Car Accident Attorneys in Kennewick, Washington
Even if you’ve never been involved in a serious car accident yourself, you almost surely know someone who has. In 2022, there were 3,091 car crashes in the state that resulted in a serious injury according to the Washington Department of Transportation.
When this happens, the accident victim has the right to seek damages from the at-fault driver, but most people aren’t familiar with this process and will need the help of a personal injury attorney whether they’re filing an insurance claim or a lawsuit. For those in the Yakima or Kennewick, Washington area, reach out to us at the Gierth-Eddy Law Offices PLLC to learn about your options.
Liability for Car Accidents in Washington
Washington operates under an “at-fault” insurance model and understanding what this means is key to figuring out your next steps. In a no-fault state, the injured party usually must file an insurance claim under their own policy first (even if they weren’t at all responsible for the accident) to have their personal injury protection (PIP) pay their medical expenses.
Washington drivers do not need to do this, though they may choose to. Filing under your own policy can often mean you’re compensated more quickly, but oftentimes the coverage limits aren’t enough to meet your expenses, especially in the case of severe injuries.
In most accidents, it is advisable for the injured party to file a claim directly against the at-fault driver without involving their own auto insurance initially. According to state law, the responsible party for the accident is also responsible for covering the associated damages. Although this can be done on your own, many victims find it incredibly helpful to work with a car accident attorney. This helps them follow the proper procedures and increases their likelihood of receiving a fair settlement.
If, after you’ve gone through the insurance providers you still have outstanding expenses, you can then file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver.
Washington Insurance Requirements
All drivers in Washington are required to carry certain levels of auto insurance. This includes liability insurance commonly referred to as 25/50/10 coverage:
$25,000 in coverage for injuries or death of another person,
$50,000 in coverage for injuries or death to anyone else injured as a result of the accident, and
$10,000 in coverage for someone else’s property.
The state currently does not require drivers to carry PIP coverage.
State Laws Addressing Personal Injury Claims
For all personal injury claims in the state, you have three years from the date of the accident to file. If you exceed this time limit, a judge is likely to dismiss your case and you’ll be barred from seeking any future damages.
You should also be aware of the state’s comparative fault law because it can influence how car driver negligence is determined. What this law states is that fault can actually be shared in the case of a car accident. For example, if you are found to be 20% liable for the accident your total compensation will be reduced by 20%. In Washington, you can actually sue for any amount of damages, even if you hold 99% of the fault.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
Unfortunately, some accidents are so serious that they result in the death of a loved one. Although there’s nothing you can do to bring them back or fully heal from the loss, filing a wrongful death claim can at least provide your family with much-needed financial support that can help you through this time. You will likely be able to sue for damages related to medical bills, property damage, future lost income, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, as well as funeral and burial expenses.
To file on behalf of a loved one, you must be the “personal representative” of the deceased. This is a designation usually spelled out in a will, but if there is no such document, a judge can assign someone to this role which is typically a surviving spouse or close family member. Like a personal injury lawsuit, you have three years from the date of death to bring forward a suit, and your lawyer can help you gather evidence and ensure you have all components to file.
Car Accident Attorneys in Kennewick, Washington
If you’d like to sit down with an experienced lawyer and get answers to your questions lille, “Who is to blame in a car accident?” or “How much can I expect to receive from an insurance settlement or lawsuit?” call us today. It’s essential that you fully understand the process for getting compensated and what to expect at each state. Contact our firm at Gierth-Eddy Law Offices PLLC for help in Kennewick, Washington, Yakima, and all over the state of Washington, including Richland and Pasco.