Insurance and Injury Law in Washington
If you have been harmed or injured by someone, the ability to be compensated is normally judged by two basic rights. Tort law rights and contract law rights. There are others, but most cases are determined by those two sets of laws. Negligence is normally the tort law that determines your right of recovery from the person that injured you, but how much and whether you get paid is usually governed by what insurance the person who hurt you has.
The most common type of insurance policy in Washington State is car insurance. By law, every Washington driver must have a policy that will pay no less than $25,000 each injured person up to $50,000 for every accident. What that basically means if you are driving your car and you hurt someone because of your negligence, the insurance company has to pay $25,000 to each person you injured, but no more than $50,000 to each person. It also means if that if those people sue you, they have to provide you a lawyer and a defense, regardless of who is at fault. The insurance policy is a contract between you and your insurance company.
On the other side, if your get hurt because of a driver's negligence, you do not automatically have a right to the policy. In fact, the insurance company that insures the negligent driver really has few obligations to you. Thier obligations are to the insured(the negligent driver) and not to you. Thus, the insurance company may delay, defend, or deny your valid claims with few recourse.
Many people find this frustrating, but one thing you should clearly understand is that the insurance company covering the person that hurts you real obligation is to minimize the amount of compensation owed to you. Some may insurance companies may engage of number of tactics to hurt your case. They could ask you to sign a release early before the extint of your injuries are fully known. They will probably ask you to give a recorded statement, which will later be used against you if you make a mistake or are unclear regarding your injuries or the accident itself.
This may sound unfair, and it is, but their legal contractual obligation belongs to their insured, which is the negligent driver who hurt you. Thats why its important to seek counsel, who may be the only person that can protect.
Your own insurance also comes into play in regards to the injuries you sustained when you have additional coverage. There are three main coverages that are typical in Washington State. They are personal injury protection, under insured or uninsured motorist, and collision.
Personal Injury Potection: this provision under your insurance is to protect you from medical expenses, lost wages, lost services, and funeral expenses. You may have to pay some or all of those benifits back to the insurance company at the end of the case, but it keeps you out of collections and make sure you can see a doctor.
Under insured or uninsured motorist coverage: this provision in your insurance is optional, but probably the most important of all optional provisions of a car insurance policy, and at Brooks Law Firm we advise no one to go without this coverage. If you get hurt by a driver who has no insurance or who has insuficient insurance, this policy will protect you.
Collision: this is the part of a policy that covers damage to your car. It covers the cost to repair or replace your car in the event of a collision regardless of who is at fault. This provision can help you when the driver who caused the accident is denying they caused it, or when an insurance company is denying your claim just to avoid paying. Even though it is hard to turn over a claim which you did not cause, collision will help you get your car fixed or replaced and get you back on the road.
A benefit of the collision, underinsured/unisured, and personal injury protection is that they come from your own insurance, unlike the liability insurance carried by the driver that caused your injuries. What that means is that they have to treat you fairly. Of course it does not mean they will. They may want you to repair you car with cheap parts, or they may want to deny your claims for benifits unfairly. However, in this case, they have special obligations under Washington State law that requires them to deal with you in good faith.
Please do not use this article alone to determine whether you have a case under Washington State law. Instead, consult a lawyer, and of course we would be delighted if you called us at 425-296-9025.
Successful Representation in Washington
We represent clients all over Washington State. Although we office in Redmond, we will be glad to come meet you any where in Washington State. We have clients in Vancouver, Tacoma, Seattle, Redmond, Edmonds, Everett, Bellevue, Federal Way, Monroe, Duvalle, the Olympic Pensula, Issaquah, North Bend, and even out of state clients who have cases in Washington. We are willing to work with clients over internet, phone, and email, though we do request an initial meeting in person if at all possible.