Your life can change in an instant if you are injured in a Yakima, WA car accident. Not only may you suffer from agonizing pain, but you may also incur expensive medical bills and be unable to work.
Under the circumstances, you need dedicated, knowledgeable lawyers to represent you and fight for your rights. Our attorneys at Kapuza Lighty, PLLC will vigorously pursue the responsible driver for your losses and get the compensation you deserve as a victim of an auto crash.
Our Yakima, WA Car Accident Lawyers Will Protect Your Interests
Most Washington State car accidents are a result of a driver’s negligence, so there are certain essential elements you must establish to obtain compensation for your losses. Our lawyers at Kapuza Lighty, PLLC gather evidence and develop a strong strategy to prove:
The responsible motorist had a duty to exercise reasonable care when driving, so that there is no risk of harm to others on the road;
- That person breached this legal duty by driving carelessly;
- The breach caused an auto collision and you were hurt; and,
- You suffered losses as a result of your injuries.
The element that is most in dispute will be the second one—whether the driver was careless. There are many situations where a driver does not operate their vehicle with sufficient care, including:
- Driving while intoxicated or high
- Distracted driving, such as reading a text message or taking a phone call
- Aggressive driving, such as tailgating and illegally passing
- Failing to yield
- Failing to check a blind spot
In some cases, you might not know how the driver was negligent—all you know is that you have suffered serious injuries after being struck. Contact us. Every case is different, and you should not assume you don’t have a valid legal claim until you meet with an attorney.
Compensation for Your Injuries
If you are successful in proving the essential elements of a car accident claim, you may be able to recover compensation for your losses. There are two categories of losses in an auto crash case, centering on the legal concept of damages:
- Economic damages, including the costs of medical treatment for your injuries and any income you lose from being out of work; and,
- Noneconomic damages, which refers to your subjective losses. These include pain and suffering, losses based upon your personal relationships, and emotional distress.
Estimating the amount of compensation is tricky, but an experienced car accident lawyer in Yakima knows how. For example, our firm will ask to see copies of all medical bills and receipts. We also can look at your paystubs or profit-and-loss statement if you are self-employed. We use this information to calculate the amount of economic damages you can receive.
With noneconomic losses, we use our experience. We have represented countless clients, so we understand how a jury analyzes claim about pain and suffering or emotional distress. Often, our clients can receive several times their economic damages in pain and suffering compensation.
Potential Limitations on Your Claim
Despite meeting the required standard of proof with respect to all elements, there are laws that may reduce or act as a bar to recovering compensation for your car accident injuries:
Washington State puts a three-year time limit on your claim and the clock starts running on the date of the crash. The statute of limitations requires you to file a lawsuit within that period, or you are forever barred from obtaining compensation.
The law on contributory fault may reduce your damages if your own conduct was a factor in the motor vehicle collision. Your compensation is decreased by the amount of negligence attributable to your actions.
For example, you might have stopped suddenly without warning, causing a vehicle tailgating you to collide with your rear bumper. If the jury finds that you were 30% responsible for the collision, then you will receive 30% less in compensation than you would if you were entirely blameless.
Another limitation is the amount of insurance the driver has. In practice, it is very hard to receive more in compensation than the driver’s limit on his or her policy. For example, if the driver carries $50,000 in bodily injury liability insurance, then you probably can’t get more, even if your injuries are worth $100,000.
What to Do after a Car Accident
The steps you take in the immediate aftermath of a crash will play a big role in whether you can receive money. We advise our clients to do the following after a crash:
- Contact the police. An officer can come out and issue a police report about the accident. These police reports help establish the date, time, and location of the accident. They also identify the other driver.
- Avoid taking responsibility for the crash. Anything you say can come back to haunt you. Even a simple apology can be interpreted as you taking responsibility for the accident.
- Photograph damage to the vehicles. Walk around each car.
- If possible, get a snapshot of where the cars ended up immediately after the crash and before you move them to the side of the road.
- Get insurance information from all drivers involved.
- Receive immediate medical treatment. Take your injuries seriously and follow your doctor’s advice about what to do.
By following these tips, we can’t guarantee 100% that you will receive compensation. But you will have avoided doing anything that makes getting compensation difficult.
Discuss Your Case with a Skilled Yakima, WA Car Accident Attorney
If you suffered injuries in an auto collision, you need an experienced lawyer to represent your interests in negotiating a settlement with the responsible driver’s insurance company and in court.
Our attorneys at Kapuza Lighty, PLLC are dedicated to assisting victims like you in recovering the top compensation available under Washington State law. Please contact our Yakima, WA office to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation regarding your case.