Seattle Car Accident Lawyers
Given the traffic in Seattle, accidents are bound to happen. Any commuter can see wrecked cars pulled over to the side of the road almost every week. When these accidents happen, traffic slows to a crawl and injured victims see their lives turned upside down.
At Premier Law Group, we help accident victims just like you get the compensation you need after a car accident. Our team of Seattle car accident lawyers has extensive experience and can explain your rights.
Car Accident Causes
There are many causes, but driver error is a leader. Many motorists make a mistake out of negligence or else drive recklessly. Some of the common causes include speeding, racing, tailgating, and making illegal maneuvers.
Other accidents are caused by dangerous road conditions, including ice, snow, and road defects. When a road defect has not been repaired, then the government or another entity responsible for the road could be to blame.
Still other accidents are caused by vehicle defects. Brakes that malfunction or seat belts that fail could contribute to our clients’ injuries. Manufacturers regularly recall vehicles that have serious problems that pose a danger to the public.
Identifying the cause of the accident is key, because Washington’s motor vehicle laws place financial responsibility for the accident on the shoulders of the person or entity at fault for the wreck.
Compensation after an Accident
An injured motorist can receive compensation to cover:
- Medical expenses, including future medical expenses for things like doctor visits, surgery, rehabilitation, prescription drugs, and assistive devices
- Lost wages, including lost future wages
- Property damage, such as damage to their vehicle
Many clients also receive compensation for pain and suffering, which describes the physical pain and anguish caused by injuries. You should speak with a Seattle car accident lawyer to identify the amount of pain and suffering compensation you might receive.
In some egregious car accidents, our clients also receive punitive damages. These damages are meant to punish the defendant and deter others from committing intentional or grossly negligent acts.
Car Insurance in Washington State
This state requires that all people who register and drive a motor vehicle have insurance. Though some drivers can self insure, most will buy insurance through a company like Allstate or Progressive. The state sets minimum levels of insurance:
- $25,000 in bodily injury liability insurance per person, up to $50,000 per accident
- $10,000 in property damage insurance
Some drivers also carry underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage, which can be a big help in an accident. For example, the driver who hit you might have been uninsured. Our clients cannot make a claim on their bodily injury liability insurance, since that only pays out if the client injures someone else. However, uninsured motorist coverage can kick in to pay compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other losses.
Underinsured motorist coverage is also excellent insurance to have. It can pay compensation when the driver at fault for the collision has exhausted his or her benefits. For example, you might have suffered $100,000 in losses but the driver only carries $25,000 in maximum liability benefits. Your own underinsured motorist coverage can step in to cover some of the rest.
Dealing with insurance adjusters is confusing and one of the prime reasons we recommend that injured motorists contact an attorney as quickly as possible.
Car Accident Myths
As seasoned Seattle car accident lawyers, we meet with many clients who have misconceptions about car accidents that they have picked up from the Internet and TV. Some of the more common are:
- The car that strikes another car is always at fault. It usually works out this way, but it isn’t 100% true. Instead, the law states that a motorist is at fault if they were negligent, meaning they did not operate their vehicle carefully. Sometimes the driver of the car that got hit is to blame as when, for example, a driver cuts off another motorist and gets rear-ended.
- All car accident cases settle. Most settle. But if there is a disagreement about fault or severity of injuries, then a case might end up in court. Our lawyers are well-equipped to bring a lawsuit on your behalf.
- Homeowners’ insurance will pay for car accident injuries. This is not remotely true. Homeowners’ insurance rarely comes into play in car accident cases.
- If you contributed to your accident, you can’t receive compensation. This is also false. Washington has a “pure” comparative negligence legal scheme. This means a person could be 99% responsible for their own accident and injuries but still receive compensation. The amount they receive will be reduced by their proportion of fault.
Instead of looking for answers to questions on the internet, contact Premier Law Group today. One of our Seattle car accident lawyers will meet with you to review your case. Our clients never pay a fee unless we win their case, so there is no risk in calling.
Other Types of Motor Vehicle Accidents Our Firm Handles
Golf Cart Accidents
You probably do not see golf carts on the streets of Seattle but it’s not uncommon to see golf carts in other Puget Sound neighborhoods. In fact, Washington State law allows all cities and counties to set up “golf cart zones” within their geographical limits.
There are several important regulations for golf cart operators in these golf cart zones.
- Drivers must be 18 years or older, have completed a Driver’s Education Course, or have a valid driver’s license
- Drivers with revoked driver’s licenses cannot legally operate a golf cart in a golf cart zone
- Carts must be registered and inspected by Washington State Patrol
- Golf carts must have reflectors, seat belts, and review mirrors
- Golf Cart Zones can be set up where the legal speed limit is 25 mph
- These zones must be clearly identified by signage on the boundaries of zone
- Hours of legal golf cart operation can be limited by cities and counties
All golf cart operators who have accidents while driving their carts are treated exactly the same way as motorists. For example, they are required to carry basic liability insurance. Also, they must use hand signals to indicate turns. And if the golf cart has seat belts, they are mandated to wear them.
Golf Cart Accident and Injury Statistics
The National Electronic Surveillance System began compiling data about golf cart accidents across the United States. Their data shows that between 1990 and 2006, there were widespread serious injury golf cart accidents.
- 147,700 people received Emergency Room treatment
- 15,000 of these people had serious injuries
- 69% of all golf cart accident victims suffered life-changing head injuries
Which begs the question: what caused all these golf cart accidents? The largest number of golf cart injury accidents resulted from golf cart rollovers. Closely following this are passenger ejections from the golf cart. And finally, there were serious collisions with other motor vehicles and other stationary objects.
Golf carts simply have no safety mechanisms to protect the occupants of the cart. This fact is the leading reason for the golf course injury accidents.
RV and Motorhome Accidents
Aggressive Driving Accidents
Elderly Driver Accidents
As a rule, adults are healthier, living and working longer and leading independent lives including continuing to drive. The CDC 2018 drivers’ statistics shows that older drivers are much more likely to be involved in accidents.
Consider these facts:
- In 2018, 6,907 senior citizens were killed in car crashes, and an additional 276,000 received injuries
- In the United States 15 elderly citizens die while 586 others end up with injuries every day
- Fatal crash rates increase noticeably between ages 70-74, and are highest amongst elderly drivers age 85 and up
Many victims feel sympathy and respect for older drivers. So much so, that they do not want to file a claim against them. Truthfully, it is important that victims of an elderly driver accident do pursue a claim against the driver. It is important to treat this accident, just as you would any other vehicle accident. You may help prevent potential future accidents for others like you. Contact our elderly driver accident lawyer in Seattle, WA for legal help!
License Restrictions for Senior Citizens
In our state, all drivers age 65 and older must renew their license in person and take a vision test. Depending on the vision test results plus any underlying medical condition, a written and/or road test will also be given. These restrictions help ensure that senior citizen can safely drive.
Distracted Driving Accidents
Driverless Car Accidents
Drunk, Drowsy and Drugged Driving Accidents
We Only Represent DUI Victims
Some attorneys will represent both drunk driving crash victims and drunk drivers in criminal cases. On the other hand, at Premier Law Group, we only represent the victims of drunk driving crashes. We do not want to represent DUI offenders who are responsible for harming other people in horrible accidents.
What Are The Statistics About Drunk Driving Accidents in Washington State?
Currently, drunk driving is the single greatest factor relating to fatal traffic crashes in Washington State. Consequently, a number of impaired driving laws have been passed. However, fatalities resulting from DUIs remain constant.
- According to the Washington State Traffic Safety Commission, a driver can drive drunk 200 to 2,000 times before an arrest.
- Furthermore, repeat DUI drivers are 62% more likely to be involved in fatal crashes than drivers without previous DUI arrests.
- Additionally, between 2003 and 2012, drunk driving crashes killed 1,921 people in Washington.
Lawsuits Against Drunk Drivers: Civil vs Criminal Proceedings
Criminal proceedings punish drunk drivers for breaking the law. Another key point of criminal proceedings is to protect the public by discouraging impaired or drunk driving. That is to say, even if there are no accidents or injuries, driving drunk can result in criminal prosecution.
Civil cases happen when a person is injured by a drunk driver and files a claim or a lawsuit. When drunk driving crashes have fatal results, a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed. Additionally, civil suits are often the only way to recover damages. To clarify, these damages can relate to medical treatment costs, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.
Most importantly, criminal proceedings and civil cases are completely separate and do not have an impact on one another. At Premier Law Group, we will represent you in a civil personal injury claim. Similarly, we will cooperate with criminal prosecutors to help bring the person who causes injury to our client to justice.
Rear-end accidents can even result in fatal injuries. In 2019, data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration revealed that 20.4% of fatal large truck crashes resulted from rear-end collisions involving a passenger car. Though you may feel okay immediately following your accident, early medical intervention could reveal underlying injury, help save your life, and document your injuries. The expense of treating rear-end accident injuries can be substantial.
According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), rear-end collisions make up around 29% of all crashes. They were also found to be the most common type of collision. In 2017, DriveTeam reported that rear-end accidents were among the most common types of collisions involving teens. Driving can occasionally resemble playing a strategy game as you attempt to anticipate, accommodate, and avoid other drivers’ movements.
Car Accident Statistics for Teenage Drivers
Triple AAA Washington and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety talk at length about teen car accident statistics, in Washington State, and across the country. In 2018:
- 285,000 Teens treated in Emergency Rooms for car accident injuries
- 2,500 Teens aged 13-19 were killed in teenage car crashes
- Fatal and Non-Fatal Car Accident Injuries in Teens aged 13-19 caused $11.8 billion in medical costs, work loss, and property damages
- 75% of teenage car accidents are caused by inexperience
Causes of Teenage Driver Automobile Crashes
The leading causes of teen crashes, injuries, and deaths are:
- Driver inexperience. Because teenage drivers underestimate and make errors in judgment that cause serious injury accidents
- Reckless driving. Because reckless driving causes one-third of all fatal teenage car accidents.
- Distracted driving. Because cell phone texting, sending emails, tuning in music tracks, and friends in the car all negatively affect teenage driving performance.
- Alcohol/substance use. Because 25% of drivers aged 15-20 had been drinking when they were killed in a car accident.
- Nighttime and Weekend Driving. Because 37% of all car crash deaths of 13-19 year-olds happened between the hours of 9 pm to 12 pm, and 3 pm to 6 pm.
- Not using seat belts. Because 50% of teens aged 16-19 years old who died in car accidents were not wearing seat belts.
Uninsured Motorist Claims
Suing Your Own Insurance Company
Do not assume that your insurance company will pay your claim just because you have paid for this coverage. Insurance companies do not want to pay accident claims, under any circumstances.
But here’s the thing: you were in an accident. It was not your fault. You are the victim who has suffered injuries and damages. Your insurance company is “acting in bad faith” if they do not give you the compensation you paid for.
Yes, you will have to fight your own insurer. You are due full and fair compensation. And you may well need an experienced personal injury trial attorney to help you.
Should I Sue the Uninsured Driver?
Logic says that the person who caused the accident should pay for all your damages and costs. Shouldn’t you sue that driver for compensation?
Drivers without auto insurance do not have auto insurance because they cannot pay for it. Realistically, if they cannot afford insurance, they don’t have the money to pay for your claim costs.
But you have your insurance company to protect you from uninsured/underinsured motorists. Your insurance company is a highly profitable corporation. They have the monies to pay for property damages, medical bills and lost wages.
And your insurance company is legally obligated to compensate you. This is your auto accident insurance “safety net.” These monies are to help you get back on your feet after an injury accident with an uninsured motorist.
How Many Drivers in Washington State Have No Automobile Insurance?
Our state has no watchdog agency, to oversee who in the driving public is paying for auto liability insurance. It’s up to drivers themselves to pay for insurance.
However, according to auto insurance companies, 16% of Washington State drivers do not have auto insurance. Therefore, the driving public needs to protect themselves and pay for uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. This is the only protection you have, if you have a UM/UIM car accident.
What Is UM/UIM Coverage and How Does It Work?
UI/UIM auto coverage protects drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and bicyclists in a car accident with an uninsured motorist. Simply put, UI/UIM coverage pays for injuries and damages caused by a driver without auto insurance.
What Are the Next Steps for Accident Victims Hit by Uninsured Drivers?
Insurers rarely choose to pay for victims’ claims for UI/UIM coverage. It is important to understand your options. Part of the evaluation includes gathering facts, such as: where did the crash happen? What were the crash circumstances? Did the police hold the other driver responsible? What did eyewitnesses say?
The UI/UIM claims processes are complex. You need an experienced injury accident attorney to help you get a fair settlement.