Common Issues in Automobile Accidents
Auto accident claims involve a number of different issues, including determining who is at fault, repairing or replacing your automobile, obtaining and paying for medical care for your injuries, and dealing with insurance companies.
Washington is a pure comparative fault state. This means that you may be able to recover damages from another driver involved in an auto accident, even if you were partly at fault for causing it. But your recovery from the other driver will be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you for the crash.
Your auto will be considered a total loss if the cost of repairing it exceeds its fair market value immediately before the accident. Valuation issues then arise in determining the fair market value of your auto, given its age, mileage, condition, and equipment. Even if repaired, if your auto suffers significant damage in a collision you may be entitled to diminished value, because a wrecked and repaired auto will usually not have the same fair market value after repairs as the same make and model of auto with no accident history.
Various types of medical care are available if you are injured in an auto accident. Neck and back sprains and strains are the most common injuries from auto collisions. Muscles may spasm as a result of being injured in a collision, similar to a “charley horse” in a calf muscle suffered by a runner. Care for these injuries may be provided by medical doctors or physician assistants, who after diagnosing your injuries may prescribe pain medication, muscle relaxers and physical therapy. Chiropractors also frequently treat these injuries through spinal adjustment and manipulation, and may also refer their patients to massage therapists. Alternative treatments, such as acupuncture, are sometimes used.
You will likely be dealing with at least two auto insurers after an auto collision, your own and the insurance company for the other motorist. Both need to be notified as soon as practical after an accident. If you have personal injury protection (PIP) coverage in your auto policy, that coverage will apply to pay for your treatment regardless of who was at fault for the collision. If you have PIP coverage you should apply for and use benefits from it to pay your medical expenses as a result of an auto collision. You may also have underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage in your own auto policy. This coverage is available if another motorist who is at fault for an auto accident does not have insurance or has too little insurance to pay for your losses as a result of the crash.
In dealing with the adjusters and claim representatives of these different insurance companies, you should recognize their job is to protect the interests of their own employers. They are professionals who have a great deal more experience than you with auto collisions and are trained to minimize the amount of money paid out on a claim. A common tactic is for an adjuster to try to obtain a quick settlement from you, in which you release all of your claims before you know the full extent of your injuries and damages from an auto accident. If this is not successful, they may simply ignore you, in the hopes that you will delay filing a lawsuit until after the statute of limitations on your claim expires and you lose it altogether. In Washington, the statute of limitations on a personal injury lawsuit after an auto accident is three years. In Oregon it is two years.
Types of Compensation That May Be Available
If you are injured in a car, motorcycle or pedestrian accident, you may be entitled to compensation including the cost of medical care, treatment and services, lost wages, and pain and suffering, disability, loss of enjoyment of life, and inconvenience resulting from your injuries.
Fortunately, most people do not have experience in handling a claim arising out of a automobile crash. Our personal injury lawyers have extensive experience with these claims and are available for a free consultation to discuss your case.
Attorney Fee and Costs of Claim
If you do decide to retain Baumgartner, Nelson & Wagner, PLLC to represent you in your personal injury claim arising out of a car, truck, motorcycle, or pedestrian accident, our fee will be contingent on the success of the claim. We will not charge you a fee unless you make a financial recovery. While you are ultimately responsible for claim and litigation expenses, we typically advance such litigation expenses while the case is pending, so that they are also paid out of your recovery at the conclusion of the case.
Our personal injury attorneys and staff have extensive experience handling claims arising out of car, truck, motorcycle, and pedestrian accidents. Please contact us at (360) 694-4344 for a free consultation.