Frequently Asked Questions
Do I Need A Lawyer?
The answer depends on a number of factors. How serious are your injuries? If they are mild and if you recover quickly, if your doctor bills are low and if you missed little of no time from work, if you are good at organizing information and at negotiating with people then you might be able to reach a reasonable settlement on your own. However, if responsibility for the crash is contested, or if your injuries are serious or if they linger on for a while, then you would benefit from consulting a lawyer with experience in injury cases.
Some things to keep in mind: first, you can only settle ONCE. After you sign a release, you can't go back for more money if it turns out that your injuries are worse than you originally thought they were, or if you need more medical treatment in the future. Sometimes insurance companies try to rush you into settling, in the hope that you will sign away your rights before you realize how badly you are injured.
Evidence can evaporate if it is not gathered up quickly. While settling your case too soon is a mistake, so is putting off dealing with your case. A lawyer can help you preserve important evidence for later.
You are entitled to recover from the at-fault driver and his or her insurance company for the cost to repair your vehicle, reasonable car rental while the repairs are being done, plus all your medical expenses and lost wages due to your injuries. You are also entitled to reimbursement for your pain, suffering, disfigurement, and lost ability to enjoy life.
How Do I Know If The Insurance Company Is Offering Me A Fair Settlement?
Check with a qualified personal injury attorney. We provide a free evaluation and a free statistical analysis of your claim to see if the insurance company is making you a fair offer.
The Other Driver Had No Insurance. What Do I Do?
Washington law requires Uninsured/Underinsured motorist insurance. That means you may be able to recover your losses from your own insurance policy. This also means your insurance company has every incentive to pay as little as possible. Call for a free evaluation and analysis. The Law Offices of Charles J. Brocato will help you understand all of your rights.
What Should I Expect A Personal Injury Attorney To Do For Me?
Answer your insurance questions, explain the claims process, and help you deal with the insurance companies. A good lawyer will figure out what your case is worth and try to get a fair settlement for you. A good lawyer will take your case to court if that?s what needs to be done. You should expect your attorney to educate, advise, and represent you. We will educate you about your rights, the legal basis of your claim and the damages you are able to recover. We will advise you throughout the recovery process as to what to expect and how to best care for yourself. We will be an effective and honest representative for you. We are your voice in your dealings with the defendants, insurance adjusters and other attorneys. We will answer your calls promptly and keep you involved.
Why Should I Hire An Attorney To Assist Me In Resolving My Personal Injury Claim?
(1) A higher net recovery to you; (2) an experienced guide on your side; and (3) relief from worry. An insurance industry research institution studied personal injury claims processed by the injured person alone, verses personal injury claims handled by attorneys. They found that people who hired attorneys received between 2.5 and 3 times what is paid to people who "go on their own." Even after paying us 33%, that means you receive almost twice as much. An experienced personal injury attorney guides you through settlement or trial. He/she equals the playing field when dealing with insurance companies. Hiring a personal injury attorney allows you to focus on your recovery, while your attorney focuses on holding the responsible person accountable for your injuries. Make sure you find an attorney you like and trust.
Who Is Going To Pay Up Front For All Of The Costs And Expenses Of My Case?
Lawsuits are expensive. Costs must be advanced during the case to hire experts, conduct discovery and prepare for trial. We advance all costs and we say so in our retainer agreement. The client is responsible for reimbursing the costs when the case settles or goes through trial.
What Happens If We Lose?
In the unlikely event that we lose, you owe us no fees. Contingent fees minimize the financial risks involved with asserting your rights. Select the following link for further information on Contingency fees.
What do I need to know about my own auto insurance?
There are two types of coverage you need to know more about. PIP andUM/UIM.
PIP (Personal Injury Protection) is an extension of auto insurance which pays for medical expenses and, in some cases, lost wages and other damages for you and other passengers in your car, without regard to who caused the accident. It also covers pedestrians and bicyclists who are injured in an accident with you. Although you are not required to purchase PIP coverage, it is recommended that you do so, and that you buy the maximum amount available.
State law requires that PIP coverage be offered and that it meet certain minimum requirements. You will automatically have PIP coverage in the minimum amounts identified below, unless your reject it in writing. For medical expenses, the minimum coverage is $10,000 for bills incurred within three years of the accident. Funeral expenses up to $2000 must be covered, and wage loss benefits for one year after the accident, up to $10,000, must be offered. Benefits for such services as home nursing care and domestic help -- known as "loss of services" benefits -- must be available for a minimum of $5000.
Using your PIP coverage should not effect your rates and your insurance company will usually get reimbursed by the at fault party's insurance company if they are insured.
UM/UIM (Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist). Despite the fact auto insurance is mandatory in Washington, many people drive without any coverage or without adequate coverage to fully compensate an injured person. Mandatory insurance laws require liability coverage of only $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident.
UM/UIM covers you, members or your household, and other people riding in your car against damage caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist. This coverage also extends to you or members of your household who may be injured by an uninsured/underinsured motorist while you are a pedestrian or riding a bicycle.
UM/UIM coverage is considered so important that the law requires insurance companies to offer it to all customers. The amount of UM/UIM coverage offered must be the same amount as the liability coverage unless you make a written request for less coverage.
You should never waive this coverage or reduce it below your liability coverage. If you want to cut costs on your policy, consider paying higher deductibles or even dropping collision or comprehensive coverage. There are simply too may uninsured and underinsured motorists on the road today.
We can help you deal with all the questions that arise after an accident. Please call (253)851-9164 or e-mail for a no cost consultation.