Auto Accident Frequently Asked Questions

We have decades of experience helping victims

If you've been injured in a car accident, you're likely in a world of hurt, both literally and figuratively. You may have no idea what to do next. Between missing work, going through medical treatment and dealing with the insurance companies, you may be lost and overwhelmed.

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We're used to all of these issues, because we've been helping accident victims throughout the Puget Sound area for decades. NLE Law is proud to present these answers to frequently asked questions about car accidents based on our experience.

We hope this information will give you an idea as to how to move forward with your case. However, every case has unique circumstances. We'd love to meet with you for a free consultation to discuss the specific details of your case. Call us today at (206) 623-7520.

What do I need to do right after a car accident?

First, remain at the scene. Unless you must leave to seek emergency medical attention, leaving the scene of an accident causing injury or property damage is a felony in Washington. Call 911 and assist other injured people if you are trained to do so.

You need the names and contact information of any other drivers involved in the accident as well as witnesses and the investigating police officer. You will also need to exchange insurance information with the other drivers involved. However, when discussing the accident, stick to the facts of what happened. Don't say anything that could be construed as admitting fault. In the wake of an accident, determining fault is not your job.

Seek medical help right away, even if you feel fine. Being checked out by a doctor is the best option for your health. It also helps to protect your legal rights if you later need to file an insurance claim.

Finally, contact us right away. Having an experienced attorney on your side will make the insurance claims process go much more smoothly and, again, protect your rights.

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I hit my head in the accident, but I feel okay. Do I need to see a doctor?

You absolutely do. There is a significant chance you have a traumatic brain injury such as a concussion. If you do, you need medical attention right away. Brain injuries can have serious long-term consequences; the sooner you see a doctor, the better your outcome will be. Moreover, if you don't know about your brain injury and you later hit your head again, you could be vulnerable to serious long-term damage.

The primary reason you need to see a doctor after you hit your head in an accident - or, for that matter, after any accident - is your health, but it's also the best option in terms of a future insurance claim. If you wait to seek treatment, the insurance company may argue that your injury was sustained after the accident, or that your injuries were not as severe as you claim.

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How can an attorney help me get medical treatment?

Getting the care you need - and getting the bills paid - is one of the biggest challenges you'll face after being hurt in an accident. Ultimately, if the accident was another driver's fault, the other driver's insurance company should be paying your medical bills. However, the insurance won't pay until you have completed your medical treatment, and it may take months or, in some cases, years to recover from them even after your treatment is finished. In the meantime, you have medical bills that need to be paid right away.

With an experienced attorney from NLE Law on your side, you will have options. We'll look at your health insurance as well as PIP insurance, if you have it. If you don't have insurance yourself, you may be covered under an employer's or family member's plan, depending on coverage and the circumstances of the accident.  Our team is adept at reviewing insurance policies, combining coverage and getting as much compensation as possible to pay for the cost of your accident.

If you don't have applicable insurance coverage, or you don't have enough, we may be able to help you obtain care through an attorney's lien. Essentially, this is an agreement between your attorney and your healthcare provider to provide treatment at no up-front cost to you. Your doctor will be paid later, once we have recovered a settlement or verdict on your behalf.

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What if the other driver doesn't have enough coverage?

This is a very common question. If you have underinsured motorist coverage on your policy, then you should be able to file a claim with your own insurance to make up the gap between the other motorist's liability coverage and your costs. However, filing an underinsured motorist claim can be difficult. It's essential to have legal representation to protect your rights.

Often, our clients also ask whether the person who hit them will lose their home or be forced into bankruptcy in these situations - when the damage done exceeds their policy limits. After all, the person who hit you made a mistake; he or she didn't intentionally do anything wrong. This is especially concerning when the negligent person is a friend or family member.

The good news is that the person who hit you is not going to be financially ruined due to the accident. If the damages exceed the policy limit, then their insurance company has to make a choice. If the insurance chooses to pay up to the policy limit, then we will settle for that amount and the negligent person won't have to pay out of pocket. If the insurance company chooses to go to trial and the verdict awarded exceeds the policy limit, the insurance company must pay the entire verdict - the insured person still isn't on the hook for the extra amount.

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What if the other driver doesn't have any coverage?

With nearly one in six Washington drivers on the road without insurance, there's always the possibility that the driver who hits you doesn't have liability insurance. Driving without insurance is a crime in Washington, and when other motorists break that law, they put others at risk. You may also be involved in an accident with a hit-and-run driver who is never found and is thus uninsured by default.

If you have uninsured motorist coverage on your policy, then you should be able to file a claim with your own insurance company. Uninsured motorist coverage is not required in Washington, but your insurance company is required to offer it to you. If you don't have coverage, we'll want to look at your policy documents to confirm that the insurance company offered you uninsured motorist coverage as required by law. We'll also look at any other policies that may apply in your situation to help get your medical bills paid.

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Will I need to go to court?

Most car accident claims settle out of court. In the majority of cases we handle, we're able to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company without needing to file a lawsuit. Even if we do file a lawsuit, the case likely won't go to trial for months or years, and we can - and usually do - reach a settlement at any point during that time.

However, there are some cases that do go to a jury trial, and the vast majority of the time, it's the insurance company and their attorneys who push to take it to court. If your case does go to trial, yes, you will need to go to court - but you will have us there with you every step of the way. We'll present your story to the jury with honesty and integrity, and we know that's the best way to make sure your voice is heard.

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How long will my case take to resolve?

Every case is different, and it's impossible to put a specific timeframe on your resolution. In general, negotiations with the insurance company begin once you have completed your medical treatment for your injuries and typically take several months to reach a settlement. If your case goes to trial, it may be one to two years, or more, before we actually go before a judge and jury. Cases involving complex, long-term injuries such as traumatic brain injuries can take significantly longer to resolve.

We know the prospect of dealing with the aftermath of your car accident for such a long time is difficult. We understand that you may be tempted to just take a quick settlement from the insurance company and move on. But we also understand that a serious injury can have life-changing effects, and we prepare every case with our client's entire lifetime in mind. We're ready to stand with you throughout the process, no matter how long it takes. And we'll advance all costs related to your case so you won't have to pay a dime out of pocket. Ultimately, that approach is what helps make our clients whole again.

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Nelson Langer Engle, PLLC Location Maps Nelson Langer Engle, PLLC Location Maps

NLE Law / Nelson, Langer, Engle PLLC

12055 15th Ave NE
Seattle, WA 98125
Phone: (206) 623-7520 Fax: (206) 622-7068

NLE Law / Nelson, Langer, Engle PLLC

38579 SE River Street Suite 3
Snoqualmie, WA 98065
Phone: (425) 394-4117

NLE Law / Nelson, Langer, Engle PLLC

705 South 9th Street #303
Tacoma, WA 98405
Phone: (253) 343-6043