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Frequently Asked Questions for Auto Accidents in Washington State and Personal Injury Claims

Clear Information about Recovering from Personal Injury Accidents
Your time is precious, especially now, due to your extra concerns surrounding your personal injury. You’ll find straight answers to tough questions that other personal injury sufferers have asked us, choose from the list below. And if your questions are still not answered, contact us and we’ll get back to you within 2 to 4 working hours.

Questions About Car Accidents

What should I do after an accident?

There are three main things you should do after an accident to protect your rights and ensure you receive the settlement you deserve:

A. Contact an attorney. Initial consultations are free. You should know your rights.

B. Call the police and file a report.

C. Take photographs of the damage to your vehicle and of your injuries. Injuries heal and vehicle damage gets repaired. Photos document the physical evidence.

D. Report the accident to your insurance agent. Your insurance could be canceled for failing to advise your agent.

What should I NOT do after an accident?

There are four main things you should NOT do after an accident to protect your rights and ensure you receive the settlement you deserve:

A. Do NOT discuss the accident with anyone except your doctor until after you see an attorney.

B. Do NOT sign anything dealing with your claim. Early settlements are usually beneficial only to the insurance company and the at-fault driver.

C. Do NOT give any statements to an insurance company without first talking to an attorney. Anything you say to an insurance company could be used against you when trying to resolve your claim.

D. Do NOT talk to the other driver about the accident or your claim. Comments between drivers often get misconstrued as an admission of fault.

Dealing with an Auto Accident in Washington State

Have you been involved in a car accident in Washington State? No one expects to be involved in an accident and it’s a stressful experience. Whether you were at fault for the accident or were not and are now seeking damages, this guide will take you through the process of dealing with an auto accident in Washington State. We created a comprehensive guide to help you navigate the process of auto accidents in Washington State – read more here.

Questions About Personal Injury Attorneys

Why do I need an attorney?

Insurance adjusters are trained and skilled negotiators. Their job is to close claims as quickly and inexpensively as possible.

That means they are trying to pay out the least amount of money possible on your claim. They are working for their employer’s best interest – not yours.

An experienced attorney, on the other hand, is working for you. They understand your rights, and can evaluate all the available insurance coverages and benefits. They also have the experience and tools to properly value your claim and present it to the insurance company.

Your attorney will handle every aspect of processing your claim to reach the fair settlement you deserve, so you can focus on your recovery.

How much does an attorney cost?

The initial consultation with our office is free.

Our fee is deducted from the settlement proceeds at the resolution of your claim. In most cases, we use a “contingent fee” arrangement which sets the fee as a percentage of the total recovery. If there is no recovery, there is no fee.

This method allows the injured person to retain high quality legal counsel without incurring expensive advance payments.

What if I do not want a lawsuit?

Approximately 90% of automobile cases handled by our office are settled without filing a lawsuit. Of the remaining 10%, approximately 90% of those settle prior to arbitration or trial.

A lawsuit is filed only if a satisfactory resolution cannot be reached with the insurance company, and the client is willing to pursue the claim through litigation. At our office, YOU are the only one who can authorize the filing of a lawsuit on your behalf.

What is the time-frame for settlements?

From the time you are discharged from medical care, it takes about four weeks to compile all the medical records and billing from your health care providers.

It takes about two to four weeks to evaluate your claim and submit the settlement proposal to the insurance company.

It then takes several weeks for the insurance company to evaluate your claim and enter into active negotiations.

On average, our office will settle most claims within 2 to 4 months after you have been discharged from medical treatment of your injuries.

Questions About Insurance and Medical Bills

Who pays my medical bills?

Each case is different. Determining who will pay your medical bills while you are receiving medical care depends on what coverages are available, and what insurance your providers can accept.

Our office communicates between your health care providers and the insurance companies to facilitate timely payment of your bills. When necessary, our office can help arrange alternative financing of medical bills.

What Happens If There Is An Accident And I Am Uninsured in Washington State?

t is illegal to drive a vehicle in Washington State without insurance. If you’re in an accident without insurance, the Department of Licensing (DOL) will suspend your license if anyone is injured or a minimum of $1000 in damages occurs.

You’ll receive a suspension notice within 180 days of the accident which will inform you how to avoid the suspension or appeal the suspension.

Depending on the severity of the collision, your license can be suspended for up to three years and you’ll need to pay a $75 reinstatement fee.

Of course, if you’re under the influence of alcohol or found guilty of negligent driving and someone is injured, you also face legal action and a possible prison sentence.

What are the insurnace requirements in Washington State?

Washington State law requires all drivers to have auto insurance to protect others from accidents and injuries. You must have physical proof of your insurance when driving.

The minimum requirements for insurance are:

  • $25,000 per person for injuries in an accident
  • $50,000 per person if more than one person is injured
  • $10,000 per accident for property damage

Alternatively, you can buy an insurance certificate for $60,000 and then deposit this amount with the State Treasurer. You can also get a liability bond if you opt out of the state minimum requirements.

Remember, these are just minimum requirements. Hospital bills for car accident injuries can cost over $100,000 in serious incidents, so you may choose to get more extensive insurance to cover you should the worst happen.

Questions About Probate and Wills

Do I need to go through Probate?

Washington State law DOES NOT REQUIRE Probate.  Probate is discretionary. Practically speaking only a small percent of deaths in Washington result in a Probate being filed.  It’s usually only filed if someone wants or needs to accomplish a specific task or exercise a legal claim that cannot be accomplished absent Probate.  Some common reasons for Probate are:

  • Decedent died holding personal property exceeding $100,000 in Decedent’s own name;
  • Decedent died holding any real property titled in Decedent’s  own name;
  • Someone wishing to contest the Will;
  • Someone contesting the authority or actions of the Personal Representative administering the Will;
  • To change or appoint a new Personal Representative;
  • To clear title on Joint Property held without Right of Survivorship;
  • If the deceased person owned real estate in another state, the Personal Representative may need to conduct a second probate proceeding in that state.

There may be many more specific reasons depending on specific facts and you should consult with a Probate Attorney to determine if Probate is needed.

Do I need a Probate Attorney?

Practically speaking, if any of the above conditions apply you will want or need a Probate Attorney. Also you may want a Probate Attorney if there is any question regarding the identity or nature of the Decedent’s assets, heirs or beneficiaries, if there are disputes over the validity of the Will, if there are disputes over how the Will is being administered or if you are a Personal Representative needing help in administering the Probate.

How long does Probate take?

Probate in Washington typically takes six months to a year, depending on some individual case factors. It can take much longer if there is a court fight over the Will (which is rare) or unusual assets or debts that complicate matters. Unless there is a dispute, it’s mainly a matter of filing paperwork.

What can an Attorney help with besides Probate?

An Estate and Probate Attorney can help you plan and draft a Will and Estate Plan before you pass so that you can avoid Probate and your loved ones will have some guidance and understand what your wishes were. Besides assisting with the administration of a Probate Estate, a Probate Attorney can help the Personal Administrator carry out the duties required to complete the administration of a Non-Probate Estate. Regardless of the size of the Estate, a Probate Attorney can advise you and provide answers to you through the process of settling the deceased person’s Estate whether or not they had a Will.


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