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A car accident can change your life in an instant. One minute your life is moving along normally, and the next you’re wondering if things will ever be the same. When you’ve been injured in an accident, the physical, emotional, and financial toll can be overwhelming. Contact the Seattle car accident attorneys from Caffee Law to schedule a free consultation.

Put Our Team on Your Accident Case

Car accidents occur frequently in cities all over the Seattle area, and some collisions may result in minor damage, while others cause far more severe injuries and complications. Often, accident victims are confused about what steps they should take after being involved in any kind of motor vehicle crash. A lawyer can help you understand your rights and legal options and fight for the justice you deserve.

If you suffered serious injuries or your loved one was killed in a car accident in the Seattle area, do not think that you have to handle your injury claim alone. The Seattle personal injury lawyers at Caffee Law can make sure the negligent driver involved in your accident is held fully accountable.

Jeffrey R. Caffee has been honored as one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers every year since 2013. He or one of our Seattle auto accident lawyers can provide a complete evaluation of your case when you call (206) 312-0954 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

Do I Need a Seattle Car Accident Lawyer?

If an accident clearly appears to be the fault of another driver, you may be tempted to believe that you have an easy case that does not require an attorney’s skills. But payments in these cases are not automatic; insurance companies will always seek to find any way to minimize their losses, so victims need to have someone looking out for their interests.

One of the ways insurers accomplish this is simply by asking you to provide a recorded statement, during which an agent will ask questions that are specifically designed to get you to unknowingly admit to negligence. In other cases, an insurance company may offer a person a lump-sum settlement. It is likely that whatever you are being offered is likely a lowball offer that will not cover your future expenses.

You will want a lawyer simply to deal with the insurance companies on your behalf. A Seattle, WA auto accident attorney will be able to conduct an independent investigation to determine the cause of your accident, collect evidence, and identify all liable parties before seeking a fair and full settlement.

Steps to Take After an Accident

If you suffer injuries in a car crash, you should not wait to take legal action against the at-fault driver. It’s important that you try to take a few crucial steps to protect your rights and ensure you recover the maximum financial compensation available.

Call 911. State law requires that you report an accident to the Washington Department of Transportation if there’s an injury, fatality, or more than $700 in property damage. If an officer shows up at the scene to investigate, they will write and submit the report for you.

Gather evidence. First, be sure it is safe to get out of your car and walk around. If necessary, move your vehicle to the side of the road, so it’s not in the way of traffic. Look for anything relevant in or near the crash site that could help prove what happened. Take photos of the scene, debris, broken car parts, and vehicle damage.

Obtain insurance. Ask all the other drivers involved for their names, phone numbers, license numbers, and auto insurance information. If one of them caused the crash, you might be able to file a claim with their insurance company.

Talk to witnesses. Innocent bystanders might have seen everything that happened. Write down their names and contact information. They could provide a witness statement and confirm your version of events.

Seek medical attention. See a doctor about your injuries and follow their orders for additional treatment. It’s essential that you continue attending appointments until all of your medical providers release you from their care. Any gaps in treatment could impact the outcome of your case.

Hire a lawyer. Contact Caffee Law for one of our Seattle car accident attorneys to represent you.

What Does an Accident Investigation Look Like?

When you hire Caffee Law, we will take care of each step of your case from start to finish. One of the most crucial parts of a legal case is the investigation. We will have to locate evidence that sufficiently proves another person was liable for the accident, and your injuries resulted from their actions. Examples of evidence we will work to obtain include:

  • Statements from eyewitnesses
  • Traffic crash report
  • Video surveillance
  • Accident scene evidence and photos
  • Cell phone records
  • Medical records
  • Car repair estimates

If necessary, we can visit the location of the accident and attempt to recreate what happened. Although law enforcement investigates an accident scene, its findings are often disputed by the insurance company. We might also disagree with who they believe was at fault for the crash. If we can offer a new perspective, we might convince an insurance company of our theory.

Why Choose Caffee Law to Handle My Case?

Jeffrey R. Caffee was honored by The International Academy of Trial Lawyers in 2009 with an Award for Advocacy for distinguished achievement in the art and science of advocacy. He is a member of the King County Bar Association, the Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association, and the Washington State Bar Association.

Mr. Caffee received his Bachelor of Science from Saint Leo University before earning his Juris doctor at the University of Notre Dame Law School. He has been admitted to state courts in Washington since 2009.

Caffee Law also provides legal representation on a contingency fee basis. This means that you will not have to pay us anything unless you receive a financial award.

Our firm will negotiate for a settlement that covers all of your past, present, and future needs. When an insurance company does not provide an adequate settlement, we will file a lawsuit.

Have You Been In a Car Accident?

Most Common Types of Car Accidents

Caffee Law has successfully represented many Seattle car accident victims, and though every car crash is different, many share common causes. Some of the most common factors we see regularly include but are not limited to:

Fortunate individuals aren’t hurt; others will suffer significant injuries that often require lengthy initial hospitalizations and several rounds of follow-up care.

Common Injuries Suffered in Car Accidents

More severe injuries can also impact a person’s ability to work. Some of the most common kinds of car accident injuries that Caffee Law handles include but are not limited to:

When a person dies in a car accident, the deceased’s family members of the deceased can file a wrongful death action against the negligent parties.

What Is the Cost of a Car Accident Lawyer?

Caffee Law takes all car accident cases on contingency. You won’t have to worry about paying upfront fees or costs to receive legal representation. We don’t expect payment of our legal fees until we recover financial compensation. If we lose your case, you won’t have to pay us.

Legal Deadlines You Must Follow

Whether you decide to file an injury claim or lawsuit, there are strict deadlines you must comply with, or you could give up your rights to compensation. Insurance policies typically list the timeframe they require accident victims to file a claim. Some state that you only have 30 days from the crash date to begin the claims process; others give you a more substantial timeframe.

You have a bit more time if you want to sue the at-fault driver. There’s a three-year statute of limitations in Washington. That means you have three years from the accident date to file a lawsuit, or you could lose your right to sue. You might think that’s plenty of time, but the injury claim negotiations, which typically precede a lawsuit, can be a lengthy process. That’s why it’s critical that you start working on your case immediately.

 

 

Serving Accident Victims in Seattle and the Surrounding Areas

Accident Claims Process

Car accidents are always an unsettling experience. Filing an insurance claim may be unfamiliar to you, and it can feel overwhelming to handle on your own. Having a Washington car accident injury lawyer from Caffee Law on your side gives you someone to rely on who knows how to deal with insurance companies and has your best interest in mind. We can manage the process and advise you on every step, so you are not alone in the ordeal.

Here is what to expect during the process and how we can help:

  • We’ll provide a consultation at no cost: During a free consultation, we will be able to answer all of your questions and evaluate your case. There is no obligation to hire us, and we don’t charge you any fees unless we win your case.
  • We’ll procure proper medical documentation: If you haven’t already sought medical care, you will need to right away, even if you don’t think your injuries are substantial. Sometimes serious injuries do not materialize until significant time has passed. Once we have your medical records, we can use them to prove your injuries and structure your case.
  • We’ll investigate your case: Insurance companies do their own investigations to evaluate what they think your claim is worth, but we certainly don’t take their word for it. We thoroughly explore what happened at the scene of the collision, how injured you are, and what the actual costs will be for you now and in the future.
  • We’ll calculate your costs: We figure out how much the insurance company should pay you by calculating all the expenses that come along with your car accident. This amount is referred to as “damages.” We make sure that no costs are overlooked, so you may be able to receive the full amount you deserve.
  • We’ll negotiate assertively with the insurance company: Insurers know what they want to offer as a settlement, but our experienced attorneys handle the negotiations for you to make sure you aren’t short-changed.
  • We’ll reach a fair settlement: Many car accident claims are successfully handled without going to court. Caffee Law works to achieve the largest settlement possible to cover your medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages.

With all the assistance we offer during the claim process, there is no reason you should try to navigate it on your own. You can leave the paperwork and negotiation to us and receive a larger settlement than the insurance company would offer you without representation.

car accident claims process infographic

Car Accident Lawsuits in Seattle

When you file a lawsuit, you must base your case on a specific legal theory. Negligence is a common theory used in car accident cases. It’s because of a driver’s negligent actions that you sustained injuries. There are five elements you must prove to base your case on negligence:

  1. Duty: The other motorist owed you a duty of care, meaning they must take reasonable care to avoid injuring others;
  2. Breach of duty: They breached their duty;
  3. Cause in fact: If it weren’t for their breach of duty, you wouldn’t have suffered harm;
  4. Proximate cause: The at-fault driver’s action or inaction directly caused your injury; and
  5. Damages: You incurred damages.

You also have the option of seeking punitive damages when you file a lawsuit. Unlike other damages, such as medical bills and mental anguish, punitive damages are intended to punish the liable party, rather than compensating you for the injured victim’s losses. A jury will only award this to you if you can provide clear and convincing evidence that the at-fault driver exhibited acts of intentional, malicious, or reckless conduct.

What Are the Damages Available for Injuries?

When it comes to auto insurance, states fall under the category of either at-fault or no-fault. The vast majority of states are at-fault states, including Washington. This means the party who is at fault for an accident is also responsible for vehicle damage, injuries, lost income, etc. It also means that the victim in an accident has the right to sue.

Most people do not have their own funds to cover the costs for a collision they cause, so having an auto insurance policy with liability coverage is mandatory in Washington. Once a car accident happens, the insurance carrier steps in to absorb these losses on behalf of the driver, and they can pay up to the maximum policy limits. These are the minimum amounts of liability insurance that drivers are required to carry:

  • $25,000 for injuries or death to one other person
  • $50,000 for injuries or death to all other people
  • $10,000 for damage to another person’s property

These liability limits allow for compensation for the injured party’s damages. Damages refer to the expenses and losses an accident victim incurs. They may cover:

  • Medical bills
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Mental anguish
  • Car repair or replacement costs
  • Disability or disfigurement
  • Out of pocket expenses
  • Loss of consortium

If the cost of damages goes beyond the policy limits, the insurance company is not required to pay more, but the at-fault driver can be held personally responsible.

Washington drivers have a more extensive range of options after a car accident than drivers in no-fault states. In those states, accident victims must use their own personal injury protection coverage for medical bills and other out-of-pocket expenses, even if the other driver caused the collision.

When accidents happen in Washington, people who suffer injuries or damage can take action in one of these three ways:

  • File a claim with their own insurance company, if the loss is covered under their policy. The insurance company will then pursue what is called a subrogation claim against the insurance carrier of the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier.
  • File a third-party claim directly with the insurance company that covers the at-fault driver.
  • File a personal injury lawsuit in civil court against the at-fault driver.

The car accident attorneys at Caffee Law have extensive knowledge about Washington car insurance law and are well-equipped to handle your claim to achieve the best outcome.

Our Seattle Car Accident Attorneys Are Here to Help

Most Common Causes of Car Accidents

An accident can happen in any location at any time of the day for any reason. Typically, driver error or inattention leads to crashes and traumatic injuries. The most common causes of car accidents include:

  • Distracted driving – Distractions are everywhere. If someone takes their eyes, focus, or hands off the task of driving, they no longer have full control over their vehicle. Common distractions include texting, applying makeup, and reaching for an item.
  • Speeding – Driving too fast is dangerous and reckless. If you’re traveling above the speed limit or driving at an increased speed in poor weather, you could easily lose control of your vehicle.
  • Driving under the influence – Alcohol and drugs could impair a person’s driving abilities. It slows down reaction time, reduces motor skills, and impairs judgment.
  • Tailgating – Following another person’s vehicle too closely decreases the chance of avoiding a crash if they stop or slow down suddenly. Always follow the three-second rule when you’re driving behind someone.
  • Failure to yield – There are traffic laws for a reason, which dictate who gets to proceed first through an intersection, when it’s appropriate to turn, or how to merge onto a highway. Ignoring someone else’s right of way can result in a severe collision.
  • Fatigued or drowsy driving – Anyone who gets behind the wheel feeling tired risks causing an accident. The effects of fatigue are similar to those of driving drunk.
  • Reckless driving – Weaving in and out of traffic, road rage, and unsafe lane changes are all examples of reckless driving that put other people in harm’s way.

Our Seattle Car Accident Attorneys Are Here to Help

Contact a Seattle Car Accident Attorney Today

Did you sustain catastrophic injuries, or was your loved one killed in a car crash in Seattle? It will be critical for you to retain legal counsel quickly to give yourself the best chance of recovering as much compensation as possible. Though no amount of money can take away your pain or bring your loved one back, we can help you get the justice you deserve.

Caffee Law represents residents and visitors involved in car accidents in communities all over the Greater Seattle area. Call (206) 312-0954 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and evaluation of your case.

FAQs

  • WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I AM INVOLVED IN A CAR ACCIDENT?

    When you have been involved in any kind of car crash, you should immediately seek medical care even if you do not believe you were hurt. Not all injuries involve immediate symptoms. When possible, take as many pictures as you can of your crash scene before the evidence disappears. Get photographs of the vehicles, people, and any other items you believe may help your case from different angles and distances. Also, be sure to get the contact information for any witnesses to the accident. If you cannot take these steps yourself, ask someone you know to do it for you. Avoid discussing your crash with anybody until you have an attorney, and do not post anything about your accident on social media. Lastly, refuse to provide any recorded statement to an insurance company until you have legal representation.

  • HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO FILE A CAR ACCIDENT CLAIM

    The Revised Code of Washington § 4.16.080 establishes that a person must begin an action for injury to their person within three years of the date of a car accident. If the crash results in death, then a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within three years of the date of the person’s death (which could be later than the date of their accident).

    The Revised Code of Washington § 4.16.190 does allow for the statute of limitations to be tolled (or delayed) when a victim is 1) under the 18 years of age, 2) is “incompetent or disabled to such a degree that he or she cannot understand the nature of the proceedings,” or 3) is imprisoned on a criminal charge prior to sentencing. Such victims will have three years from the date that they turn 18, become mentally competent, or are released from prison. The code also allows for the statute of limitations to be tolled when a defendant is out of the state or concealed within, and their period of absence will generally not be counted as being part of the limitations period.

  • WILL I STILL BE ABLE TO FILE A LAWSUIT IF I WAS PARTIALLY AT FAULT FOR MY CAR ACCIDENT?

    Yes, you will. Washington is one of a dozen states that uses a pure comparative fault system for apportioning damages between negligent parties in civil cases. Under the pure comparative fault system, a victim can recover damages even when they were primarily at fault for their accident. The one catch to pure comparative fault is that a person’s damages can be reduced by their degree of fault for their accident. In other words, a person who is awarded $100,000 in a car accident case but it found to have been 60 percent at fault will have their damages reduced by $60,000 and ultimately receive $40,000.

  • HOW LONG WILL MY CASE TAKE?

    The duration of your case will depend on multiple factors. Some insurance claims settle in just a few weeks if liability is apparent and there’s sufficient evidence proving who was at fault. Other times, a case could take years to resolve, if there are ongoing investigations and disputes over who’s to blame for the crash. When we review the details of your accident, we might be able to provide an estimated timeline.

  • CAN YOU FILE AN ACCIDENT CLAIM AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT?

    If a government employee caused your accident, you might be entitled to compensation for your damages through a tort claim. You must first file a notice of claim with the government entity before filing your actual lawsuit. We will walk you through the process, so you don’t miss a step.