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Do I Have to Go to Court for a Car Accident?

January 31, 2023

Some states operate under a no-fault system for car accident claims. In those states, it doesn’t matter who caused a traffic accident since each person’s own insurance policy covers their injuries and damages. But under Washington’s legal system, it matters who caused the car accident. Washington is a comparative fault state, meaning the person liable for a car accident must cover damages through their insurance policy. In some cases, multiple parties may bear a percentage of the fault, in which case their compensation may be reduced by their percentage of the fault.

Untangling the details of an accident to determine liability can become complex and require investigation to prove liability and gain compensation for the economic and non-economic damages suffered by an injury victim. If you’ve hired an experienced personal injury attorney in Seattle to represent your interests in a car accident claim, you may be wondering, “Will I have to go to court?”

Do I Have to Go to Court for a Car Accident?

Understanding Accident Claims in Washington

After a car accident, you may have injuries that require medical treatments and missed days of work during procedures and recovery time. Very serious injuries may even have left you with disabilities that diminished your earning capacity going forward. When the accident occurred due to the negligence, recklessness, or wrongdoing of another driver, that person’s insurance coverage must compensate you fully for the economic and non-economic damages you’ve suffered. Unfortunately, insurance companies depend on profits gained by minimizing payouts and maximizing premiums. They commonly use tactics to undervalue claims or deny them completely such as the following:

  • Calling an injured person very soon after an accident with a low settlement offer before the injury victim even knows the extent of their injuries and economic losses
  • Delaying a payout until the injury victim gives up or accepts a low settlement
  • Calling on a recorded line and then using simple phrases like, “I’m fine,” against the injured victim to claim they were not badly injured in the accident
  • Claiming that the proper forms weren’t filed or that their coverage had ended or maxed out before the accident
  • Find ways to shift blame to the injured person to reduce the percentage they pay out under Washington’s comparative fault system

These and other tactics are routinely employed by insurance claims adjusters in Washington. By hiring an experienced Seattle car accident lawyer and directing all communications to your lawyer, you can maximize your chances for full compensation for your damages through a settlement without seeing the inside of a courtroom.

What are the Chances That I’ll Have to Go to Court for a Washington Car Accident Case?

An estimated 95% of car accident claims settle out of court through negotiations with the insurance carrier of the liable party. By hiring an attorney with a record of success, insurance companies understand that you’re serious about your compensation and they won’t be able to employ their common tactics to deny claims. Your attorney will do the following in order to craft a compelling case to present to an insurance carrier:

  • Investigate the accident report to prove liability on the part of the at-fault driver
  • Use photo and video evidence if available
  • Collect eyewitness testimony
  • Hire accident reconstruction specialists if required
  • Gather your medical records to prove your injuries and the related economic damages

By drafting a strong, evidence-backed demand letter to the insurance company of the liable party, a skilled attorney can usually negotiate a settlement out of court. However, a strong attorney also stands ready to aggressively defend your interests all the way to a courtroom if litigation becomes necessary to gain compensation for your damages. In that case, your attorney will help you to prepare for what to expect in a Washington courtroom for a car accident case.

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