We depend on our cars, SUVs, and trucks to keep our lives and our family’s lives running smoothly. We also pay insurance premiums on our vehicles to protect us after an accident. We hope that other drivers pay these premiums too. Car insurance bills come due every month, but we probably don’t give that coverage much thought until we are a victim in a collision.
At-fault drivers can be covered by any number of providers. You may have to quickly educate yourself on their insurance firms whether you’re injured when you were hit while in your car, while on foot, on a bicycle, or riding your motorcycle. You will probably also come to realize that insurance companies worry more about the bottom line than helping injury victims.
Protecting Spokane Crash Victims from Insurance Companies
For basic property damage claims and minor scrapes and bruises, some people contact these insurers themselves. But if there are serious, debilitating injuries, fatalities, or other complexities involved, car accident attorneys can not only help you and your family prepare a strong case to bring to an insurance company, they can also often help you recover significantly more for your injuries.
Different insurance providers can use very different strategies, but they all want one thing. To save money by providing you with as little compensation as possible. Don’t take these insurance firms on by yourself. You’ll be overmatched by their experience. Allow an experienced local attorney to protect your interests and make sure you don’t get taken advantage of.
Before contacting an insurer in Washington, contact CCD Law covering Spokane, all of eastern Washington, and Northern Idaho. You’ll get a free, friendly, and confidential consultation and case evaluation. We have been helping clients in Spokane and Spokane Valley since 1948 and we’d like to protect you after an accident.
Claims Against Auto Insurers in Washington
There are countless auto insurers operating in the State of Washington, some are national providers and others stick to covering local residents.
Below you can find more information on injury claims against insurers in Washington.
Filing Claims with Major Insurance Providers
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.
Types of Insurance Compensation for Accident Victims
Many of these insurers use software to determine the value of your claim, but the sheer variety of expenses and number of hardships victims have faced and will face can be impossible for a computer to calculate. Some insurance firms have been found using a delay, deny, defend technique to wear people down into taking less for their injuries.
Again, having your own attorney is your best defense against these common, but unfair, practices.
Assuming there are no issues involving liability or insurance, you’ll still need to prove that you suffered legally recognized damages. The law in the State of Washington allows recovery for both economic and non-economic damages.
- Economic damages are easily ascertainable. They might consist of medical bills, lost time from work, and out-of-pocket expenses.
- Non-economic damages are more difficult to calculate within a high degree of certainty. Those might consist of permanent disfigurement or disability hardships along with physical and emotional pain and suffering. Victims may suffer a loss of enjoyment of life due to the injuries they receive. They may also experience severe depression and anxiety after such a traumatic event.
How Much Is My Insurance Claim Worth?
A devastating accident on Washington roads can leave victims with major injuries and enormous hospital and doctor bills. It’s fair for victims and their families to wonder how much they can earn in an insurance claim.
Every case is very different and it’s impossible to set an accurate figure on what a case is worth without knowing the details of what happened. However, certain factors can greatly increase the financial support victims should expect from an at-fault driver’s insurance.
A good guideline is that the more an injury changes the victim’s life, the more the patient should demand in compensation. The length of time you deal with an injury also affects how much your case is worth.
A severe injury that leads to a permanent disability can require compensation to support a victim over decades. This can include the cost of medical equipment, constant medical care, and even the retraining of the patient for a new career their disability will allow them to function in.
As victims recover from even moderate injuries, they’ll likely miss work hours and lose valuable paychecks while they heal. Wages lost and the paychecks expected to be missed in the future should be reimbursed, adding to an award amount.
Those changes to a victim’s life include the emotional toll an injury takes. That can include the loss of enjoyment of life in recovery and the damage to close family relationships the victim may no longer be able to maintain. This mental anguish along with the physical pain experienced will factor into the value of a case.
It’s important to note that the skill and experience your personal injury attorney brings to the table can also have a major effect on compensation totals. Your legal representative should be fighting for every bit of compensation available from every at-fault party holding liability in your accident. Your attorney will be accurately estimating the cost of recovery and also demanding support for hardships you may not have known you could seek compensation for.
Mandatory Insurance Coverage In Washington
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
These amounts can be far short of what victims need. 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 or partial disability. Your own underinsured motorist coverage may have to be called upon to make up the difference.
What If The Driver Who Hit Me Doesn’t Have Insurance?
Getting struck by a careless driver makes for a terrible day and may even leave you with a serious injury. What can make your experience even worse is finding out that driver is traveling the roads without insurance coverage.
You’ll be facing enormous medical invoices and doctor’s bills and discovering the at-fault driver won’t have insurance coverage to draw support from is frustrating, to say the least.
Fortunately, you do have other options when seeking compensation to pay your recovery costs, replace your lost wages, and meet your monthly payments on rent and your car. If you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage you can file a claim with your own insurance agent and seek damages to help get you back on your feet.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is generally offered with any insurance policy in Washington State, however, you may decline it at the time you purchase your auto insurance. Underinsured motorist coverage is also helpful when the driver to blame carries insurance but perhaps has the cheapest coverage allowed. The limits on the policy may not provide for everything you need for recovery and your underinsured coverage can make up the difference.
It’s also important that you know the pitfalls of dealing with your own insurance provider. They can ignore the fact that you are a loyal customer and attempt to limit the compensation you receive. A personal injury lawyer contacting the insurance company on your behalf fights to make sure you are awarded full compensation for everything you’ve endured physically and financially.
What information am I required to provide to the opposing insurance company?
Legally, you don’t have to say a word to an insurance adjuster for another driver. You may refer them to your own insurance company if they are involved in the case. If you have a Spokane Car Accident Lawyer, you should let your lawyer do his or her job. They should handle all communication with all insurance representatives and all opposing lawyers. This allows you to skip this stressful part of an insurance claim and focus on your recovery.
Speaking with an opposing insurance representative may help speed up the claims process, but you must be careful not to provide anything but basic information. You can offer your name, address, the make and model of your car, and information about your insurance provider.
The insurance adjuster is looking for any inconsistencies in your accident case in order to reject your claim. They won’t hesitate to jump on any moment where you misspeak. They won’t let you take it back.
Don’t offer any of this information:
- Don’t give a recorded statement. Insurance companies will call and ask you to talk about what happened. Politely decline. They can twist anything you say to weaken your case later.
- Don’t accept fault in an accident. Never speculate on who was to blame. You may have no idea who was at fault and guessing can hurt your bid to get injury or property damage compensation.
- Don’t talk about your injuries. Don’t talk about how badly you are hurt or say you are “okay.” Leave this up to your doctors to determine and your personal injury lawyer to communicate.
- Never accept a settlement over the phone and don’t sign anything. A legal expert should look over any settlement extended to you.
It’s important to remember that if you are relying on your own car insurance provider for support, they can end up acting like an “opposing insurance company.” Keep these precautions in mind when you are filing a claim against your own insurance agents.
Things to Know About Uninsured Motorist Coverage
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 are probably covered on your policy. You and your family might even be insured if the accident was caused by a hit-and-run driver. UM/UIM coverage often extends to pedestrians or bicyclists.
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.
Washington Accident Lawsuit Statute of Limitations
As mentioned above, Washington has set a time limit on how long you have to file a lawsuit against an at-fault driver’s insurance coverage seeking compensation for your injuries. Victims 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.
Washington Comparative Negligence for Accident Victims
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 your gross award.
For example, if the person who caused your accident was deemed to be 75% at fault in the crash, and you were deemed to be 25% 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.
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.
Contact a Spokane Personal Injury Lawyer
Even in the simplest cases with small claims value, it’s in your best interests to talk with one of our Spokane personal injury attorneys so that you know exactly what’s available to you. The insurance company you’ll be dealing with may be unfamiliar to you, but our experts will know exactly what to expect from them and how to hold them accountable.
There’s no charge and no obligation to CCD Law for an initial consultation. One of our lawyers will listen carefully to you. That lawyer will isolate the issues, and then you’ll be advised of your legal options. That doesn’t cost you a penny.
If we do enter into a retainer agreement with you, there are no upfront charges. That’s because pursuant to our contingency fee agreement, we don’t get paid any legal fees at all unless we obtain a settlement or verdict for you.
There’s no reason not to talk to us after suffering any type of injury in an accident that was the fault of somebody else. There’s no obligation, and you’ll learn that there are many reasons why you shouldn’t even take that first step of making your claim alone.
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- How to File an Accident Claim In Spokane
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- When Does an Insurance Company Have to Respond To A Claim?