance, the large scar on your leg from the surgery to set your leg may cause you a lot of embarrassment. The jury may also consider how this affects your life and the compensation you receive.
As your Washington personal injury attorney talks with the insurance companies involved or the jury, they may use several tools to determine what your pain and suffering is worth:
- Pain records from your doctor
- Mental health professional evaluations on your mental and emotional state
- Medical experts who provide information on your symptoms and pain
- Journals and notes that you keep about your pain and suffering
- Statements from friends and family who have witnessed your suffering
- Medication records for any treatments for pain
- Documentation that shows what a day in your life is like with your pain, such as a video blog
How Long Do Accidents Stay On Your Driving Record In Washington?
Non-commercial car accidents will stay on your license for five years. Commercial accidents stay on file for 10 years. But if your accident involves a conviction related to alcohol, it will stay on your permanent record for life.
Any accident logged by the state will show involvement but not fault if you didn’t cause it. For instance, if another driver rear ends you, it will still show on your record, but it will not show fault.
Having accidents on your record that don’t involve fault will not affect your insurance premiums in Washington.
It’s always a good idea to check your Washington driving record every few years to see if any of your previous accidents or citations are still on file.
How To Clear Your Driving Record In Washington
If you have negative marks on your driving record for tickets and accidents, it can drive up your insurance costs. Insurance companies avoid drivers that are a risk, so try to get your driving record clean if you can.
There are several ways you can do this in Washington:
- Remove errors: If you have any expired violations or accidents that are on your record, you can contact the DMV and report the mistakes. This can happen if the required time that the infraction stays on your record has expired but the item was not removed. If you have anything negative on your driving record, it’s a good idea to keep a record of when it should come off so you can make sure it was removed.
- Expungement request: If you have no errors on your driving record, you can submit an expungement request with the DMV. If it is accepted, you may need to go to traffic school or a driver training class. This will remove traffic violations related to any auto accidents in Washington.
- If you do either of the above, remember to ask for your driving record 60 days after to make sure that the changes were made. If nothing has been taking off, you should follow up with the DMV and ask that the infraction be removed again.
You can work with your attorney to get these negative marks removed from your driving record.
Liabilities Of Government Organizations In Washington
If you make a personal injury claim against a local or state government employee or entity, there are limitations and rules that apply. You need to file a claim with the government organization or person involved, which is three years.
After you have made the claim with the government entity, you may not file a lawsuit until 60 days after the claim is filed.
Make sure that you give your personal injury attorney plenty of time to file a case against a government organization, as these cases can be complicated.
Get Legal Help With Washington Auto Accident Laws
A car accident is an upsetting event, but you can make things easier if you’re prepared. Now that you have more information about the auto accident and personal injury laws in Washington, you’ll know what to do if you have an accident there.
The most important thing to remember is to get medical assistance right away if you are injured. Also, get an attorney involved if the accident involves serious injuries and property damage. Any injury that involves more than a week or so of recovery, or any length of hospital stay, should probably have an attorney involved on your side.
Lawsuit Info Center can assist you in finding a skilled personal injury attorney in Washington, as you may be due compensation for your physical and emotional injuries. Use our site to find a Washington auto accident lawyer today.