States generally process traffic accidents in one of two ways, either by no-fault rules or by negligence or tort. Tort states assign blame to one or the other driver based on evidence gathered at the scene, police reports, and witness statements. In some cases, they assign partial blame to both drivers.
Washington is a tort state. For minor accidents that only involve property damage to the car, you may not need a skilled traffic accident lawyer to deal with an at-fault driver’s insurance company. However, for accidents that involve personal injuries, there are a number of important reasons why retaining a personal injury lawyer is a smart idea.
Insurance Companies Aren’t Generally on Your Side
If you’re in an accident that results in injuries to either yourself or your passengers, the first thing that will happen is that a claim will go through to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Often times, an insurance adjuster for the insurance company will make some effort to try to contact you. You should never talk to the insurance adjuster.
Insurance companies are for-profit businesses. Their goal is not to see that injured parties are duly compensated when their client has caused a serious injury due to negligence. Their goal is to bring in more money than they pay out. As such, throughout this process, you and the insurance company are adversaries.
Insurance Companies Will Try to Devalue Your Claim
While no one can tell you precisely what your claim is worth, let’s assume for a second that your claim has a ceiling or a maximum amount. The insurance company is not simply going to offer you the full value of your claim. They’ll only offer a small fraction of it.
There are a number of ways that they can do this. Firstly, they can exploit ambiguities in witness statements and police reports to claim that you were partially at fault for the accident. The evidence for this might not exist anywhere, but it may be difficult to disprove, as well. It’s unclear, in other words.
They can also call you up and attempt to get you to reveal things that are not in your best interest. They might scour your social media accounts looking for evidence that your injuries aren’t as bad as they say they are. As a plaintiff, you have to be very careful.
The Full Value of Your Claim
No one can put a number of the full value of your claim, but if you’re injured by another party, you’re entitled to be compensated for:
● Property damage
● Medical expenses
● Lost time from work
● Pain and suffering
● Emotional anguish
● Loss of consortium
An insurance adjuster is likely to offer you compensation for fixing your car and paying your medical expenses, if you’re lucky.
In other words, if you’re in a car accident in Washington, you need a skilled Washington attorney who is familiar with the process in order to settle or, when necessary, litigate your claim if the insurance company wants to play hardball.
At Kapuza Lighty PLLC, we’ve helped thousands of car accident victims get compensated for their injuries. Our Yakima office handles claims throughout Eastern Washington, including Grant County, Benton County, Kittitas County. Give us a call or contact us online and we’ll begin preparing your case immediately.