You have just collided with another vehicle, so there are a million thoughts running through your mind.
Your first concern, of course, should be the safety of yourself and everyone involved, but your next priority should be documenting the incident.
The police and the insurance companies will want as much evidence as possible, so you need to gather as much evidence as you can at the scene.
Your next instinct may be to call your insurance agent to discuss your options, but if there is any chance that you were at fault for the accident, that may not be a good idea.
Instead, you should talk to an experienced car accident attorney like our team at the Gilbert Law Firm who can advise you about your best path forward.
What should I do after a car crash in Washington?
Here are the first steps you should take immediately after a car accident:
- Call 911—you should notify the police that an accident has happened. If there are any injured, you will need to ask for an ambulance as well.
- Take photos—you will want to take as many photos of the incident as possible to document the damage. You may also want to photograph road conditions if they contributed to the collision.
- Collect information—you should obtain the drivers’ license number, insurance information and registration information of all parties involved before leaving the scene.
- Talk to an attorney—an attorney can help guide you through your personal injury claim and, if necessary, lawsuit to obtain your compensation.
Under Washington law, every driver is required to have auto insurance that includes the following coverage components:
- $25,000 per person for injuries in an accident
- $10,000 per accident for property damage
- $50,000 per person if more than one person is injured
If the accident is the other driver’s fault, then you should file a claim with their insurer. At this point the insurer will conduct an investigation. Insurance companies have 45 days after receiving proof of loss to settle a claim, either by making a settlement offer or rejecting your claim.
You can make a counteroffer if you are confident in your position. You should include the evidence you collected at the scene of the accident to support your claim.
These offers and counteroffers may be traded for several rounds until both parties agree on an amount. If no agreement can be reached, then you will need to file a lawsuit to recover damages.
If you are seriously injured in the accident and are receiving ongoing treatment, then the insurer will probably wait to pay out all of the compensation until you are fully recovered.
Car Accident Lawsuits
If you disagree with an insurer about who is at fault for an accident or how much compensation you should receive, you will likely have to file a lawsuit. You should keep in mind that you only have three years following the date of the accident to file the lawsuit under Washington law. You will need a skilled personal injury lawyer to handle negotiations or a trial.
After your lawyer files the suit with the appropriate court, both parties will engage in discovery which should confirm the details of the case. At this point, it is likely that the insurer will try to avoid an expensive and risky trial by negotiating a settlement. If, however, no agreement is reached, then your case will have to go to trial.
Hire a Washington Personal Injury Lawyer
If you are involved in a car accident, you want a highly skilled personal injury firm to handle your case. Not only does our team at Gilbert Law Firm have extensive experience negotiating the best possible settlements with insurance companies, but we also have a proven track record of success in trials. For a free consultation, contact the Gilbert Law Firm today.