Car accidents happen with shocking regularity. In 2021, there were over 82,000 car accidents in Washington State alone. That equates to about nine vehicle-related incidents every hour. Whether minor fender benders or big life-threatening disasters, car accidents almost always have complicated legal ramifications for the parties involved. Obtaining an attorney as soon as disaster strikes can save you from unwanted stress and unnecessary financial strain. Lawyers can help provide evidence of your claim, negotiate with insurance agencies for a fair payout, and lower your level of comparative negligence to save you money. Here is how an experienced Washington State attorney can help after an auto accident.
Investigating Your Accident
The first thing you should do after an accident is inform the other driver’s insurance company of an upcoming claim. This is why drivers in an accident exchange insurance information right away. You tell their insurance company that you were in an accident with their client, and you hold them at least partially responsible for damages to your vehicle or person. You let them know you will file an official claim once all the damages are assessed.
The insurance company’s next step is to investigate the circumstances of the accident themselves—their goal is to minimize their client’s involvement and call into question your claims of personal injury. Without a lawyer on your side, this investigation will be the only one reviewed by the court.
When you hire a lawyer, however, you get someone investigating the scene on your behalf. Your attorney may introduce evidence that the insurance company had not considered relevant, or they may look at the same evidence and be able to argue a different outcome. Without a lawyer, you may miss out on an investigation that benefits you.
Negotiating On Your Behalf
There are two ways a lawyer can help as an intermediary between you and the insurance company. The first is to protect your information, so the company receives a clear and concise version of only the relevant information. The second is negotiating a fair payout that meets all of your needs.
When an insurance company collects information about you and your accident or injury, they do so for the express purpose of minimizing your claims. They are seeking information that proves you may not have been following all of the traffic laws or, at the very least, that you were driving while distracted. They may seek to dispute your injuries by getting you to admit to something you are not aware of. Anything you tell the insurance investigator can be used against you. Your lawyer can ensure the company receives all the relevant information they require and none that they don’t.
Even when your claim is accepted and a payout is imminent, the insurance company’s job is to lowball you. They will attempt to make you accept their first offer, often before your medical issues are thoroughly examined. They do this to avoid paying for lengthy treatments like physical therapy. Your attorney will negotiate a payout that meets all of your needs, leaving you to focus on your recovery.
Proving Negligence and Reducing Liability
A common type of car accident is one in which both parties are partially at fault. Washington State follows the legal concept of “comparative negligence,” which means either side can recover compensation even if they are partially responsible for the accident. The Washington courts will analyze the accident from all the gathered evidence and then assign a percentage of fault to each participant. Therefore, if you are found to be 100% at fault for the accident, you will be liable for the total amount of recovery compensation.
However, if your attorney’s investigation can prove some amount of negligence on the other party’s side, you will only be liable for a reduced amount of compensation. For instance, if you are found only 75% responsible for the accident, you pay less in damages. By having an advocate on your side, you can reduce how much an accident impacts your life.
Helping With Debt Collectors
Your lawyer’s job doesn’t end in the courtroom. They will help you with the unexpected elements of your accident claim. While you are injured, chances are good that medical bills will begin piling up. Your attorney will handle debt collectors and inform them of your upcoming settlement, putting an end to financial harassment. Furthermore, they will work with lien holders to reduce your overall debt.
NBF Accident Law fights purposefully on your behalf with effort and energy. If you have been in an auto accident in Washington State, don’t hesitate to call 206-923-8888 today.