Washington Car Accident Law, Lawyers and Attorneys
UPDATED: February 10, 2020
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Roughly 4 million miles of highway stretch across the United States, not even including regular arterial roads and smaller streets. Itï¿½s no surprise that car accidents are a daily occurrence, and in Washington the number of uninsured motorists on the road has been inching ever closer to 1 out of 5. Itï¿½s important to protect yourself, your health, your property, and livelihood, and there are many different tools and safeguards that can and do help: seatbelts, airbags, auto insurance, and even the legal system if necessary. If youï¿½ve been in a car accident and are looking for help, youï¿½ve come to the right place.ï¿½ Of course, if the accident just occurred, or if someone is injured, call 911 immediately and follow all the instructions youï¿½re given. The information offered here on FreeAdvice.com is meant as an introduction to your legal rights and responsibilities after an accident. If youï¿½d like to better understand how to file a claim, or other liability issues, take a look at the sections below. Youï¿½ll also find rules, laws and other information specific to the state of Washington, as well as links to Washington personal injury attorneys who can evaluate the strength of your claim and offer advice on the best course of action.
Washington Car Accident Articles:
How an Auto Accident Insurance Claim Works
What is Your Car Accident Injury Claim Worth
Who is at Fault?
Car Insurance and Auto Accidents: Are You Covered?
What You Can Expect to Recover for Property Damage in Auto Accident Cases
Auto Accidents: Options if Youï¿½re at an Impasse with the Insurance Adjuster
Car Accidents Involving Government-Owned Vehicles and Government Workers
Do I Need to Contact an Attorney After a Car Accident
Washington Car Accident Lawyers:
Find an experienced Washington Car Accident Attorney at JustAnswer Legal
Special Rules for Washington Car Accidents:
Washington Fault: Pure Comparative Fault
Washington Car Insurance Requirements/Limits: Bodily Injury & Property Damage Liability. The minimum level required by law is:
$25,000 per person for bodily injury
$50,000 per accident for bodily injury
$10,000 per accident for property
Proof of this liability insurance must be kept readily accessible in the vehicle at all times, including at the time and place of an accident, when renewing license plates, and of course any time a police officer or another government employee (such as from the Department of Revenue) asks to see such proof. Increasingly, insurers are directly asked by the government to provide the necessary proof themselves, but note that this does not waive your obligations under state or federal law.
Washington has one of the highest rates of uninsured motorist driving in the country, at over 16% in 2007, according to the Insurance Information Institute. This level is estimated to have increased along with the unemployment rate since the recession, so it is even more important now to be prepared with insurance coverage that is appropriate for your own situation. See the link below to browse the FreeAdvice.com listing of reliable and affordable insurance providers in your area in Washington.ï¿½
Washington Small Claims Limits: $5,000
Washington Personal Injury Statute of Limitations: 3 years
Washington Auto Accidents Involving Government Vehicles: In most cases, government entities receive protection from private lawsuits under a legal doctrine known as ï¿½government immunityï¿½ or ï¿½sovereign immunity.ï¿½ This doctrine doesnï¿½t necessarily provide the government complete protection, however. It may just impose extra notice requirements on you before filing suit. For more information on this type of government protection, follow this link to the FreeAdvice.com article on vehicle accident claims against government entities. Keep in mind that, depending on which government entity, there are frequently special requirements for how long you have to notify them of your claim. See below for some Washington specific details:ï¿½
Requirements for Filing Against Government Entities:
1) For filing against the Federal Government: Use Standard Form 95 and follow the instructions on the back page. The form must be completed and submitted to the appropriate agency within two years after the claim accrues.
2) For filing against the State of Washington: There are several particular filing requirements that Washington has for personal injury actions. The complaint documents are not allowed to include statements of damages sought; they can only contain a ï¿½prayer for damages as shall be determinedï¿½ï¿½ and the state has the explicit right to give the plaintiff 15 days to set forth a separate document separately listing and describing every special damage and general damages sought. As you can already see, there are strict requirements for filing against the government. See the sections below for more information on these procedures, and for contact information for Washington personal injury lawyers who can provide free no-obligation case evaluations.
3) For filing against a Washington county or municipality: The requirements vary with the entity, so youï¿½ll have to contact the specific county or agencies involved. To the extent that youï¿½re aware of the other partyï¿½s appointing authority or employing agency (for example, the Department of Transportation), you should contact that authority and request further information on how to file a claim. Do not delay!
In dealing with accidents involving government entities and workers, be aware that there are always special notices to be filed against the appropriate government unit responsible, whether in risk management, attorney generalï¿½s offices, or local agencies, and the time periods are limited in all cases: as little as 30-180 days after the accident to file a notice of claim. The rules for each jurisdiction may vary, so be sure to carefully check the forms linked above before you fill them out, and/or call the main office numbers of local agencies directly involved before filing your claim. Accident claims involving the government can be complicated; you donï¿½t want to risk losing your ability to recover damages for your injuries because of a filing error. See Washington Personal Injury Venue below for more information on where and how to file a claim. See this directory for a list of all public agencies in Washington. Consult an experienced attorney right away to preserve your rights. Also seeCar Accidents Involving Government-Owned Vehicles and Government Workers.
Washington Personal Injury Venue (Where to File Your Lawsuit): In the district court located where the defendant (the person you are suing) lives. Failing this, you can attempt to file where the defendant does business or even where the accident occurred. The courts have the authority to transfer your case if necessary, but if you are filing a claim against a government agency and are unsure of which agency is responsible, the most prudent course is to file a separate claim against each agency through your Washington auto accident attorney. ï¿½