All posts tagged: Seattle Car Accident Injury Lawyer

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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Seattle Passenger in a car accident, whose fault?

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If you are injured in a Seattle car accident while riding as a passenger, you have many options for recovery but probably have many questions.

Who is at fault for the car accident and whose insurance can I go after?

Determining who is at fault for the car accident is the first step to determining who will pay for your injuries. If your driver is at fault for the car accident, you can go after their insurance policy to pay for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering – even if they are related to you.

This is a good benefit that some people do not take advantage of because of fear that the family member or friend will have to pay this amount. This could not be further from the truth. The insurance company may pay you $10,000 or more and the family member or friend will not have to pay a penny of this amount. The worst that could happen is if their insurance premiums go up a few dollars per month, in most situations.

If another car is at fault, passengers injured in a car accident can go after the person that hit their driver’s car directly. Passengers are entitled to pain and suffering, medical bill compensation, and lost wages, among other possible damages. People that are responsible for your injuries will not pay for your medical bills up front, unless you are going after the driver of your car and they have PIP insurance. However, it is a good idea to not settle your case until you are fully healed. This means that you must find another way to pay for your medical bills right now until you are healed.

Who will pay for the passenger’s medical bills now though?

Personal injury protection (PIP) is an auto insurance policy that pays for medical bills and lost wages while you are awaiting a settlement from the responsible party. PIP is available to passengers under the driver of the car’s auto policy if the driver has paid for PIP insurance. Additionally, you can use your own auto insurance policy PIP to cover your injuries if there is no other PIP available to you or you have exhausted it all from the other policy.

Another option to cover your medical bills right now is your own medical insurance. Medical insurance will deny the claim at first unless they know no other medical coverage is available to pay for your bills. Medical insurance generally doesn’t cover massage bills and usually has limited chiropractic allowance.

A third option is to pay on a lien to medical providers. Most physical therapists, chiropractors, and massage therapists will allow you to pay them back out of the settlement. However, most if not all of these places will require you to have a personal injury lawyer representing you to accept this arrangement so that they can guarantee through the car accident injury lawyer that they are paid.

How long will it take to get a good settlement?

Contrary to some thinking, hiring a personal injury lawyer does not mean filing a lawsuit in most cases. In fact, most cases can be settled within 2-3 months of an injured person being discharged from treatment and feeling 100% again.

Additionally, hiring a Seattle personal injury lawyer is not super costly and in most instances gets you more money than you could on your own even after a lawyer’s fee is taken account of. Seattle car accident injury lawyers are paid out of the settlement so you never have to pay them out of pocket. Call today for a free consultation.

Andrew CherinSeattle Passenger in a car accident, whose fault?
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Settlement Value: Estimating Surgery Costs

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If you have been injured in a Seattle car accident and decide to hire a Seattle personal injury lawyer, your lawyer will try to make sure you get all the treatment you need to make a 100% recovery. However, sometimes a person can’t get all the treatment that they need because they can’t afford the treatment and don’t have insurance.

If a person can’t afford a medical surgery because their insurance will not cover the full cost or they can’t afford to pay for the remaining balance, a Seattle personal injury lawyer can estimate the costs and get it included in the settlement in most cases. One way to estimate the costs of the surgery is use an online tool like Healthcare Bluebook that estimates the costs of surgeries, MRI, and other medical procedures. The estimates include low, high, and fair costs so you know what to expect if you get the surgery after settlement.

Your settlement will be made up of medical bill costs, future medical costs (for major injury cases only, lost wages, and pain and suffering. It’s important to get future medical included in the settlement if you need a surgery because then you will know how much you have to pay for that necessary surgery.

Healthcare Bluebook is also good to see if you are paying for a fair price for your surgery and other costs in a medical world that is largely mysterious in their costs and expenses when billing you. It’s good to get see a second opinion on costs to see if you are paying too much.

Andrew CherinSettlement Value: Estimating Surgery Costs
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Does your car insurance follow you or the car?

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I have run into this question a number of times and no one knows the answer. Would you find it interesting to know that this answer really depends on the language of your contract with your insurance company? I didn’t think so. However, this is exactly how it is. I can tell you generally that insurance can follow your car and you. Here are a couple examples to show the situations where your car insurance can benefit you from a couple case examples I have come across as a Seattle personal injury lawyer for car accident victims.

Will my insurance cover me if I am hit by another car while I am a pedestrian or riding my bike to pay for my medical bills up front?

Yes, in fact your car insurance personal injury protection coverage will cover your medical bills if you are struck by another car. However, did you know if they have PIP insurance as well, you will get whatever coverage plan they have in addition to your car insurance. Their insurance PIP plan will actually be primary if you are a pedestrian or bicyclist. Most people don’t know that the defendant’s insurance will not cover your medical bills until you settle your case leaving you with either no treatment or large collection bills that negatively affect your credit.

Will my insurance cover my son if he drives my car but he is not named on the policy?

Yes, in fact your car insurance will generally cover anyone that drives your car with your permission and anyone inside your car. They will have the benefit of both your liability insurance as well as your PIP insurance to cover your medical bills.

Will my insurance cover me if I am a passenger in another person’s car?

Yes, your PIP insurance would be secondary to the driver or owner of the car.

Will my insurance cover me if I am driving another person’s car?

Generally, your insurance is for your car but there are some situations where your insurance could cover you in the car you are driving. This is why people generally use their own insurance when they use a rental car. It covers not only your car but also rental cars as well in certain circumstances. This is because it is meant to be a temporary vehicle.

Will my insurance cover a car that I just bought but haven’t registered with my insurance?

Generally, your insurance will only cover that new car for a short duration before you need to apply for coverage on it or add it to an existing plan. It will cover your new car even if it is a used car. Each policy is different but generally I believe it is about one month’s time. You should always add your new car immediately though.

It is really nice to know that your car insurance can actually be used in a number of situations where most people would not really think of their insurance coming into play and protecting them. If you have been injured in a car accident, you need a Seattle personal injury lawyer to represent you right now before you lose your rights. Contact me today for a free consultation.

 

Andrew CherinDoes your car insurance follow you or the car?
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How long does a Seattle car accident injury case take to settle?

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How long is a Seattle car accident personal injury case going to take to settle? Is it going to take years or months? Many people think if you hire a lawyer your case is going to go to trial and take years to settle but this is not even close to true for most cases.

The majority of Seattle personal injury car accident injury cases can settle outside of filing a lawsuit. This means that most cases will settle within a couple months of the client finishing medical treatment. Some Seattle personal injury lawyers are different in their approach and believe that all cases must be filed with the court, sue the defendant, but that is not my approach. I believe that once a client believes they are done with chiropractor, massage, physical therapy, surgery, etc. and back to normal or as close as possible, we can begin trying to settle their Seattle personal injury case. Settlement negotiations can take a month to a few months in most car accident injury cases before a settlement can be reached.

However, some cases may have to settle or a lawsuit filed before a client is completely back to normal because some people take over three years to heal. The reason for this is because there is a 3 year statute of limitation for car accident injury cases in Washington State. This means that if a car accident injury case has not settled or been filed with the court within 3 years of the car accident, the personal injury victim will lose their right to recover any money from the insurance company or defendant.

If you have been injured in a Seattle car accident, give me a call for a free consultation so you don’t lose out on your timeline to settle with the insurance company.

Andrew CherinHow long does a Seattle car accident injury case take to settle?
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How much does a Seattle personal injury car accident lawyer cost?

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Many people falsely believe that Seattle personal injury car accident lawyers are too expensive to hire and they cannot afford one. People believe this because they believe in general all lawyers are expensive. This could not be further from the truth. While most other areas of law such as criminal law, family law, and business lawyers are expensive and require large up front retainers of $2000 or more and charge $200-$500 an hour, Seattle personal injury lawyer are paid out of the settlement with no up front costs or hourly charges.

Seattle car accident injury lawyers are paid on a contingency fee basis. This means that if your case turns out to be worth nothing or the case is your fault, you don’t owe the personal injury lawyer anything. Only if you collect money from your insurance or the third party defendant’s insurance company will your lawyer take a cut of the settlement.

Most Seattle personal injury lawyers charge between 1/3 of the settlement and 40% of the settlement. This amount is based upon the total settlement and not just what the client recovers. This means that the lawyer takes his or her fee based on the settlement total which includes medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc.

If you have been injured in a car accident, please give us a call to receive your free consultation.

Andrew CherinHow much does a Seattle personal injury car accident lawyer cost?
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What is a low impact case and how to avoid the designation?

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A low impact designation from an insurance company can hurt your Seattle personal injury car accident in the view point of the insurance company and bottleneck settlement negotiations. A low impact designation is where there is little or no damage to your car both visibly and repair wise by the car accident. If there is underlying frame damage to your car, you may avoid the designation by the increase in the repair cost and transfer of energy showing a bigger impact. You can avoid this designation a lot of the time by going through your own insurance company.

Bumpers are not made equal but generally they have a mph threshold whereby they will dent or crush. When there is little or no damage to the bumper, insurance companies like to argue that the impact of both vehicles in the collision was minimal or the mph each car was traveling was minimal. They believe that juries will not believe that anyone could be hurt in an impact that was so little that the bumper was not damaged.

Often times people want to avoid using their own insurance company to repair their car because they mistakenly believe that their insurance rates won’t go up if they don’t go through their own insurance company. This could not be further from the truth as your own insurance company will find out that you were involved in a car accident no matter if you report it to them or not. The reason for this is because the other insurance company will report you as involved in the car accident and a record will follow you.

Here’s is possibly a bigger problem by using the defendant’s insurance company to repair your car. If you have little or not visible damage to your car without frame damage from the car accident, the defendant’s insurance company is going to designate your case as a low impact case. When you go through your own insurance company, the defendant’s insurance company is for the most part unaware of the damage to your car. In this instance, they will only have the damage estimate and pictures of their own insured’s vehicle from the car accident.

If the defendant’s insurance company has your car repair estimate and pictures of your car from the Seattle car accident but your Seattle personal injury lawyer doesn’t have pictures of the defendant’s car damage, you are at a disadvantage because the insurance company can say that there was no damage to their insured’s car and your car has little or no damage so how could you have been hurt. At this point, it is hard to get pictures of the other car unless a lawsuit is filed putting your case value lower in most cases without more evidence.

There are situations where a low impact can cause major injuries but these are where there were already pre-existing injuries that made someone predisposed to being injured in a car accident with little impact. This can be proven with prior medical records and medical records from the most recent car accident injury case that show similar injuries or injuries that would lead to exacerbation of previous injuries.

In any of these situations, it makes most sense to go through your own insurance company if you can. There are situations where you can’t go through your own insurance company because you don’t have the required insurance policy coverage to have your own insurance repair your car. You will need collision coverage in order to get your car repaired by your own insurance company in a Seattle personal injury car accident case. This is one of the more expensive coverages in an insurance policy so not everyone buys this type of insurance.

Seattle personal injury lawyers offer free consultations for Seattle car accident injury victims and we are paid out of the settlement. If you have been injured in a car accident, there are strict deadlines that could pass without intervention so you need to act quick.

Andrew CherinWhat is a low impact case and how to avoid the designation?
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What do I have to do after I hire a personal injury lawyer? One meeting and done!

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Not a lot of people know what it is like to hire a lawyer and for that reason they have a lot of preconceived notions based on what insurance companies or the media want people to think. Many people wrongfully believe that hiring a Seattle personal injury lawyer is going to be expensive and they may not be able to afford one. Many people wrongfully believe that by hiring a Seattle personal injury lawyer they are going to have to file a lawsuit and go to trial against the person that hit them. Many people wrongfully believe that by hiring a personal injury lawyer they are going to have to wait years to see any money if any.

After hiring a Seattle personal injury lawyer, many clients don’t have to do anything again. They can stop worrying about insurance companies and just focus on healing. Their now Seattle personal injury lawyer will handle all the insurance phone calls and stop the insurance company from pestering them. Most personal injury clients only have to provide the lawyer with updates monthly by email or text and don’t have to come into the office again until the end of the case to pick up their settlement check.

Once the client has healed up, the Seattle personal injury lawyer will start trying to collect all of the client’s medical records and bills from anyone that they have seen since the accident that is accident related. Once the Seattle personal injury lawyer collects all of the medical records and bills, they will put together a demand package to send to the insurance company that summarizes what they client went through, based on the medical records and doctor or chiropractor’s notes. The Seattle personal injury lawyer will also have an offer included in the demand to start settlement negotiations.

After the demand is sent out, usually within a couple of weeks of the client completing medical treatment, the insurance company will contact the Seattle personal injury lawyer with a counter offer to settle the case. This usually occurs two to three weeks following the demand being sent out by the Seattle personal injury lawyer. It will usually take a couple weeks to get the two sides to a point where the personal injury client can accept a settlement. Basically, the turn around for settlement of a personal injury case is a couple months following completed treatment not years like some folk lores would have you think.

If you have been in a car accident, you need to call a Seattle personal injury lawyer now as their are strict time deadlines that may lapse making it so you no longer have a right to obtain compensation for your injuries.

Andrew CherinWhat do I have to do after I hire a personal injury lawyer? One meeting and done!
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Three Ways to Get PIP for Free in a Car Accident Injury Case

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PIP is also known as personal injury protection and is an car insurance policy that covers your medical expenses, lost wages, and lost services when you are injured in a car accident, no matter whose fault the car accident was.

PIP insurance coverage is a very valuable insurance coverage to have in your policy because contrary to popular belief, the defendant’s insurance company will not pay for your medical treatment while you are healing. The defendant’s insurance company will only pay one settlement for all your injuries, lost wages, and medical bills and will not pay for your medical treatment as you go. You cannot bill the defendant’s insurance company. 

PIP insurance comes in coverage amounts of $10,000, $20,000, $35,000, $50,000, and $100,000, depending on how much you want to pay each month. Most people choose to get the $10,000 coverage. $10,000 will generally be enough to cover chiropractic, massage, or physical therapy bills. However, if you go to the hospital, the hospital and ambulance ride alone will most likely exhaust these benefits with one visit. Most people would more likely benefit from a higher amount than $10,000, for this reason. 

Here are three instances where you will receive PIP coverage by default, i.e. you don’t have to pay for it:

1. No signature:

PIP insurance must be offered by your insurance company for any new policy and must be rejected by you in writing, as mandated by Washington State law RCW 48.22.085. If the insurance company is unable to produce the written mandatory rejection of the policy by you, the insurance company must then give you the benefits of the lowest PIP policy or $10,000 to be used for your medical costs, medications, lost wages, and others. 99% of the time they are able to provide a signature of your rejection of the policy, but sometimes they can’t. 

2. Pedestrian:

Additionally, if you are a pedestrian struck by a car, you will be offered PIP coverage by the defendant’s insurance company. This is a rare exception where the defendant’s insurance company will cover your medical expenses and lost wages as you accrue these costs. RCW 48.22.005(5)(b) states that if you are a pedestrian struck by a defendant, the defendant’s insurance company must offer you PIP coverage for no cost. 

3. Passenger or Permissive driver of friend’s car:

If you are driving another person’s car (or are a passenger) with their permission and you get into a car accident, whether your fault or not, you are afforded PIP from the insurance company of the person who owns the car. This is another instance where you are afforded PIP insurance coverage where you otherwise have not paid for it. In effect, you receive the PIP coverage by default. RCW 48.22.005(5)(b) also authorizes this type of default coverage like the pedestrian scenario above. 

If you have been injured in a car accident, you need a Seattle personal injury lawyer today. Call today for a free consultation. I charge my clients on a contingency fee basis, meaning I don’t get paid until and unless you recover a settlement from the third party insurance company. The amount of money that you will gain by hiring a Seattle personal injury lawyer will more than outweigh the cost of hiring a lawyer and then some. Most personal injury victims can stand to gain at least double what they could have obtained on their own, when they hire a Seattle personal injury lawyer including all lawyer fees  and medical bills that are paid. Make a claim today, the only people you are saving money are insurance companies and not the driver who hit you. Get healed and relieve stress now!

If you have any traffic or car accident questions, please leave me a message bellow in the form or on my Facebook page. Be sure to sign up for our monthly newsletter where you will receive a brief highlight of our three best blog posts from the previous month. Thank you!

Andrew CherinThree Ways to Get PIP for Free in a Car Accident Injury Case
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