Washington Car Accident Settlement
No one expects to be involved in a car accident, but unfortunately, they happen daily. When an unexpected crash occurs and causes serious injuries or damage, the aftermath can be devastating—physically, emotionally, and financially.
In Washington State, those injured due to someone else’s negligence may pursue compensation for their losses through a Washington car accident settlement claim. To ensure you receive full and fair compensation for your damages, it is important to understand how the process works and what type of compensation you may be entitled to.
What Should I Do If I Was In a Car Accident In Washington?
If you’ve been injured in a car accident in Washington, taking quick action is important. You should contact your insurance company right away and begin filing an auto accident claim. You may also want to speak with a personal injury lawyer to ensure you make the best decisions for your case and maximize your settlement offer. A lawyer can help you understand your rights and legal options while advising you on how to work with the insurance adjuster and navigate the system successfully. With an attorney on your side, you can be sure that the responsible party is held accountable for their actions and that you receive full compensation for any damages or injuries caused by their negligence.
What to Do After a Car Accident in Washington
If you have been in a car accident in Washington, here are some important steps to take:
- Stay calm and assess the situation. If anyone is injured, call 911 immediately. If there is no immediate danger, exchange information with the other driver(s) involved in the accident, including their name, address, insurance information, and driver’s license number.
- Get medical attention if you are injured. Even if you don’t feel injured right away, it is important to see a doctor to get checked out. Some injuries, such as whiplash, may not be immediately apparent.
- File a police report. Even if the accident seems minor, it is important to file a police report. This will create a record of the accident and help you with your insurance claim.
- Contact your insurance company. Once you have filed a police report, you should contact your insurance company to report the accident. They will open a claim and send you a claim form to fill out.
- Get a copy of the auto accident report from the local police department. Once the police have completed their investigation, you can request a copy of the accident report from the police department. This report will be important evidence in your insurance claim.
- Get medical records. You should get copies of your medical records. These records will show the extent of your injuries and the treatment you have received.
- The next step is to negotiate a car accident settlement with the insurance company. Once you have gathered all of your evidence, you can start negotiating a settlement with the other driver’s insurance company. The settlement should cover your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
- Get legal help if necessary. If you cannot settle with the insurance company, you may need to hire an attorney to represent you. An attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options and fight for the compensation you deserve.
What is the Average Washington Car Accident Settlement?
The average amount for a Washington car accident settlement is around $40,000. The actual amount you receive will depend on the specific circumstances of your case, but this gives you a general idea of what to expect.
Washington Car Accident Settlement Examples
Here are some examples of car accident settlements in Washington:
- A woman who was rear-ended at a red light by a driver who was texting was awarded $200,000 after suffering a broken leg. She had to undergo surgery and physical therapy and could not work for several months.
- A man hit by a semi-truck while crossing the street was awarded $1 million in a semi truck accident settlement after suffering a traumatic brain injury. He was in a coma for several weeks and had to undergo extensive rehabilitation. He is now unable to work and requires around-the-clock care.
- A family who lost their child in a drunk driving accident was awarded $5 million in damages. Their child was a passenger in a car hit by a drunk driver. The child died instantly. The family had to pay for funeral expenses and lost wages. They also suffered emotional distress.
- A man was injured in a car accident and sustained a severe concussion along with grade 3 whiplash injury, lost his job, underwent surgery, and could not work for six months. He was awarded $250,000.
What Factors Influence The Value of My Washington Car Accident Settlement?
- The extent of your injuries: The more severe your injuries, the higher the value of your settlement is likely to be.
- The fault of the other driver: If the other driver was at fault for the accident, you are more likely to receive a higher settlement. This is because the other driver’s insurance company will pay for your damages.
- The amount of insurance coverage available: If the other driver has a high-deductible policy, you may not be able to recover as much money as if they had a lower-deductible policy.
- Your medical expenses: This includes the cost of all of your medical treatment, such as hospital bills, doctor’s visits, and prescription medications.
- Your lost wages: If you were unable to work due to your injuries, you may be able to recover lost wages as part of your settlement. This is calculated by taking your average weekly earnings and multiplying them by the number of weeks you were unable to work.
- Your pain and suffering: Pain and suffering is non-economic damage that can be awarded to compensate you for the physical and emotional pain and suffering you have experienced due to your injuries. This can be difficult to quantify, but it is an important factor that will be considered when determining the value of your settlement.
It is important to note that these are just some factors that will be considered when determining the value of your Washington car accident settlement. The actual amount of money you receive will depend on the specific circumstances of your case.
Auto Insurance Requirements in Washington
In Washington, all drivers are required to have car insurance with minimum liability coverage of:
- $25,000 per person for injuries in a car accident
- $50,000 per person if more than one person is hurt
- $10,000 per accident for property damage
You can also buy an insurance certificate for $60,000 or obtain a liability bond if you want to opt out of the insurance requirement.
In addition to liability coverage, Washington auto insurance can also include:
- Collision coverage: This coverage pays for damages to your vehicle in an accident, up to the limits of the policy.
- Comprehensive coverage pays for damages to your vehicle that are not caused by an accident, such as hailstorms or theft.
- Personal injury protection (PIP) coverage pays for your medical bills and lost wages up to the policy limit.
- Uninsured and underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage pays for your injuries, lost wages, and property damage if an uninsured or underinsured driver hits you.
It is important to carry the maximum amount of insurance that you can afford, especially if you have substantial assets. The minimum insurance requirements may not be enough to cover your costs if you are at fault in an accident with severe injuries. If you don’t have enough insurance, you could be sued in civil court and have to pay out of your pocket.
Washington Auto Accident Laws and Fault
Washington is a pure comparative negligence state, meaning you can still recover damages even if you are partially at fault for an accident. However, the amount of your recovery will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
For example, if you are injured in an accident and you are found to be 20% at fault, you will only be able to recover 80% of your damages. This means that if your total damages are $100,000, you will only be able to recover $80,000
If you are involved in a car accident in Washington, you are required to report it to the police if there is any property damage of $1,000 or more or if anyone is injured. You can also report the accident online or by mail.
Statute of Limitations
You have three years from the accident date to file a lawsuit. If you miss the deadline, you will not be able to recover damages for your injuries. this time limit is the same for a wrongful death lawsuit. However, there are some exceptions to this. For instance, if the victim was a minor at the time of their death, the statute of limitations is three years from the date of their 19th birthday. Additionally, if the victim was killed as a result of a felony, the statute of limitations is three years from the date of the felony.
Should I Hire A Lawyer For A Washington Car Accident Settlement?
Whether or not you should hire a lawyer for a car accident settlement in Washington depends on a number of factors, including the severity of your injuries, the amount of money you are seeking, and your own comfort level with dealing with insurance companies.
If you have suffered serious injuries, such as a spinal cord injury or a brain injury, you should consider hiring an attorney. An attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options and fight for the compensation you deserve.
Even if your injuries are not serious, you may still want to consider hiring an attorney if you are seeking a significant amount of money. Insurance companies often try to lowball accident victims, and an attorney can help you negotiate a fair settlement.
If you are comfortable dealing with insurance companies alone, you may be able to handle your car accident settlement without an attorney. However, it is important to remember that insurance companies are not your friends. They are in the business of making money, and they will do whatever they can to pay you as little as possible.
If you decide to handle your car accident settlement on your own, be sure to gather all of the necessary documentation, such as medical records, police reports, and photographs of the accident scene. You should also keep a detailed record of your expenses, including medical bills, lost wages, and transportation costs.
If you are unable to settle with the insurance company, you may need to file a lawsuit. An attorney can help you file the lawsuit and represent you in court.
Ultimately, whether or not to hire a lawyer for a car accident settlement is up to you.
Here are some additional factors to consider when making your decision:
- The cost of hiring an attorney. Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means that they do not charge you anything upfront. They only get paid if they are able to recover money for you. However, you should be aware that there may be other costs associated with hiring an attorney, such as filing fees and expert witness fees.
- Your time and energy. Handling a car accident settlement can be time-consuming and stressful. If you do not have the time or energy to deal with the insurance company, a lawyer can take care of it for you.
- Your comfort level. Some people feel more comfortable handling their own legal matters, while others prefer to have an attorney represent them. If you are not comfortable dealing with insurance companies, a lawyer can be a valuable advocate for you.
If you have any questions about whether or not you should hire a lawyer for a car accident settlement, you should contact an attorney in your area for a consultation. They usually offer free consultations, so you may take advantage of that before deciding.
Personal Injury Claims Against Government Organizations in Washington
If you are injured by a government employee or entity in Washington, you must file a claim within three years. After 60 days, you may file a lawsuit. Government organizations have defenses, so consult an 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
Pain and suffering can be difficult to calculate, since there is not a standard way to quantify it. The amount of pain and suffering that you feel is subjective and hard to prove. It shouldn’t be surprising if an insurance company tries to minimize your pain and suffering.
Your lawyer, the insurance company, or a jury may use a multiplier system to decide on an amount that is fair for your pain and suffering. Your medical expenses will be totaled and then multiplied by a number between 1.5 and 5. The number used is also not an exact science. A higher multiplier is used when the accident and injuries were severe. A five is rarely used, so anticipate a 2 or 3 if you are trying to get a rough estimate for yourself.
If your bills to fix a fractured arm are $15,000 and the jury decides that a multiplier of 3 is appropriate, your total for pain and suffering would be $45,000. This amount is in addition to the damages the include your healthcare costs, lost wages, and other expenses that can be proven with receipts and documents.
So how is your pain and suffering taken into consideration? There are many factors looked at including:
- Diagnosis and notes from your doctor regarding your injuries and treatment.
- Evaluations of your mental health from professionals.
- Expert opinions regarding the injuries suffered.
- Journals documenting your experiences with recovering.
- Statements from people close to you who witnessed your pain and suffering.
- The types of medication and treatments used to help you heal.
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.
Washington Car Accident Statistics
In 2019, there were 45,500 auto accidents in Washington state, with 325 fatal accidents and 973 serious injuries.
Government data shows that the major causes of accidents were distracted drivers, teen drivers, and drunk drivers. Forty-five accidents were caused by people who were intoxicated.
The Most Dangerous Highways In Washington
You can get in an accident anywhere in Washington, but there are several roads where accidents happen the most. It’s wise to take precautions when driving on the following roads:
- State Route 20: This highway features the dangerous Washing Pass, and is located in North Cascades National Park. This area gets many snowstorms and is prone to avalanches, which means a lot of accidents happen. From November to May, it is closed to reduce injuries and fatalities.
- State Route 522: This is called the Highway of Death by local residents. It is one of the most hazardous roads in the US. This road was supposed to be four lanes but now only has two, and it has a lot of curves with few dividers.
- Interstate 5: This is the most hazardous interstate in Washington with the most traffic of any road in the Northwest with more than 70 million on it annually. There have been 300 fatal wrecks on the highway in the last 10 years.
- Highway 2: This is a remote, rough highway that runs from Seattle to Spokane. It takes emergency responders about 90 minutes to get to accident victims, making it a bad place to get in an accident.
- Hart’s Pass: This may be the most dangerous road in the entire state. Located in Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest, it’s a one-lane dirt road without guardrails to keep cars from plunging over the side to the valley below.
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 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 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.
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