Nearly 106,000 car accidents occurred in 2019, according to WSDOT data. Many car accidents can be resolved amongst complying parties. Nonetheless, there are extenuating circumstances in which a person should contact legal counsel to find a beneficial solution. This article outlines the five scenarios when an attorney will be necessary.
When to Get an Attorney for a Car Accident
Car accidents happen—but there is action that you can take to mitigate the situation. Contact an attorney if:
- You suffered a significant injury
- Accident liability is unclear
- The insurance company is unreasonable
- Multiple parties are involved
- Paperwork is inaccurate
Keep in mind that, according to Washington law, if someone causes a personal injury or personal property injury, that person has three years to initiate legal proceedings (RCW 4.16.080).
If your car accident happened in Washington state over three years ago and no deaths occurred, it is too late to file a claim.
After a claim has been served, the injured person must wait sixty days before legal action will commence (RCW 4.96.020).
With that in mind, keep reading to learn more about when to get an attorney for a car accident.
1. You Suffered Significant Injuries
In 2019, Washington state reported that more than 30,000 car accidents resulted in varying degrees of injury.
In many cases, minor injuries can be settled with an insurance company if the complainant is comfortable doing so.
However, if you are are a loved one has suffered severe injuries as a result of a car crash, a personal injury attorney can help you find all available forms of compensation for your damages and/or losses.
Wondering whether you should hire an attorney? If you have experienced any of the following as a result of the car accident, it is recommended that you consult an attorney:
- Chronic pain
- Broken bones
- You stayed in the hospital
- Long-term health was affected
- The accident caused permanent disability
- There was a death as a result of the accident
- Treatment cost thousands of dollars
- Multiple people were harmed
An attorney will help you claim all insurance money associated with your personal injuries called economic damages. Non-economic damages include non-monetary losses such as pain, suffering, inconvenience, emotional distress, and more.
The claim limit is determined by multiplying 0.43 by the average annual wage and by the life expectancy of the person who has suffered non-economic damages (RCW 4.56.250). If you feel that you have suffered non-economic losses, you may be able to claim compensation.
2. Liability is Not Clear
Do you believe you are partially at fault for the car accident? Or do you believe the other driver caused the accident? If you have suffered an injury as described above, you will want to make a claim as a result of the damages from the accident.
According to Washington’s negligence laws, to recover damages for personal injury, death, or harm to property, you must prove that the other driver was at fault (RCW 4.22.005).
Washington law defines “fault” as negligence, recklessness, unreasonable failure to avoid risk, or having strict liability in the act (RCW 4.22.015).
If liability is not clear or you are partially at fault for the accident, the other party’s insurance company can blame you for the damages. Enlisting the professional help of an attorney to establish legal fault can protect from counterclaims or cross-claims.
3. The Insurance Company is Being Unreasonable
Often, insurance companies employ tactics to avoid paying you the amount your personal injury claim is worth, avoid paying settlement or delay proceedings. In this case, an attorney can expedite the process and help you recover costs.
The following are common insurance company tactics:
- Denying your claim/refusing to pay without giving a good reason
- Failing to conduct a thorough investigation in a prompt amount of time
- Offering less money than your claim is worth
- Delaying a valid claim for an unreasonable amount of time
- Refusing reasonable requests
- Delaying/denying requests for medical treatment
Don’t allow insurance companies to stop short of awarding you your full claim—contact an attorney.
4. There Are Multiple Parties Involved
When multiple parties are involved in a car accident, there are multiple insurance companies involved, making the case more complicated.
If several people were injured in the accident, other parties’ insurance companies might require you to pay claims. Likewise, because there are more people involved, there may not be a lot of settlement money to go around.
Attorneys have the experience needed to handle multiple insurance companies at once while helping you build an effective case.
5. Paperwork Looks Inaccurate
If you believe the police report or insurance communications have been filed inaccurately, you will need to contact an attorney to dispute the inaccurate information.
For instance, if the paperwork states that you are at legal fault for the accident, even though the other party caused the accident, a lawyer can help prove that the documents are inaccurate.
Have You Suffered a Personal Injury as the Result of a Car Accident? Consult an Expert Attorney
If any of the above scenarios describe your situation, it is recommended that you contact a personal injury attorney right away.
Will & Will is a husband and wife personal injury law firm serving the Seattle area. Court and Michelle Will are caring advocates who are dedicated to helping individuals who have suffered a personal injury as the result of a car accident. They will work tirelessly with you, so you receive the best possible outcome in your unique case.
For more information, contact Will & Will today!