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Whose Insurance Will Pay For Your Medical Bills Following a Car Accident?

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This is one of the most confusing areas of a car accident injury case for a lot of people. People generally believe that because the other person caused the car accident, their insurance will pay for the medical bills immediately. This is not completely accurate.

The defendant’s insurance company will not pay for your medical bills until you settle with them. For some people, this can be seen as a pressure to settle early because they may not believe that they can pay for medical treatment without the defendant’s insurance covering their bills. Because you want to wait until you are fully healed to settle your case, it can be very difficult to not try to settle at this point, but holdfast you have many options.

How then do you pay for your medical bills while you are waiting to settle your case? You have many options to pay for your medical bills while you wait to settle with the defendant’s insurance. You can pay for your medical bills through your own car insurance medical policy called personal injury protection. If you don’t have personal injury protection, you can pay for your medical bills with your medical insurance. If you don’t have medical insurance that covers certain types of treatment or enough medical insurance to cover your bills, you can sign a letter of guarantee with the treatment provider to pay them back out of the settlement.

PIP insurance pays for your medical bills while you wait to settle with the defendant. Most car insurance policies have $10,000 in PIP coverage, which is generally enough to cover a chiropractic treatment, massage therapy, and physical therapy. However, $10,000 may not be enough if you go to the hospital. In that situation, you can use your medical insurance to pay for anything that goes beyond your PIP, including your hospital bills. Some people elect for the high amount of PIP coverage which is $35,000.

PIP coverage is required in Washington State, however, you can waive it by signing it away, which some people do to save money. PIP coverage is not very expensive so you should include it with your policy. Additionally, if your insurance does not maintain a signed waiver of PIP, you may be entitled to the benefits.

Medical insurance generally does not cover car accident injury cases unless you don’t have PIP coverage or your PIP coverage is exhausted. At that point, your medical insurance will be primary and cover all visits according to your insurance coverage.

All medical bills paid by your medical insurance and PIP insurance must be paid back out of the settlement by a process called subrogation. However, subrogation allows for you to have the benefit of lower contract rates with hospital, medical doctors, etc., lowering the amount you have to pay back. In addition to this benefit of lower contracted rates, which are usually 1/4 of the actual bill paid, Washington State law requires that the insurance company pay their pro rata share of attorney’s fee, thus lowering the amount you owe them by at least 1/3 and sometimes more. For this reason, it is vital to have PIP and or medical insurance pay for your medical bills in a personal injury case and will end up putting more money in your pocket in the end.

If you do not have PIP coverage or medical insurance, or you exhaust all your benefits, you are not a loss. You can still avoid paying for medical bills out of pocket before settling your case by having your medical provider agree to be delay being paid right now and get paid out of the settlement down the road. Most chiropractors, physical therapists, and massage therapists will agree to this arrangement so long as you have a personal injury lawyer representing you. They will also require you and your attorney to sign a letter of guarantee that states you direct your attorney to pay them back out of the settlement. This is a huge benefit for people that do not have PIP or medical insurance that covers chiropractic treatment or massage.

In Washington State, there is a 3 year statute of limitations to settle your case. This is more than enough time for most injuries to heal. However, getting the proper treatment to get you back to normal can be a struggle if not properly addressed and consistently addressed.

If you have been injured in a car accident, please contact a Seattle personal injury lawyer today for a free consultation. We are paid out of the settlement so everyone can afford us but you can’t afford not to have us when settling against insurance companies. Most cases do not go to trial and can be settled within 2-3 months of being done with treatment. Call today!

Andrew CherinWhose Insurance Will Pay For Your Medical Bills Following a Car Accident?
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Car Accident Injury Lawyer Seattle FAQ

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I get a lot of questions about what is a good car accident injury case, how much is my case worth, will other person have to pay me money personally or just their insurance company, will my case have to go to trial if I hire a lawyer, can I afford a lawyer, will my case drag on forever, etc.? I will answer each of these questions below.

Do you have to be seriously injured in order to hire a personal injury lawyer for your car accident? The answer may surprise some people but no. Most of my cases are people who have been injured in a car accident and require chiropractic care, physical therapy, and massage therapy in order to get better. Most people are done with treatment anywhere from 3 months to 9 months of treatment. These are good cases and worth hiring a lawyer for.

Can you afford to hire a personal injury lawyer? This is the best part of being a personal injury lawyer – everyone can afford to hire one. We are paid out of the settlement a strict percentage 33 and 1/3 percent with no costs up front to you. This is an area of law that is different that all others where you will have to put up a large retainer to pay for a lawyer.

Will my case have to go to trial or take a long time to settle if I hire a lawyer? 99.9% of cases do not go to trial after hiring a personal injury lawyer. We can usually settle your case within 2-3 months of you being done with treatment. The whole process is relatively quick compared to people’s thought of how long a personal injury case takes. The case is yours to settle so we will present to you the insurance company’s highest offer and break it down so you know what exactly you are getting in your pocket.

How much is my case worth? This is one of the hardest questions to answer without a lot of information about you. Things to consider are what kind of treatment you had, what injuries were you diagnosed with, how much are your medical bills, how long was your treatment, did you have any broken bones, did you have surgery, how much work did you miss, do you have any permanent injuries, etc.? You could be owed $10,000 or more depending on how seriously you were injured. Obviously the more serious, the more money you are owed.

Will the other person have to pay a bunch of money personally or will their insurance company cover everything for them? Some people are worried about financially hurting the person that injured them and 99% of the time the person who caused the car accident will not have to pay a dime towards your personal injury case. The entire case will be covered by their insurance company, most of the time.

Contact a Seattle personal injury lawyer immediately in order to determine whether you have a good case and could use the services of a personal injury lawyer. We give free consultations so you have nothing to lose but everything to gain by talking to us.

Andrew CherinCar Accident Injury Lawyer Seattle FAQ
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Seattle Lane Sweeping Car Accidents

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Lane sweeping in Seattle is the cause of a lot of traffic downtown, especially for cars taking left turns. No I am not talking about sweeping with a broom to clean dirt off the ground. I am talking about a driving maneuver where one car passes over a lane illegally.

Lane sweeping is one of the most common illegal driving maneuvers that most people do not even know is illegal. Lane sweeping is where a car take a right hand turn and doesn’t turn into the lane closest to the curb but rather passes over this lane and into the next one.

Most people turn into the second lane because they perceive that their car cannot turn that tightly to get into the lane closest to the curb. However, all cars except for certain semi trucks and buses are capable of turning into the lane closest to the curb.

Unfortunately, this type of behavior can cause traffic jams when oncoming cars are prevented from turning left because the car in front of them decides to take a wide right turn into the second hand lane. The car turning left the opposite way of the car actually has the right to that lane, however, most people will cede that lane to other cars in order to avoid a car accident or because they do not know the actual law.

One particular trouble spot where I continuously run into this problem is the intersection of Yesler Way and 1st Ave in downtown Seattle trying to turn left from eastbound on Yesler onto 1st AVE. Cars going west on Yesler constantly lane sweep during their right hand turn onto 1st AVE not allowing cars turning left to make a turn until there are basically no cars going west on Yesler.

Washington State law states that cars taking a right turn must turn into the lane closest to the curb. Cars that turn into the next lane over are actually committing a crime of illegal lane change, which is subject to a fine and is a moving violation that could make your insurance rates go up.

If you have been injured in a car accident by someone turning into your lane or doing a lane sweeping maneuver, call a Seattle personal injury lawyer today for your car accident. You could be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, medical bills, and lost wages.

 

Andrew CherinSeattle Lane Sweeping Car Accidents
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When do you have to have your headlights on in Seattle?

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Driving without your headlights on can be very dangerous to those around you and yourself. Driving without your headlights on can make you invisible at night and possibly cause a car accident that injures you and others. If someone cannot see you coming straight for them, they may turn in front of you causing a “t-bone” or head on collision. For this reason, Seattle makes it mandatory to have your headlights on at certain times of the day and during certain conditions.

In Seattle, you have to have your headlights on half an hour after sunset until half an hour before sunrise. Sunset is determined by what the official time of sunset is in Seattle. For example, sunset in Seattle for May 29, 2018 is 8:56 pm. This means that you must have your headlights on at the latest by 9:26pm. If you have your headlights off after that time, you may be subject to a ticket and a fine.

Additionally, you have to have your headlights on where there is insufficient light on the road due to dark clouds, heavy rain, snow, etc. where objects are not discernible at a distance of 1,000 feet in the distance. It is important to have your headlights on during poor weather conditions so that others can see your car on the free way and on regular streets. If someone can’t see you, they may accidentally rear end your car or turn in front of you.

Luckily, today many cars have automatic lights that either run all the time or turn on when wether conditions or outside conditions get too dark. This makes it so you never have to remember to turn on your headlights at night or during heavy rain or snow. The sensors on your car will turn your lights on when they do not get enough light into them.

Here is the law-

RCW 46.37.020

Every vehicle upon a highway within this state at any time from a half hour after sunset to a half hour before sunrise and at any other time when, due to insufficient light or unfavorable atmospheric conditions, persons and vehicles on the highway are not clearly discernible at a distance of one thousand feet ahead shall display lighted headlights, other lights, and illuminating devices as hereinafter respectively required for different classes of vehicles, subject to exceptions with respect to parked vehicles, and such stop lights, turn signals, and other signaling devices shall be lighted as prescribed for the use of such devices.

Andrew CherinWhen do you have to have your headlights on in Seattle?
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Whose Insurance Covers Seattle Uber and Lyft Car Accident Injuries

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Uber and Lyft are everywhere these days and they provide a great service for those looking for a ride to an area that charges a lot for parking or a ride home from the bar. However, if you are ever in a car accident with an Uber or Lyft driver you may be facing an uphill battle while you try to find out whose coverage will cover your injuries suffered in the car accident. This is because there are basically three levels of insurance that could be at fault.

Whose Insurance Will Cover Seattle Uber Car Accident Injury Case?

Uber and Lyft hire drivers to drive for them who are not quite employees but actually contract for hire employees. Therefore, when the Uber or Lyft driver does not have a passenger and is not actively searching for a rider with the Uber or Lyft app, they are not really working on Uber or Lyft time. Therefore, Uber and Lyft do not cover the insurance for their driver during this time if they get into a car accident, which can have implications on the driver of Uber and Lyft and others.

Seattle Uber or Lyft Driver Not Using App Car Accident

When an Uber or Lyft driver is not considered a driver, they must maintain their own car insurance. If your are injured in a Seattle car accident with an Uber or Lyft driver at this point, the Uber or Lyft driver’s own insurance will cover your car accident injuries. If they do not have their own insurance, you must use your UIM (uninsured motorist insurance) to cover your injuries.

Seattle Uber or Lyft Driver Looking for a Passenger Car Accident

When an Uber or Lyft driver is actively using the app to find a passenger to make money, Uber and Lyft must have a minimum liability insurance coverage for their driver of  $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident, as well as $30,000 for property damage, and Underinsured Motorist (UIM) benefits and Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage to the extent required by existing law (currently UIM minimum to match the liability coverage, and PIP minimum of $10,000).

PIP coverage pays for medical bills while you wait for your settlement with the at fault party. Washington State Law appears to make PIP mandatory with a minimum required of $10,000. Unfortunately, the only thing required by the law is for the insurance company to offer you $10,000 in PIP coverage not that you have or maintain $10,000 in PIP coverage, which is completely strange. Uber and Lyft have chosen not to include PIP coverage with their insurance policies, in line with Washington State Law.

Uber or Lyft Driver with a Passenger Car Accident

Once the Seattle Uber or Lyft driver accepts a ride and is in route to pick up the passenger or they already have the passenger, the insurance coverage increases to single limit liability coverage of $1 million, UIM coverage of $1 million, and PIP coverage to the extent required by existing law.  This coverage remains in effect until the passenger exists the vehicle.

This means that if you are injured in a car accident caused by a Lyft or Uber driver, the insurance company for Uber or Lyft will cover your injuries up to $1 million in damages caused by their driver. This will cover your medical expenses, lost wages, lost future wages, and pain and suffering.

If you have been injured in a car accident by an Uber or Lyft driver contact a Seattle personal injury lawyer immediately. Our Seattle car accident injury lawyers at Cherin Law Firm will quickly investigate your case to determine which insurance company will cover your damages. Consultations are free and we are paid out of the settlement. Everyone can afford a Seattle personal injury lawyer but you can’t afford not to have one against Uber or Lyft’s insurance company.

Andrew CherinWhose Insurance Covers Seattle Uber and Lyft Car Accident Injuries
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How to determine when you need new tires

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Driving in Seattle is tough with all the water on the roads and the many hills. You want to make sure you are safe on the road and avoid car accidents. One way to avoid car accidents is to make sure your car is being properly maintained and having good tires goes a long ways to keeping you safe from a car accident situation.

If you have bad tires, your car is more prone to lose traction on wet pavement when making turns and maneuvering around the road. There is nothing worse than spinning out or hydroplaning on the road and causing a car accident. This is also your fault for the car accident and injuries that you cause to someone else if your tires cause you to hydroplane or slip because there is no tread on the tires. If you are injured in a car accident that is your fault, a Seattle personal injury lawyer cannot represent you for your car accident.

Additionally, if you do not have good tires, your tires are more prone to getting punctured and becoming flat or blowing out on the road. When tires become run down and bald, they are much more prone to flats and blowouts because of the protective surface being eroded.

Kelly Bluebook states that there are three main ways to determine whether you need new tires or not – manufacturer’s recommendation or by inspection. The manufacturer of your tires has a ballpark expiration date for your tires usually somewhere between 25,000 and 50,000 miles. However, these are just estimated guesses based on how long they will warrant your tires to last for under normal wear and tear. They cannot predict for using your tires off road or on road that is very coarse that wears down your tires. There are some tires that will not last 20,000 miles and some that will last 45,000, it just depends how rough you drive your car and what kind of terrain your are driving on.

You should regularly inspect your tires to make sure that they have sufficient tread on them. One way is to look at the tread wear bars, which are little rubber bridges in the grooves between the ridges. If these bars are level with the tread pattern, then the tire has only 1/16th of an inch of tread remaining and must be replaced.

A second way to test the tread is done by inserting a penny or quarter into the center of the tread between two ridges with the image of Lincoln’s or Washington’s head facing toward you. If you can see the very top of the head, or worse, the space above the head, then the tire needs replacing immediately. If only some hair is visible, then it is time to consider purchasing new tires, though the need is not so urgent. If some of the forehead is concealed, there is still adequate tread.

The third option for measuring tread is to buy a depth gauge for your car. This can be bought on Amazon for as little as $15. As these are cheap, easily available at auto parts shops, and simple to use. They are often a worthwhile investment and have the advantage of providing a more accurate measurement than the other methods.

When buying a new tire Cars.com states that “you don’t have to spend lavishly on tires, but don’t automatically buy the cheapest ones either. Tires are the only part of your vehicle that are supposed to touch the ground, so make sure they’re up to the task. Choose tires that have high tread wear and traction ratings, and bear in mind that performance tires with higher speed ratings may not last long. For most cars, a balanced combination of wet traction, ride comfort, low noise levels and a high tread wear rating will probably be your best bet.”

Andrew CherinHow to determine when you need new tires
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Coats on babies in car seats don’t match.

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Most people know this but some people don’t – it is dangerous to have your baby wear a jacket or large piece of clothing in a car seat or booster seat. This is because in the event of a car accident, your baby may not be securely fastened to the car seat and be seriously injured.

The large coat or extra clothing on the baby may seem snug against the straps of a car seat but in a car accident the baby will not be restrained and in fact fly through the straps and possibly be seriously injured. The extra fabric doesn’t act as an extra barrier and in fact acts as a loose, false barrier that doesn’t hold the baby in.

Yes, it can be annoying to take your baby out of the jacket or large sweater and then have to put it back on, but it is for the protection of your baby in the event of a car accident. You may even think that you are only traveling for a short drive but this should not convince you to allow it. Car accidents can happen at any time and any place. All it takes is one person not paying attention to your car being stopped or someone in a hurry and a car accident happens. Don’t risk your baby’s health for the inconvenience of taking him or her out of a jacket or coat.

If your baby did fall out of the car seat with a jacket on in a Seattle car accident, unfortunately it is your fault and not the car seat manufacturer. You must follow proper protocol and manufacturer’s intended usage. A Seattle personal injury lawyer will walk you through your options in a car accident injury case but you may hurt your case by not securely fastening your child in his or her car seat.

Andrew CherinCoats on babies in car seats don’t match.
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Hitching a ride on a car like Marty McFly legal?

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We have all seen the scene in Back to the Future where Marty McFly hitches a ride on the back of a car with his skate board and then again on a hoverboard to get around. We all thought, “how cool is that?!” However, is this a legal move to do in Seattle on a skateboard?

It is illegal to ride on the back of a car on a skateboard or any other bike or toy. There is actually a law on the books that I would like to coin the Marty McFly law: RCW 46.61.765:

 

RCW 46.61.765 Clinging to vehicles.

No person riding upon any bicycle, coaster, roller skates, sled, or toy vehicle shall attach the same or himself or herself to any vehicle upon a roadway.
I tried to look up the original bill to determine where the law came from and where it was established but I couldn’t. I would like to think that this probably came around during the time the Back to the Future movies came out but I cannot be sure. It may have been a popular thing to do when skateboards came out.
According to Wikipedia – Skateboarding, as we know it, was probably born sometime in the late 1940s, or early 1950s, when surfers in California wanted something to do when the waves were flat. This was called “sidewalk surfing” – a new wave of surfing on the sidewalk as the sport of surfing became highly popular.
I think it is probably pretty obvious why this is illegal. It is highly dangerous and a high likelihood of injury by the person riding on the back of the car. It could easily create a car accident whereby the skateboarder loses control because of the high speeds and either gets ran over by another car or is flung off their board causing injury.
Andrew CherinHitching a ride on a car like Marty McFly legal?
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Can you pass someone parallel parking?

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Have you ever sat behind someone parallel parking and wondered if you can pass them? Who is at fault if you hit them when passing?

In general, a person who is parallel parking has the right of way to the spot they are occupying and other vehicles must yield the right of way that they have to parallel parking. However, a car may pass a parallel parking car so long as there is room on the other side and the law allows so.

A parallel parking car may not occupy another car lane when they are attempting to park. This means that they may not swing so wide that they come into contact with someone in the lane next to them.

If a car comes in contact with the parallel parking car by trying to pass them without sufficient space, they may be cited for following too closely or not driving in their lane of traffic. However, this does not mean that you have the right to reverse into another car. Each car must be prudent in their attempts to avoid coming into contact with other cars.

If you have been injured in a car accident with someone who was parallel parking or you yourself were parallel parking and someone hit you, call today for a free consultation.

Andrew CherinCan you pass someone parallel parking?
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Is your child riding in your car properly? Could you face a fine?

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Safety is the name of the game and preventing injuries in car accidents is the purpose. Many people know that their child should be in a car seat when they are young but do you know how long they are required to be in a car seat? How about how long they are supposed to be in a rear facing car seat? Did you know that you could be facing a $124 fine if you fail to have your child properly restrained? Did you know that this fine follows you the parent, until the child is 16 years old?

The reason behind using a car seat or booster seat and when to graduate your child is to keep our children safe in car accidents. A normal seat belt will not protect a child that is too small to actually realize the safety benefit of the seat belt, like full grown adults can. The reason is that seat belts are positioned with restraints for an adult and are not adjustable for a small child. The child could fall through the straps if there is a car accident and be severely injured.

Washington’s Child Passenger Restraint Law (RCW 46.61.687) requires:

  • Children under age 8, unless they are 4’9″ tall, must be restrained in an appropriate child restraint system (car seat or booster seat).
  • Children 8 years old or at least 4’9″ tall who wear a seat belt MUST use it correctly (never under the arm or behind the back) or continue to use a child restraint.
    Children less than 13 years old are to be transported in the back seat, where it is practical to do so.
  • Child restraint system must be used correctly according to the car seat AND vehicle manufacturer’s instructions. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines for both the child restraint and the vehicle.

Violation of this section could be subject to a $124 fine. However, this is a “fix it ticket.” Meaning, if your child should have been in a car seat but was not, you can have your ticket dismissed if you show proof of purchase of a car seat within 7 days of the notice of the ticket.

Car Seat, Booster Seat, or Back Seat?

There are four kinds of graduated seating that you should think of: Rear facing children seats, forward facing car seat with restraining straps, a booster seat, and a seat belt. Do you know when your child should start using each?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following car and booster seat guidelines:

1.Under two years old or reach max height or weight by manufacturer – Keep infants and toddlers in rear-facing car seats.

2. Children age 2 or older who have outgrown rear facing seat – should use a forward-facing car seat with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of the car seat

3. All children who have outgrown the forward-facing car seat – should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle’s lap-and-should seat belt fits properly, typically when they reach 4’9″ tall and are between 8 and 12 years of age.

4. All children younger than 13 years should be restrained in the rear seats of vehicles for optimal protection. When children are old enough and large enough to use the vehicle seat belt alone, they should always use lap-and shoulder seat belts for optimal protection.

Be careful not to graduate your child to the next seat too soon. Keep your child in the current seat for as long as possible (according to the seat manufacturer’s height and weight requirements), to maximize safety.

Andrew CherinIs your child riding in your car properly? Could you face a fine?
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