If you’ve never been in a motor vehicle accident before, the odds are that you’ll be involved in one sometime in the future. If the accident is the result of the carelessness and negligence of somebody else, and you’re injured, you’ll want to preserve and protect your rights. For basic property damage claims and minor scrapes and bruises, some people contact insurers themselves. But if there are severe injuries, debilitating injuries, fatalities or other complexities, a car accident attorney can not only help you recover more for your injuries, sometimes they can help you obtain significantly more.
Before contacting an insurer in Washington, contact us today for a free, friendly, confidential consultation and case evaluation. We have been helping clients in Spokane and Spokane Valley since 1948.
Claims against auto insurers in Washington
There are many auto insurers in the State of Washington, a few of the big names are USAA, PEMCO, SateFarm, Farmers, GEICO, Safeco, Metromile, Progressive, Travelers and AAA. Many of these insurers use software to determine the value of your claim, but the amount they should be can be much too complicated for a computer to figure out. Others have been found using a delay, deny, defend technique to wear people down into taking less for their injuries.
Below is more information on injury claims against insurers in Washington.
A claim is not a lawsuit
Many injured people and even attorneys begin the process of representing injured clients by making a formal claim with the opposing insurer. It’s very important to remember that a claim isn’t a lawsuit. It’s merely an informal way of attempting to reach an amicable resolution of liability and damages issues.
Anybody who operates a motor vehicle on a roadway in the State of Washington is required to be insured by a policy of liability insurance in the following minimum amounts:
- $25,000 for the injuries or death of one person
- $50,000 for injuries or death of more than one person per occurrence
- $10,000 for property damage
A serious fracture suffered in an accident is likely to require surgery. That $25,000 minimum liability coverage is hardly sufficient for a night in the emergency room, surgery, recovery, rehab and any permanent partial disability. That’s what underinsured motorist insurance is for.
The statute of limitations
Like every other state, Washington has set a time limit on how long you have to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for your injuries. In Washington, you have three years from the date of the accident. Remember that a claim is not a lawsuit. If you fail to file your personal injury lawsuit against the person who you believe was at fault within three years of the date of the accident, it’s likely that your lawsuit will be dismissed.
Special care must be taken if you believe that a governmental agency was responsible for your injuries. Certain statutory claim notice provisions apply. They can be strictly construed and harsh to the uninformed victim. See us right away if you were injured by any governmental entity in the State of Washington.
Sometimes a percentage of the fault for an accident is attributable to the person who is making the injury claim. Raising the comparative negligence issue can be a great way for an insurance adjuster to save his or her company money because the percentage of fault attributable to you is deducted from the gross award. For example, if the person who caused your accident was deemed to be 75 percent at fault in the crash, and you were deemed to be 25 percent at fault, you would receive $75,000 on a $100,000 gross award. Washington is a pure comparative negligence state. Theoretically, a person could be 90 percent at fault for an accident and still receive a 10 percent award.
What if the person who hit me didn’t have insurance?
Although many people drive with inadequate minimum liability coverage, many others drive with no insurance at all. Both of those types of people are what uninsured (UM) and underinsured (UIM) motorist insurance are for. UM and UIM insurance covers you in the event that you’re injured through the fault of an uninsured or underinsured motorist. Your UM or UIM claim is made with your own insurer though.
UM/UIM coverage is broad
UM/UIM coverage language is up to each individual insurance company, but coverage is generally broad. You’re often covered in scenarios that your liability coverage won’t insure you in. Family members who are residents of your household might are probably covered. All of you might even be insured if the accident was caused by a hit-and-run driver. UM/UIM overage often extends to pedestrians or bicyclists.
The time to bring a UM/UIM claim
The fact that Washington has a three year statute of limitations for bringing an injury action is irrelevant in the context of bringing a claim against your own insurer. Your insurance policy will specify the period of time that you have for bringing claims or any lawsuits against it. Expect it to be dramatically shorter than three years.
Don’t give your opponent a statement
Never give a statement to an opposing insurer; they will only try to use it against you in the future. You’ll be giving up rights in your case that you’ll never get back. Insurance adjusters are trained at taking statements, asking questions intended to confuse you and tripping you up. There’s no law requiring you to assist the opposing side with its defense. Politely refuse to give a statement, and call us. If we’re retained, you’ll never hear from that insurance company again.
Insurers treat us much differently
You never went to law school, and you never practiced law. An insurance company isn’t going to take you seriously if you try to represent yourself in a claim. They know us, and they respect us, because if we don’t get what we want in the claim stage, we’ll just move on to litigation. We’re experienced, aggressive and successful. Contact us for a free consultation and case evaluation on any motor vehicle accident.