Yakima has its fair share of car accidents. Whether on I-82 during rush hour or heading up Hwy 12 to Rimrock Lake, the winding mountain roads of the Yakima Valley can be very dangerous. If someone injures you or a family member in a car accident because they were driving distracted or driving under the influence, you may be entitled to compensation. The Yakima personal injury lawyers of Tamaki Law can help you get financial compensation for your injuries and get your life back on track.
Contact us today at (509) 248-8338 for a free, no-obligation consultation, and see how we can help you file a personal injury claim against the driver who caused your accident and get you and your family on the road to recovery.
Do I Have a Valid Injury Claim?
In order to recover compensation for damages due to your accident, you have to be able to prove a few things. You must be able to prove that the accident was caused by another person or entity’s negligence and that this negligence led to your injuries. The burden of proof for these two things, fault and negligence, is on the claimant, the person requesting compensation.
You also must have suffered some losses, or damages, due to the accident that are substantial enough to warrant compensation. For example, say someone hits your car on Washington Ave. The accident is low-speed with little damage to either vehicle and only minor injuries. If your health insurance covers your hospital stay and the other driver’s car insurance takes care of the damage to your vehicle with no out-of-pocket expenses on your end, you may not have a valid injury claim.
On the other end of the spectrum, say you collide with a vehicle that was driving too fast in icy conditions on I-82 and sustain serious injury as well as extensive damage to your vehicle. Your health insurance deductible is high, and the at-fault driver’s insurance company tries to blame the accident on road conditions and not on the driver’s negligent behavior. They won’t approve your insurance claim, so you’re paying for medical bills and property damage directly out of your own pocket. You may have a valid injury claim against the other driver, and you should get legal assistance.
Do I Need an Attorney for My Car Accident in Yakima?
Technically, no. You’re certainly able to pursue a personal injury claim on your own, but there are several reasons why having an experienced attorney can help.
- We know the trade. When you file a claim by yourself for injuries you received in a car accident, you’ll be going up against an insurance company with their own legal team and enormous resources. They will do everything in their power to convince you that your injuries were not serious, that you don’t actually need compensation, or that the amount you’re seeking is far too high and doesn’t correspond with the actual damages. Insurance adjusters will contact you and ask for endless details about your accident and look for any reason to deny their client was at fault. An attorney with experience in personal injury law and familiarity with previous injury cases in Washington knows what tactics these insurance companies will use and the best ways to counter them. We will take the lead in negotiating your settlement. We will make sure that your injury claim is valid, complete, and free of errors that might get it denied on a technicality. We will fight to get you the compensation you deserve.
- We do the hard work. If someone injures you or your family in a car accident, you have more important things to worry about than filling out insurance forms. You may be losing time at work or you may be in the hospital recovering or caring for an injured family member while they recover. When you hire an attorney to help with your claim, we take on the difficult task of proving your case. We will investigate the accident, gather evidence, interview witnesses, and hire experts to back up your claim. You can get back to your life instead of trying to figure out just what you need to do next to pursue your claim.
- We know what your case is worth. Estimating damages and the amount of compensation to request in an injury claim is not as straightforward as you might think. Though material losses, such as damage to your vehicle, lost wages, or medical bills, are easy to tally, depending on the severity of the accident and injuries, you may be able to claim noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life. This is where an experienced attorney can help. We will use our experience with personal injury law and our knowledge of previous claims to help you come up with a number that covers all your damages, not just the ones that you can see. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and your compensation should reflect this.
- Reputation matters. Insurance companies make money by collecting premiums from their customers and looking for reasons not to pay out claims. They are well-versed in saying no. When they see a demand letter from an individual seeking compensation for damages, they have the advantage. They can pay for a full investigation of the accident and have a legal team review the findings to look for a reason to deny your claim. When they see a demand letter seeking compensation from a law firm that specializes in injury claims, the balance shifts. They know that you’ve hired a legal team that can also fully investigate and can counter any settlement offers with supporting documentation. Hiring an attorney lets them know that they cannot take advantage of you.
- Threat of a lawsuit. If an insurance company denies your injury claim and offers no settlement, there’s little more you can do on your own. Insurance companies know that you probably don’t have the time or inclination to try to take your case to court. The equation changes when you hire an attorney. Though the vast majority of injury claims are settled out of court, hiring an experienced lawyer brings with it the threat of suing the responsible party and letting a judge or jury decide who is responsible for your accident. Going to court is expensive. Even if the insurance company thinks they can win, they will still have to expend money and resources to do so.
- A lawyer may be able to get you more compensation. This is the most important reason to retain legal counsel after an injury that was someone else’s fault. Doing so can mean the difference between walking away with a settlement and walking away with nothing. A Martindale-Nolo survey done in 2016 suggested that having an attorney assist with your claim can significantly affect the likelihood of receiving compensation and the amount of compensation you receive. According to this survey, over 90 percent of those that retained legal counsel after an injury accident received some form of settlement or award, compared with just over 50 percent of those that did not hire a lawyer for their claim. Also, those that pursued an injury claim on their own received an average of just over $17,000 in compensation. The average for those that did hire an attorney was over $77,000. Even after accounting for attorneys’ fees and court costs, those that had legal help walked away with about three times as much compensation as those that did not. The statistics don’t lie. Hiring an attorney helps.
Why Tamaki Law for My Car Accident?
Tamaki Law has been helping Yakima residents obtain compensation for nearly four decades. We have a diverse team of seven attorneys and nine legal staff that are dedicated to getting you and your family the help and peace of mind that you deserve. Since 1994, Tamaki Law has helped thousands of clients across Washington obtain hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation, and we’re ready to put that experience to work for you. Have a look at our testimonials page to hear directly from our past clients, and judge for yourself.
Every personal injury case is different, and we handle each one with professionalism, compassion, and integrity. We will take the time to listen to your story and your needs and build an ironclad personal injury case that is backed up by evidence. We will keep you informed through the entire process and do all we can to make sure you’re justly compensated for your injuries, physical or mental.
We help accident victims all over Washington, and we believe in supporting our communities. That’s why we support a number of businesses, charitable organizations, and causes in Yakima and elsewhere through monetary donations. Have a look at our Giving Back page for more information.
The most important reason you should choose Tamaki Law for your injury claim is that we get positive results for our clients. We have a proven track record of getting our clients the compensation they need to move with their lives, and we can do the same for you and your family.
Steps To Take After an Accident
If you’ve just been in an accident, here are some quick tips to help keep you safe and start building your injury claim:
- Get to safety. If you’re still on an active roadway, get yourself and any other injured persons to safety as soon as possible. Road conditions often play a part in car accidents, and if bad conditions contributed to your accident, the chances of someone else having an accident in the same spot are high, so clear the road quickly.
- Leave the vehicles. If the damage to either vehicle is such that they can be moved under their own power, get them clear of the roadway, but if the damage is severe, don’t spend time trying to move or push them clear. Stay safely away, and focus on assessing injuries.
- Get medical help. If you haven’t yet, call 911 and get emergency medical services and police on the scene. When they arrive, submit to a medical evaluation even if you don’t believe your injuries are serious. You may have internal bleeding or brain injuries that can be hard to detect.
- Get insurance information. Washington state law mandates that in any car accident where someone is injured, all parties have a duty to provide their insurance company name, policy number, and contact information to any other involved parties. This includes providing driver’s license information.
- Document everything. If possible, start documenting the accident immediately. Take photos of the damaged vehicles, emergency personnel on site, road conditions, insurance cards, or visible injuries. The more information you can collect immediately following the accident, the easier it will be to investigate the cause and determine liability.
- Keep quiet. Refrain from discussing the cause of the accident or who was at fault with any other involved parties, and don’t post about the accident on social media. This is important and may keep you from accidentally admit fault, as even apologizing to anyone else involved can be construed as taking responsibility for the accident.
- Get legal help. Don’t sign anything from any insurance company or file any claims until you hire an attorney and let them look over the documents. They can advise you on next steps.
Who’s Responsible for My Car Accident?
Determining liability for a car accident can sometimes be more difficult than just deciding who was driving safely and who wasn’t. Washington state law RCW 4.22.005 dictates that in any action seeking to recover damages for injuries or damage to property, a comparative negligence or contributory fault doctrine applies. This means that all parties involved in a car accident can potentially share responsibility and that any amount of compensation awarded to a claimant seeking damages will be reduced by their percentage of responsibility for the crash.
For example, if you’re driving up Hwy 12 and get injured in an accident because a drunk driver pulls out in front of you, but it’s later discovered that you were checking a text message at the time of the accident, you may be found partially responsible. If a judge finds that you are 20 percent responsible in this scenario, any compensation you are found to be owed would be reduced by 20 percent.
How Much Does a Personal Injury Attorney in Yakima Cost?
Personal injury attorneys understand that hiring a lawyer can be expensive, and no one plans to be in a car accident. No one saves money for the day that they might need a lawyer to represent them. That’s why Tamaki Law works on a contingency fee basis. This means that we take payment for our services out of any settlement or award our clients receive, and they pay nothing up front. If we aren’t successful in getting you compensation, you don’t pay a dime. This arrangement allows you to utilize our services without paying anything out of pocket, and it gives us incentive to get you the best outcome possible.
What Kind of Damages Could I Receive?
Each injury claim is unique. The type and amount of damages you may receive varies widely depending on how severe your accident and injuries are, whether you are found to have any portion of contributory fault, and the circumstances surrounding the accident. In general, the more severe your injuries, the more compensation you should seek, though there are numerous exceptions.
“Compensatory damages” are compensation intended to cover your losses from an accidental injury. They can cover the following:
You can request compensation to repair or replace your damaged vehicle or any other property that was damaged in the accident, such as a laptop.
If the accident causes you to miss work and lose a paycheck either due to your own injuries or assisting a family member while they recover, you can seek damages to cover the financial loss.
You can request compensation to cover any medical bills, including surgery, ER visits, prescription medication, or rehabilitation.
If your vehicle is damaged or totaled and you’re forced to pay for alternate transportation, you can request compensation to cover the loss.
If your injuries mean that you’re no longer able to perform the same functions at work and lose earning power as a result, you can seek damages to make up for the lost income.
Damages for medical bills or lost wages are considered economic damages, but a serious accident can hurt more than your pocketbook. Damages for pain and suffering, emotional anguish, or loss of enjoyment of life are designed to make up for these immaterial losses that can follow a traumatic experience. These are non economic damages.
Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation
Tamaki Law is standing by to take your call. Don’t let a car accident determine the course of your family’s future. Call us toll-free at (509) 248-8338 for a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation, and let us show how we can help get you compensation for your injuries and restore your peace of mind. Don’t wait any longer. Call today.