Each year, King County experiences tens of thousands of car accidents, and many occur within Seattle’s city limits. You may have passed by countless accidents as you drove through downtown on the 5 or crossed to the eastside on the 520 bridge. You probably even noticed the commotion around a car accident in your own neighborhood, whether that’s Columbia City, West Seattle, Queen Anne, or Lake City. Then, one day, you were no longer looking at a car crash from the outside, you were involved. Now you may be suffering from serious injuries or grieving the loss of a friend or relative.
If you were injured in a collision, or a loved one was killed in a crash, the best thing for you to do is make your health and well-being a priority. This means getting the best medical care you can and resting. It also means letting a legal professional handle the insurance claim process.
You are better off contacting a Seattle car accident lawyer right away to investigate the crash and gather evidence on your behalf, communicate with the at-fault driver’s insurance, and work to obtain the maximum car accident settlement possible. At Emerald City Law Group, our personal injury and wrongful death car accident attorneys are ready to do this and more. Let us help you obtain the compensation you deserve so you can focus on your recovery and moving forward.
You can reach us through our online form or by calling 206-973-0407. We offer free initial consultations and do not charge up-front costs in personal injury cases. We are only paid when you recover compensation.
What You Should Do After a Car Accident
When you are in a car crash, it can be difficult to know what to do. It is hard to think clearly after a sudden and frightening event. But it is important to keep a cool head following a collision to keep yourself safe and set yourself up for a successful insurance claim.
After handling car accident claims for years, our Seattle car accident lawyers recommend you:
- Consider your injuries first. Determine whether you need immediate medical condition or whether you could move out of the vehicle.
- Check on your passenger’s next. Once you have determined the extent of your injuries, determine whether your friends or family members are OK. You may not need medical attention, but they might.
- Get to safety. If you and your passengers are able to move, it may be best to leave the vehicle and move to a safe place. You need to be mindful of your injuries and the traffic around you. If you believe the safest place for you is in the vehicle, remain there until emergency responders arrive.
- Call 911. You want the police and paramedics to arrive as quickly as possible. Call 911 to report the accident and to provide the dispatcher with any information you can about your or other people’s injuries.
- Exchange information, if you are able. If you are physically capable of talking with the other driver, exchange your personal and insurance information. Make sure to obtain the other driver’s name, phone number, address, auto insurance company, and policy number.
- Obtain witness’s information. Following a crash, one or more people may have stayed to help or offer their observations to the police. Ask for witness’s names, phone numbers, and addresses so that your personal injury attorney can contact them at a later date.
- Cooperate with the police. When the police arrive, they will first see if anyone needs medical attention. If everyone is OK or with paramedics, they will work to control traffic. An officer will also ask you, the other driver, and witnesses about what happened in order to write up a crash report. You should be polite and cooperate with the police.
- Do not admit fault. After a crash, you should never apologize or admit fault. Be polite with the other driver and passengers and with the police, and be honest, but do not admit that you did or may have caused the crash.
- Notify your insurer right away. You should notify your auto insurer that you were involved in a crash right away. Your own policy may cover some or all aspects of your circumstances.
- Do not sign any documents. Whether you are dealing with your or the other driver’s insurer, do not sign any documents or cash any checks without speaking with an attorney first.
- Contact a Seattle car accident lawyer. Once you are safe after a crash and the immediate scene is taken care of, you should contact a lawyer. By hiring a car accident lawyer right away, you have someone to protect your rights and pursue a fair settlement through an insurance claim.
Do I Need a Car Accident Lawyer?
We often have potential clients question whether they truly need a car accident attorney or whether they can deal with the insurer on their own. We highly recommend you work with a Seattle car accident lawyer. It improves your chance of obtaining a successful outcome and of securing the maximum compensation possible for your injuries.
Legally, you are entitled to handle this situation yourself. You can gather evidence regarding the accident, communicate with the at-fault driver’s insurer, negotiate a settlement, or pursue compensation through a personal injury claim. However, by doing this alone, you are going to have to learn about Washington’s personal injury and insurance law rather quickly. You are going to need to understand how the insurance claim process works and how insurers typically act to protect their bottom line. Depending on whether you can obtain a settlement or not, you may need to learn the rules and procedures for the King County civil court system. All of these are massive tasks that you will need to take on in addition to recovering from the accident and worrying over your finances.
Your other option is to choose to focus on your recovery and hire a legal professional who already has this knowledge. By working with a Seattle car accident lawyer, you have the information you need at your fingertips. In addition to their legal knowledge, you will benefit from your lawyer’s experiences. At Emerald City Law Group, we have handled Seattle car accidents for years, and we have dealt with a majority of the major and local insurers. We know what to watch out for and how to customize our strategy to best suit your circumstances.
Our knowledge, experience, and skills improve your chance of obtaining a positive outcome to your claim. This was backed up by Martindale-Nolo Research’s 2017 personal injury study. Of those who responded to the survey, only 51 percent of the individuals who moved forward with a personal injury claim without a lawyer received a payout. Comparatively, 91 percent of the individuals who hired a lawyer received a payout.
There was also a marked difference in the amount of money individuals received when they did or did not have a lawyer. Personal injury claimants without a lawyer received, on average, $17,600. Claimants with a lawyer received, on average, $77,600.
There are several reasons for these differences. The first reason is a lawyer’s knowledge and understanding of the law and your rights. The second reason is that a lawyer knows how to properly calculate your damages. By hiring an attorney, you get a clear view of your case’s value, which makes it difficult for an insurer to undercut you. Additionally, insurers respond when you threaten to go to court, or you file a personal injury claim. They are much more likely to settle for a fair amount when you are willing to go to trial, and you are likely more willing to go to trial when you have a lawyer to handle the court process for you.
For all of these reasons and more, if you are suffering because of a car crash, we recommend contacting our Seattle car accident lawyers as soon as possible.
How a Seattle Car Accident Lawyer Will Help
We understand you may want more information regarding how a lawyer will help you after a crash. If you hire us to handle your car wreck claim, we will:
- Thoroughly investigate the crash;
- Gather evidence, including crash reports, eyewitness accounts, photos and video, medical records, additional documentation, and an accident reconstructionist’s report;
- Analyze fault and legal liability;
- Begin the insurance claim process;
- Handle all communications with the insurance company;
- Work with your medical providers to place your bills on hold without you being sent to collections;
- Calculate your damages;
- Hire any necessary expert witnesses, including accident reconstructionists to prove fault, medical experts to prove your injuries, and economic experts to prove your damages;
- Demand fair compensation from the insurer;
- Negotiate appropriate compensation;
- Appeal a denied insurance claim;
- When necessary, file a personal injury lawsuit;
- Participate in the discovery phase of the lawsuit to gather additional evidence;
- Participate in pre-trial settlement negotiations;
- When a pre-trial settlement is not reached, represent you at trial.
Types of Car Accidents Emerald City Law Group Handles
King County and Seattle, in particular, face significant traffic issues. Sitting in traffic an extra 30 minutes or an hour in the morning or evening is common. Accidents happen on I-5 and Washington SR-99 every day, not to mention all of the collisions that occur on city streets.
In the face of Seattle’s traffic problems, it is essential that you are aware of your rights in regard to an accident and understand that Emerald City Law Group is here to help in the aftermath. We handle all types of auto collisions, including:
- Hit and Run Accidents: If you were struck by a vehicle that immediately drove away from the accident or did not stay long enough to speak with the police, contact us right away. We will investigate the crash to determine if the at-fault party can be identified. If the driver remains unknown, we will look for other avenues toward compensation.
- Rear-End Accidents: In Seattle, rear-end accidents are all too common. All it takes is for one vehicle to suddenly break on I-5 for the next vehicles to crash into it. Or a distracted driver’s failure to stop in time downtown. Wherever the rear-end crash occurred, call us for guidance.
- Head-On Accidents: Seattle, like many cities, takes advantage of one-way streets. For drivers who are unfamiliar with the area, or who are distracted or impaired, they may drive the wrong way down the street. You may have been hurt, or a loved one may have been killed when one of those drivers crashed into your vehicle head on.
- Side Impact “T-Bone” Accidents: Another common type of car crash in Seattle is the side impact. These often occur when someone makes an improper turn or runs a red light or stop sign. If someone crashed into the side of your vehicle, and you believe they are at fault, do not hesitate to call us.
- Turning Accidents: We handle all types of accidents that happen because of right-hand turns, unprotected left-hand turns, and U-turns.
- Intersection Accidents: Intersections are one of the most common places for crashes, particularly if the intersection is uncontrolled. We also handle many collisions that occur at odd intersections, like where 22nd Ave E, 23rd Ave E, and E Lynn St meet in Montlake.
- Rollover Accidents: If you are struck by another vehicle that is moving at a considerable speed, your vehicle may be sent off the road or flipped. You and your loved ones may suffer serious injuries in a rollover crash.
- Rideshare Accidents: Rideshare and peer-to-peer rental services like Uber, Lyft, LimePod, ReachNow, Car2Go, Zipcar, Turo, and Getaround are thriving in Seattle. It seems like a new carsharing or rideshare services pops up each month. These services help reduce traffic congestion; however, they can also lead to complex insurance claims after a crash. If you were involved in an accident with a rideshare or rented vehicle, call Emerald City Law Group.
- Passenger Injury Accidents: If you were a passenger and were injured in a crash, you may have an easier time obtaining compensation. The at-fault driver, whether they were in the same car or a different car than you, can rarely argue that you were at fault. However, you should still work with an experienced car accident lawyer to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
- Fatal Car Accidents: Our Seattle car accident lawyers routinely handle car accidents that lead to one or more fatalities. We are here to help you and your family after you lose a parent, spouse, or child in a preventable collision.
Common Causes of Car Accidents
Collisions in King County happen for all types of reasons. At Emerald City Law Group, we have seen it all. It is through our years of experience that we are confident in handling collisions caused for any reason. Some of the most common causes of car accidents we handle include:
- Speeding: Speeding is a serious issue in Seattle, particularly when a driver’s speed is not appropriate for the particular weather or traffic conditions. Many drivers act carelessly or recklessly and drive faster than the should in the rainy winter months or when traffic is particularly heavy. If you were hurt in a collision caused by another driver’s speeding, do not delay in contacting a Seattle car accident lawyer.
- Distracted driving: Seattle has become a tech city, so it is hardly surprising that many drivers do not put down their phones. Cell phone use, eating and drinking, grooming, talking with friends, and rubbernecking at other accidents are all types of distraction that lead to accidents.
- Reckless driving: Under Washington law, reckless driving means the driver showed a willful and wanton disregard for the safety of people and property. This can encompass many irresponsible and dangerous maneuvers, including excessive speeding, ignoring traffic devices and signs, weaving in and out of traffic, tailgating, brake checking, and more. If you were in a crash with a driver who you believe was being reckless, call us immediately.
- Drunk driving: We are often contacted by drunk driving accident victims, and we take these cases very seriously. If you were injured in a crash caused by an inebriated driver, contact us as soon as possible.
- Drugged driving: Not all DUI-related accidents involve alcohol. You may be hit by a driver who is impaired by drugs, including marijuana, opioid painkillers, heroin, methamphetamine, or benzodiazepines. Unfortunately, drug use is prevalent throughout Seattle and can make it impossible for someone to drive safely.
- Defective or poorly designed roads: Not all car crashes occur because of other negligent drivers. You may be in a crash because the roadway was inappropriately designed or because the road itself is defective. When you believe the roadway was the main contributing factor to your accident, call us right away to investigate the crash.
- Construction zones: The risk of a crash increases significantly in work zones, particularly when other drivers are not as careful as they should be. Drivers who speed, are distracted, are impaired, or who ignore traffic signs are likely to cause a crash in one of King County’s many work zones.
Common Car Accident Injuries
Car accidents in Seattle can lead to various types and degrees of injuries. At Emerald City Law Group, we handle everything from moderate collisions that cause low-level injuries to serious crashes involving catastrophic injuries. No matter what type of injury you are dealing with, our auto accident personal injury lawyers are here to help.
- Lacerations: Car accidents often result in glass, plastic, and metal flying throughout a vehicle. This shrapnel can cause long, deep, and irregular lacerations that require sutures to close. These cuts can lead to significant scarring.
- Soft Tissue Injuries: Due to the impact of a collision, you may suffer sprains and strains in your muscles, ligaments, and tendons. In extreme cases, you may need surgical intervention to repair torn soft tissue.
- Bone Fractures: Crashes often result in broken bones. Some fractures are simple and heal with time. However, other fractures are more complex and may require surgery and physical therapy for you to recover as much strength and mobility as you had before.
- Head and Brain Injuries: After a car accident, you may be diagnosed with an injury to your skull or brain, including a concussion or a more traumatic brain injury (TBI).
- Neck Injuries: Whiplash and other neck and shoulder injuries are common after rear-end and side-impact accidents.
- Back Injuries: Your torso and back are exposed to significant trauma in an accident. You may be diagnosed with a herniated or slipped disk, fractured vertebrae, or a more serious spinal cord injury. If your spinal cord is partially or fully severed, you will suffer paralysis and many other medical complications.
- Joint Dislocations: A collision can cause a joint to be dislocated. One of the most common is a shoulder dislocation, though this can occur with any joint, including your hip, knee, or ankle.
- Amputations: Serious car accidents can result in traumatic digit or limb amputations. Or, injuries like a crush injury to an arm or leg may cause physicians to have to amputate your limb to save your life.
- Burns: Fires can result from collisions, and you may suffer serious burns during an accident.
When you are hurt in an accident, we are here to help. We will make sure you are receiving appropriate medical care. This allows you to obtain the best recovery possible, but it also ensures that the extent and significance if your injury is properly documented for your insurance claim or potential personal injury lawsuit. We understand that the medical bills can be frightening, but we will work with the medical providers to place these on hold while you pursue a full and fair settlement.
Car Accident Compensation
Following a crash that was caused by another driver, you have the right to pursue compensation for your economic and non-economic damages. You can also think of these as your physical, emotional, and financial damages. However you consider the types of damages, they include:
- Medical costs: Following a collision, we will fight for you to receive compensation for your past, current, and future medical expenses. We may work with medical and economic experts to determine your medical costs down the road. This is particularly important if you suffered a permanent, disfiguring, or disabling injury.
- Lost wages: We will strive for you to receive compensation for all of the wages you lost while recovering from the accident, including compensation for sick days and vacation days you had to take or other employment-related benefits you lost.
- Pain and suffering: You deserve to be compensated for the physical pain and suffering you endured because of the crash and your injuries.
- Emotional distress: Not all of the pain you feel after a car accident is physical. This traumatic event can lead to significant psychological distress. You may suffer from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep disorders, and other mental health issues.
- Property damage: Your vehicle was likely damaged or totaled, which means the cost of repairs are greater than the value of the car. We will strive for the compensation cover the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle.
- Scarring and disfigurement: If you suffered serious injuries that will leave you with visible scars or other disfigurements, then we will seek compensation for this long-term injury. The more likely the disfigurement is to affect your personal and/or professional life, the more compensation we may demand.
- Disability: If you suffered an injury that left you disabled, we will fight hard for you to receive appropriate compensation for your loss of a normal life.
- Reduced earning capacity: Permanent and disabling injuries may leave you unable to work, or at least unable to earn as much as you would have before the crash. When your potential income is lower after a crash, we will calculate the income you’ll miss out on through your life.
- Punitive damages: All of the other types of damages are compensatory. They are intended to pay you back or make you whole again. However, there is another type of damages called punitive damages. These are meant to punish the at-fault driver for their egregious behavior. You should talk with a Seattle car accident lawyer about punitive damages if you believe the other driver was acting recklessly or malicious at the time of the crash.
If you are a parent of a child car accident victim, call us immediately. It is important to talk with an experienced car accident lawyer when calculating damages for you and your child. As the parent, you bear the brunt of the accident’s economic consequences. You are responsible for your child’s medical expenses, and you likely have lost wages by taking time off work to care for your son or daughter. You need a lawyer who will address your child’s damages, including pain and suffering and possible disfigurements or disabilities, and your damages, including lost income and medical expenses.
Fatal Car Accident Compensation
If you lost a parent, spouse, or child in a fatal car accident, call Emerald City Law Group right away. We are here to help you through a wrongful death claim and to fight for you and your family to receive appropriate compensation. We understand you are going through an extremely painful time. You may not be very interested in an insurance claim or lawsuit. However, you are going to experience the financial repercussions of this death, and you deserve to have your grief recognized by the at-fault party.
Through a wrongful death car accident claim, we will pursue compensation for:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical expenses accumulated prior to death
- Loss of decedent’s income
- Loss of decedent’s employment benefits, like health insurance
- Loss of decedent’s companionship, guidance, and love
- Loss of consortium – the intimate relationship between spouses
- Decedent’s pain and suffering and emotion distress prior to death
How Much Is My Car Accident Claim Worth?
When you begin an insurance claim, it is best to speak with an experienced Seattle car accident attorney about how much your case may be worth. This kind of information is difficult to find online. You may be able to add up some of your economic damages, including medical expenses and lost wages, but you likely are not aware of how to calculate pain and suffering or a disfigurement. Without this knowledge, you may grossly underestimate the value of your claim, which could lead you to accept a low-ball offer. You also may over-value your claim based on cases you find online, which could lead to a break down in settlement negotiations.
By contacting an attorney, you gain knowledge and insight into the damages relevant to your accident and how to calculate those damages. At Emerald City Law Group, we are aware of several ways to value non-economic damages, and we will utilize the method most applicable to your situation. We also will conduct thorough legal research to see how similar car accidents and injuries were resolved in King County.
When we are confident in the potential value of your claim, we will have an honest discussion with you regarding what your case is worth and what a potential insurance settlement may look like. We also will speak with you regarding potential limits on your compensation, such as the at-fault party’s insurance policy limit.
Washington / King County Car Accident Statistics
In 2015, the most recent year for crash data published by the Washington Department of Transportation, there were 5,576,586 licensed drivers and 117,053 collisions.
Of these crashes, 77,358 caused only property damage while 36,531 collisions caused 49,505 injuries. Of those injuries, 2,096 were categorized as serious. There were 499 fatal collisions, which lead to 551 deaths. If you were to look at the 2015 collision clock, you would see that a crash happened every 4.5 minutes. Someone was injured every 11 minutes, and someone died every 16 hours.
There were 40,962 accidents in King County alone. Of these crashes, 100 were fatal accidents, 490 involved serious injuries, and 12,592 involved minor injuries.
Keep in mind, not all of these accidents were between two or more vehicles. Many involved motorcycles, which resulted in 73 motorcyclist fatalities and 402 motorcyclist serious injuries. There were also pedestrians and cyclists involved, which resulted in 86 pedestrian and 14 cyclist fatalities.
You Should Have an Auto Accident Personal Injury Lawyer Deal With the Insurer
You need to be aware that the insurance company is not your friend. They are not on your side. Insurers are businesses, and their main priority is protecting their bottom line. They want to spend as little as possible, which means they want to pay you as little as possible for your injuries. If an insurer can deny your car accident claim, they will. If an insurer to find reasons to limit the settlement offer, they will.
By hiring a Seattle car accident lawyer, you have someone who is truly on your side. You have someone who makes your needs and your potential settlement their top priority. Your lawyer is here to make sure the insurance company treats you fairly and upholds both Washington law and the insurance policy.
Washington’s Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
If you were hurt in a car accident, it is essential that you begin the claims process as soon as possible. Even if you speak with a lawyer in the days or weeks following the accident, it can still take time to investigate the crash, gather evidence of fault and liability, and determine the full extent of your injuries. All of these factors and others can cause an insurance claim to take months or longer than a year. If you delayed in beginning the insurance claim, then a lengthy process could come up against the deadline for you to file a personal injury claim, which may be necessary if an insurer denies your claim or negotiations break down.
Washington’s statute of limitations for a personal injury claim is three years. You have up to three years from the date of the crash to file a lawsuit. This may seem like plenty of time, but a lot can happen in the years following the crash to delay filing. Wrongful death claims also must be filed within three years from the date of your relative’s death.
That being said, there are certain reasons why you may have more time to file a lawsuit. If the at-fault party is out of the state or in hiding, you may have until that person returns or their whereabouts become known. Or if you were disabled, incompetent, or a minor, then you have a certain period of time after you turn 18 years old or become legally able to sue to file your case.
Another option that may give you more than three years after the crash to file a lawsuit is known as the discovery rule. If you were unaware that the other party was liable, particularly if the other party took steps to hide their liability, then your statute of limitations begins to run on the date you knew or reasonably should have known that you had a legal claim.
By working with a Seattle car accident attorney right away, you can be confident in the deadline to file a personal injury lawsuit. You also can be confident that your lawyer will file suit prior to the deadline to ensure you retain your right to pursue compensation in court. If the deadline passes, then the court will not hear your claim. You can file and ask the court to handle the suit, but the other party or the court can immediately dismiss the case.
Contact Emerald City Law Group for Help Today
After a car wreck, the best thing you can do for yourself and your family is to hire a skilled Seattle car accident lawyer. We recommend giving us a call at Emerald City Law Group. We have the local knowledge, experience, and insight you need to obtain fair compensation and move forward with your life.
You can reach us at 206-973-0407 or through our online form to schedule your free initial case consultations.
How a Seattle Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
After any serious accident, there’s a lot to consider. But you don’t need to go through it alone.
At Emerald City Law Group, we know you are in pain and unsure about how to pay your bills. Even enjoying everyday activities can sometimes be taken away. This would be a lot for anyone and that’s why out personal injury attorneys are here to help with the burden you’re facing.
From dealing with insurance companies to helping determine liability, and all the way through a trial if necessary, we are prepared for whatever comes your way, so you get the financial security and peace of mind you need to properly recover. If you have been injured in an accident in King County, Washington or any surrounding area, you deserve justice and compensation. Contact Emerald City Law Group today at 206-973-0407.