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

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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

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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.

Hit by a Car in Seattle

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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.

The Yellow Umbrella Boutique

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

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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 SaferCar.gov, 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.

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.

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 Whiplash 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

By | Car Accidents | No Comments
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 Seattle 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 206-430-6096 to consult with one of our knowledgeable car accident lawyers today.