Do you know what to do or expect after being involved in a Seattle car accident? Unfortunately, you may believe you know the right steps to take and what you should and should not say, but come to discover what you thought was wrong.
This is because of all the misconceptions about car accidents and your rights you may have heard. Learning the truth now, before you need a lawyer, will help you take the right steps and prevent you from doing anything that may impact your right to recover compensation.
After reading this, you can contact our local Seattle car accident attorneys at the Bernard Law Group if you have more questions. We can answer your questions and help you navigate the legal process.
Let’s dive into the most common misconceptions about Seattle car accidents.
You Don’t Need to Call the Police if It’s a Minor Accident
The Reality: File a Report for Your Protection
In Washington State, the law requires you to report an accident to the police if it results in injury, death, or property damage exceeding $1,000. However, it is advisable to call the police even for minor fender-benders.
A police report provides an impartial third-party account of the accident, which can be invaluable when trying to prove fault or negotiating with insurance companies. Your attorney will use the police report as evidence; without it, your case may not be as strong as it could be.
You Can Only Seek Compensation from the Other Driver
The Reality: Multiple Parties May be Responsible
In some cases, more than one party can be held accountable for your damages. For example, if poor road conditions or a defective vehicle contributed to the accident, you might have a case against the municipality or the car manufacturer.
Understanding Washington State’s contributory fault laws can help you navigate situations where both parties are partially at fault.
You Have Plenty of Time to File a Claim
The Reality: Statute of Limitations Can Affect You
Washington State’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims is three years from the accident date. While this may seem like a lot of time, gathering evidence, speaking with witnesses, and negotiating with insurance companies can be time-consuming. Missing this deadline means you lose your right to legal recourse.
Our law firm will ensure you take the appropriate legal action within the designated time period. We will work tirelessly on your behalf to help you secure the full compensation you are entitled to.
Your Insurance Company Is On Your Side
The Reality: Insurers Look Out for Their Interests
Insurance companies are businesses looking to make a profit, and they do so by minimizing claims as much as possible. They may offer a quick, low-ball settlement to close the case.
It’s crucial to consult with a legal advisor before accepting any settlements to ensure that it covers all your costs, such as medical bills, lost wages, and emotional distress.
If You Feel Fine, You Don’t Need to See a Doctor
The Reality: Medical Attention is Crucial
Many injuries, like whiplash or internal bleeding, may not manifest symptoms immediately. In some situations, injuries may take days, weeks, or longer to show signs. Delaying medical care risks your health and weakens your legal case.
With prompt medical records, it becomes easier to prove that your injuries result from the accident. The documentation the emergency room or your doctor provides can be invaluable when filing a car accident claim.
Verbal Agreements Are Enough
The Reality: Get Everything in Writing
While resolving matters through a handshake might be tempting, verbal agreements are not legally binding and are almost impossible to prove in court. Always insist on getting all commitments, offers, and statements in writing, especially when interacting with other parties involved in the accident or their insurance companies.
Also, never say anything that may be used against you. While verbal statements may not be the strongest source of evidence, if you say something like, “I’m sorry,” or “the accident was my fault,” it can be taken as an admission of guilt.
Hiring a Lawyer is Unnecessary
The Reality: Legal Expertise Matters
Hiring a lawyer can make a difference, especially for complex or high-stakes cases. An experienced attorney can help you understand Washington State’s complex legal landscape, ensuring you file all the right paperwork and don’t miss crucial deadlines. They can also negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf to secure the best possible settlement for your situation.
Let the Bernard Law Group Help with Your Seattle Car Accident Claim
Misconceptions about car accidents can have dire consequences on your recovery—financially, legally, and medically. By understanding the laws specific to Seattle and Washington State, you can better navigate a car accident’s often confusing and stressful aftermath. When in doubt, always consult with professionals to ensure you’re making informed decisions every step of the way.
Remember, each accident is unique, and this blog should not replace professional legal advice. If you’ve been in an accident, contact us at the Bernard Law Group in Seattle for a consultation tailored to your circumstances.