On Saturday night, the driver of a sports utility vehicle lost control in a construction zone near the Bank of America Plaza in downtown Seattle. The car flipped over and slammed into a pedestrian who was near the scene. The crash happened near 10 p.m. close to the intersection of 5th Avenue and Columbia Street.
Two people, the driver and a passenger, were inside the SUV during the crash. The driver was trapped inside the car, pinned between his steering wheel and a construction rig. Firefighters were able to extract the driver.
All three people involved in the collision were rushed to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. According to hospital authorities, all involved are now in stable condition.
Police have not yet told reports whether they believe that drugs or alcohol might be factors in the crash. In cases where an at-fault driver suffers severe injuries in a crash, police do not typically conduct a field sobriety test at the scene. The most important priority during this type of accident is getting any injured people medical treatment as soon as possible. In these situations, police may later determine the cause of the accident by testing blood drawn from the at-fault driver while he or she was in the hospital. These tests can take weeks or even months to complete.
Police have not yet told reporters whether they expect to charge the driver of the SUV with vehicular assault or any other criminal charges.
Who Has The Right To File A Claim After A Crash Like This?
After a serious accident, it’s common for injured victims to be confused about whether they’re allowed to file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance. Many people never seek the compensation they deserve because they don’t believe that they can negotiate with an insurance company.
After a crash like this, the at-fault driver (the person who caused the wreck) can’t seek damages from their own liability insurance. If they live in Washington State, however, it’s likely that their policy comes with Personal Injury Protection (PIP). PIP is a pool of money that can cover expenses like medical bills, wage loss, and hiring someone to help out around the home while an injured person recovers. It doesn’t matter if the person using PIP coverage is the one who caused the accident; PIP is a “no-fault” coverage that will pay out regardless of who caused the accident.
In this crash, the pedestrian would be able to go after the at-fault driver’s liability coverage to pay for damages such as their medical bills, wage loss, and other expenses. Liability coverage is a separate pool of money from PIP coverage, and there are generally much higher limits on this sort of policy. In Washington State, a pedestrian who is injured in an accident can also use the at-fault driver’s PIP coverage. If the pedestrian has their own car insurance, they may be able to use their Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage even though they weren’t in their own vehicle at the time of the crash. If the at-fault driver was drunk, drugged, or otherwise behaving in a way that will allow a court to convict them of vehicular assault, the pedestrian may also be able to recover some money through the Washington State Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund. It’s also possible that a criminally reckless driver could be required to pay restitution to their victims as part of their sentencing, but this rarely covers a severely injured victim’s entire financial needs.
In a crash like this one, the passenger would have similar rights as the pedestrian under Washington State law. Even though the passenger was inside the at-fault driver’s vehicle, they would still be considered a victim. An injured passenger can bring a claim against an at-fault driver even if that driver is their direct relative.
Insurance law can be complicated, and it’s especially hard for an injured victim to figure out what they need to do to get appropriate compensation after an accident. If you have any questions about the law, it’s a good idea to get in touch with a car accident attorney. If you would like to have a free consultation with our legal team about your rights as a victim, you can get in touch by using our convenient chat feature, calling (206) 727-4000, or using our contact form.
Image source: The Seattle Fire Department