Auto & Trucking Collisions
Question: I have been injured in an automobile accident. What do I do?
ANSWER: Whenever you are in an accident, call the police immediately and let them investigate. Aside from finding out if everyone is ok, and exchanging insurance information, you should not speak to the other driver about what happened, as statements made after the collision are often used against you if the case has to go to court (even a polite “I’m sorry” can be considered an admission of fault by the court). If there are witnesses to the collision, make sure you get their name and contact information, just in case they leave before the police arrive.
The most important thing to do after a collision is to make sure that you and anyone else in your vehicle get proper medical attention, whether at the emergency department of a local hospital, or at your primary care physician’s office by appointment. When seeing a doctor, mention everything that is bothering you so that all of your potential injuries can be addressed.
Question: Do I need an attorney?
ANSWER: If you are dealing with an insurance company for an at-fault driver, keep in mind that the insurance company is looking to pay the very least amount possible for a claim. More importantly, insurance companies have teams of lawyers to help keep claim costs low. Therefore, in most cases, those who have been injured in an accident need an attorney of their own just to even the odds. They need an attorney who knows their rights, knows what damages to which they are entitled, and knows how to get insurance companies to pay a fair value for a claim.
Question: When looking for an attorney, do I need a specialist, or can I choose any attorney I find in the phone book.
ANSWER: While attorneys are not allowed to advertise “specialties” or “expertise” in any area of law, they are allowed to limit their practice to certain types of cases. Don’t just look for a firm that advertises in the “personal injury” section of the phone book. Look for attorneys who have dedicated their practice to representing the injured against insurance companies and corporations. If you were diagnosed with a serious medical condition, you would likely seek out a physician who has dealt with that same condition on numerous occasions. Likewise, if you are dealing with an insurance company on an injury claim, you want an attorney who has spent their entire career making insurance companies pay a fair value for a claim. In such cases, experience is critical
Question: I was injured in an accident and the other driver did not have insurance. What do I do now?
ANSWER: In Washington, those who have been injured in a collision with an uninsured motorist can make a claim against their “underinsured motorist” insurance policy and recover damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering, inconvenience, and disability. If you find yourself in this predicament, an attorney can assist you with your claim.
Question: My medical bills are adding up fast and the insurance adjuster for the at-fault driver told me that they will pay for my bills up to this point and pay me “something” for pain and suffering. Should I take this offer?
ANSWER: No. If you are still being treated by a physician, do not settle with the adjuster. Settling your case involves giving up your rights to make a claim in the future and if your medical future is uncertain you don’t know what is fair to settle your claim. An experienced personal injury attorney can advise you on your rights and on all of the possible ways to get your medical bills paid while your injury claim is pending. Moreover, even if you are done with treatment and are feeling back to “normal,” you should still be aware of all of the damages available to you in your particular case. A personal injury lawyer can advise you on this.