CAR ACCIDENT ATTORNEY SERVING CLIENTS IN TACOMA WASHINGTON
Did you know that nearly 30,000 fatal car accidents occurred in the U.S. in 2014, resulting in 32,675 deaths? Those figures were reported recently in a fact sheet from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), and they emphasize the seriousness of traffic collisions in Tacoma and across the country. How many deadly crashes occurred in Washington State? The rate of fatal car accidents in Washington is actually among the lowest in the country, yet the number is still strikingly high. The IIHS indicates that, in 2014, there were 6.5 motor vehicle deaths in Washington per 100,000 population. In terms of specific accident numbers, there were 429 deadly car accidents that resulted in 462 individual fatalities that year.
The severity of a car accident depends on many different factors, including the speed of the vehicles, the type of vehicles involved in the collision, and both road and atmospheric conditions. Regardless of whether you were involved in a more minor fender-bender accident or a more serious collision that resulted in severe injuries, an experienced Tacoma car accident lawyer at our firm can help with your case. We regularly assist clients throughout Washington in a wide variety of car accident lawsuits.
CAUSES OF CAR ACCIDENTS
There are many reasons that car accidents happen. A report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) explains that there are different factors that often play a role in motor vehicles crashes, and some concern a driver’s negligence or carelessness while others do not. In general, the following are among the categories of reasons that car crashes occur:
- Driver behavior (including distracted driving, aggressive driving, drowsy driving, and alcohol-impaired driving);
- Vehicle problems (including defective automobile parts, such as defective airbags or a problem with the vehicle’s braking system);
- Road problems (such as uneven paving or large potholes); and
- Atmospheric, or weather, conditions (such as fog, rain, snow, or wintry mix).
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS IN WASHINGTON CAR ACCIDENT CLAIMS
To be certain that you remain eligible for financial compensation, it is important to take note of Washington’s statute of limitations on personal injury lawsuits. The statute of limitations refers to the amount of time that a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit. If the time limit specified by the statute of limitations runs out, the plaintiff likely will not be able to seek compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.
Under Washington law (Revised Code of Washington Section 4.16.080), injured plaintiffs must file a lawsuit within three (3) years of the date of the injury. In the case of car accident claims, this means that the plaintiff must file a lawsuit within three years from the date of the accident in order to remain eligible for compensation.
TACOMA CAR ACCIDENT FAQS
If you have questions about what happens after a car accident and the claims process, our lawyers can help. Some of the frequently asked questions we hear include:
I Might Be Partially at Fault. How Will This Affect My Settlement?
Washington State maintains a rule of comparative negligence, also referred to as contributory fault. This means that a party who suffers an injury is still permitted to seek damages from another, but their recoverable damages award will be reduced in proportion to their degree of fault. For example, If you are in a car accident and are found to be 10 percent and fault and suffer $1,000 in damages, you can hold the other party liable for 90 percent of that amount, or $900. It’s important to work with experts and a lawyer who can disprove allegations of fault made against you and help you to recover your maximum settlement amount.
I’ve Been Offered a Check By the Other Party’s Insurer. Should I Accept it?
If you’ve been in a car accident with another driver, the fault of the other driver is clear, and you file a claim against the other driver’s insurance, you may be pleasantly surprised when you receive a check from the party’s insurer in the mail. Don’t accept it! As tempted as you may be to cash the check and move forward with your life, first-time settlement offers are usually lowballed. The insurance company, recognizing your desperation and desire to settle quickly, may offer you a small check as a way of ending the claims process in a quick, low-cost manner. You are probably entitled to more. But the moment you accept a settlement, you release your right to claim against the insurer.
I Have Insurance. Why Would I Need an Attorney?
Many people think, “I have insurance. And I pay my premiums on time. And the other driver has insurance, too. I’ll be paid what I deserve.”
Unfortunately, this is wishful thinking. Even if you have insurance and even if you have a great relationship with your insurer–and the same is true for the other driver–know that insurers are looking for ways to save money, not spend it. Working with an attorney can be helpful for a number of reasons, including representing you in conversations with your insurer and representing you during settlement negotiations.
Types of Compensation Available in a Car Accident Lawsuit
If you’ve been in a crash, especially a serious crash, you deserve to be compensated in full for your losses. Hopefully, this will be possible by filing a car accident claim and entering into settlement negotiations with the insurer. If not, though, you will have the option of filing a lawsuit and seeking damages for the total value of your losses. Types of compensation that are available in a car accident case include property damage expenses, medical bills, lost wages, and other economic losses, as well as noneconomic damages, such as pain, suffering, and emotional distress.
What Happens if the Other Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?
Being involved in an accident with another driver who doesn’t have insurance can be nerve-racking – Washington is an at-fault state, which means that drivers who cause accidents are responsible for paying for them, most typically through their liability insurance coverage. So, what happens if the driver who hits you isn’t insured?
If the driver is independently wealthy–which is unlikely considering that they aren’t insured–you can file a lawsuit directly against them for damages. Otherwise, your best option will likely be to turn to your own insurance company for compensation, via your uninsured/underinsured motorist policy. You may also carry other insurance types, such as medical payments coverage or Personal Injury Protection coverage.
My Claim Has Been Denied. Now What?
In some situations, it is possible to file a claim against an insurer, only to receive notice from said insurer that your claim has been denied. This can be a shocking and scary feeling, as you may very much be relying on payment to help you get through. Know that if your claim is denied, you maintain the right to appeal the denial. If you receive notice of a claim denial (or if you are offered less than you deserve), it is strongly recommended that you contact an attorney immediately who can represent you. Attempting to appeal a denied claim on your own can be challenging, and isn’t recommended.
How Can I Afford a Lawyer?
Many people who have been in serious car accidents and truly need legal representation are unsure of how they will possibly be able to afford an attorney to help them. At the office of the Khan Injury Law PLLC, we work on a contingency fee basis. This means that we work on your case with no upfront fees, and never ask for hourly compensation. Instead, at the time that you hire us, we agree on a payment structure where we will collect a portion of the settlement that you recover if we are successful. This way, if you don’t get paid, neither do we.
Will I Have to File a Lawsuit?
The idea of filing a lawsuit and pursuing litigation can be very stressful. When you hire our law firm, our goal is to settle your case out of court through negotiations and, indeed, this is how most car accident claims are resolved. However, there are a few exceptions, where claims are so complex, the amount of damages involved so great, or fault so disputed that reaching a settlement through negotiations proves impossible. When this is the case, filing a lawsuit will likely be the only way to recover compensation. Our lawyers have trial experience and can prepare you for what you need to know.
How Can I Get Started?
If you’ve been in a car accident in Tacoma, working with a Tacoma accident lawyer should be a priority. You can learn more about your rights and get started on the car accident claims process by calling the Khan Injury Law PLLC directly today and requesting a free consultation.
NEGLIGENT DRIVING BEHAVIORS IN WASHINGTON STATE
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discusses in detail some of the causes of accidents in which drivers are liable. For instance, when it comes to distracted driving, a fact sheet from the CDC emphasizes the following facts and figures:
- Distracted driving results in eight deaths every day;
- Each day, distracted driving causes 1,161 injury accidents;
- There are three types of distraction behind the wheel, including visual distractions (which involve taking your eyes off the road); manual distractions (which involve taking your hands off the wheel), and cognitive distractions (which involve taking your mind off the task of driving); and
- Distracted driving can take many different forms, including talking on a cell phone, texting while driving, using a GPS navigation system, changing the radio, and even conversing with other passengers.
How is drowsy driving different from distracted driving? In short, as a CDC fact sheet explains, “drowsy driving is the dangerous combination of driving and sleepiness or fatigue.” What causes drowsy driving? Typically, people do not get behind the wheel with the intention of falling asleep while they are on the road. Rather, most drowsy or fatigued drivers simply have not slept sufficiently the night before and thus are too tired to drive. In some cases, sleep disorders, certain medications, and other factors can contribute to drowsy driving. The CDC cites the following as the consequences of drowsy driving each year in the U.S.:
- About 83,000 auto accidents;
- Around 37,000 injury crashes; and
- Nearly 900 accidents resulted in fatality.
Yet, as the CDC notes, these estimates likely are conservative ones, and drowsy driving may be a factor in thousands more accidents. What about aggressive driving? A fact sheet from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety underscores that about 80 percent of drivers admit to engaging in aggressive driving behaviors, or “road rage,” at some point on the road. About 50 percent of drivers admit to aggressive driving behaviors in the last 30 days, while about 25 percent indicate that they believe speeding is “acceptable.”
Finally, what should drivers know about alcohol-impaired accidents? A CDC fact sheet on alcohol-impaired driving lists the following statistics:
- Nearly 10,000 people died in alcohol-impaired accidents in 2014;
- Alcohol-related fatal crashes account for 31 percent of all fatal car accidents in the U.S.;
- Children between the ages of 0-14 are at particularly high risk of injury or death in an impaired driving accident;
- More than 50 percent of kids who died in impaired-driving accidents are passengers in the vehicle controlled by the drunk driver; and
- About 121 million drivers self-report intoxicated driving, while only about one percent of them (approximately 1.1 million) are arrested for DUIs/DWIs each year.
DISCUSS YOUR CASE WITH AN EXPERIENCED TACOMA CAR ACCIDENT ATTORNEY
Car accidents happen too frequently in Tacoma, Washington, and many of them are preventable. Personal injury law allows an injured plaintiff to file a claim for compensation when another party’s negligence causes an accident and injuries.
If another driver’s careless behavior resulted in a serious accident, you deserve to seek financial compensation for your losses. An experienced Tacoma car accident attorney can assist with your case. We are dedicated to helping Washington plaintiffs who have sustained serious injuries in traffic collisions. Contact Khan Injury Law, PLLC in Tacoma to discuss your options.