As a prominent Seattle attorney with decades of experience in handling serious motor vehicle collision claims, personal injury attorney Chris Davis is often featured by local or national news media covering accident-related issues and/or some of his cases. You may have him on local stations such as KING5, KOMO4, KIRO7 and Q13Fox. Click here to watch videos news stories.
Top 10 Mistakes Made By Car Accident Victims
Seattle personal injury attorney Chris Davis is the author of the popular legal guide book The Ten Biggest Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Washington Accident Case. Davis draws on his extensive experience handling accident claims, as well as numerous discussions with other attorneys, insurance adjusters, judges and jurors following trials.
You can order a FREE copy of the book to get detailed information about the mistakes and learn how to protect your legal rights following a motor vehicle collision. A summary of these common mistakes are as follows:
- Victim does not call police or gather information at the accident scene. If you fail to obtain accurate information about the other driver it can cause problems in your insurance or legal claim. Not calling the police can also be a big problem, especially if there is a dispute about who caused the accident. If you have a camera, then taking photos of the vehicles and the accident scene is very helpful.
- Waiting days or weeks to get medical treatment. The more time that elapses following the accident before you first seek treatment the more difficult it may be to prove that either your injury was caused by the accident or that your injury is severe enough to justify a claim for compensation.
- Sharing too much information with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Giving a “recorded statement” to the insurance company and/or signing medical authorizations is a big mistake. Innocent statements and past medical history can be used by the insurance company to minimize your injuries or undermine your case.
- Not hiring an attorney immediately when injuries are serious. If the claim is serious enough to involve a personal injury attorney, it is usually preferable to do so early in the claim. Often times, a lawyer can spot potential problems with the claim or anticipate defenses from the insurance company very early on and take efforts to avoid them or minimize their impact. But if you wait months or years after the accident the attorney is stuck with whatever mistakes were made early on.
- Hiding past accidents from the lawyer. Insurance companies keep extensive accident history files and will look for ways to connect your injury or condition to a previous collision. If you hide a prior accident history from your attorney it can severely damage your case if not destroy it.
- Attorney refers accident victim to a doctor. Insurance companies are highly suspicious of people who are referred to a doctor by a lawyer immediately after the accident, particularly if this is the first and only doctor that was seen.
- Hiding past injuries or medical conditions from the lawyer. You need to inform your lawyer about injuries or medical conditions that existed before the accident. If your lawyer knows about your medical history from the beginning, then they can minimize how it might impact your accident claim.
- Making damaging statements to the doctor that show up in the records. You need to be aware that any statement you make to your doctor can show up in the medical records and then be a permanent “record” in the case. For example, describing your injury as “not that bad” or describing the accident as “minor”.
- Failing to attend all medical appointments or has “gaps” in treatment. People who miss appointments or who stop and restart treatment after a long period (weeks or months) can seriously damage the case. It can also be difficult to prove that treatment received after a significant “gap” in time was related in injuries caused by the accident.
- Misrepresenting injuries or activity level. Insurance companies routinely hire private investigators to monitor people who claim they were injured in an accident. If you misrepresent your limitations or activity level the insurance company may dig up “hidden camera” footage or social media posts that can destroy your credibility and ruin your case.
What Is My Washington Car Accident Case Worth?
Each and every car accident case is unique in its own way. The outcome of your case - meaning the total amount of money that you will be able to recover - depends on a number of different factors, including:
- Medical Expenses. You are entitled to seek compensation for all medical bills related to the injuries you suffered in the car accident. If you are going to require future medical care and treatment, those expenses will also be included in the resolution of your case.
- Non-economic Damages. You may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and other damages that you have suffered as a result of the accident. Understanding what you are legally permitted to recover allows us to get you the best possible result.
- Lost Earnings. Compensation for wage loss is usually based on how much money you would have earned if you had not been injured. Car accident cases have long-term implications, and we will do everything we can to ensure your financial future is protected.
- At-fault Driver’s Insurance. If the at-fault driver was carrying a policy with low liability limits, you’re unlikely to receive anything over those limits, unless that driver has significant assets. Our legal team will investigate every possible avenue and source of recovery to ensure that you get what you deserve.
- Your Insurance. If you have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage, your chances of being compensated fully are much higher. Unfortunately, even your own insurance company is likely to put up a fight over these benefits, and we can help make sure they offer fair compensation for you and your family.
- Litigation. Insurance companies want to avoid the risk of a jury awarding a large verdict to accident victims at all costs. A willingness to file a lawsuit can sometimes put additional pressure on the insurance company to settle the case fairly.
What Damages Are Recoverable In MVA Claims?
There are essentially two types of damages that are recoverable in a car accident claim; economic damages, and non-economic damages. Past and future medical bills, past and future lost wages, and the cost of necessary household services are examples of economic damages. Non-economic damages include losses that are more subjective, such as mental and physical pain and suffering, humiliation, emotional distress, and even damage to a person's reputation.
It is important that you hire a qualified attorney who has experience in handling car accident claims. Experienced attorneys can ensure that victims get the full value that they deserve. You only get one chance to resolve a car accident case, so it's important that your attorney includes all of the recoverable damages in your claim.
How Do I Deal With Auto Insurance After An Accident?
Insurance companies want you to believe that handling car accident claims is a simple matter that you can do yourself, and does not require the assistance of an attorney who specializes in car accident claims. But you should know that insurance adjusters are trained to reduce the amount of a settlement that you are paid. The only way to make sure that you get a fair settlement or award is to have a qualified attorney who understands the insurance system, is well prepared and experienced in trying these cases in court, and of course, will do everything possible to fight for your rights.
Although insurance companies and many lawyers consider car accident claims to be routine, that just isn't true. Every car accident and every individual who is injured in a car accident is unique. Seattle attorney Chris Davis knows that a wide variety of life-changing injuries can result from a car wreck. Car accidents may be caused by the negligence on the part of another driver or the design and condition of the road or highway.
How Can A Car Accident Lawyer Help Me?
Studies by the Insurance Research Council have shown that on average, claimants who hired a lawyer received a settlement that was 3 and a half times more than they would have if they had tried to negotiate on their own. Insurance companies are in business to make profit; their largest expense is paying out claims, which means that they have a strong incentive to try to convince accident victims to take lower payouts. You can learn more about this study by downloading our free report: Why Injury Victims Who Hire A Lawyer Receive Larger Settlements.
Most car accident victims don’t understand their legal rights, and the insurance companies use this to their advantage during the negotiations process. At Davis Law Group, we focus treat our clients like part of our family. When you hire us, you can expect:
Personalized Care. We give each of our clients the time and attention they deserve, and our experienced legal team keeps each client up-to-date with the progress and status of their unique case.
Commitment to Justice. We want to make sure each client gets the best settlement or verdict that is reasonably possible. While other law firms may leave money on the table in order to settle your case more quickly, we take the extra time to get the best possible results for every client.
Constant Communication. We don’t just want the best results for our clients - we want to make sure they understand the process from start to finish. You’ll receive free books and information from our law firm about your car accident case, always written in plain English.
Negotiating With The Insurance Company
Insurance companies want you to believe that handling an auto accident claim is a simple matter that does not require the assistance of a law firm that specializes in car accident claims. But you should know that insurance adjusters are trained to reduce the amount of a settlement that you are paid. The only way to make sure that you get a fair settlement or award is to have a car accident attorney who understands the insurance system, is well prepared and experienced in trying these cases in court, and of course, will do everything possible to fight for your rights.
Although insurance companies and many lawyers consider automobile accident claims routine, that just isn't true. Every car accident and every individual injured in an auto accident is unique. Seattle attorney Chris Davis knows that a wide variety of life-changing injuries can result from a car wreck. Auto accidents may be caused by the negligence on the part of another driver or the design and condition of the road or highway.
Washington State Automobile Accident Statistics
It is estimated that there is one car accident every five minutes in Washington, and one crash-related fatality every 20 hours in the state. Each and every single one of those innocent victims has the right to be reimbursed for their damages and lost wages, but most people do not know how to navigate the personal injury claims process.
- According to 2017 Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) data, a car accident occurs every 4 minutes and a person dies in a car crash every 20 hours.
- Fatal crashes went from 508 in 2016 to 525 in 2017, resulting in the death of 555 people. This number has stayed relatively steady for the past decade.
- According to WSDOT, the number of car accidents with suspected serious injuries totaled 1,932 for the year 2017.
- Suspected serious injury collisions went from 1,896 in 2016 to 1,932 in 2017, resulting in 2,229 serious injuries.
- King County accounted for 40,192 (33 percent) of car accidents in Washington state in 2017 and 538 (28 percent) of serious injury collisions.
Frequent Types Of Car Accidents In Washington
Motor vehicle collisions can happen in a number of different ways, and no two accidents are identical. Some of the more common types of car accidents we see at Davis Law Group include:
- Rollover Accidents: Rollover accidents typically occur in situations where a vehicle is trying to avoid a collision, such as with another vehicle or an object or animal in the roadway. Defective vehicles can also play a role in these types of crashes.
- Rear-End Collisions: While liability for a rear-end crash typically rests on the following vehicle, it's still important to conduct a thorough investigation into the collision and determine other possible contributing factors.
- Head-On Crashes: Head-on crashes are often very serious and can even be deadly due to the violent nature of two vehicles colliding at high speeds.
- T-Bone (Side-Impact) Collisions: T-bone accidents are perhaps most common at intersections where one driver has run a stop sign or red light. These collisions typically occur at high-speeds and leave innocent victims with serious, life-changing injuries.
- Pedestrian Accidents: Pedestrians are vulnerable to injury in a collision because, unlike motorists, they are not protected by a vehicle. Liability can be difficult to prove in pedestrian accident cases, and in many cases witness testimony is crucial.
- Bicycle Crashes: Bicyclists share the road with motorists, but the size difference and visibility issues create a significant risk of serious injury or death. Bicyclists often do not have their own insurance, which means a thorough investigation is necessary.
Typical Causes of Motor Vehicle Collisions
It is important to understand that all car accident cases are different and unique in some way or another. That being said, there are some common factors and causes that we often see in car accident cases, including:
- Distracted Driving: One of the most common causes of car accidents. Drivers are often distracted by the cell phones, GPS systems, or other passengers inside of the vehicle.
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI): Drivers who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs pose a serious risk to other motorists.
- Inexperienced Teen Drivers: Teen drivers and those with limited driving experience often react slowly to a potential crash and may have a poor understanding of traffic laws.
- Reckless Driving: Vehicles traveling over the speed limit or following too closely often cause serious and even fatal car accidents.
- Defective Vehicles & Parts: Malfunctioning equipment or poorly-maintained cars and parts can break down and make it difficult for drivers to control their vehicles.
- Aggressive & Reckless Drivers: Drivers who fail to safely operate a vehicle put the public at risk of serious injury, and should be held responsible for their actions.
- Elderly Drivers: Pursuing an injury claim or lawsuit against an elderly driver can be difficult, but with serious injuries and medical bills you may have no other choice.
Common Automobile Accident Injuries
Part of providing excellent legal services for victims of car crashes in Seattle is understanding their injuries (such as whiplash, back injuries, neck pain, shoulder injuries, etc.) and medical treatment (chiropractic, injections, physical therapy, massage, etc.) needs. Attorney Chris Davis often consults with medical experts from all over the country to ensure that the client is in the best position to recover physically.
These physicians may review medical records; examine clients; assess any relevant pre-accident medical history; or act as expert witnesses during trial. A complete understanding of the medical situation helps us to maximize client’s financial compensation for medical bills, injuries, and so on.
Some of the more common types of injuries our clients experience after a motor vehicle accident include:
- Back Pain
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Spinal Cord Injury
- Herniated & Bulging Discs
- Torn Ligaments
- Pregnancy Complications
- Fractures & Broken Bones
- Amputations & Loss Of Limb
- Burn Injuries
- Wrongful Death
Free Legal Consultation For Accident Victims
Our legal team is dedicated to helping you get the best possible result for your car accident injury case, as we have for each and every one of our clients over the past 25 years. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, it may be in your best interests to consult with an experienced auto accident attorney.
Don't trust your legal rights and financial future with just anyone else, hire the award-winning attorneys at the personal injury law firm of Davis Law Group. We offer a free case review to all car accident victims and our law firm works on a contingency fee basis, which means there are no up-front fees and you do not owe anything until we successfully resolve your case. Call our at (206) 727-4000.
- "Annual Collision Data Summary." WSDOT . Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), 2015. Web. wtsc.wa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/2015_Annual_Collision_Summary.pdf.
- "Driving Safety and Accidents." WA State Licensing (DOL) Official Site. Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL), n.d. Web. www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/safety.html.
- "Neck Injury From Motor Vehicle Accidents." Highway Loss Data Institute. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), n.d. Web. www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/neck-injury/topicoverview.
- "Rollover Crashes." Highway Loss Data Institute. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), n.d. Web. www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/rollover-crashes/topicoverview.
- Seattle Police Department 911 Incident Response. "Car Accidents | City of Seattle." City of Seattle. City of Seattle, n.d. Web. https://data.seattle.gov/Public-Safety/car-accidents/htah-4jvq.
- "Traffic Manual." WSDOT Traffic Manual M 51-02.08 (2015): n. pag. Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). Engineering and Regional Operations; Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), July 2015. Web. www.wsdot.wa.gov/publications/manuals/fulltext/M51-02/Traffic.pdf.
- Washington Driver Guide. Olympia: Washington State Department of Licensing, 2016. WA State Licensing (DOL) Official Site. Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL). Web. www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/docs/driverguide-en.pdf.
- "Washington State Ten Years + Current Year Crash Data Summary." Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), Apr. 2017. Web. remoteapps.wsdot.wa.gov/HighwaySafety/Collision/Data/Portal/Public/PublicReport/TenYearSummary.