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What are My Options if I’m Hit by an Uninsured Motorist in Washington State?

By | Car Accidents | No Comments

Washington law requires that all motorists carry minimum liability insurance—at least $25,000 in bodily injury liability, up to $50,000 per accident, and $10,000 in property damage. Unfortunately, far too many people on the road do not have any insurance at all. In fact, a recent study put the uninsured rate in Washington at an astounding 16%. This rate gives Washington the tenth highest uninsured rate in the United States.

If you were badly injured in an accident, you might have incurred tens of thousands of dollars in medical care and lost wages. Rather than shoulder that financial loss yourself, you should seek compensation from the driver who caused the collision. If he or she is uninsured, however, you need to consider your options.

Option #1: Tap Your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Benefits

PIP is no-fault insurance that will cover various losses, including:

  • Medical and hospital costs (up to $10,000, though you can purchase more)
  • Lost wages ($200 a week up to $10,000 in total, though you can buy more)
  • Lost services, if you need to hire someone to do household chores ($200 a week, up to $5,000, though you can buy more)
  • Funeral expenses (up to $2,000)

PIP insurance has the added benefit of being no-fault, which means you could have been responsible for the accident and you would still be covered.

Check to see if you have PIP benefits. Your insurer had to offer it to you, though you had the option to decline it. Also check whether a relative in your household had it, since you might be covered under their policy.

Option #2: Make a Claim on Your Uninsured Motorist (UM) Policy

UM insurance is designed for precisely this situation—you are injured in an accident but the driver who caused the collision does not have any insurance. Under Washington law, insurers must offer you UM coverage, though you could decline it in writing. Hopefully, you did not decline this policy since it will cover you in this type of accident.

Unlike PIP benefits, UM coverage only applies if another driver is responsible for the accident. If so, you can make a claim for your economic losses, such as medical care and lost wages.

Option #3: Use Your Health Insurance to Pay for Medical Expenses

You might have health insurance through a job, or you could have bought a policy on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges. If you are injured, you should check whether you can use your health insurance to pay for medical care.

This isn’t an ideal situation, since you will be responsible for your deductible, which could be huge. You might also have high copays. Furthermore, health insurance cannot replace lost income, which you might need badly if you cannot work. Nevertheless, health insurance can at least reduce some of the costs of trying to deal with a devastating accident.

Option #4: Use Collision Coverage to Repair Your Vehicle

Collision coverage insurance pays to repair your vehicle when it is damaged from a collision with another object, such as another vehicle. If you took out a car loan, your lender might have required that you buy collision coverage.

Option #5: Sue the Driver

Even if a driver does not have insurance, he remains legally liable for all accidents he causes. This means you can sue him and try to get at his personal assets to pay out a jury verdict. In Washington, you might be able to foreclose on property, which means putting a lien on the property and asking the sheriff to sell it. You then receive some of the proceeds from the sale, which go toward fulfilling the court judgment against the defendant.

Unfortunately, not many drivers have sufficient assets to pay for your injuries. If they did, then they would probably have bought liability insurance, as is required by the state. Also, many people do not have the time to track down a defendant’s personal property so they can put a lien on it.

Talk with a Leading WA Car Accident Attorney

Khan Law Firm has been representing injured motorists for years, and we have built our reputation taking complicated cases, including cases where a client was struck and injured by an uninsured motorist.

Don’t despair if the other driver lacks insurance. You do have options. At our firm, we take great pride at identifying the best path forward for our clients so that they can recover as much as possible after a terrifying accident.

For more information about our services, you can talk to one of our attorneys by calling 206-430-6096. Please schedule a consultation, which is free and confidential. We will listen to you describe the accident and analyze the legal issues for you.

Seattle Hit and Run Accident Attorney

By | Car Accidents | No Comments

Traffic accidents are bad enough, but when someone leaves the scene of a traffic accident intentionally so that they don’t have to face the consequences, it can be downright maddening. Please know that if you have been in a hit and run accident, all is not lost. You might not have to absorb all the costs related to both your property damage and your physical injuries. The attorneys at the Khan Law Firm, PLLC can help you recover damages.

Criminal Penalties for Hit and Run Accidents in the State of Washington

The State of Washington divides penalties for hit-and-run accidents into three levels: misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, and felony.

Hit-and-run accidents in which the car was parked or otherwise unattended are considered simple misdemeanors under Washington law. They are punishable by a fine of up to $1000 and up to 90 days in jail.

Hit-and-run accidents which involve one car hitting another driver are considered gross misdemeanors and are punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a $5000 fine. If someone is injured, however, in the accident, the penalty escalates to a Class C felony. If someone is killed in the accident, it escalates to a Class B felony. Class C felonies are punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Class B felonies are punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

Civil Penalties for a Hit and Run Accident in the State of Washington

Generally speaking, when a driver flees the scene of an accident, they are 100% at-fault for the accident. That means that, if they are caught, you and your attorney can seek compensatory injury damages. Plaintiffs in hit-and-run accidents can be compensated for any of the following from the at-fault driver directly or their insurance company:

  • Medical expenses,
  • Other expenses related to the accident,
  • Lost wages,
  • Pain and suffering,
  • Loss of enjoyment,
  • Property damage and more.

In cases where there is permanent physical impairment or disfigurement, settlements can reach into the millions of dollars. In addition, punitive damages can be awarded in hit-and-run cases. But this depends on actually finding the at-fault driver.

Impediments to Collecting Damages in Hit-and-Run Accidents

There are some barriers to collecting damages in hit-and-run accidents. Most obvious is the fact that the driver needs to be caught (more on that later). Secondly, if the driver is caught, what happens if they don’t have auto insurance?

It’s true that many drivers do leave the scene of an accident specifically because they do not carry auto insurance. Other times they may be drunk and he does not want the police to know about it. The two major stumbling blocks to collecting damages are finding the driver and hoping they have an insurance policy or—failing that—enough assets to compensate you for your property damage and injuries.

Finding the Driver

While police will be looking for the driver themselves, you also might consider hiring a personal injury attorney to launch an investigation of your own. The police will talk to any witnesses they can find at the scene, and may put information up on social media in case there is anyone out there who witnessed the accident. In addition, they will access any surveillance footage they can find.

By hiring an attorney, you don’t necessarily guarantee that the driver will be found. However, you do get a guarantee that they will prioritize the investigation higher than the police might. Police are busy people and a hit-and-run accident may or may not top their list of investigations that day.

How Can I Help After a Hit-and-Run Accident?

The first thing you need to worry about is being seen to by a medical doctor. If you are able, photograph the scene of the accident as much as you can and call police. Debris left behind at the scene may provide evidence to find the driver.

What Happens if the Police Don’t Find the Driver?

The State of Washington requires all auto insurance companies doing business in the state to offer every driver uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM). In the case of a hit-and-run accident where the driver could not be found, an injured motorist’s uninsured motorist coverage would be activated to cover the damages. If you were among those who elected not to pay for UM/UIM motorist coverage and the at-fault driver cannot be found, you have exhausted your options. You will foot the bill and take the economic hit on injuries, property damage, and lost wages. There is nothing left that you can do.

Making a Claim on a UM/UIM Policy

Despite what you may have been led to believe, you are not “in good hands” and your insurance company is not like “a good neighbor”. Neither of these accurately describe the relationship between you and the insurance company. The insurance company investigates every claim to the full extent that it can and while they cannot deny a claim in bad faith, they won’t offer you full compensation for your damages either.

When it comes to UM/UIM policies, you and the insurance company are adversaries, even though you pay them to protect you in certain situations, they have a vested financial interest in denying or reducing the value of your claim. This means that they will launch an investigation of their own to determine the extent of your injuries, the nature of the accident, and they will generally offer you a lowball figure for compensation that represents only a fraction of the value of your claim.

A Hit and Run Accident Attorney in Seattle Can Help

Whether it’s negotiating with the insurance company to honor the full value of your claim, launching a priority investigation to determine who the at-fault driver is, or suing that driver for their criminal negligence, the Seattle attorneys at the Khan Law Firm, PLLC have successfully recovered millions of dollars in damages for our clients. If you’ve been in a hit-and-run accident, give us a call to set up a no-obligation consultation.

Washington State Bicycle Laws

By | Bike Laws | No Comments

Not every accident that happens between a car and a bicycle is the fault of the individual who is driving the car. Bicyclists must obey the laws of traffic too. In fact, it very often comes down to who—the cyclist or the driver—was in violation of the law when the accident occurred that determines fault or liability in a civil lawsuit or insurance claim.

In this article, we will discuss how Washington State bicycle laws work and what you should do if you are in an accident with a motorist.

Understanding Comparative Negligence Laws in Washington

Comparative negligence laws work to assign a portion of the blame to each participant in a motor vehicle and cyclist accident. In some cases, the motorist may be 100% to blame. In other cases, it may be entirely the cyclist’s fault. Other times, both the cyclist and the motorist acted negligently and that caused the accident.

Typically, when a motorist hits a cyclist, the motorist has minor property damage if not less. The cyclist, on the other hand, may have extensive injuries. It’s important to understand that under a pure comparative negligence rule, like Washington’s, a cyclist may recover damages even when they were mostly at fault for the accident. This is in contrast to other states that bar plaintiff recovery in cases where they are mostly at fault for the accident. Some states may bar recovery even when the plaintiff is only somewhat at fault.

However, your damages are reduced in proportion to the other driver’s liability. For instance, let’s say that the other driver is 75% responsible for the accident and your damages are $10,000. You would only be entitled to collect $7,500 of the $10,000 you are owed.

Pertinent Washington State Bicycle Laws

Major cities like Seattle are hotbeds of auto accidents. In addition, there are more cyclists on the road than ever before. According to a recent piece run by the Seattle Times, bike and pedestrian accidents have very nearly doubled over the past four years. While no one is quite sure why this is the case, auto accident attorneys have an honest answer that might startle many: There are more cases of distracted driving now than there were in the past. Cell phones, infotainment systems, texting, and other distractions have resulted in more distracted driving incidents—not just in Seattle or the state of Washington—but all across the U.S. For a number of reasons, Florida and California lead the nation in bicycle-related injuries and deaths. Nonetheless, there is not one state in the U.S. that hasn’t seen the number of bike and pedestrian accidents rise.

Last year, 122 people struck by cars either walking or on bikes were killed in the State of Washington. In 2013, there was only 60.

While sometimes, the accidents are the fault of the bicyclist, more often than not, distracted driving, including drunk driving, play some role in the accident and the results are often catastrophic. Cyclists are even more at risk for serious injury than pedestrians since they are higher off the ground and have less control over how they fall. For that reason, even though there is no statewide statute, many cities do require cyclists to wear helmets.

Why You Should Wear a Bicycle Helmet

If you are injured by a driver and you are not wearing a bicycle helmet, the insurance company that insures that driver will claim that your lack of a helmet was a contributing factor in your injuries. It could reduce your ability to collect damages if you are injured.

In addition, head injuries are very common in bicycle accidents. These can result in serious permanent damage to cyclists. Bike helmets can reduce the risk and impact of these injuries.

Rights and Responsibilities of a Motorist

In the State of Washington, an individual riding a bike has the same rights and responsibilities of any motorist on the road. That means that bicyclist can be ticketed for violating traffic laws the same way any motorist can.

That means the bicyclists riding at night are expected to have a light on their bike that is visible up to 500 feet. In addition, there may be some roads that are off-limits to cyclists. This includes some business or commercial districts depending on city ordinance.

A violation of any of these laws, including individual city ordinances, may result in the cyclist getting a ticket and may further reduce another driver’s liability preventing them from recovering the full extent of their damages. In some cases, a driver may not be held liable at all. If they were not breaking the law or not driving negligently, then they are not responsible for the accident.

For more information on bicycle-related laws in the State of Washington, please visit this website.

Signaling While Turning

Obeying all the same laws of traffic as motorists means that bicyclists too must signal when turning. They can do this by putting up either their left or their right hand. Failure to do so can result in both a ticket to the cyclist and added liability in an insurance claim.

The Role of Insurance Companies

If you’re in a bicycle accident with a motor vehicle, you will make a claim against the driver’s insurance policy. The insurance company has a fiduciary duty to protect the best interests of the policyholder. If they don’t, they can be sued by the policyholder and may become liable for any money owed to an injured party.

In other words, the insurance company is not in your corner. That’s why it’s important to have a skilled Seattle personal injury attorney litigate your claim. By so doing, we can maximize any settlement you receiver and ensure that you are compensated for all your damages.

Talk to a Bicycle Accident Attorney in Seattle Today

The attorneys at the Khan Law Firm, PLLC have recovered serious damages for those injured by negligent drivers in bicycle accidents. If the driver was even a small part at-fault, you can recover some money for your injuries. Please give us a call or contact us online for a no-obligation consultation.

Hit by a Car in Seattle

By | Car Accidents, Seattle | No Comments

Sometimes, car accidents involve pedestrians and bicyclists. In a collision and the moments afterward, it can feel like time is standing still – or it can feel like time is rushing past you faster than you can blink. In these moments, it can be difficult to know what to do. Although you can never plan to be hit by a car, you can prepare yourself for this scenario by learning what to do in the moments immediately following the impact.

A collision with a car can cause severe, often permanent, injuries. What you do in the moments, days, and weeks after you are hit by a car can determine how you recover from your injury and whether you can recover compensation for the expenses you face related to it through a personal injury claim. If you are hit by a car, take the following actions:

Do Not Leave the Scene

The only exception to this is if you suffer an injury that requires emergency medical attention. If this is the case, call 911 to have an ambulance sent to the scene. Your health and safety should always be your top priority.

If you are not in critical condition, remain at the scene of the collision and call local law enforcement to have an officer sent to the scene. If the driver who hit you does not stay at the scene, take a photograph of his or her vehicle or try to write down everything you noticed about the car, such as its license plate number, its color, and its make and model. If the collision occurred because the driver was somehow negligent, he or she is liable for your damages. For a driver, negligence can mean texting while driving, driving drunk, or disregarding the posted speed limit and other traffic rules.

Gather All the Evidence you Can

Take out your phone and snap as many pictures of the scene as you can. Get a photo of your injury as well as any images that accurately show how the collision occurred. Document the location of the accident and whether the driver also hit another victim, another vehicle, or a stationary object.

Take down the driver’s name and insurance information. If you do not feel comfortable doing this, wait until the police officer arrives and have him or her facilitate the exchange. You need to have the driver’s insurance information because this is the company with which you will file your personal injury claim. If any witnesses saw the collision occur, take down their contact information as well.

Do not leave the scene without the following:

  • A copy of the official accident report;
  • The driver’s insurance information;
  • Sufficient photographs to show what happened; and
  • Contact information for any witnesses who watched the collision happen.

Receive Medical Attention for your Injury

Even if you do not feel like you are injured, go to the doctor to have yourself examined within a few days of the accident. You could possibly have suffered an “invisible injury” like a traumatic brain injury. These injuries often have no physical symptoms and can go unnoticed when the victim does not receive appropriate medical care. It is also possible for an injury that seems minor initially to become much more severe if it is left untreated.

There is another important reason why you should seek medical attention as soon as you can: the strength of your personal injury claim. If you choose to file a personal injury claim, you will need to support it with sufficient evidence that shows how your injury occurred and the losses you experienced because of the injury. Documentation that shows you received medical attention shortly after the accident, testimony from your doctor regarding your injury and treatment, and copies of your medical bills are all important pieces of evidence to include with your personal injury claim.

Determine your Personal Injury Claim Plan

After you have received a diagnosis and appropriate treatment for your injury, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss your grounds for filing a personal injury claim. You can recover compensation even if you were partially at fault for your accident, so do not shy away from contacting a lawyer to discuss your rights even if you were negligent in some way. Your lawyer will review all the evidence you have and determine if you have grounds for a personal injury claim. If so, he or she can work with you to gather and use additional evidence to support your claim, such as documentation of your lost wages and evidence to show the value of your pain and suffering damages.

Working with a lawyer will make the personal injury claim process easier for you. Your lawyer can ensure that your claim does not violate state laws or violate deadlines like the three-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims.

Your lawyer can also negotiate with the driver’s insurance provider on your behalf. In Washington, negligent drivers are liable for all the damages related to the injuries they inflict. After you file a personal injury claim with the driver’s insurance provider, an insurance company representative will make a settlement offer. Your lawyer can determine whether this offer is sufficient to cover your expenses and if it is not, negotiate with the company to reach a more appropriate settlement amount. Your lawyer can also determine whether filing a personal injury lawsuit would be a productive course of action for your case.

Work with an Experienced Seattle Pedestrian Injury Attorney

Being hit by a car can drastically change your life. Among all the changes that come with your injury, a crippling financial burden should not be one. Contact our team of experienced car accident attorney in Seattle at Khan Law Firm PLLC today to set up your free case review in our office. During your case review, we can determine whether you have grounds for a personal injury claim and if so, start working with you to develop yours.

Seattle Rollover Car Accidents Attorney

By | Car Accidents, Seattle | No Comments

Car crashes are one of the most common causes of injury in the United States, and are an occurrence with which most people can relate. However, while parking lot collisions, minor fender benders, and even larger–but not severe–accidents may all be familiar to the majority of drivers, rollover accidents are not. Indeed, rollover collisions are rare, and when they do occur, the damages have the potential to be very severe.

At the offices of the Khan Law Firm PLLC, our experienced Seattle rollover car accident attorneys know how devastating being in a rollover collision can be, and the extent of losses you have incurred. When you hire our law firm, we will open a thorough investigation into your case to determine precisely why your accident happened, the extent of damages you have suffered, and your best options for recovering your maximum settlement amount.

The Deadly Nature of Rollover Car Accidents

According to, a website that is powered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), rollover car accidents are both rare and deadly. To be sure, these dangerous incidents have a much higher fatality rate than do other collision types – out of a total 9.1 million vehicle crashes that occurred over the course of a single year, only 2.1 percent involved a rollover.

However, while rollover collisions only characterized 2.1 percent of vehicle crashes, they accounted for 35 percent of all deaths from passenger vehicle collisions.

Why Rollover Accidents Are So Dangerous

It is easy to understand why rollover crashes might be so disastrous: a vehicle flipping over, potentially more than once, is bound to be catastrophic. While there are a variety of factors that lead to injuries for vehicle occupants during a rollover collisions–including things like broken glass, objects entering the window/windshield and penetrating or hitting occupants, traumatic brain injuries from the rolling/shaking, and crush injuries–the real risk to occupants is the risk of being thrown from the vehicle. In fact, 69 percent of the rollover crash victims that were killed (per the data cited above) were not wearing their seatbelts at the time of collision. Even if occupants are not ejected from the vehicle, the risk of injury within the vehicle increases dramatically when a seatbelt is not used.

Causes of Rollover Accidents

Contrary to popular belief, vehicle type is not the greatest predictor of whether or not a driver will be involved in a rollover crash. In fact, all vehicles can be involved in rollover collisions, and while vehicle type does play a role in the risk of a rollover, the things that have the most effect on rollover risk are driver behaviors and environmental factors. A list compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation suggests that the following factors contribute to the risk of rollovers:

  • Vehicle type. Taller vehicles, such as SUVs or large vans, are more at risk of being involved in a rollover collision due to their higher centers of gravity.
  • Location. Rollover accidents are more likely to occur in rural areas, most likely because rural roads are less likely to have barriers and be undivided.
  • Speed. The faster that a vehicle is traveling, the more likely it is to be involved in a rollover crash. In fact, the majority of fatal rollover crashes are speed-related. Speeding significantly impairs a motorist’s ability to maintain control over a vehicle.
  • Alcohol use. The use of alcohol increases the risk of all types of accidents, and rollover collisions are no exception. About 50 percent of all rollover collisions involve an alcohol-impaired driver.

In addition to the above, it is worth noting that the majority of rollover crashes occur when a driver is performing a routine driving maneuver, and that the vast majority of rollover crashes are single-vehicle collisions, which means that they occur independently of another vehicle.

In some cases, rollover collisions can be caused by the negligent actions of another driver. For example, a driver illegally changing lanes could result in another driving swerving suddenly to avoid a collision, thereby leading to a rollover crash. A rollover crash may also be contributed to by things such as a lack of proper signage warning of a sharp turn and advising drivers to slow speeds, or a lack of guardrails. Dangerous road conditions, such as debris on the road, may also increase the risk of a rollover.

Recovering Compensation for Damages Incurred in Your Rollover Crash

If you have been involved in a rollover collision, the chances that you have incurred damages are great, and property damage may be the least of it. Indeed, when injuries in a rollover accident are not fatal, they are often serious, and you may be coping with external or/and internal injuries, including bone fractures, a traumatic brain injury, soft tissue injuries, back and neck injuries, or even something as serious as an amputation or spinal cord injury. These injuries may be preventing you from doing the things you enjoy most in life, from working, or from even leading a normal and independent life where you don’t have to rely on assistance and care from others. You may also be facing lost wages, high medical expenses, and other economic losses.

If you have been involved in a rollover crash in Seattle, determining fault for the incident is key to recovering compensation. In Washington, all at-fault parties come into play when determining the cause of an accident and liability for the crash. At the Khan Law Firm PLLC, we will look into all potentially liable parties, ranging from a government agency tasked with road maintenance to another negligent driver to the manufacturer of a vehicle defect and more. We determine the precise cause of your accident in order to effectively recover the settlement you deserve.

Call Our Car Rollover Accident Attorneys in Seattle Today

If you are involved in a rollover collision and are worried about your future and what happens next, contact our talented Seattle rollover car accident attorneys today for a free consultation about your options, and how our legal team can help. We have experience recovering large settlements on the behalf of our clients.

Washington State Bike Laws

By | Bike Laws | No Comments

As traffic and road construction become ever more frustrating for commuters, more and more people are using alternate means of transportation, including bicycles. Unfortunately, the rise of bicycle use has also led to an increase in bicycle accidents, which tend to be especially devastating for cyclists who do not have the same protections from impact as motorists. In an effort to combat this trend, the Washington Legislature enacted a series of bicycle laws, with which both motorists and cyclists must comply.

Special Equipment

Although under Washington law, all bicyclists have the same rights and are subject to the same duties as motorists, cyclists are required comply with a few additional safety rules. For instance, when it is dark outside, bicyclists must travel with:

  • A lamp on the front of the bicycle that emits a white light that is visible from a distance of at least 500 feet; and
  • A red reflector on the rear of the bike that is visible up to 600 feet.

Bikes must also be equipped with a brake that when engaged, will skid on dry, clean, and level pavement. Although there is currently no statewide law requiring cyclists to wear helmets, many cities and counties within Washington have made it mandatory for anyone riding a bicycle. Cyclists who violate these, and other traffic laws, can be ticketed.

Traveling on Roadways

Some parts of the state’s highway system are closed to bicycles. Local governments are also permitted to adopt city laws banning cycling on certain roads or sidewalks that are within business districts. Although cyclists are generally permitted to ride side by side, no more than two people can ride next to each other.

Cyclists who are traveling on a road at a lower speed than the flow of traffic must ride as far to the right side of the right lane as is safe. Cyclists can also choose to ride in the bike lane, on a bike path, the shoulder of the road, or a regular travel lane. Unless a city code prohibits it, bicyclists are also permitted to ride on sidewalks and when doing so, have all of the rights and duties that apply to pedestrians.

When turning, cyclists must also use the following hand signals before initiating the turn:

  • Left turns are indicated by extending the left hand arm horizontally beyond the side of the bicycle;
  • Right turns are indicated by extending the left hand and arm upward or the right hand and arm horizontally to the right; and
  • Stopping or decreasing speed is indicated by extending the left hand and arm downward.

Schedule a Consultation With an Experienced Seattle Bicycle Accident Lawyer Today

Bicycle accidents can have devastating consequences for cyclists, who lack the protections offered by seat belts and airbags. Fortunately, injured cyclists can collect compensation for their injuries if a motorist violated a traffic law or was otherwise driving recklessly, so if you were recently involved in a bicycle accident, please call Khan Law Firm at 206-629-9312. Our Seattle personal injury attorneys can also be reached via live chat.  


What to do When Insurance Denies Your Claim?

By | Claim Denial | No Comments

One of the first things a person should do after being involved in an accident is report the incident to his or her insurer. Depending on the circumstances of the case, an accident victim will go on to file a claim with either his or her own insurer or the other party’s insurer. In some cases, insurance companies immediately approve the claim and help cover the cost of repairs and medical bills. However, some claims are denied, which can leave accident victims with no safety net. Fortunately, those whose claims have been denied are not without recourse.

First Party Claims vs. Third Party Claims

There are two main types of insurance claims, which are known as first party and third party claims. First party claims are those that are filed with your own insurance company, while third party claims are filed with another person’s insurer. The type of claim that an accident victim files depends primarily on who was at fault in the accident. Although all of those who are involved in an accident should report it with their own insurer, they will generally file the claim with the insurer of the person who was at fault.

The Filing Process

After reporting an accident, the injured party will most likely be required to provide information about the accident as well as the extent of his or her injuries to the insurance companies. The insurer will then investigate the claim by speaking with witnesses, requesting an independent medical examination, and looking at any photos of the scene of the accident. At the end of the investigation, the insurer will either offer a settlement claim or deny the claim altogether.

Claim Denials

Claims are denied for a variety of reasons. For instance, a person may have waited too long to file a claim or may have failed to submit the results of a medical examination. On the other hand, the type of accident the injured party was involved in may not be covered under the policy or the damages may exceed the policy’s limits. Fortunately, when claims are denied, the claimant has the opportunity to file an appeal, although the appeals process will differ depending on each company’s standard procedures. If an appeal is unsuccessful, the claimant can appeal the decision to the State Insurance Commissioner or bring an action against the company if he or she believes that the insurer breached its contract, violated the insurance code, or was involved in bad faith insurance practices.

Finally, claimants who have exhausted all appeals, received an unfair settlement, or were involved in an accident with an uninsured driver have the option of filing a claim against the other party in court. By filing a personal injury suit, the injured party may be able to collect compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and damages for pain and suffering.

Call Today to Speak With a Seattle Personal Injury Attorney

If you were recently involved in an accident and your insurance claim was denied either by your insurer or the at-fault party’s insurer, please contact Khan Law Firm by calling our office at 206-629-9312. Our Seattle car accident lawyers are eager to help you today.

What is a Wrongful Death?

By | Wrongful Death | No Comments

Washington law defines a wrongful death as the death of a person caused by the wrongful act, default, or neglect of another. Because the victim of an accident resulting in a wrongful death is unable to argue his or her own case, the claim must be filed by someone else, usually a close relative. Furthermore, the plaintiff, acting on behalf of a deceased loved one, must be able to provide evidence demonstrating that the defendant failed to use reasonable care or committed an illegal act, which caused the victim’s death. Generally, a wrongful death claim can only be filed if the circumstances of the accident would have supported a personal injury claim if the victim had survived.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Only certain individuals can file a wrongful death claim, including:

  • The surviving spouse or registered domestic partner of the deceased; and
  • The children or stepchildren of the deceased party.

If the deceased party has no surviving spouse, partner, or child, his or her parents or siblings can file the claim, but only if they were:

  • Dependent upon the deceased for support; and
  • Residents of the U.S. at the time of the decedent’s death.

There are also specific rules that apply when a wrongful death claim involves the death of a child. In these cases, either parent can file a claim, although in order to be eligible, he or she must have regularly contributed to the support of the child. Furthermore, if only one parent brings an action, that individual must serve the other parent with a copy of the complaint, explaining that the right to recover damages will be barred unless the other parent joins the suit as a party within 20 days.

Potential Damages

Damages in a wrongful death case are paid to the decedent’s estate and can include compensation for the following costs:

  • The decedent’s medical bills;
  • Funeral and burial expenses;
  • Lost income that the decedent would have earned if he or she had survived;
  • The pain and suffering endured by the decedent as a result of his or her injuries;
  • Property damage; and
  • The loss of companionship and care by the decedent’s loved ones.

When a case involves the death of a child, the parents can collect special damages in addition to those intended to compensate for medical expenses, such as:

  • Damages for the loss of the love and companionship of the child; and
  • Compensation for the destruction of the parent-child relationship.

However, in order to collect any damages, a decedent’s representative must file a wrongful death claim within three years of the date of the decedent’s death. If the decedent’s representative fails to file before this deadline, the case will most likely be barred and the victim’s surviving relatives will miss out on the opportunity to obtain a judgment of liability.

Contact an Experienced Seattle Wrongful Death Attorney Today

Although collecting compensation can never replace the loss of a beloved relative, it can allow families to pay necessary expenses and remain financially afloat while they mourn. To speak with an experienced Seattle personal injury attorney about your own case, please contact Khan Law Firm at 206-629-9312 today.

Head-on Collisions

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Being involved in any type of car crash can leave victims both injured and frightened. This is especially true for those who are involved in head-on collisions because injuries sustained in these kinds of accidents tend to be particularly severe and in some tragic cases, can even be deadly. Although no amount of money can compensate someone for a permanent and debilitating injury or the loss of a loved one, collecting compensation from the at-fault parties can go a long way towards helping accident victims and their families begin the long road to recovery. Unfortunately, filing a claim can be difficult, especially for those who are dealing with serious injuries, so if you or loved one were recently involved in a head-on collision, it is important to speak with an experienced car accident attorney who can represent your interests.

Causes of Head-on Collisions

Head-on crashes usually occur when a vehicle crosses the centerline or median and collides with an approaching car. While this can be the result of one driver’s attempt to pass another car on a two lane road, most fatal head-on collisions actually don’t occur in passing situations. Instead, these types of crashes are much more likely to occur when a driver inadvertently drifts from his or her lane into oncoming traffic. In fact, most head-on collisions involve at least one party’s negligent actions, which could include:

  • Speeding;
  • Driving while fatigued;
  • Distracted driving; and
  • Driving while intoxicated.

One of the reasons head-on collisions have such serious consequences is that the at-fault driver, due to his or her distraction, does not usually attempt to avoid the accident by braking or swerving. For this reason, head-on crashes usually occur at relatively high speeds and so cause significant damage.

Although less common, head-on collisions can also be caused by:

  • Poor weather conditions;
  • Mechanical problems; and
  • A driver’s attempt to avoid an animal or other object in the road.

Regardless of the underlying cause, head-on collisions can have devastating consequences, including catastrophic injuries.

Typical Injuries

Due to the extreme force involved in most head-on collisions, injuries sustained by occupants tend to be particularly severe and include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries, which are often the result of a person’s head coming into contact with an object in the vehicle. Sudden impacts can lead to swelling or bleeding in the brain, which if not immediately treated can cause permanent damage or death.
  • Spinal cord damage, which often occurs when fractured pieces of the vertebrae come into contact with and damage the bundle of nerves that make up the spinal cord. Spinal cord damage can have permanent consequences, including paralysis.
  • Burns caused by exploded fuel tanks can also cause significant injuries and scarring and often require victims to undergo multiple surgeries and physical therapy.
  • Severe whiplash, which is the result of a driver’s head snapping forward and backward after a sudden impact. This motion causes the muscles and ligaments in the neck to become strained or stretched, which can lead to restricted movement and chronic pain.
  • Fractures to the sternum and ribs, caused by a driver forcefully coming into contact with the steering wheel or seat belt. Broken ribs can make movement and breathing difficult and are known for taking a significant amount of time to fully heal.
  • Crushed legs and hips, which are caused by the sudden impact involved in head-on collisions, but are also often the result of a victim’s being trapped beneath the wreckage of the vehicle.
  • Internal organ damage is usually caused by a person’s torso coming into sudden contact with another object, such as a seat or dashboard and can lead to internal bleeding.

These types of catastrophic injuries are notoriously difficult and expensive to treat. Their severity also requires injured parties to take a significant amount of time off from work. Fortunately, injured parties can collect compensation for these and other expenses if they can demonstrate that another driver’s negligence contributed to or caused their accident. If successful, a plaintiff could collect some or all of the following damages:

  • Past and future medical expenses;
  • Lost wages;
  • Loss of future income;
  • Property damage;
  • Pain and suffering; and
  • Funeral and burial costs.

The last thing a person who was injured in a serious head-on collision needs to worry about is paying medical bills, which makes it especially important that these individuals seek compensation from the responsible parties.

Establishing Negligence

Unlike other types of car crashes, when a head-on collisions occurs, there is no doubt that someone was clearly at fault. However, proving that another driver was negligent can still be difficult and requires the collection of convincing evidence, such as:

  • Measurements of skid marks and gouge marks at the scene of the accident;
  • Photographs from the scene of the crash;
  • Information stored on in-vehicle technologies;
  • Video recordings of the accident;
  • Testimony from eyewitnesses;
  • Medical records;
  • The results of BAC tests;
  • The police report;
  • Photographs of the injuries sustained by the victim; and
  • Photographs of the damaged vehicle.

Collecting this type of evidence is crucial to the success of a case, so if you were injured in a head-on collision, it is critical to contact an attorney who has the resources and experience to conduct the proper investigations.

Comparative Negligence

Fortunately, even if an injured party contributed to the accident in some way, he or she will not be barred from recovery. This is because Washington follows the legal theory of comparative negligence, which means that plaintiffs can still collect compensation even when they were partly at fault in causing the accident. However, the amount that victims are able to recover will be reduced by their percentage of fault.

Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Today

At the Khan Law Firm, we understand how stressful it is to be involved in a car accident, especially when the collision was particularly severe. For this reason, we dedicate ourselves to helping relieve our clients of some of their burdens by aggressively representing their interests, whether in settlement proceedings or in the courtroom. To learn more about your rights to compensation, please contact us today by calling 206-430-6096 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced car accident attorney who can evaluate your case.

Washington Maritime Accident Laws

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Washington is the permanent residence of many maritime workers, who access the water and their vessels from the state’s many ports. While working as a maritime worker may have its advantages, it is a highly dangerous job, leading to countless injuries every year.

Because most of these injuries occur on the “high seas,” understanding who is liable for maritime accidents and who has jurisdiction over these accident types can be confusing. At the law offices of the Khan Law Firm, we help injured maritime workers and their families in Washington seek the compensation that they deserve after an accident. To learn more, please call our law firm today for your free consultation.

Common Types of Maritime Accidents

Working in the maritime industry is inherently dangerous, and every year, numerous workers suffer catastrophic injuries as a result of errors and negligence. Some of the most common types of maritime accidents and injuries include:

  • Oil rig explosions and machinery accidents;
  • Fires;
  • Slip and falls;
  • Drowning and near-drowning accidents;
  • Tugboat injuries;
  • Crush injuries from cargo loading and transport errors;
  • Amputation injuries caused by defective or heavy machinery, equipment, or cargo; and
  • Lacerations and burns from fires, explosions, equipment malfunctions, and more.

These accident and injury types can be severe enough to cost a maritime worker their life, or significantly change it. An affected worker may be unable to return to work, care for themselves, or even do basic things that they once loved, such as go for a walk.

Who Is Liable for Maritime Accidents and What is the Jones Act?

While Washington may have many ports and hundreds of maritime workers, it is important to note that state law alone does not govern liability for maritime accidents, as it does with many other workplace and personal injury types. Instead, the Jones Act, which is a piece of federal legislation, provides some protection for maritime workers who are injured at sea.

One of the biggest differences between the Jones Act and other workers’ compensation laws throughout the country is that the in order for an injured maritime worker to receive compensation under the act, they must bring forth a negligence-based claim against their employer or liable party. In traditional workers’ compensation claims, workers are paid for their injuries regardless of fault, and are barred from bringing forth negligence-based actions. A negligence claim can be brought forth when an employer does anything that is outside of the reasonable standard of care that is required to provide for workers’ safety, such as the failure to properly train workers, provide maritime workers with the necessary equipment to do their jobs, or failure to provide equipment that is working properly and is maintained on a regular basis. A worker only needs to prove that the employer’s negligence played a part in the causation of their accident and injuries in order to hold the employer liable for damages.

Another difference is that while workers’ compensation applies to nearly all workers, the Jones Act only covers maritime workers who are “seamen.” In order to be a seaman, a worker must generally be a worker on a vessel that operates in navigable waters, and must perform work that is directly related to that vessel’s purpose and operation.

Right to Maintenance and Cure

There is another provision of maritime law that more closely resembles workers’ compensation systems of compensation – this is known as a maritime worker’s right to maintenance and cure. An injured seaman is entitled to these benefits regardless of negligence, so long as their injury or illness was sustained during the course of their employment.

The right to maintenance means the right to room and board while the seaman is recovering from injuries. If the seaman is at sea, then the vessel must provide this; if the seaman is not at home, then the employer should pay for things such as the worker’s rent, utilities, and food while they are recovering.

The right to cure, on the other hand, refers to the right of the maritime worker to seek compensation for the full value of all necessary and reasonable medical expenses associated with treating the injury. Both maintenance and cure must be paid to the seaman, by the employer, regardless of fault, until the seaman reached maximum medical improvement, or the point where they will not recover further.

Death on the High Seas Act

Another maritime law that may affect those who have lost a loved one in a maritime accident is the Death on the High Seas Act. This act allows surviving family members of a maritime worker to file a claim against a negligent employer for damages related to the loved one’s death.

Steps to Take after a Maritime Accident

Knowing what steps to take after a maritime accident can help preserve your right to seek damage and recover the full value of your compensation amount. Some things to do include:

  • Seek medical care. You should seek medical care as soon as possible after your maritime accident, and make sure that this care is properly documented.
  • Inform your employer of the accident. You should inform your employer of the accident as soon as you are physically able to do so. This is true regardless of whether you plan on seeking compensation under a no-fault, or negligence-based, system of recovery.
  • Document what happened. Take time to write down exactly what you were doing at the time of the accident and what you believe caused the accident. If anyone witnessed your accident, write down their names and contact information, as well as some notes about what they saw.
  • Contact an attorney. You should contact an attorney immediately. Maritime law is very complicated, and understanding how to recover compensation can be elusive. If you wait too long to file a claim and bring forth an action, you may be barred from damages entirely. Act now.

Call Khan Law Firm Today

At the Khan Law Firm, we are here to help you navigate the waters of maritime law and recover the compensation you deserve. If you are ready to take action, use our online form to schedule your free consultation with our experienced Washington maritime lawyers today. You can also call our offices directly.