What is a personal injury case?
Personal injury cases are legal disputes that arise when a person is injured or suffers harm in an accident, and someone else might be legally responsible for that harm. A personal injury case can be formal through civil court proceedings that seek to find others legally at fault through a court judgment or can be resolved through informal settlement.
What should I do if I have been injured in a car accident?
First off, you want to take care of yourself and the other people in your car. This means you should get the appropriate medical care such as calling 911 or going to the emergency room, urgent care, or making an appointment with a doctor.
Most people are probably reading this after leaving the scene of the collision. Ideally you want to get the following information:
The other driver’s personal information, including name, address, phone number, driver’s license number, and date of birth
The other driver’s insurance company name and policy number;
Make, model and license plate numbers of all cars involved;
Witness contact information;
Photographs and video of the scene and the all the cars involved; and,
If the other driver in not cooperating in exchanging information, get the license plate number and call the police. Even if you feel that everything is under control, you should call the police to report the incident.
Next you should also notify your insurance company of the incident. Most insurance policies explicitly state that you must promptly notify them of any accidents. You have a duty to cooperate with your insurance company and provide them with information.
What stresses out most people is whether or not they should contact the other driver’s insurance company. When you do contact the other driver’s insurance company, they will likely ask for a recorded statement in which they will ask you to describe events leading up to the incident, the incident itself, and what occurred after. They will probably inquire about your injuries as well. Keep in mind that what you say can be used against you later on in the claims process. The other driver’s insurance company does not have your best interest at heart, they are there to serve their insured and to make a profit.
Before you contact the other driver’s insurance company, it is advisable that you speak with an attorney. Most personal injury attorneys will take the time to answer your questions at no charge. Even if you have decided that you do not want to retain an attorney, it’s a good idea to take advantage of a free consultation that many attorneys offer.
If the other driver’s insurance company accepts liability, they should pay for the repairs to your car or issue a total loss payment if applicable. They should also provide you with a rental if your car is not driveable or in the shop. If liability is being disputed, your insurance company should pay for the repairs and a rental car if you have the coverage.
Regardless of fault, the other driver’s insurance company will not pay your bills as you incur them. Aside from vehicle property damage, the other driver’s insurance company will only make payment when you are ready to settle your entire personal injury claim. The personal injury claim settlement is full and final. This is where your insurance company comes in. If you have personal injury protection (PIP), then your insurance company should pay for reasonable and necessary medical bills as you incur them. You should find out if you have PIP coverage and the amount of coverage. For more information on PIP, check out this post.
Typically, you do not want to settle your claim prior to completing your medical treatment, because you do not know how much your medical bills will amount to, how much time you’ll end up missing from work, how much out-of-pocket expenses will amount to, and so forth. You need to know what your claim is worth prior to settling it or engaging in settlement discussions.
Each claim has its own unique issues, including the needs of the person making the claim. It is recommended that you consult with an attorney to get a better understanding of what your rights are and how you should address your claim.
Location and time of the collision.
How much is hiring a lawyer going to cost?
Cases are taken on a contingency fee, meaning there are no attorney’s fees if there is no recovery. Prior to accepting a settlement or discussing your claim with the insurance company, you should learn what your rights are
What is PIP (Personal Injury Protection)?
PIP is no-fault insurance coverage, meaning regardless whose fault the accident is, it applies. PIP coverage also extends to the passengers in your car. PIP pays for your medical bills that are reasonable and necessary to treat the injuries caused by the accident. PIP also pays for a portion of your wage loss that is incurred after the first 14 days following the accident. In addition, PIP also provides loss of household services, which is payment to non-family members for work you cannot do around the house (housekeeping, yardwork…).
In Washington State, insurance companies are required to offer PIP coverage when selling insurance. If you do not want PIP, you must reject PIP by signing a waiver or checking a box.
If you have been in an accident that is not your fault, even if the at-fault driver has insurance, your PIP is primary insurance when it comes to paying medical bills as they are incurred. This means that your health insurance will not pay your medical bills unless you show them that you do not have PIP coverage or your PIP coverage has run out.
The at-fault party’s insurance is not going to pay your medical bills as you incur them. The at-fault party’s insurance will not pay anything until you are ready to settle your entire bodily injury claim (this is separate from your vehicle property damage claim). Typically, it is best to settle your claim after you have completed your treatment and know how much your medical bills and wage loss amounts to. Without knowing how much the injuries from the accident are going to cost you, you’re not in a good position to discuss settlement of the claim.
In Washington State, the minimum PIP coverage is $10,000.00 for reasonable and necessary medical treatment for each person that was in the car. With PIP, there are no co-pays or in-network providers. PIP will pay the full amount of the bill, without a referral, as long as it is reasonable and necessary. PIP coverage is available for three years after the day of the accident or until it runs out.
When the claim is settled with the at-fault party’s insurance company, PIP must be paid back from the settlement. If you have an attorney, 100% of the PIP is not paid back because you are entitled to a reduction called a Mahler reduction. A Mahler reduction is a reduction for the pro-rata share of attorney’s fees and legal costs.
To sum it up, it is a good idea to carry PIP coverage because it pays your medical bills regardless of fault. The at-fault party’s insurance company will not pay your bills as you incur them, so PIP is there to reduce the financial burden.
I have a busy schedule and am unable to travel to you office. Can we still meet?
For your convenience, meetings can also be scheduled over Zoom or a location near your work or home.
Bavariya Law is based in Seattle and handles cases throughout Washington State.
Who can bring a claim for the death of a loved one?
A personal representative (PR) of the estate can bring a wrongful death and survival action for the benefit of the surviving husband or wife and children. Children includes stepchildren. If the decedent was unmarried and had no children, then beneficiaries of the lawsuit may include the parents and siblings. Regardless of whether you think a claim can be brought, consult with an attorney. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.
What types of losses can be claimed as a result of a loved one’s death?
There are two types of tort claims that can be brought as a result of a death, a wrongful death claim and a survival claim. Under a wrongful death claim, claims can be made for losses such as loss of expected financial contribution and for loss of love, support, care, services, companionship, and consortium. Under the survival action, claims be can be made for losses such as funeral and burial expenses, medical bills, and pre-death pain, suffering, fear, and humiliation experienced by the decedent.
The wrongful death claim may be brought by the personal representative (PR) of the estate on behalf of the statutory beneficiaries. Statutory beneficiaries are the surviving husband or wife and children. If there is no spouse or child, then parents and siblings are beneficiaries.
If you have any questions regarding types of damages that can be claimed, consult with an attorney. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.
Is your office open during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Yes, we are open. We now offer video conference Zoom appointments.