Our firm has handled thousands of claims resulting from automobile accidents. These claims always involved insurance on the side of the negligent driver and/or the insurance of the injured person. We have attorneys who have had experience working for insurance companies and who understand how the insurance industry works and use this expertise in helping our clients. We also have an on staff registered nurse who provides us with a high level of medical knowledge that we can apply to our work in handling injured person’s claims. We have experience with all types of automobile accidents including accidents involving commercial trucks, drunk drivers, motorcycles, police and emergency vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists and many other types of automobile accidents. We can help with: difficult or unresponsive insurance adjusters; car rental; car repair; medical treatment and bills; lost wages; and obtaining full compensation for pain and loss of enjoyment of life. We resolve more than 85% of our cases without the need to file a lawsuit. You deserve powerful and personal legal representation. Please contact us today for a free consultation.
Car accidents account for a high percentage of personal injury claims in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, every 10 seconds someone in America is involved in a car accident. Annually, more than 40,000 people are killed in approximately 5 million motor vehicle accidents. This means over 100 fatalities occur each day on our nation’s roadways.
The economic costs of these car accidents are staggering, amounting to more than $150 billion each year. Chances are that during your lifetime you will be involved in at least one auto accident. You should be prepared and aware of your legal rights. If you have been injured in a car accident, you may not be sure what steps to take to protect your rights. The days and weeks following a serious car accident are traumatic, stressful, and overwhelming. Much of this stress can be alleviated with the assistance of our auto accident lawyers. Contact the Seattle car accident attorneys of Wiener & Lambka so that they can examine your case and answer any questions you may have.
The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident where injury, death, or damage to a vehicle, is required to immediately halt and stay on scene. Drivers are also required to cooperate with police and provide their name, vehicle registration and license.
Drivers should render assistance within their reasonable ability including calling for an ambulance and any other reasonable act to help injured parties.
Most collisions involving vehicles to not result in serious death or serious injury, such that police investigation needs to be made into criminal conduct. That being said, it’s preferable to leave the vehicles as is, so that it can be properly documented by the police. On the other hand, if the vehicles are presenting a hazard and can be moved to a safer place, then that should be done.
Prior to moving the vehicles, if photos can be taken in a safe manner then this is advisable. No matter how straight-forward the incident may appear, failure to document the scene can leave the possibility open for the other driver to change their statement.
Whether or not you believe that the collision merits a call to the police, it is likely advisable to do so. Sometimes the police will be unable to respond to ever minor collision and will advice both parties to handle it themselves. At least in these circumstances you will be able to state later that you did call them, but you could not make them come to the scene.
Typically the police will come to the scene to fill out a report. Having an officer as a witness, along with the report, can be a key part of your case later. Keep in mind that many people do not feel any symptoms of injury at the accident scene as they have adrenaline moving through them and, in the case of soft tissue injuries, the symptoms tend to come on progressively over the next hours and days as the inflammatory process begins.
Even in small collisions and accidents that appear to clearly be the fault of the other driver, having a police report to support your version of events later can end up being crucial.
You should have, and are required under Washington law to have, current proof of liability insurance with you while driving. This is why you’ll receive two cards from your insurance company: one to carry at all times, one to keep in your vehicle. The ticket for not having proof of insurance is several hundred dollars so, keep that information handy.
Your insurance policy likely requires that you report collisions and accidents to it. Your insurance policy is a contract so the parties owe one another a duty of good faith and fair dealing. This means that you should keep your insurance company apprised of all details around your incident in a reasonable and upfront manner. Call your agent to notify them as well. Ensure that you follow the requirements of your policy and document this. Keep copies of letters which you send to the insurance company and make notes of your conversations including the date, time and the name of the adjuster you spoke with. Failure to completely comply with the policy could result in you losing coverage.
Take pictures from a safe area around the scene. Take photographs of anything that you think might turn out to be important. Take pictures of the scene, the surrounding area, tire tracks left in the cement, injuries that were incurred, identification, anything unique (if items flew around in the car)
Continue taking photos of anything that may be relevant, even after you leave the scene. You should take photos of the property damage that is uncovered after a bumper tear-down or other work in the body shop (most shops will agree to take and provide you with such pictures).
Any additional chance to take photos should be taken advantage of. This is especially true if the vehicle was totaled, or before it’s repaired, sold for salvage, or disappears. It is much easier to convince the insurance company and the jury that the impact from the collision was severe enough to cause your injuries if you have a photograph of your crushed vehicle.
You should also photograph any physical manifestation of injuries. Anything that isn’t going to stay static during healing should be continually photographed, bruises get darker and then lighter, scars change, etc.
While you do need to make a statement to the authorities and your insurance company, the same is not required of the adverse driver or their insurance company. The best course of action is to seek legal advice before speaking to them because they will seek to record your statement. Insurance adjusters are trained to find ways in which to limit or deny claims of the other driver. We’ve taken on many clients who have given statements that have caused unnecessary problems due to not understanding the system they are now involved in. Obtaining legal advice prior to providing a statement to the opposing insurance company is always a good idea.
If there are witnesses to your automobile accident, obtain their statement and information While in most cases witnesses do not prove to be important or necessary, the problem is that you won’t know that at the time of the crash. You should be taking down notations of anything that may seem to be important at the time of the collision.
If you have any sort of injury, you should seek medical care. While this may seem like common sense to some, often people wait and hope that their injuries go away.
The problem with taking this approach in the context of a car accident case is that the insurance company for the other driver will use any delay against you and claim that if you were all that hurt, you would have sought medical care. Also, without seeking medical attention immediately, you can fall prey to the argument that you failed to take reasonable steps to limit the harm caused by the collision.
By the same logic, it is important that you follow your doctor’s instructions and follow up as appropriate. Make sure that you mention any perceived problems to the doctor so that they can be properly documented. Not having the injury documented is the same as not having suffered the injury when it comes time to settle your case.
The contents of the police report, and who is given a ticket, are not admissible evidence in your trial. However, these do matter quite a lot to the insurance companies and drivers.
If you receive a ticket that you do not believe is justified, then you have a right to challenge it in court. Simply follow the instruction on the ticket you were given. You might consider hiring an attorney that handles traffic tickets. Sometimes a personal injury attorney will also be able to help you with fighting the ticket.
Tickets can have consequences for both your injury case and your long term financial interests in regards to insurance rates.
As we said above, if it is your insurance company requesting the statement, it is your duty to offer it. In Washington state, statements given to your own insurance company are not discoverable to the other driver’s insurance company. While not as pressing as if the other insurance company wants a statement, it is advisable to contact an attorney to go over what the unique facts of your matter before providing any statement on the matter, even to your own company.
You should absolutely not record a statement for the other driver’s insurance company. Their priorities are themselves and the other driver. If this is requested, you should get in contact with a personal injury attorney right away. An insurance company doesn’t have the right to a recorded statement. You should be able to have a reasonable conversation to answer any questions, but please do contact an attorney before speaking to the adjustor, so you will fully understand what you are doing.
The internet is a fairly open place, and if you’ve ever Googled yourself or someone else, you know how easy it is to find information you didn’t know what public. Depending upon the settings in your social media, others can have access to interesting information about you. It’s good to keep in mind that Twitter keeps a running record of your tweets. Your Facebook posts can be accessed by anyone if your settings allow it. There are numerous other sites that keep your information online and readable by anyone who wants to find it. Your friends can have different settings that you do and thereby allow investigators to find out information about you from their pages.
While it’s probably a good policy to keep your information faily private, the prospect of a legal claim is especially good reason to do so. It’s also important to remember that if you change your social media posts after a collision, you could get in trouble for alter evidence.
The most important piece of advice in this area is to not post about anything that has to do with your case. Do not post about the collision at all and don’t post about your injuries. These posts will only come back to haunt you later. Do not post anything you wouldn’t want a judge or jury to take into account when making a decision.
Our consultations are free and completely without obligation to retain us as your attorneys. Most personal injury attorneys have the same policy. There is no reason why you shouldn’t at least put in a telephone call or email inquiry regarding the pros and cons of hiring an attorney.
There are many times that having an attorney in your corner is a good idea:
It is difficult to select an attorney. Attorneys are good at self-promotion and persuasive arguments. All attorneys will happily tell you about how good they are in order to obtain your business. Here are some things that will help you sort through the marketing.
Uninsured or under-insured motorist protection (UIM) is one of the most important, and yet often overlooked, types of coverage that any driver should have. The coverage is not expensive and acts to step into the shoes of a negligent driver who does not have liability insurance (or does not have enough insurance).
The State of Washington makes it illegal to drive without having a minimum of $25,000.00 in liability insurance. Liability insurance, also referred to as bodily injury (BI) insurance, covers a driver in the event that he or she injures another with their vehicle. The minimum coverage of $25,000.00 is, however, an out-dated and often insufficient amount of coverage for many automobile accidents. For example, if you are seriously injured in an automobile accident and have a claim worth $100,000.00 or more, without UIM insurance, you are gambling that the same driver who negligently caused your injuries has a large insurance policy to cover your losses. The reality is that high risk drivers often cannot even obtain high limits from an insurance company because of the company’s fear that they will cause a serious accident.
As an example, if you have a case worth $100,000.00 and the liability limits of the driver who caused the accident are $25,000.00, you will only be able to obtain the $25,000 from his insurance company. While you might be successful in getting more money out of the driver personally, this rarely happens. By having adequate UIM coverage, you protect yourself against this situation. If your limits are $100,000.00 then you would be able to obtain the $25,000.00 from the negligent driver and then the remaining $75,000.00 from your own company. There is a lot more to it in practical application due to the requirements to repay any health insurance, etc., but the overall numbers provide an important illustration.
The purpose of UIM is to make up the difference between the value of your insurance claim should you be injured by someone with low limits or who failed to purchase liability insurance. This type of coverage is exclusively to protect you and your family and should not be declined. This fact is all the more true in light of the current economic recession where many people are forced to make difficult decision regarding their finances, and betting that they won’t get caught or cause an accident, more and more drivers are dropping their liability insurance.
The law in Washington requires that your insurance company offer you this coverage in an amount of coverage equal to the limits of your liability coverage. Declining this type of coverage must be done in written form.
If you have a UIM claim with your own insurance company, you owe your company certain duties of good faith and fair dealing and cooperation. Your company owes you these duties as well. This is quite different from dealing with another person’s insurance company, where that company owes you no duties whatsoever. This is a double-edged sword, however, in that the companies can effectively use the requirement of your “cooperation” against even reasonable persons who don’t know the case law in Washington surrounding these types of claims. Our firm has extensive experience handling UIM claim and would be happy to consult with you free of charge regarding your claim.
The negligent party is responsible for all of your reasonable losses. This means the damage to your vehicle, the cost of a rental car, your lost wages, your out of pocket expenses, damage to personal property, your medical bills incurred for accident-caused injuries, your future medical bills, future lost wages, future impairment of earning capacity, and your general damages – all pain and suffering and impairment of your life caused by the injuries you incurred. Additional forms of damages may be present in individual cases, but these are typically the ones looked at by most attorneys.
Depending on the insurance you have on your vehicle, you may be entitled to payment of medical bills by your own company. You may also be able to handle property damage and car rental through your own company. Your own company may have a wage loss provision and a home helper provision. Funeral costs may also be included in your automobile policy. What you can obtain depends upon the type and limitations or the coverages you have paid for.
Typically the other driver’s insurance company with pay for your property damage at the time of the accident. You will then receive a check for all of the other losses when you have signed the release at the end of the case. Because you need to have all of the facts surrounding your injuries, the bodily injury payment will usually happen after you have fully completed treatment and have a full knowledge of your medical future.
Your own policy coverage will pay for things as they are incurred, consistent with the policy you have purchased.
If your vehicle is repairable, it must be restored to its pre-accident condition. You may choose the shop where you wish the car to be repaired. Some insurance companies have approved shops where the company will guarantee the work for the length of time you own the car. You should receive a rental car, or the daily cost of the car paid directly to you. Be sure of the repairs on your car before signing over the insurance check.
It’s a good idea, if you elect to go with the insurance company prefered shop, to get a second opinion on the cost of the repairs.
You will receive “fair market value” for this car if it is deemed a “total loss.” The “fair market value” of your vehicle is determined based on the amount you would have made were you to sell the car the day before the accident. Market value is determine based on factors such as mileage, age, condition of the exterior and interior, maintenance, etc.
To determine the market value of your car, the insurance company must perfect a market survey by calling dealerships and checking newspapers to find out the selling price on comparable vehicles. You should also do your research. Under the law, the insurance company cannot offer a “book figure”. Used car guides are usually on the low side because car dealerships use them for trade-in rather than “selling price.”
Here are the factors that should be included in a total loss settlement offer:
1. What is the Fair Market Value?
2. The sales tax on the Fair Market Value
3. Any unused portion of the license tab fee.
4. The use of a rental car until the offer is made or the cost of the rental car paid directly to you.
5. The fee for transfering the title
If you are interested in retaining the “salvage” (damaged vehicle) then you have the right to match the highest bid for the salvage that the insurance company obtains from a wrecking yard.
It usually take about two weeks from the date of reporting a claim until a total loss offer is made as it takes time to determine all of the above. If you have questions feel free to call.
Highway design cases are among the most complex and difficult cases a personal injury lawyer can handle. Here At Wiener & Lambka we have the experience, expertise and knowledge that is necessary to do these very difficult cases. A complete investigation has to be had. And that investigation has to be done not by the attorney but by an experienced engineer who is adept at analyzing that situation and making a determination that the original design of the roadway, or corner, or highway, or wherever the location is, was, in fact, flawed. This means these accidents come about with a high velocity on the vehicles and can result in catastrophic injuries. When you have a catastrophic injury, this requires a completely different set of expertise. Here At Wiener & Lambka we have nurses on staff who review these cases, we have doctors we have worked with, not only in Washington, but all over the country, we try to make sure we leave no stone unturned on every aspect of the most difficult cases to make sure our clients are treated fairly.
There are two important things to keep in mind if you are the passenger in a car accident. First, it doesn’t matter much who is at fault to you, whether it is your driver, the other driver, or a combination of both. You are not remotely at fault, and can collect from any of the negligent parties.
The second consideration is what the insurance will look like that will help with medical bills and wage loss. We would consider the insurance on the vehicle, then whether the driver had additional insurance, and lastly: whether you had automobile insurance that would apply. In all cases we are looking for Personal Injury Protection coverage. If there wasn’t any, or if it exhausts, then your health insurance will kick in.
You likely bought your medical coverage for instances like this. Your automobile insurance rates will not be raised when you use your coverage in connection with an accident that was not your fault. The negligent party will reimburse that amount that your company pays (subject to legal reductions that your attorney can use to help benefit you).
You should have PIP (please see our posts and pages on this coverage HERE), but if you do not than your medical insurance will pay for your care.
Reimbursement of everything other than vehicle damage will take time. The better your coverage, the better off you will be both in terms of the short term ability to weather the storm and to be able to wait for, and obtain fair compensation for, your total settlement.
The answer to this question depends on several factors. First, does the amount offered make you happy? Do you believe that it is fair? In cases where people get only slightly injured and then bounce back quickly and are confident that their injuries are a thing of the past, then an amount that seems fair to you is probably a good thing.
Beyond this happy scenario, however, are most of the cases. Insurance companies typically seek to settle claims for far less than they are worth. Corporations have duties to maximize profits for their shareholders, so it makes sense that they would want to see if they could get you to accept a smaller settlement.
If the insurance company refuses to raise its offer to an amount that seems fair, you should consult with an attorney. Consultations are free, so you might as well take advantage of the opportunity to gain insight about your case. In many instances, you simply aren’t going to be treated fairly without having an attorney handle your case.In many cases, you aren’t going to be treated fairly without have an attorney present to handle the situation. Only a consultation will help you to understand what is best for you and your unique legal matter.
In Washington state, three years is the amount of time you have to resolve or properly file and serve a lawsuit. If these appropriate legal steps are not taken with that three year time frame, you lose your rights to compensation. We suggest that you begin the process at or before the two year mark so you can maneuver the legal process with plenty of time. We suggest you give yourself plenty of time for the paperwork as the legal process takes time. Most people would prefer to avoid a lawsuit, so we suggest you act early. It takes time to gather everything you need such as medical records, understanding of the case, negotiation and settlement. Start the process right away by consulting with a good personal injury attorney.
If you are partially at fault you may still be able to bring a claim This insurance steps in in case the negligent party does not have the insurance needed to cover your damages. Please see our discussion of UIM here.
The law protects the rights of car accident victims but is confusing and varies from state to state. Washington has instituted an at-fault law. The at-fault statute states that the party responsible for the car accident must pay all related costs. In an effort to curb rising auto costs, states have started to limit the damages a victim can claim for pain and suffering. Seattle residents can rely on our car accident attorneys to make sure they receive the maximum compensation allowed under the law.
Most people are duped by the insurance companies because they do not have an adequate grasp of the law. In order to receive sufficient compensation for your claim, it is very important that you retain experienced, aggressive legal representation. We proudly boast an elite team of auto accident lawyers at our firm in Seattle. We encourage car accident victims to arrange a consultation with our attorneys so that we can evaluate your case and assess how we can help you.
At Wiener & Lambka, we understand the devastation that can occur as a result of serious auto accidents. We are committed to helping car accident, trucking accident, and motorcycle accident victims attain the restitution they are justly entitled to.
If you are involved in a serious auto accident, we can help protect your rights. Our experienced team of auto accident lawyers in Seattle will investigate and prepare your case. Please contact our car accident attorneys today to learn more.
About three in every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some time in their lives. In 2004 there were 16,694 fatalities in alcohol-related crashes – an average of one alcohol-related death every 31 minutes (statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 2004 Traffic Safety Fact Sheet). An estimated 39 percent of fatal motor vehicle accidents were alcohol-related. Our auto accident lawyers in Seattle have years of trial experience. If you were hit in a DUI accident, contact our car accident lawyers today.
Tragically, in many cases of drunk driving, another driver, passenger, or pedestrian suffers a brain or spinal cord injury or is even killed as a result of the accident. If the victim is deceased, a family member may be entitled to claim for wrongful death, depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident. If you are the family member of someone who passed away as the result of a drunk driver, you should seek legal assistance from our auto accident lawyers in Seattle as soon as possible. Statutes of limitation may apply, which can affect your eligibility to claim.
Despite increased penalties and fines for offenders, drunk driving accidents are on the rise again after a slight decline in the early 1990s. In 2002, 159 million drunk driving accidents were reported in the United States and, of these, approximately 20,000 accidents resulted in death. It is predicted that approximately 30 percent of Americans can expect to be involved in a drunk driving accident in their lifetime. These are shocking statistics considering these accidents are completely preventable and unnecessary. If you live in Seattle and are a victim of a drunk driver accident, our attorneys can help you. We will explain the law governing DUI offenders and our attorneys in Seattle will labor tirelessly to achieve a positive resolution.
Based out of Seattle, Wiener & Lambka employs a team of drunk driver and DUI accident attorneys who are qualified to represent Seattle and other Washington state residents’ legal needs. We invite any Seattle or Washington state drunk driving accident victim to contact one of our DUI attorneys in Seattle. We will answer any questions you may have and evaluate your case.
“Wiener & Lambka helped me through the process, always discussing all of the available options. In particular, I was happy about the ease with which I was able to access my attorneys.”- B. Froton“The service and the staff were great. I was happy with everything, and would refer Wiener and Lambka to someone else in the future.” - I. Aleman“In my moment of Crisis Wiener & Lambka lent me a helping hand. Their dedication to my case was outstanding. They stuck by my side and fought for my rights. Thank you!” - K. Tuazon“Calls were returned in a timely manner, and the office staff is friendly. I’d recommend Wiener and Lambka to a friend in the future.” - T. Their“Wiener & Lambka get the job done. I appreciated their concern and interest in my case, and would definitely recommend them to a friend.” - Y. Martin“I was satisfied by the timely manner with which my case was handled. I would definitely recommend Wiener & Lambka to a friend in the future.” - D. Yusuf“A job well done! The staff at Wiener and Lambka made a point of explaining everything to me and if necessary I’d work with them again in a heartbeat.” - O. Yusuf"It was a stress free experience. I particularly enjoyed when, on my initial call, they sent someone out to my house to speak with me in person. I would certainly use or recommend Wiener & Lambka in the future." - M. Randall“The Staff at Wiener and Lambka are friendly and understand customer needs. They reduced their fee on my case and didn’t even take any on my son’s.” - M. Ngo“Everyone was great. The staff at Wiener and Lambka make a good thing out of a bad situation, and for that, I am very thankful.” - D. Grami"Wiener & Lambka always kept me up to date with my case. I'd certainly suggest them to a friend." - J. Trujillo“Wiener and Lambka did a good job of keeping me up to date on my case, and I’d definitely suggest their services to someone looking for an attorney.” - L. Lafond“Everything was great. It was the best legal experience I have ever had!” - T. Hoskins“You minimized my stress levels on a process foreign and scary to me. Very professional, caring, and patient with me.” - A. Maas“Wiener & Lambka took care of the leg work for me and even managed to get a larger settlement than expected.” - J. Hanson