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Side-Impact Car Accidents

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Any type of car accident may cause serious injury or even death. Side-impact car accidents are especially dangerous because the victim often has less protection than in a head-on or rear-end collision. And in many cases, injuries sustained in a side-impact accident may not be visible immediately after the impact.

What Is a Side-Impact Accident?

A side-impact accident refers to a collision between two vehicles at an approximately 90-degree angle. Unlike a head-on or rear-end collision, a side-impact accident means one vehicle directly strikes the doors on one side of the second vehicle. Such accidents are often called “broadside” or “T-bone” accidents, the latter referring to the shape the two vehicles make upon impact.

Side-impact accidents most frequently occur at intersections. For example, Driver A lawfully proceeds through an intersection. At the same time Driver B, who is traveling in the perpendicular direction, runs the red light at the intersection and hits the side of Driver A’s vehicle.

Why Are Side-Impact Accidents Dangerous?

Modern cars and trucks are designed to withstand much of the impact of head-on or rear-end collisions. In other words, if you are hit head-on, your bumper, engine, and driver’s side airbag–in addition to the “crumple zones” of the second vehicle–will absorb a great deal of the kinetic energy from the accident, hopefully minimizing any injury to you or your passengers. In contrast, there is usually nothing more than the door and window to protect you in the event of a side-impact accident.

Additionally, a side-impact accident may cause the impacted vehicle to spin or roll over. This can lead to additional collisions with other vehicles, pedestrians, and even stationary objects such as buildings. You are therefore much more likely to bear the full brunt of a side-impact collision–even if the collision occurs at a relatively low speed–relative to any other kind of accident.

According to the most recent statistics published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, approximately 25 percent of all fatal car accidents are the result of side-impact collisions. In 2015, the last year for which there is complete data, 5,593 people died nationally in side-impact accidents. The majority of these deaths (about 3,800) occurred among car passengers, with the rest divided between trucks and sport-utility vehicles.

What Types of Injuries Can I Suffer?

Even a non-fatal side-impact car accident can produce serious, lifelong injuries. Here are some of the more common problems accident victims face:

  • Neck and spinal injuries. Whiplash occurs when there is sudden, rapid movement of the neck. When you are in a car crash, your head remains stationary at the moment of impact. This means your neck absorbs most of the energy. The ligaments and muscles in the neck stretch. Eventually, your head “catches up” with your neck and pulls it back in the opposite direction. All of this can lead to serious spine damage.
  • Traumatic brain injuries. Whiplash can also lead to a concussion, which is just a nice way of saying traumatic brain injury. Separate from whiplash, any blunt force impact to the head–say, if your head hits the steering wheel or the window during the accident–can cause a concussion. A traumatic brain injury may not be immediately obvious. You may not lose consciousness and the effects of your cognitive functioning may not be known for hours, days, or even weeks after the accident.
  • Injuries to limbs. Broken bones are common in side-impact accidents, as limbs are often slammed into the door, the dashboard, or even other seats in the car. As with brain injuries, some limb injuries are not immediately detected. You may not notice any symptoms until some time has passed.
  • Chest injuries. Finally, a side-impact accident may cause bruising or contusions to the chest. In many cases these are just superficial wounds. But they may also signal broken ribs or even internal bleeding, which may require surgical intervention.

Is the Other Driver Responsible for My Injuries?

The critical question in side-impact car accidents is determining who had the right of way. As noted above, these types of accidents usually occur when one driver ignores traffic signals or the other driver’s lawful and superior right to be in the intersection. In many cases this is actually pretty simple to figure out. Indeed, the responsible driver may even admit fault if it is obvious.

But if things devolve into a “he said-she said” situation, then you must take steps to preserve any evidence that may help prove the other driver’s liability:

  • Call the police. Even if there is no immediate disagreement between you and the other driver over who is at fault, you should always obtain an official police report of the accident.
  • Take pictures. Fortunately just about all of us now carry a high-resolution camera in our pockets via our phones. You should not only take pictures of your damaged vehicle, but also of any skid marks on the road. This can be helpful in later reconstructing the accident.
  • Locate witnesses. If there were other drivers or pedestrians who saw what happened, take down their name and contact information. Make sure they also speak with the police when they arrive at the scene.

Dealing With Insurance Companies

If the other driver concedes liability, his or her insurance company may offer you a quick settlement to avoid a potential personal injury lawsuit. You should always be skeptical of an insurer’s first offer. Remember, the insurer is there to protect their insured and themselves, not you.

Since many serious injuries, such as whiplash or concussions, may not be diagnosed until several weeks after a side-impact accident, it is often a bad idea to settle quickly. Do not let the other driver’s insurance company pressure you into taking a deal that may not fully compensate you for your injuries.

Indeed, aside from the police and your own insurance company, the only person you should speak with following a side-impact car accident is an experienced Seattle injury attorney. Contact the Khan Law Firm, PLLC, if you need to consult with a qualified car accident lawyer who knows how to deal with insurance companies.

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Whiplash Injuries

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Whiplash Injuries

Serious injuries can result from even minor accidents, with symptoms that can take days or even weeks to fully appear. This is particularly true with whiplash, one of the most common types of accidental injuries, and while the harm done may not be immediately apparent, the effects could impact your health and well-being, both now and in the years to come. The following provides important information you need to be aware of about whiplash injuries, how they commonly occur, and the actions you as a victim can take to ensure your recovery.

Common Causes Of Whiplash

Whiplash is the name commonly used to describe a neck sprain or strain, which occurs as the result of a person’s head moving back and forth suddenly and with force. According to Healthline, this type of movement causes damage to the muscles and other soft tissues in the neck, and while whiplash is often considered to be a fairly minor injury, it can result in long term pain and discomfort, while limiting range of motion.

Whiplash often occurs as the result of a car accident, in particular those involving rear end collisions. The latest statistics from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) indicate that rear end collisions are the most common type of motor vehicle accident, injuring as many as 1.7 million people each year. Other types of accidents that can result in whiplash include the following:

  • Motorcycle accidents;
  • Bicycle and pedestrian accidents;
  • Slip and fall accidents;
  • Recreational or sports related accidents;
  • Accidents involving being struck by or against an object.

When you suffer any type of accidental injury, regardless of how minor it may appear, it is important to seek medical attention immediately, and to follow all your doctor’s instructions. Failing to promptly and adequately address whiplash injuries can have severe and potentially permanent impacts on your health.  

Symptoms of A Whiplash Injury

In the event of an accident, the Mayo Clinic advises victims to be alert for the symptoms of whiplash, which could take anywhere from 24 hours to several days to appear. In addition to neck pain, stiffness, and limited movement of the neck muscles, symptoms of a whiplash injury include the following:

  • Headaches, particularly at the base of the skull;
  • Pain that radiates through your shoulders, upper arms, and torso;
  • Tingling and numbness in the arms or hands;
  • Dizziness and problems maintaining balance;
  • Blurred vision;
  • Excessive fatigue or muscle weakness.

Other, less common symptoms you may experience after your accident as the result of a whiplash injury include problems with memory and concentration, sleep disturbances, and mood disorders, such as depression or increased irritability.

It is imperative to get medical attention right away when you suffer this type of injury, to allow your doctor to rule out conditions such as bone fractures, damaged discs or vertebrae, and muscle tears.

Treatments and Potential Complications of Whiplash

In diagnosing your condition, the Mayo Clinic advises that your doctor will test the range of motion in your neck, arms, and shoulders, while also assessing strength, sensation, and your reflexes in these areas. In addition, your doctor may order one or all of the following tests:

  • X-rays of the neck from multiple angles, to rule out fractures and dislocations;
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan, which can reveal bone damage;
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which can detect soft tissue injuries and damage to the spinal cord and disks.

Once your doctor has assessed your condition, a course of treatment will be prescribed. This often includes a required period of rest to allow the muscles and tendons to heal, in addition to the use of both prescribed and over-the-counter pain medications and muscle relaxers. Exercise and physical therapy is likely to play an important role in your recovery, to build up weakened muscles and restore range of motion. In the case of severe whiplash injuries, you may require the use of a soft foam cervical collar, to immobilize the affected area and allow time for it to heal.  

With any kind of soft tissue injury, there is always the risk of reinjury, and complications of whiplash injuries could result in chronic pain in the neck, shoulder, and arms, as well as in permanent impairments. Disabilities resulting from whiplash could make it difficult to continue working in your job or career field, while making it difficult to engage in hobbies and social activities you once enjoyed.

What To Do If You Suffer Whiplash As The Result of An Accident

Accidents happen quickly and unexpectedly, and it is important to know what to do if you are injured:

For Motor Vehicle, Bicycle, Or Pedestrian Accidents

Report the accident immediately to local law enforcement and get medical attention for your injuries. All motorists involved are required to submit their personal contact information, as well as the driver’s license, vehicle registration, and insurance policy numbers. An accident report will be taken, which should include the date, time, and location of the incident, as well as any witnesses at the scene.

For Recreational Or Sports-Related Accidents And Those Involving Slips, Falls, Or Being Struck By Or Against An Object

Report the accident to the property supervisor or to security personnel at the scene and get medical attention right away. An incident report is taken, again making note of the date, time, place, and circumstances under which the accident occurred, and anyone at the scene who may have witnessed what happened.

Our Seattle Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help

If you or someone you care about has suffered whiplash injuries as the result of an accident, contact the Khan Law Firm, PLLC today. Our experienced Seattle accidental injury attorneys can advise you on the best course of action for getting compensation for your injuries, either through an insurance company claim or by filing a personal injury lawsuit. Whiplash injuries can have a major impact on your health as well as your financial security, and you need experienced legal representation to ensure your rights and interests are protected.

Accidents Happen: What To Do When You Cannot Avoid a Car Accident in Washington

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Washington Car Accident Infographic

There are 5,293,568 licensed drivers in the state of Washington, a number only outmatched by 12 other states. Because of the number of drivers on the road, it is critical that Washington drivers take extra precautions when operating a motor vehicle, as there is a much greater chance of causing a car accident than in a state with fewer drivers, such as Kentucky, Rhode Island, or Wyoming. Unfortunately, Washington’s car accident statistics reveal numbers comparable with the amount of drivers in the state. For instance, there were 420,275 speeding citations filed with Washington state courts in 2014, 31,128 DUI cases, and 97,763 individuals involved in car accident fatalities and injuries.

With those numbers to contend with, state officials are working hard to pinpoint the leading causes of car accidents in Washington so that they may work towards eradicating the problems for good.

Leading Causes of Car Accidents in Washington

According to the Washington State Department of Transportation’s 2014 Annual Collision Summary, a speeding driver was involved in a car accident every 28 minutes; an inattentive/distracted driver was involved in a car accident every 12 minutes; and an impaired driver killed a person every one and a half days. The highest number of crashes occurred between 5:00 and 5:59 pm on Fridays. The majority of those accidents were due to human error—namely inattention and distraction.

At the Khan Law Firm, PLLC, our Seattle car accident lawyers help clients deal with injuries sustained from a variety of accidents. However, the leading causes of car accidents in Washington are those for which we see the most personal injury claims, and are as follows:

  • Drunk Driving: According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, drunk driving is the leading cause of car accident fatalities throughout the state. As well as criminal penalties for drinking and driving, offenders may face civil lawsuits brought against them by a victim’s family members, or even the victim themselves.
  • Speeding: Speeding is another leading cause of car accidents in Washington, and accounts for nearly two and half collisions per hour of every day.
  • Distracted Driving: From texting and driving to putting on makeup, the most frequent contributing circumstance among all collisions in Washington is distracted or inattentive driving. While the numbers are unclear as to just what extent distracted driving is responsible for the increasing car accident fatality rates in the United States, it is estimated that the number of deaths is more than half a million. Washington is one of many states to take proactive measures against texting and driving and talking on the phone while driving, but distractions can range in nature, and can include eating, playing with the radio, or even talking to others in the vehicle.

Unfortunately, when even one driver is careless on the road, it can lead to negative consequences for several other individuals. At Khan Law Firm, PLLC, our Washington personal injury attorneys advocate for the victims of car accidents in the event that they sustain life-altering injuries that resulted in high medical bills, lost wages, and an overall decrease in quality of life.

What To Do After a Car Accident in Washington

If you have recently been involved in a car accident in Washington, you deserve to be compensated for any injuries sustained during the accident, as well as for emotional pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical expenses. However, in order to file a car accident claim, it is important that you understand car accident laws in Washington. A Washington car accident attorney can lend legal knowledge and skill to your case so that you may settle sooner and achieve a more desirable outcome.

Whether you choose to work with a car accident attorney or not, here are some tips that every victim of a Washington car accident should know:

  • The statute of limitations on car accident injury claims in Washington is three years, starting from the day of the crash. However, the three-year limit does not apply if you are filing a claim with your insurance company or with the other driver’s insurance company, as private insurance companies are likely to have their own set of time limitations.
  • Washington is a “pure comparative fault” state, meaning that the victim can share a part of the blame for the accident and their injuries. If the judge rules that the victim is partially responsible, they will reduce your settlement accordingly.
  • Washington requires drivers to carry no less than $85,000 in insurance coverage. If a driver fails to meet Washington’s insurance requirements, they may be unable to file an insurance claim for damages sustained in a car accident.

If you are involved in a car accident in Washington, do the following to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver:

  • Assess your injuries;
  • Take photographs of the accident, including the scene of the accident, the road debris, the vehicles, and your injuries;
  • File a police report;
  • Obtain the names and contact information of eyewitnesses;
  • Hire a Washington car accident attorney; and

Report your losses to your insurance company.

Always remember:

  • Do not give a statement to your own or the other driver’s insurance company without first speaking with your Washington personal injury attorney;
  • Do not sign anything without thoroughly reading it first, and without first letting your car accident attorney read through it with you; and
  • Do not try to settle your own personal injury claim.

Individuals who try to settle their own insurance claim are less likely to achieve a beneficial outcome to their case.

Consult a Washington Car Accident Attorney

At the Khan Law Firm, PLLC, our car accident lawyers are working hand-in-hand with the state to reduce the number of car accidents that Washington sees each year. However, we understand that car accidents happen, and that at the very least, we can be there to help victims of car accidents receive adequate compensation for their injuries and to move on with their lives. If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident that resulted in serious damages and/or injuries, do not hesitate, and contact our personal injury firm at 206.455.6220 to consult with one of our knowledgeable car accident lawyers today.