Frequently Asked Questions About Car Accidents
For case-specific questions, there is no substitute for speaking with a lawyer. But, if you are just getting started, we have included some general answers to the most frequently asked questions about car accidents.
Do I need an attorney if I have been injured in a car accident?
Answer: It depends on the facts of the case, but there are times when the answer is no. Our firm gives honest answers to this question, which is one of the reasons why we offer free initial consultations. Sometimes, it is worthwhile to try to settle it on your own, perhaps with initial guidance from an attorney.
Do I need to give a statement to the other party’s insurance company?
Answer: No, you do not. They may try to tell you otherwise, which is why you should know your rights and responsibilities as soon as possible.
Do I need to sign an authorization form for the insurance company to get my records?
Answer: No, and you should be wary of signing anything without carefully reviewing it first.
When should I settle my personal injury case?
Answer: There are times when settling your case is advantageous (rather than going to court). But settling too quickly can be a mistake. As a general guideline, you should not be settling within the first seven months, before you have had time to better assess all injuries and costs related to the crash.
Am I required to have PIP coverage? Should I have it?
Answer: Personal Injury Protection coverage is not required in Washington state, but it is highly recommended. Your insurance company is legally required to offer you a PIP policy, and your decision to opt out of coverage must be put in writing.
I don’t have PIP or I have reached the limits of my PIP coverage. Who should be billed for my medical expenses?
Answer: Generally, health care providers should be billing your health insurance. Some providers may want to take payment from your settlement because they wouldn’t be subject to the price controls imposed by insurance companies. You will save considerable amounts of money by explicitly requiring health care providers bill your insurance company.
Why do I have to pay my insurance company back out of my settlement?
Answer: Insurance companies engage in a process called subrogation to recover costs from those responsible for an accident. If you were seriously injured and had large medical bills, your insurance company likely paid them right away, before legal proceedings even began. When you receive a settlement from the at-fault party (the other driver), your insurance company will likely try to reimburse itself from that settlement for your medical expenses.
If you didn’t know about subrogation, you are not alone. However, it is a legal right that insurance companies include in the vast majority of policies they write.
My car was damaged in an accident that wasn’t my fault. Should I go through my insurance or the other driver’s insurance?
We generally recommend that you go through your own insurer. You have a contract with that company and there are laws that protect you in any dealings with them. Once you have been compensated, your insurer can then pursue reimbursement from the at-fault carrier, including reimbursement for your deductible.
Should I have rental insurance coverage?
In short, the answer is yes. While rental coverage is not legally required, it can save you a lot of stress and, potentially, a lot of money if you are involved in a car accident.