Burien’s personal injury attorney Tracy Codd reminds readers that timelines for filing personal injury lawsuits can vary.
Burien’s attorney, W. Tracy Codd, reminds readers that timelines for filing personal injury lawsuits can vary.
Have you been involved in a serious car accident or pedestrian accident on the streets and highways of Washington State? Not sure about the general course of action to take? Here are some important considerations to keep in mind:
What should I do first?
When you have been injured by someone else’s negligence, it is important to take some initial steps to ensure that your injury claim is properly documented. It is essential to keep all types of potential evidence to support your injury claim. This can increase your chances of your case being resolved fairly and as quickly as possible:
- Write down everything you remember about how the injury happened, including the names, addresses, and phone numbers of potential witnesses, police officers, insurance company officials (or government officials). company or workers’ compensation if it was a workplace injury);
- Speak to an experienced personal injury attorney before making any representations, written or verbal, to adjusters or insurance company representatives;
- Immediately let any responsible party you believe to be responsible for the injury know that you intend to file a claim against them;
- Take steps to protect any evidence you may need to prove your injury, such as your wrecked car, photographs of an accident or injury scene, clothing you were wearing, damaged personal effects, etc. This is particularly important with regard to video footage taken by businesses near the scene of the accident or by the cameras of traffic control devices in the area, as entities often destroy video evidence after a certain amount of time. of time;
- Always make sure you get a copy of the police report from the investigating agency. If the Washington State Patrol investigated the accident, a written request and a $10.50 fee is required. The $10.50 fee is non-refundable whether or not a record is found. The Washington State Patrol accepts checks and money orders through the mail.
If you have internet access, go to www.wsp.wa.gov, then “Hot Topics” on the right side of the page, and select “Collision Reports”. At the top of the page, select the link to the Request Copy of Collision Report form. Complete and print the form, enclose the $10.50 fee and mail it or bring it to our office.
If you do not have access to a computer or the Internet, you can write to WSP and provide your full name, date of collision and location of collision. The WSP can also send you an application form by mail or fax. If the Washington State Patrol did not investigate the accident, contact the investigating agency to find out about their procedures for requesting a police traffic accident report.
Whose fault is it for the accident?
In most cases, in order to recover an injury claim in Washington, you must prove that the person who caused the injury acted in “negligence,” which is defined as a failure to exercise ordinary care. In Washington, you must prove:
- The existence of an obligation towards you by the person who caused your damage
- The other person has not fulfilled the duty they owe you
- You have suffered damage
- The other person’s failure caused you the injury
If you were negligent and your negligence contributed to your injury, the amount you can recover will be reduced in proportion to your negligence under Washington’s comparative negligence law.
Under Washington law, where two people are each liable to you for the injury because they were both negligent, each person is liable for a proportionate amount of the total damages.
What is my complaint worth?
Under Washington law, the person who injured you is responsible for:
- Estimated past, current and future medical expenses
- Time lost from work, including time spent traveling to medical appointments or therapy
- Any damaged property, such as your vehicle
- The cost of hiring someone to do household chores when you can’t do them
- Any permanent disfigurement or disability
- Your emotional distress, including anxiety, depression, and any interference with your family relationships
- A change in your future earning capacity due to the injury
- Any other costs resulting directly from your injury
An experienced personal injury attorney will know what type of expert witness to hire to best prove your damages.
What if the person who caused the accident does not have insurance or has an insurance policy that is not sufficient to compensate me for my injuries?
Uninsured or underinsured coverage will reimburse you, a family member, or a named driver for medical expenses, lost wages, and other injury-related losses if any of you are hit by an uninsured or underinsured or fleeing driver. Underinsured motorist coverage compensates you for damages that are greater than the coverage amount carried by a driver who does not have sufficient insurance to pay for your total loss. Commonly known in Washington as “First Party” coverage, UIM/UM coverage is found on the Declarations page of your insurance policy. If you don’t have it on your policy, Washington state law requires you to waive coverage in writing.
How long do I have to file a legal claim?
In Washington, you have three years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit against the person who injured you. If your attorney was unable to settle with an involved party or insurance company, you must file a lawsuit before the three-year statute of limitations expires or your claim is permanently barred. There is a two-year statute of limitations for certain other cases involving motor vehicle accidents related to intentional driving.
UIM/UM limitation periods vary from policy to policy. Often the language of the insurance policy controls. It is very important to review your policy to understand your policy limits. In many policies, the section where limitations can be found is titled “Actions Against Us” or similar language.
This is a general overview of a Washington State personal injury claim. For a free consultation, please call Burien’s attorney, W. Tracy Codd.
W. Tracy Codd has been representing people involved in serious automobile accidents since 1987. Her office is located in Burien, Washington. Call us for a free consultation.
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