Car Accident Attorney in Tacoma
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Tacoma Car Accident Lawyer
Unfortunately, even defensive drivers with excellent driving records are bound to get into at least one car accident during their lifetime. With almost six million licensed drivers in Washington state, it's a common occurrence, not to mention the Seattle/Tacoma area is listed in the top ten cities for worst traffic in the nation. However, it can be dramatically worse if you sustain serious injuries in an accident, have issues recovering compensation from the insurance companies, or are accused of being to blame for the accident.
If you're facing any of these circumstances, it makes sense that you're looking for a Tacoma car accident lawyer. Morgan and Morgan is here to help. You shouldn't have to pay for damages you aren't responsible for causing, and Washington tort laws support this. The individual who causes an accident is liable to compensate fully for their actions up to their insurance policy limits. In some situations, if insurance doesn't cover all the damages, you can sue the other driver in a lawsuit to make up the difference.
We're here to help you explore all your legal options and fight to protect your interests. We have the dedication, experience, and resources you need to recover compensation successfully. For more information, contact us today for a free case evaluation.
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What Are Common Reasons to Use a Tacoma Car Accident Lawyer?
While not everyone involved in a car accident will need the help of a lawyer, some issues you may face can be too big to handle on your own, especially when you've suffered a serious injury. Still, the severity of the crash doesn't always define whether legal counsel is required. Here are some common situations where it makes sense to get the advice of a lawyer.
- The insurer refuses to provide adequate compensation to cover your losses
- The other driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- You've missed work due to the accident
- Your medical bills are not being covered
- The doctor that provided your treatment following the accident caused you further harm
- You are having trouble negotiating a fair settlement
- You've suffered severe injuries, such as a traumatic brain injury or spinal injury
- Passengers suffered severe injuries
- The accident involved multiple parties
- The accident involved a commercial vehicle or driver
- The accident involved a government-affiliated party (city bus, police, other government departments, etc.)
- The accident involved a large truck (semi, big rig, eighteen-wheeler)
- The other party's insurance company falsely claims you are the one at fault
Why Is Determining Fault in a Tacoma Car Accident So Important?
Determining fault after a car accident is critical because it establishes who pays for the damages. Even when you share in the responsibility, how much fault is assigned to you will impact how much money you can recover. Generally, the driver who bears the blame for the accident is financially responsible. However, not all accidents are that simple. Personal injury claims are based on negligence. You have to establish negligence in order to recover financial losses in the event of an accident. In many situations, both drivers can share in the fault.
For example, suppose you were traveling over the speed limit, but the other driver ran a stop sign and hit you even though you had the right of way. In that case, you may share in the fault (or negligence) since you were both violating traffic laws. Still, the other driver would not have hit you, regardless of your speed, had they stopped when they were supposed to. In this situation, you would share the blame, but it would be disproportionate to the other driver's responsibility.
Washington follows "pure" comparative negligence laws. That means that even if you were 99 percent at fault, you could still pursue 1% of the damages you incurred from the other driver. However, that's an extreme example to illustrate the threshold of the law. You have the right to pursue it, although, in the majority of cases, it wouldn't make sense, especially when trying to hire a Tacoma car accident lawyer.
Comparative negligence means that whatever award you receive will be reduced by the percentage of fault that lies with you. For example, if your damages were $100,000, but you were assigned 30% of the blame, the actual amount you received would be reduced by 30%, making your final settlement $70,000. Comparative negligence in Washington is much more generous than in other states, where they follow different forms of doctrine. In some states, you would be barred from seeking compensation if you were 50% or more at fault. In others, claimants aren't allowed to pursue legal actions even if they are just 1% at fault.
Still, when it comes to comparative negligence for your collision, presenting the best case to minimize your portion of fault can significantly increase the amount you would be able to recover. Our Tacoma car accident lawyers can help. Morgan and Morgan Law Firm have been assisting people in getting the maximum compensation for their legal matters for over 35 years. We are here to lend a hand when you need us.
What Constitutes Negligence?
Establishing negligence is a crucial part of any successful claim. Negligence is the failure to provide reasonable care to avoid causing others harm. Regarding a car accident, all drivers owe a duty of care to others that share the road, whether they be pedestrians, motorcyclists, bicyclists, or other passenger vehicle drivers. When that duty is disregarded, it constitutes negligence. For example, suppose a driver is operating their vehicle aggressively or under the influence of alcohol. In that case, they do not uphold the duty of care, and therefore, their actions are negligent.
Still, a few more legal elements must be established to have a successful personal injury claim. Here are all the components of a legitimate personal injury claim:
- A duty of care was owed to the claimant
- The other party breached their duty of care (and thus, were negligent)
- The breach was the cause of injuries and/or losses to the claimant
- The accident resulted in damages (economic and/or noneconomic losses)
The last two components sound like one and the same, but they are actually different. You can suffer an injury without it resulting in "damages." For example, suppose you got a paper cut at work. No one likes paper cuts, but they don't typically call for a trip to the emergency room, treatment, and loss of income by missing work during recovery. In the instance of a car accident, however, we always recommend that clients seek medical care, even if they don't think it's necessary initially, because car accidents often involve violent impacts that can cause unseen trauma.
So, if you were in a car accident with no property damage and no documented injury, you would unlikely recover compensation because you suffered no demonstrable financial losses. However, if you need more clarification on your eligibility, we urge you to contact us to learn your options.
Do I Need a Lawyer if the Other Driver Was Uninsured?
While car owners are required to carry insurance in case of a car accident, not everyone follows the law. Suppose you were unlucky enough to be hit by a driver without insurance. In that case, you might think your insurance company would take care of you. After all, that's why we pay for uninsured/underinsured motorists' coverage. However, at the end of the day, your insurance company will look at you with the same level of skepticism as the other driver's insurer.
You'll have to prove the accident wasn't your fault and show proof of injuries and losses. Even so, all insurance companies are out to turn a profit, and it doesn't matter if you're already their client paying premiums. Lots of people can find themselves in the position of their claim being underpaid or even denied by their own insurer. In instances like this, it pays to have a lawyer on your side to hold the insurance company accountable for their contractual obligations to you, their client.
What Kind of Settlement Can I Expect for a Car Accident?
It's an important question that every prospective client asks. "How much is my case worth?" While there are averages, it isn't very meaningful in reality because a case's value depends on the unique factors surrounding it. Here are the specific factors that might impact your settlement amount:
- The at-fault party's insurance policy limits and ability to pay outside of insurance
- Medical expenses and the extent of your injuries
- The evidence available
- If you had any fault in the accident
- If you've lost income due to not being able to work in connection with the accident
- The sum of awards in similar cases as yours
- Any other losses incurred linked to the accident, including emotional
One of the important skills your lawyer should have is the ability to calculate and put a value on your damages. There are many expenses and losses that people don't realize they are eligible to claim, such as childcare, transportation, and even inconvenience. Your lawyer will make sure to complete a thorough investigation so that you recover the maximum amount possible.
What Actions Will Morgan and Morgan Take for My Car Accident Case?
Understanding what a lawyer will do for you is critical before you work with them. Generally, when you have legal representation, your chances of success and the monetary amount awarded will increase. That's because we know how the system works. We know what rights you're entitled to and work to protect them. Here is what you can expect:
Management of the process - We handle all communications with other parties, allowing you time to recover from your injuries without the added stress.
Negotiating a settlement - While we manage the process, we're also working on negotiating the best settlement possible for you. Through our vast experience working with insurance companies, we know the ins and outs and how to get what's fair for our clients.
Courtroom representation - Not all negotiations are smooth. Sometimes, if an insurance company refuses to pay fairly on a legitimate claim, the only recourse is to take them to court. In this case, working with a lawyer with courtroom experience is crucial. While you may think that lawyers and courts are synonymous, that's not actually true. Some never see the inside of a courtroom. That's never an issue at Morgan and Morgan. All of our lawyers are prepared to go the distance for our clients, even in lengthy and complicated court cases.
What Questions Are Generally Asked During a Case Evaluation?
We understand that many people worry about talking to a Tacoma car accident lawyer because of the cost. However, at Morgan and Morgan, we offer free case evaluations with no obligation. That means you can get the perspective of legal counsel without any upfront costs. Additionally, if we take your case, you owe nothing upfront. Instead, we take a pre-agreed-upon percentage of your award only if we are successful. If we cannot recover any financial award, you won't owe a thing for our services. Here is the information we typically ask about to get things started:
- Your version of the car accident
- What kind of evidence you've been able to collect so far (such as police reports, eyewitness contacts, photos of the scene, etc.)
- What kind of injuries you’ve sustained
- What medical treatment you've received or need to receive
- How has the accident affected your work, home, and social life
- Have you missed out on any income due to the accident
- What kind of contact you've had with insurance companies so far
Once we've had a chance to evaluate the facts of your claim, we'll decide whether we can assist. However, even if we don't see a client relationship forming, you'll still have valuable guidance on how to proceed.
Please don't put off getting in touch with us, as you have limited time to pursue legal action in Tacoma, Washington. The law stipulates that you must file a lawsuit within three years of the date of your accident or be forever barred from seeking compensation through the court system. Likewise, wrongful death lawsuits have a three-year deadline. Additionally, you don't want to delay because necessary evidence could be destroyed or forgotten, and eyewitnesses may be less reliable as time passes.
Contact Morgan and Morgan today for your free case evaluation. We have a team of dedicated, experienced, and compassionate Tacoma car accident lawyers waiting to help.