If you have been injured in a car accident in Washington state, there are a number of important steps you should take to ensure that your legal rights are protected and that you do not make any mistakes that may jeopardize the chances of a successful resolution to your personal injury claim.
The very first thing you should after any sort of motor vehicle collision is to call the police to report the collision so that you have documented evidence that the collision occurred, which comes in the form of a Police Traffic Collision Report (PTCR) generated by the responding officer(s). This documentation will serve as one of the most important pieces of primary evidence should you wish to pursue an insurance claim against the at-fault driver's insurance company.
In the driver who hit you was not carrying liability insurance at the time of the crash, you would obviously not be able to pursue a claim against the driver's insurance company. But if you carry Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage on your own car insurance policy, you would be able to file a claim with your own insurance company to recover financial compensation for your injuries, medical bills, and other damages. The availability of a PTCR would still be considered important evidence for your claim in this situation, so calling the police is important regardless of whether the at-fault driver is insured.
More About UM/UIM Insurance Claims
As mentioned above, you may have a claim for uninsured motorist benefits under your own insurance policy (check your declarations page to see if you carry UM/UIM coverage). Most insurers offer UM/UIM coverage on auto insurance policies, but you typically have to select that coverage when purchasing your policy.
While there is an additional cost to add UM/UIM coverage, it's typically minimal and pales in comparison to the cost of not having coverage in the event of an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. In the event you do not have UM/UIM coverage, you may have no other practical means of obtaining compensation for your injuries. This is why you should always carry UM/UIM coverage, preferably with limits of at least $100,000.
Contact An Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
If you file a UM/UIM insurance claim against your own insurance company, the insurance carrier has the legal right to use all defenses that the other driver may have had against you. Many people mistakenly believe that filing a claim with their own insurance company will make the process easier and that they will be treated more fairly. This simply is not true.
A UM/UIM claim essentially creates an adversarial relationship between you and your own insurance carrier, as they remain motivated to settle your case for as little as possible while you want a fair settlement for your injuries and other damages. You should expect that although you pay monthly premiums to the company, your insurance carrier will not be looking out for your best interests.
If you are overwhelmed with the personal injury claims process and want to learn more about your legal rights, the team of personal injury lawyers at Davis Law Group are here to help. Call our office today at (206) 727-4000 or use the confidential contact form on this page to request a free legal consultation with our team.