- May 22, 2023
- Strong Law
- Car Accidents
If you’ve experienced substantial financial and personal setbacks as a result of a car accident, filing a car accident claim can provide an opportunity to seek compensation from the responsible party. However, one crucial question that may arise after a car accident pertains to the worth of your claim.
The compensation you may receive for your claim hinges on several key factors. These include the extent of your injuries, the determination of liability in the accident, and the presence of insurance coverage or other financial resources.
What Compensation Can You Recover in a Car Accident Claim?
You may have various expenses and losses from a car accident for which you deserve compensation.
A car accident claim can provide you with financial relief for:
- Reimbursement for car repair expenses or compensation for the total loss of your vehicle.
- Medical treatment and rehabilitation encompass a wide range of essential services, including hospitalization, surgeries, prescription drugs, and physical/occupational therapy. These comprehensive measures play a crucial role in promoting healing, recovery, and overall well-being.
- Comprehensive healthcare and personal assistance for long-term disabilities resulting from your injuries.
- Loss of wages and income due to time taken off work or reduced earnings while recovering from injuries in a light or modified-duty capacity.
- The permanent disability resulted in a loss of future earning capacity and job benefits.
- Physical discomfort and emotional anguish.
- Decreased quality of life resulting from disabilities or enduring, noticeable scarring and disfigurement.
How Car Accident Settlements Work
Many individuals who have been involved in car accidents seek financial compensation by reaching a settlement agreement with the responsible driver or their insurance provider.
Car accident settlements typically come in two forms:
- Lump-sum settlements. A lump-sum settlement offers car accident victims the advantage of receiving the full settlement amount in a single upfront payment. This type of settlement provides injured victims with significant financial resources to address the debts resulting from their injuries, such as medical expenses or credit card bills. By receiving the entire settlement at once, victims can effectively manage and alleviate their financial burdens.
- Structured settlements. Structured settlements offer compensation to car accident victims through multiple regular payments, whether they be monthly, quarterly, or annual. This approach allows liable parties to agree to higher amounts of compensation, as they can distribute the payments over time. Injured victims also benefit from structured settlements, which provide a steady income stream to help offset lost earnings due to missed work.
As part of a car accident settlement, there is typically a release or agreement that prevents you from pursuing any further claims related to the accident. It’s important to note that by accepting a settlement, you are relinquishing your right to seek compensation from the at-fault driver or their insurance company. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that the settlement adequately compensates you for both your current and future losses. Keep in mind that if you incur additional expenses after settling your car accident claim, you cannot seek additional compensation from the other driver or their insurance company.
What Steps Should You Take After a Car Accident to Increase the Value of Your Claim?
After a car accident, there are several immediate steps you can take, as well as actions in the days and weeks that follow, to safeguard your rights and ensure you receive the maximum financial compensation you deserve.
These steps can include:
- Ensure that you exchange insurance information with all drivers involved in the accident.
- Please report the crash to the appropriate law enforcement authorities.
- Capture photos and videos of the accident scene, documenting vehicle damage, any visible injuries you sustained, skid marks, traffic signs and signals, as well as weather, lighting, and road conditions.
- If you have been in an accident, it is crucial to promptly seek medical attention and have a doctor thoroughly examine you for any potential injuries you may have sustained.
- It is crucial to adhere to your medical provider’s prescribed treatment plan and instructions without any delay or premature termination of the treatment.
- Ensure that you retain copies of all expense-related documentation, such as car repair bills and hospital invoices.
- If you miss work or experience a decrease in earnings while recovering from an injury, make sure to collect your pay stubs or income statements.
- Please kindly request copies of both the police accident report and your medical records.
- Initiate a journal to chronicle your journey of recovery, including the challenges, pain, and physical limitations that impede your everyday activities.
- During your recovery from an injury and while dealing with car accident claims, it is advisable to refrain from using social media. Insurers often monitor accident victims’ social media accounts to find any posts that may contradict the victims’ claims about the accident or their injuries. By avoiding social media, you can protect your interests and ensure that your claims are not undermined.
- It is crucial to promptly consult with a car accident attorney to explore your legal avenues for seeking compensation.
How can a lawyer assist you in maximizing your financial recovery following a car accident?
After a car accident, it’s crucial to prioritize your medical treatment and rehabilitation to recover from your injuries and return to normal life promptly. However, it’s equally important to take swift action in seeking compensation for your financial and personal losses. By engaging a car accident lawyer, you can entrust the claims process to them, allowing you to focus on your physical and emotional well-being with peace of mind.
Some of the details of your case that your lawyer can take care of include:
- Conducting an investigation to gather evidence in support of your case.
- Identifying the responsible parties and relevant insurance coverage against which you can file claims.
- Documenting your injuries and losses to calculate the compensation you deserve to recover in your car accident claim
- Discussing your legal options with you
- Preparing and filing insurance claims or demand letters on your behalf
- Negotiating with insurance adjusters or defense attorneys to settle your claim
- Pursuing litigation and taking your claims to trial if necessary to maximize your financial recovery
Options for Financial Recovery After a Car Accident
You may have several avenues for recovering compensation following a car accident:
- Filing a personal injury protection (PIP) claim. In Washington State, auto insurers are required to provide PIP coverage to policyholders, which can be declined in writing. PIP coverage ensures reimbursement for expenses and losses resulting from car accident injuries, regardless of fault. It can help cover medical bills, hospital expenses, lost wages, and even funeral costs.
- Filing for collision coverage. If you have opted for collision coverage as part of your car insurance policy, you have the option to request reimbursement for the expenses incurred in repairing your vehicle.
- Filing a liability claim against the at-fault driver. You also have the option to file claims against the driver or drivers responsible for the accident, seeking compensation for losses that may not be covered by your insurance. In Washington State, drivers are required to have liability insurance or a surety bond in order to cover injuries and property damage resulting from a car accident.
- Filing claims against other liable parties. You may have additional legal claims against other parties, such as the owner of the other vehicle if they negligently allowed the at-fault driver to use it, or the employer of the at-fault driver if the accident happened while the driver was on the job.
- Filing an uninsured/underinsured motorist claim. If a driver responsible for the accident lacks liability insurance or their policy falls short in covering your losses, you can rely on your own insurance if you have purchased optional uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
Frequently Asked Questions About Recovering Compensation From a Car Accident
Some of the most frequent questions that car accident victims have about their legal rights and the claims process include the following:
What is the Time Limit for Filing a Car Accident Claim?
According to Section 4.16.080 of the Revised Code of Washington, you have a three-year window to initiate a lawsuit for recovering compensation following a car accident. Failing to file within this statutory deadline may result in the trial court permanently dismissing your case, potentially forfeiting your chance to pursue compensation in civil court.
Moreover, if you have a car accident claim against the state or local government in Washington, state law mandates that you provide notice of your claim to the relevant government agency before pursuing legal action. The government has a period of 60 days upon receiving the notice to evaluate and determine whether to accept or reject your claim. You are only permitted to file a lawsuit if the government denies your claim or if the 60-day review period elapses.
Estimation of the Duration for Resolving My Car Accident Claim
Unfortunately, car accident claims can take a short or long time to resolve. Some cases settle in just a few months, while others take a couple of years to reach trial.
Multiple factors will determine the duration and timeline of your car accident claim, such as:
- The nature and severity of your injuries and resulting physical disabilities
- How long it takes you to reach maximum medical improvement for your injuries
- The extent of your financial losses, including medical expenses and lost income
- The number of people injured in the car accident
- The number of liable parties in the case
- Whether you share any responsibility for causing the car accident
- The complexity of the evidence or legal issues in your case
- The availability of insurance coverage and applicable policy limits
- The response time of the insurance company
- Whether you need to file a lawsuit to pursue your car accident claim
- The schedule that the trial court imposes on your case if you pursue litigation
Is it necessary for me to attend court in order to receive compensation?
Car accident claims generally result in settlements instead of going to trial. However, in cases where the insurance company or at-fault driver denies liability or refuses to offer a fair settlement, car accident victims may need to pursue litigation to seek appropriate compensation.
A skilled car accident lawyer will tirelessly work to secure a complete financial recovery for you through settlement, ensuring you receive compensation swiftly. Moreover, your lawyer will provide expert guidance on when pursuing litigation would offer the greatest opportunity to maximize your financial recovery.
Does the partial fault for the car accident impact the value of my claim?
In Washington State, it is important to note that you can seek compensation for your injuries resulting from a car accident, even if you bear some responsibility for the incident. This is due to Washington’s pure comparative negligence rule, which allows you to pursue a claim regardless of the extent to which you share fault for the accident.
Nevertheless, in accordance with this principle, a judge or jury retains the authority to diminish your compensation based on your proportionate liability. When confronted with attempts by the insurance company to diminish your financial recovery by assigning partial blame for the accident onto you, a skilled car accident lawyer can effectively advocate for your interests.
Is it necessary to hire a lawyer in order to receive compensation from the insurance company?
Although not mandatory for filing an insurance claim, seeking the assistance of a lawyer can significantly enhance your financial recovery from a car accident. Insurance companies employ various tactics to undervalue or reject injury claims, including offering prompt settlements or requesting written or recorded statements that could be used against you.
Having legal representation empowers you as your lawyer can effectively liaise with the insurance company, safeguarding your interests and preventing any attempts by the insurer to exploit you during the claims process.