Andrew Cherin

What to do following a car accident injury? Common Questions

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If you are injured in a car accident, there are a few things you may not know that you have to do in order to protect your case.

Immediately after the car accident you should try to get witness contact information. Any cars that you see around you after a car accident, you should flag them down and try to get their name and phone number in case the other person tries to lie about what happened. Witness statements are critical to determining who was at fault for a car accident when it is one person or family saying something and the other person saying something else.

Witness information is better than a police report in most situations where fault is questionable because the police officer didn’t see the car accident happen in most situations so their report is hearsay and for the most part impermissible evidence. However, the police report can be helpful in other ways by collecting information like witness contact information, driver’s license information, and insurance information. Police reports are very helpful to get one if you can.

Additionally, if it is a hit and run situation, your insurance company will require you to file a police report in order for you to get some of your auto insurance benefits such as uninsured motorist insurance (UIM).

After getting information, you may want to call AAA if you have it. AAA provides towing under most plans and they can tow your car to your house, where some independent companies will keep your car in a tow yard. The tow yard will charge you for each day your car is in the tow yard. Because of this, you will want to contact your insurance company and tell them about where your car is and the other insurance company for the at fault driver so that your car is taken out of there and gets paid for without any unnecessary expenses.

Your insurance company may require you to give a recorded statement to them as part of your auto insurance policy following a car accident. You must give them a statement about what happened and your injuries to the best of your knowledge so that you can get PIP benefits and other benefits. However, you do not and should not give a statement to the defendant’s insurance company about your injuries and how the car accident occurred, as they will use it against you.

When you contact your insurance company or the defendant’s about your car in a tow yard, you should also set up a rental car with them while you wait for them to estimate if your car is a total loss or if your car can be repaired. You may want to start car shopping as soon as possible to find a replacement car if your car is totaled. However, you should expect to get what your car Kelly Blue Book’s for, as that is what most insurance companies use to estimate car value. They may also pull a list of similar cars near you for sale and find a price that way.

The defendant’s insurance company will not pay for your medical bills right now and will only pay once you settle with them for your personal injury damages, separate from car repair damages. Because of this, you will have to use your medical insurance and your personal injury protection (PIP) through your auto insurance policy to pay for medical bills while you wait to settle your case.

When you call your auto insurance, you should get a claim number for your personal injury protection insurance (PIP). You can use this claim number to pay for your medical treatment such as chiropractic, physical therapy, massage therapy, acupuncture, etc. Most people have $10,000 in PIP benefits but some have the higher amounts of $20,000 or $35,000.

If you go to the hospital or medical doctor after the car accident, it is best to give these places your medical insurance information first as your medical insurance will have contract rates which will lower the amount you will owe and will not blow through your PIP.

As soon as you physically can, you should call a Seattle car accident injury lawyer for a free consultation on your case. A Seattle car accident injury lawyer will be able to set up all your insurance benefits and make sure you get them all. They will also be able to stop the defendant insurance company from hounding you with pressure to settle for fear of mounting medical bills. Your lawyer will also be able to stop collection actions in most cases and be able to set you up with medical providers who will wait to get paid out of the settlement if you do not have PIP or good medical insurance to pay for your medical bills right now.

Andrew CherinWhat to do following a car accident injury? Common Questions
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UIM Insurance Coverage

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There is one very important type of insurance coverage that all drivers NEED to have and that is Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist Insurance (UIM). UIM is an auto policy insurance that will cover your damages in case you are injured in a Seattle car accident and the other person who causes the car accident either doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover all of your damages.

It is depressing how many people are driving with the bare minimum insurance coverage or no insurance coverage at all in Seattle. Some studies show as much as 50% of people are driving with little or no insurance coverage. If you get hit by someone who has little or no insurance coverage and you do not have UIM insurance, you could be out of luck.

The minimum liability insurance limit in Washington State is $25,000. This is a very small amount of money because it must cover all of your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

To get an idea of how fast $25,000 can get eaten up in a car accident injury case, know that most hospital visits that last more than 1 or 2 days can cost over $25,000 alone. If you are seriously injured in a car accident and require a lengthy stay in the hospital, that will easily eat into if not all of the $25,000 possible settlement with the defendant. If you do not have UIM insurance, this could be the most you can get out of the settlement.

Even if you do not need to go to the hospital but instead require a lengthy rehab and miss a lot of work, the $25,000 the other person has in insurance coverage may not be enough to adequately pay for all of your medical bills, cover your lost wages, and provide you with enough pain and suffering to be adequate.

This is not to say that a personal injury lawyer cannot help you if the other person has only $25,000 in insurance coverage. A Seattle car accident injury lawyer may be able to negotiate down your medical bills, reduce the amount your insurance is owed back through subrogation, and actually allow you to get some money in your pocket when it looks like all of the money will be eaten up by insurance and medical bills. If you have PIP insurance or medical insurance coverage, this will help some but not replace UIM.

If you have UIM insurance, great! UIM insurance will step in just like the other person had whatever your UIM policy limits are and whatever insurance coverage, if any, the other driver had. If the person had $25,000 and you have $25,000, you would have $50,000 available for your case settlement. Much better to work with than $25,000 alone.

However, this does not mean that your insurance company will treat you fairly and give you all of this money. They will fight tooth and nails to try to pay you as little as possible for your case, even though they are your own insurance company. This is why you need a Seattle car accident injury lawyer to represent you for your car accident injury case.

UIM insurance is very affordable and can cost as low as $3-4/month for $250,000 in UIM coverage. Meanwhile, collision coverage costs you $25-$30/month depending on your car’s make, model, and year. If you are looking to skimp on insurance coverage cost somewhere and your car is worth less that $5,000, you probably can skip on collision coverage, as your deductible and monthly premium will easily eat up the value of your car quickly.

Make sure that you have UIM insurance so you are not out of luck in case you are injured in a Seattle car accident. Call a Seattle car accident injury lawyer today for a free consultation. (206) 850-6716 or email andrew@cherinlawfirm.com.

Andrew CherinUIM Insurance Coverage
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PIP Insurance and Lost Wages

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If you didn’t have enough reasons already to get personal injury protection (PIP) added to your car insurance, here are some more reason in case you are injured in a Seattle car accident.

PIP is odd because technically it is required to have under Washington State law, but there is a clause that says that you can waive PIP by signing it away in your insurance contract. YOU SHOULD NOT WAIVE PIP.

PIP is incredibly cheap to add to your plan and I definitely recommend that you max it out. PIP comes in benefits of $10,000, $20,000, and $35,000. PIP can cost you as little as $5/month to add to your plan for $10,000 in benefits to as much as $10/month to max it out at $35,000.

PIP covers any medical treatment that you need as a result of a car accident and you do not need a referral to see any of your medical providers, although it is recommended for all specialized care not including chiropractic, physical therapy, or massage therapy.

Additionally, PIP comes with $200 a week in lost wage coverage for a maximum benefit up to your PIP policy amount. However, PIP lost wage coverage only starts paying after a brief few weeks waiting period, which most people return to work after a week off anyways, so you may not see that benefit. However, if you are severely injured, $200/week is better than nothing.

You need PIP because the defendant’s insurance will not pay for any of your medical bills until you settle with them, which could send all of your bills to collections and seriously hurt your credit score. Additionally, if you have a Seattle car accident injury lawyer representing you, your Seattle car accident injury lawyer can negotiate the amount you owe back to PIP out of the settlement in subrogation down by at least 1/3 of the amount PIP paid.

There are a few exceptions to this rule where PIP is actually given to you by the defendant’s insurance company but this only happens where the other driver has PIP and you were riding your bike, crossing the street as a pedestrian, or you were a passenger in their car.

If you do not have PIP or PIP runs out, you can pay for your medical bills with your medical insurance. However, while this is a great benefit to have and can severely lower the amount of your hospital bills, medical insurance plans usually do not include chiropractic or massage therapy coverage, and if they do they are generally capped at a certain limit like 10 visits per year. PIP on the other hand will cover massage, chiropractic, physical therapy, hospital visits, doctor’s appointments, ambulance rides, etc.

If you run out of PIP or your medical insurance plan does not include certain services, a Seattle car accident injury lawyer should be able to make an arrangement with your treating providers to pay them back out of the settlement. This will allow you to continue to receive the treatment that you need and pay nothing out of pocket until you settle your case and your attorney pays them out of the settlement at that time.

If you are injured in a car accident in or around Seattle, please give us a call and we will be happy to walk you through your car accident injury case with a free consultation. (206) 850-6716 or email andrew@cherinlawfirm.com.

Andrew CherinPIP Insurance and Lost Wages
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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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US Should Look to Norway for Drunk Driving Laws

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In response to a question I sent out on what other people suggest for DUI laws and protection measures, one reader stated that US should follow Norway’s laws for drinking and driving to prevent drunk driving car accidents, which often leave victims extremely injured or dead. I looked into the laws for Norway and they state that the legal drinking limit is about .02 BAC compared to the US of .08 BAC.

Norway is dead serious about stopping drunk driving and preventing senseless deaths and injuries related to car accidents. Norway’s .02 BAC level basically means that you cannot even have one drink and drive, otherwise you could potentially lose your drivers license for one year, lose one month’s salary, and go to jail. If your BAC is between .10-.15 you would go to jail for a minimum of 21 days in addition to losing your license for a year.

The problem in the US with .08 BAC limits is that people can have one drink and sometimes two drinks and blow below a .08 BAC, even though they may exhibit signs of slow reaction times and poor motor functions, diminishing their ability to drive. In the US, people believe they are good to drive after drinking because it was just a couple drinks and they feel fine. In Norway, people drink and they do not risk driving because they have had a drink and know they could get a DUI and lose their license even though they are perfectly capable of driving, in American standards of thinking.

If the US had Norway’s DUI laws, people would not even have to debate whether they are too drunk or not to drive. A person that has had any amount of alcohol can easily reason with themselves that they drank alcohol and will blow over a .02 BAC. This takes the decision making/debate out of drinking and driving, which is the biggest problem with people who drink and drive. It’s not until they get caught and blow over a .08 BAC or that they crash and hurt someone that they realize they were not actually good to drive.

If we are truly serious about stopping drunk driving car accidents and countless senseless deaths, we should take the debate out of people who are clearly not in the right mind to make a decision. We should advocate for a lower drunk driving limit if we truly want to make a difference with drunk driving car accidents.

Andrew CherinUS Should Look to Norway for Drunk Driving Laws
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How to settle a car accident injury case?

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If you are injured in a car accident, your focus is being torn many different ways. You have to focus on setting up medical appointments, go to medical appointments, do the treatment, fill out insurance claim information, get a hold of insurance adjusters to get your claims paid, call places to get your car repaired, get your car repaired, answer phone calls from insurance companies trying to settle your case when you are not ready, and live your normal busy life.

Dealing with insurance companies is no fun and by hiring a personal injury lawyer, you can relax and trust that your going to be getting the max amount for your case and your medical bills are getting paid or will be paid soon. It takes the guessing game out of so much of your case allowing you to focus on healing and living your life, which is already a lot to do.

What if you wanted to settle your case on your own with hiring a Seattle car accident injury lawyer? You can absolutely do this, even though studies have shown that hiring a personal injury lawyer will put more money in your pocket than negotiating on your own. Here are some tips on settling your car accident injury case on your own.

  1. Know the statute of limitations – This is the amount of time you have to settle your case before you will lose your rights. In Seattle and Washington State, you have three (3) years to settle or file a lawsuit on your car accident injury case. This varies from state to state and type of injuries, like medical mal practice, so check your state laws.
  2. When should you start settling your case? – You should start settling your case when you are fully healed and done with treatment or you are close to the statute of limitations. The reason for this is because you want to know how much it is going to cost to get you back to normal. For Seattle cases, you can afford to wait to get all the treatment that you need because the statute of limitations is three (3) years. In other states, you may have to settle your case before you are done with treatment. Waiting until you are fully healed will allow you to collect all your medical bills, receipts for medications, and figure out your lost wages.
  3. Know what you are entitled to – You are entitled to compensation for your medical bills, prescription costs, costs of help or assistance you required while you were healing, lost wages, future lost wages, compensation for disability, and pain and suffering among other things. If you do not hire a car accident injury lawyer and your insurance company paid for your medical bills, your insurance company will collect the medical bills that they paid directly from the at fault insurance company and this will not be part of what you recover. However, if you had to pay co-pays for your doctors visits, keep track of these and include them in the settlement demand.
  4. What do you send to the insurance company? – You are going to create an insurance demand to send to the adjuster representing the defendant who caused your car accident. You should collect all your medical records and bills from all of your treatment providers. Once you have them all, you should write a letter to the insurance company that summarizes what you went through in the eyes of the doctors and yourself. You should find key dates in your medical records that state times where you were in a lot of pain and not the dates in the letter and state what you felt. You should note key dates when your doctors diagnosed you with a certain injury and write that in the letter. You should also include your lost wage information like pay stubs from weeks you missed and letters from human resources stating you missed these dates.
  5. How much should I ask for? – Generally, insurance companies are going to offer you something very low to begin with in an effort to anchor your expectations to a lower number. You should combat this by starting very high, but not too high where they laugh you out of the conversation and stop dealing with you. You want to create a figure that you feel happy with accepting for what you had to go with as your middle ground between what you start off with and where they start off with, so start with a high offer above what you want to accept.

After you send this letter, the insurance adjuster will go through all the medical records and bills and review your demand. They will then put certain information into a computer system program that will spit out negotiation numbers for them to start with and the most they should pay. This computer program varies by insurance company but is relatively the same. It may take them a couple weeks to get back to you with their offer.

They will then send you a counter offer, this is not the most they can offer not matter what they say. They have more money available for you and are expecting you to counter their offer to you. You can either call them back and negotiate on the phone or send them another offer by email, fax, or mail. Negotiations with insurance companies can last weeks or months depending on the insurance adjuster and you.

Some insurance adjusters are easy to work with and you can negotiate a good offer within a couple phone calls to them. Other insurance adjusters are very difficult to work with and can be very nasty and bossy. The mean insurance adjusters will berate you are your case and offer you little or nothing. Don’t let them get to you. Continue to be polite but forceful and never attack them personally. Continue to ask for what you deserve and lower your number until you are within striking distance of your goal settlement. This is all easier said than done and you may feel like giving in, but don’t.

If you feel like you are getting no where and you are tired of dealing with nasty insurance adjusters, give a Seattle personal injury lawyer a call for a free consultation. We can take over and re-evaluate your case value and send another demand out. We can advocate for you and file a lawsuit if we do not get anywhere either.

Andrew CherinHow to settle a car accident injury case?
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BAC Readers in Bars and Restaurants?

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What role do bars and restaurants have to play in preventing or proliferating drunk drivers from hitting the road? Many drunk drivers come from bars and restaurants where they drink too many in social situations. However, there are still people that drink and drive after coming from a party or alone at their own house.

Washington state has laws that state that bars and restaurants will be liable for over serving their patrons and share financial responsibility for any accidents that their over served patrons cause to others. This is known as dram shop laws.

The theory is that bars and restaurants are profiting off of others and the communities loss and costs. When a drunk driver leaves a bar and kills someone, the community, tax payers, and everyone loses. However, the bar may get away with the added bar tab unless someone can track the drinking of the driver to that bar, at which they could be liable for $1 million or more in damages that someone or their family sustained because of a drunk driver seriously injuring or killing someone.

Most bars and restaurants carry $1million in insurance coverage to cover the very instance of someone drinking too much at their business and injuring another person by drinking and driving. The insurance limit should be much higher, however, as someone being injured or killed by a drunk driver suffer far more than $1 million in damages.

Drunk drivers are usually irresponsible people in general and carry low if any insurance coverage. In Washington State, the minimum insurance limit is $25,000, far too low. For a $20 to $50 more a month, people can get $500,000 in insurance coverage, but everyone is trying to save money. Most drunk drivers do not have a high amount of insurance coverage and repeat offenders are already paying increased premiums so they may opt out of the higher coverage or any insurance at all.

What can bars and restaurants do to prevent people from drinking and driving? Bars and restaurants must train their staff to know and recognize signs of impairment and not serve alcohol to these people. One way that bars and restaurants could know for sure how drunk someone is, is to install BAC machines at their bar and only serve people below the legal limit.

Installing a BAC machine and bars and restaurants can be an effective way to prevent their staff from over serving people that have been drinking and are too drunk. However, this will only go so far unless another rule is put into place: no sharing alcohol with others only giving one drink per person, no more pitchers. Combining these rules would help combat drunk drivers from hitting the road and allowing bars to not be sued as often for over service.

Obviously, this would not be the best for the bar or restaurants pockets as they make more money when more drinks are consumed. However, this would go a long way to preventing people from drinking too much and getting behind the wheel. Preventing drunk driving car accidents should be our goal, not profits of bars and restaurants.

How do you know who is driving and who had a designated driver or is taking an Uber or Lyft home? This could be a huge problem with making BAC machines mandatory for all bars. However, public intoxication is also a crime that is to be prevented from bars. What is the legal BAC limit for public intoxication? It is up to the officers discretion but .08 BAC is a factor in determining if someone is drunk or not. A person could walk into the street drunk and get hit by a car.

Portable BAC readers are a lot more affordable today than they were say 20 years ago. You can go to Costco and buy one for about $150. Bars could easily afford to buy these.

How reliable are BAC readers? People are drunk at different levels and BAC machines are not all the same for calculating levels, but they have gotten better. However, .08 BAC is .08 BAC and the legal limit, so that is not a good argument. Maybe requiring bars and restaurants to have BAC machines would create more accurate machines so that police use the same machines.

Anything that we can do to prevent drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel and killing others should be considered. What are your ideas?

Andrew CherinBAC Readers in Bars and Restaurants?
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Are Washington DUI Laws Tough Enough?

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How does Washington State’s DUI laws rank compared to other states and are we tough enough to prevent people from drinking and driving? One website ranks Washington State 15/50 on one leading search website but are they actually tough enough to deter people from driving drunk and stop repeat offenders? Conversely, Mothers Against Drunk Driving Ranked Washington State 32/50 states in their 2017 rankings. Repeat offenders are the most dangerous offenders as they increase the likelihood of killing someone in a car accident each time they repeat offend.

Washington State has a minimum sentencing guideline for first offenders who drink and drive with BAC under .15 of one day in jail and 90 day license suspension for first offenders, 30 days and two year license revocation for a second DUI, and 90 days and three year license revocation for a third DUI, if they occur within seven years of each other.

For a BAC at or above .15, Washington State has minimum sentencing guidelines of two days in jail and 1 year license revocation for first offenders, 45 days and 900 day license revocation for a second DUI, and 120 days and four year license revocation for a third DUI, if they occur within seven years of each other.

A fourth DUI within ten years is a class B felony that comes with at most 10 years in prison and a fine up to $20,000.

When a person injures another person in a DUI car accident, vehicular assault, the defendant receives a class B felony which is subject to at most 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000.

When a person kills another person in a DUI car accident, vehicular homicide, the defendant receives a class A felony which is subject to life in prison and a fine up to $50,000.

In comparison, a second DUI is a felony in Oklahoma with jail time of one year to 7 years and they count your DUI’s for 10 years. In Arizona, considered the strictest DUI state a 1st DUI comes with 10 day mandatory jail time with a second DUI getting you 90 days in jail. Arizona also has another level of offense for BAC levels at or above .20 that come with 45 days in jail for 1st time offenders and 180 days for 2nd time offenders.

Some people will state that jail time is not a good thing for tax payers and for getting people to stop drinking and driving. Many states including Washington have electronic home monitoring, ignition interlock devices mandatory for cars, and car drivers license suspensions and revocations (meaning you have to take the drivers test again).

What will it take to stop people from drinking and driving? Do people need to sit in jail for years at a time to get sober and think about what they are doing? Will sitting in a jail cell with no ability to drink cure their addiction and stop them from driving? Alternatively, do electronic home monitoring devices and drinking programs detecting alcohol do a good job stopping drinking?

It is hard to tell which one is right and which one will stop people from drinking and driving. Initial tough laws like mandatory jail sentences put a stigmatism on people that may prevent them from getting jobs, but obviously deservedly so, but will it more likely lead to more drinking and more problems?

Do prior convictions hurt or help stop people from continuing to drinking and driving? A DUI in Washington will not count for a prior after 7 years but will count to for a 4th DUI if done in 10 years. Should these priors last longer on people’s records?

Do mandatory license suspensions and revocations do enough? Do we need to do more to make sure people are not driving on suspended or revoked licenses? Can we hold their family members accountable for the actions of the drunk driver who continues to drink and drive on a suspended license?

Many of these questions remain unsolved because we just do not have enough data on which is right and which is wrong. There are so many variables among states to determine which state has it right and which need to change their laws.

The Mothers against drunk driving organization believes that states should have sobriety check points, ignition interlock devices for all drunk driving offenders with .08 blood alcohol content and above, administratively revoke driving privileges upon arrest for drunk driving, create enhanced penalties for those who drive drunk with children in the vehicle, and adopt penalties and expedited warrants for suspected drunk drivers who refuse an alcohol test.

Washington State does not allow sobriety check points, as there is a belief that such check points are unconstitutional.

1,921 people died in drunk driving car accidents from 2003-2012 in Washington State according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Arizona had 2,912 people die in the same period of time and Oklahoma had 2,205 people die in drunk driving related car accidents. Arizona and Washington have roughly the same amount of people living in each state while Oklahoma has less than half of the population of either state.

We can always do more to help prevent people from drinking and driving. Educating our youths the dangers of drinking and driving, teaching people how to use ride sharing apps to get a ride home, better access to counseling for alcohol addiction, detection programs to report drunk drivers early, police patrols to catch drunk drivers, and others, can combine to help us prevent drunk drivers from taking our loved ones. Please do not drink and drive.

Andrew CherinAre Washington DUI Laws Tough Enough?
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Uber Pool Is Dangerously Distracting Drivers

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Uber pool has been around for a while now. It is basically where you get a discounted fee for riding with another person who wants an Uber and the person is unrelated to your party to go to a destination that may be close to yours or starts somewhat near you.

However, Uber pool is increasingly creating a hazard to Uber drivers as the Uber driver gets notified of a possible Uber pool ride in the middle of a trip with another passenger. Uber pool passengers select that they want a discounted ride by agreeing to possibly ride with another passenger. However, there may or may not be another passenger depending on if the driver gets notified that there is another passenger that they must pick up.

Uber pool rides are completely different from other Uber rides. With non Uber pool rides, once a driver picks up a passenger, the driver can focus on following the map and taking the rider to the destination without getting notifications on their phone from Uber and the Uber App.

With an Uber pool ride, the driver may be notified that they are to pick up another passenger for the Uber pool ride. The driver may get the message as they are getting on the freeway, taking an exit, or wherever, and this could cause the driver to have to make a quick decision to change directions to pick up the new passenger. This creates a hazard to the driver, the passengers, and cars around the driver.

In Seattle, there are distracted driving laws that just came into effect recently outlawing the use of technology, items in your car, and other things that may cause you to take your eyes of the road and cause a hazard to other drivers. Seattle law allows for drivers to use mounted phone holders but requires drivers to not read, send, view electronic data while driving a car. Here is the law:

Using a personal electronic device while driving.

(i) Holding a personal electronic device in either hand or both hands;

(ii) Using your hand or finger to compose, send, read, view, access, browse, transmit, save, or retrieve email, text messages, instant messages, photographs, or other electronic data; however, this does not preclude the minimal use of a finger to activate, deactivate, or initiate a function of the device;

(iii) Watching video on a personal electronic device.

Uber pool’s inside notification of a new ride may be a violation of the Washington State law, as they would receive a notification and have to look at it and read it. While their trip may be automatically rerouted through navigation, they would get a notification that may violate the law. They would then have to re-route their current trip and catch the next exit on the free way or turn on the next block, possibly in heavy traffic. On the freeway, missing an exit could be the difference between a 10 minute trip and a 30 minute trip.

Being injured in a car accident with Uber or Lyft is always complicated because of the different levels of insurance coverage based on whether the driver has a passenger, is looking for a passenger, or has their app off. If you have been injured in a car accident by a Uber or Lyft driver or were injured by someone else while driving for Uber or Lyft, call a Seattle car accident injury lawyer today for a free consultation.

Andrew CherinUber Pool Is Dangerously Distracting Drivers
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