Helping Clients Recover After Car Accident Injuries in Seattle
Car Accidents can occur at almost any time. One moment you could be driving to work or school as you usually do—and the next moment your life could turn upside-down. Car accidents happen in the blink of an eye, but can have long-term effects for their victims. The law, however, recognizes how seriously a car accident can damage your life, and provides rights for people who sustain auto accident injures.
The law in general is complex, and personal injury cases are no different. Each car accident case will have unique legal questions and options for seeking financial compensation. When car accident victims try to obtain compensation without lawyers, they can end up receiving much less than they deserve for many reasons. Having the assistance of a highly experienced personal injury lawyer can fully protect your rights as an accident victim and help ensure that you receive the best result possible result given your particular situation.
If you were in a car accident the Seattle area, attorney Jay H. Krulewitch is here to help you. Please contact our office today to discuss a possible case.
A Car Accident Can Happen at Any Time
Each year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) publishes startling statistics regarding car accidents in the United States. In 2015, for example:
- About 2.44 million people sustained injuries in crashes
- 35,092 people died as a result of car accidents
An average of 6,685 persons are injured and 96 persons are killed in traffic accidents every day in the United States. If you think that a car accident cannot or will not happen to you, think again.
No one should live in fear of a car accident, but it makes sense to prepare for the possibility that it can happen. Too many car accident victims know little or nothing about their rights—and therefore they miss out on significant compensation for their injuries and damages. If you are in an accident, do not let that happen to you. Instead, know that you should always discuss the possibility of a claim with a highly experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
How Can An Attorney Assist You after an Auto Collision
Just as in a Slip and Fall Incident, an experienced auto personal injury attorney can provide valuable assistance to you in a variety of ways after you have been in a collision. First, you are often in shock and are not thinking straight. You may be in pain and your normal ability to cope and deal with things is now limited.
Reporting the Auto Collision to Your Own Insurance Company. The attorney may advise you to contact your own insurance company. It is essential that your report the auto collision as soon as possible. You are required to cooperate with your own insurance company and this is part of your responsibility to your own company. They need to learn about what happened, i.e. was your vehicle damages, did you suffer any injuries, etc.
Obtaining a Proper Damage Estimate. Do you have a repair shop in mind? Was your vehicle towed somewhere? Do not simply go with the repair shop suggested by your own insurance company or the police officer. You should trust your attorney to help you select the best repair facility for your vehicle to be examined and evaluated for all damage sustained in the incident. Has your own insurance company, or the responsible party’s insurance company made you a “quick offer” of settlement of your property claim? If so, you should carefully review that offer. But, remember, it is absolutely essential that your garage or repair facility conduct a thorough tear-down property damage estimate.
Taking Photos of the Property Damage. And make sure that the repair facility takes proper photographs detailing the damage sustained to your vehicle. Yes, no doubt, you or your attorney will need to pay for such a tear-down estimate, but it will pay dividends in the future as your attorney will then have the evidence he or she needs to advocate on your behalf. Once you have agreed to a settlement and the insurance company takes possession of your vehicle, you should consider it as “good as gone”. It is absolutely critical that you do everything you need to do with your damaged vehicle before releasing it as part of a property damage settlement.
Taking Photos of the Scene of the Incident and Physical Injuries. It is important to obtain photographs of the scene of the incident. Sometimes a roadway or an intersection may change. It is important to capture the scene of the incident early on, to avoid a problem that occur later, if some modification to the roadway or intersection occurs. It is just essential to capture the key evidence in a case early on. The same is true for any injuries. Bruises, cuts, abrasions, casts, surgical scars, etc., all should be photographed and captured. As people heal up, these particular aspects of their injuries will disappear or fade away. Thus, as with other types of evidence, it is critical to capture the visual proof of what you have suffered early on. We all know the value of visual evidence so the importance of these kind of photographs cannot be overstated!
Starting a PIP Claim for Medical Benefits. Most people have what is called an Auto Policy for Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”). It is a no-fault medical policy that is included as part of your auto insurance policy. PIP policies have more robust coverage than medical insurance policies, often compensating the injured person and policy-holder for lost wages and some home care services or personal services as well. It is typically a primary-type of coverage, meaning that you should be using all of your PIP coverage, first, before you apply to use your medical insurance policy.
Making a Claim for Underinsured Motorist Insurance Proceeds. Sometimes it is very clear that the responsible party either has no insurance or has very little insurance to cover you for your injuries and damages sustained in the incident. In such a situation, your attorney can advise and assist you on making a claim for Underinsured Motorist Insurance (“UIM”) Proceeds under your policy with your own insurance company. Sometimes this is the main source of compensation for a victim of an auto collision.
There are some of the ways in which an experienced personal injury attorney can assist you when you have been involved in an auto collision. It is extremely advantageous to hire an experienced personal injury attorney so he or she can assist you with these particular issues and other issues pertaining to your matter.
How a Car Crash Can Change Your Life
A car accident has the astounding ability to completely disrupt your life for a period of time, or permanently. And any disruption can cause financial, physical, and emotional stress and additional problems and issues.
Some people can walk away from a crash feeling shaken up but without serious injuries. Others are not so lucky—car accidents can cause devastating injuries and even death. You can fix or replace cars, but the human body is much more vulnerable. Injuries that can result from a car wreck vary widely, and can damage almost any part of the body. Injuries that commonly result from an impact include:
Traumatic brain injuries – Car accidents can cause victims to hit their heads or cause their heads to jolt sharply on the neck. Either of these actions can cause a brain to hit the inside of the skull, resulting in brain damage. Whether you have a concussion, what is also termed a mild traumatic brain injury, or a severe TBI that puts you in a coma, the effects of a brain injury can last for a long time.
Spinal cord injuries – The spine facilitates proper functioning in most of the body. A spinal cord injury can disrupt or completely shut down body functions, leaving victims paralyzed—either temporarily or for the rest of their lives. These injuries always require extensive medical treatments.
Neck and back injuries – Your neck and back provide support for the rest of your body when you move around, plus they house important organs and the spinal cord. An accident can injure many parts of the neck and back and cause severe pain and limitations in movement. Neck and back injuries can prevent you from working until you have received medical treatments and physical therapy. And they can further impact your ability to function normally around the house, or to take part in leisure activities you might enjoy.
Soft tissue injuries – The muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the body enable movement. A forceful impact can throw your body in different directions, causing these soft tissues to tear, sprain, or strain. Soft tissue injuries can hurt and take a long time to heal. Soft tissue tears may require surgery to repair.
Broken bones – Broken bones may seem like relatively mundane injuries—especially because kids tend to break bones quite frequently and they regularly recover. However, more severe breaks and fractures can require surgically implanted screws or pins and cause months of rehabilitation before healing. And, for older adults, who don’t heal as fast as they used to when they were younger, fractures can have a substantial impact on a person’s quality of life, in the short-term and the long-term.
Internal injuries – Trauma to the abdomen always brings with it a chance of injury to the vital organs of the body. These injuries are not readily apparent from the outside, though life-threatening internal hemorrhaging can accompany them, so it is imperative that you be seen by a doctor to diagnose, stabilize, and treat them as fast as possible.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – Because car accidents are highly traumatic events, many victims develop PTSD. This potentially serious and debilitating mental condition can cause many symptoms that keep people from working or even leaving the house. PTSD often requires psychological treatment.
These are some of the serious injuries that car accidents regularly cause, and they can result in many problems for victims, depending on the severity. Some losses that car accident injuries may cause include:
- Overwhelming medical bills
- Past and future wage loss due to the inability to work
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental trauma
- Permanent disabilities
Whether your injury hurts you for a few weeks or for the rest of your life, you can incur significant losses from it. After an accident, it is highly advisable to talk to an experienced personal injury attorney to get a full appraisal of your rights and the compensation you deserve.
Your Rights as a Car Accident Victim
Your rights will depend on the cause of the accident or collision, among other factors. In many cases, accidents happen when you are doing nothing wrong. You may be driving safely and paying attention to the road when another driver suddenly slams into your car. If you can prove that the other driver or party was negligent in causing your accident or collision, Washington law gives you the right to seek compensation for all of your accident-related losses.
Negligence can lead to crashes in numerous ways, examples of which can include:
- Drivers who text or are otherwise distracted
- Drivers who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Aggressive drivers who excessively speed, tailgate, intimidate other drivers, or engage in road rage behaviors
- Drivers who do not comply with traffic safety laws
- Overly fatigued drivers who lose focus or fall asleep at the wheel
Drivers are not the only parties whose negligence can lead to crashes. When auto manufacturers sell defective vehicles, those vehicle parts can malfunction and lead drivers to crash out of no fault of their own. This is common with defective brakes, ignition switches, airbags, tires, and more.
In addition, dangerous roadways sometimes cause crashes. Drivers can hit potholes, cracks, or other hazards that cause them to lose control. Government agencies have the duty to keep roads in safe order, and when they fail to do so, accident victims can sue them for negligence and recover compensation for their losses.
Determining liability for your car accident can prove complicated, especially since more than one party may share the blame for your incident. The law office of Jay H. Krulewitch has the resources to investigate what caused your accident, to identify who may be negligent, and to advise you when you can hold one or more potential defendants liable for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses.
Seattle Car Accident Insurance Claims
In the past, many auto accident cases were resolved by way of a settlement demand, letter detailing your injuries sent by your attorney to the insurance company representing the defendant or responsible driver. This would often initiate productive and reasonable settlement negotiations, concluding with a settlement. But the lay of the land has changed in this area of the law. Insurance companies are fighting the claims of plaintiffs with greater frequency. They tend to offer a very low settlement at the pre-filing level, before a case has been filed in a court of law. In order to obtain the best possible resolution for you, an auto collision victim, it is likely that your case will need to be filed in a court of law. As a result, you need an experienced personal injury attorney, a warrior, someone ready and able to fight for you, to help you obtain the very best result for you on your case. The law office Jay H. Krulewitch stands ready to battle for you, to properly marshal the evidence on your case, to gather the necessary records and evidence, to file your case in court, to work it up, to advocate for you, and, if necessary, to go to trial on your behalf, to help you obtain the best possible result on your matter.
In some instances, it may make the most sense to enter into early settlement discussions with the responsible party’s insurance company. Washington is a fault-based insurance state. This means that an injured accident victim can file a claim with the insurance company for the responsible party. This may sound like a relatively easy process, but it is anything but easy for a lay person to navigate their case to a successful conclusion. And most people assume the insurance company will be quite willing to pay you money for your injuries. In truth, most insurance companies are happy to deal with an unrepresented auto collision victim. They know that most lay people do not have the training and experience to evaluate their own case and to advocate properly for the damages they deserved to be paid for. Thus, the process of making an insurance claim and obtaining the payment you need can prove surprisingly challenging.
Insurance companies are businesses, and like any other business, they care about limiting liability to increase profits. When they receive a car accident claim from a non-policyholder, insurance companies typically try to reduce or even completely deny the claim in different ways:
- They may deny that the policyholder, their insured, was at fault in the accident.
- They may claim you were (also) at fault.
- They may deny that the accident caused your injuries.
- They may question the extent of the injuries or losses you claim.
- They may claim that your injuries were caused by the collision in question.
Receiving an insurance denial can make you feel helpless, but this is not the end of the road. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you determine whether it makes any sense to consider negotiating with the insurance adjuster, or whether to simply file suit and prepare for trial.
Never wait until after a denial to contact a car accident lawyer, because enlisting the help of a lawyer before you even file a claim can benefit you in many ways. First, a lawyer can accurately calculate all of your losses to ensure that you request enough in your claim—many people underestimate the value of their car accident claim because they are not aware of all of the losses for which they deserve compensation. An attorney can then prepare your claim accordingly.
In addition, a lawyer can review any settlement offers made by the insurance company for adequacy. You should never accept an insurance offer without the careful review of an attorney. These offers are often inadequate or extremely low. If you happen to accept such an inadequate or low offer, you may be foregoing a significant amount of compensation that you deserve to receive for your injuries and damages sustained in your incident. A skilled attorney will help you identify what is an insufficient offer and how best to respond to such an offer, i.e. whether to continue negotiating with the adjuster or whether to simply call a halt to the negotiations and file suit in a court of law.
Personal Injury Lawsuits After Crashes
In many cases, the insurance policy for the responsible party will not cover all of the losses suffered by an auto accident victim. In other cases, the insurance company for the responsible party will refuse to offer enough money to the losses of an auto accident victim. If this happens, the next step is to file a claim for personal injury against the negligent party in a court of law. Car accident litigation, however, involves many procedural rules and requirements, and you always want a highly experienced trial attorney handling your case if you file a lawsuit.
Throughout the litigation process, a skilled car accident attorney will know how to investigate your case, to conduct discovery (which is the process of obtaining information from the other side), taking depositions, deciding whether to retain one or more expert witnesses on your case, working with the expert witnesses, defending you at your deposition taken by the Defense, and handling a myriad of other tasks and responsibilities. If settlement negotiations fall through, your attorney should be ready to fight for your rights as an accident victim at trial. You should feel confident in the attorney to advise you at each phase of your case. You should never feel pressured to take a settlement offer that you, in your gut, feel is in adequate or deficient. Never settle for an attorney who will push you into an inadequate settlement just to avoid going to trial. Jay Krulewitch is a trial attorney who is never afraid to enter the courtroom to advocate for his injured clients when needed.
A Seattle Personal Injury Lawyer, Here to Protect Your Rights
When another party’s negligence suddenly injures you, you need the right lawyer standing up for your rights. You need someone willing to go to bat for you, to advocate for you. The office of Jay H. Krulewitch, Attorney at Law, may be small, but you can expect personalized attention and dedicated service. Jay Krulewitch has the legal knowledge and trial experience necessary to successfully and zealously advocate for his auto accident clients.
Even if you happen to wonder if you need an attorney after an accident, you should do yourself a favor. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your matter. We can help! We are experienced at handling auto injury claims for victims of auto collisions. And, our consultations are always free, so you have nothing to lose by learning about your rights and options as an accident victim. If you want to discuss your situation and learn more about our legal services, please do not hesitate to call (206) 233-0828 or contact us online to set up your free case evaluation today.