Five Important Steps Toward A Fair and Reasonable Settlement

Getting into an accident is always a traumatic experience. It is unexpected, can be frightening, and usually disrupts many parts of your life for a time. The steps you take in the moments after an accident can prove critical to a fair and reasonable outcome for your case. From our experience with handling thousands of Washington State personal injury motor-vehicle and car accident cases, these are specific steps you can take which will help your case:

  1. Call 911. In Washington State, there is a requirement to report an accident which results in injury. So, calling the police to report the accident is a step towards complying with this law. Calling the police is also a step towards documenting the time and location of the accident.  If the police respond, they will also provide you with additional assistance, including getting the name and address of the person who hit you, as well as the license number of the other drivers. They will also record the names and contact information of any witnesses.
  1. Go to the doctor. One of the most important things you can do is go to the doctor following an accident. It is critical that you are examined by a medical professional to determine if you need immediate care and to assess your injuries. Think of what you would recommend to a friend or loved one—wouldn’t you tell them to get “checked out” by a doctor? You deserve the same. 
  1. Take pictures of the vehicles. It is important to take pictures of your vehicle and the vehicle of the person who hit you. This can be extremely important because this may be the only time these vehicles will accurately show the extent of the damage and forces of the collision. This may also be the one and only time you are able to see the other vehicle; if it is “totaled” and not repaired, it will be sent to the junk yard never to be seen again.
  1. Take more pictures. If you are bruised, if you cut yourself, or if there is anything inside the car that was caused by the accident, you should take a picture of these as well. These types of pictures can be very useful in showing the true extent of the damages and injuries. Bruises (thankfully) heal, and messes in cars are cleaned up—without this documentation it is often hard to accurately show what happened in the collision.
  1. Get help. The person who hit you has reported the collision. He or she may have said the collision was your fault and their insurance company would like to pay you as little money as possible, as quickly as possible. Should you give a statement? (No!) Should you sign a release for the insurance company to get your medical records? (NO!!) These questions will be put to you within days after the collision, and how they are answered is important. So, you need someone to fight for you. It is much more likely that you will receive a fair and reasonable settlement if you have an experienced legal team fighting for you at every stage.
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