Washington law requires drivers to carry automobile insurance
This in many cases will pay for:
- Your property damage.
- Your medical treatment/your wage loss.
- Your pain and suffering, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, and any residual symptoms.
If you are in a motor vehicle collision, keep the following mind:
- Discussing your claim with a personal injury attorney before contacting the at-fault driver's insurance company is always a good idea.
- If you talk to the at-fault driver's insurance company on your own, you do not have to consent to a recorded statement.
- If you talk to the at-fault driver's insurance company on your own, you do not have to provide your Social Security Number.
- Motor vehicle collisions generally lead to three claims: the Property Damage claim, the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) claim, and the Liability/Bodily Injury claim.
Propery Damage Claim
You can resolve your property damage either through your own insurance company (but you will be required to pay your deductible first) or through the at-fault driver's insurance company. When it is “reasonably clear" that the other driver is at-fault, his or her insurance company is required by law to promptly settle your property damage claim. You are not required to sign a release in exchange for settling your property damage claim. The at-fault insurance company should issue you a check for the damage or pay the body shop directly.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Claim
PIP is a “no fault" coverage, which means it pays for all medical bills (up to the policy limits) that are reasonable, necessary and related to the collision, regardless of who is responsible. If you are injured in a collision, you should promptly report it to your insurance company. If you purchased PIP coverage, you will be given a PIP claim number, which you should give to your medical providers for billing purposes. Your medical providers will then bill the cost of the medical treatment to the PIP insurer.
Liability/Bodily Injury Claim
The at-fault insurance company's job is to settle your liability claim as fast as possible and for as little money as possible. They are professionals and deal with these claims every day. Having an experienced personal injury attorney representing your interests throughout the process should be seriously considered.
Most personal injury attorneys provide free initial consultations. Most also work on a contingent fee basis, which means that if there is no recovery, there is no fee.
Whether you hire a personal injury attorney or not, it is important to know that you do not have to settle your liability/bodily injury claim right away. Washington has a three year statue of limitation for bodily injury claims that result from negligence.