Although no one expects to wind up in a car accident, these incidents are an unfortunate part of life. Even the most careful and attentive drivers may find themselves involved in a collision at some point. As you cope with your physical injuries, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed by the medical bills, lost wages, and other unanticipated expenses stemming from the accident. Pursuing an auto accident claim in Vancouver or Camas allows you to seek compensation to help cover the costs associated with the accident-related injuries you suffered. While you can move through this process without legal representation, enlisting the assistance of a trusted and compassionate personal injury lawyer is the best way to maximize your settlement offer. Let’s take a look at what you can expect from the auto accident claims process in Southwest Washington and how long it usually takes for victims to secure the compensation they need to support their recovery.
Washington’s Comparative Negligence Laws
Washington is considered a pure comparative negligence state, which means it recognizes that auto accidents often involve more than one at-fault party. Of course, some accidents are caused solely by one negligent or reckless party—but many car collisions are more nuanced when it comes to assigning fault. If you suffer an injury in a car accident, you have the right to seek compensation to help cover the medical bills, physical therapy costs, lost wages, and other accident-related expenses. However, the amount of compensation you may recover is proportional to your share of responsibility in the accident. For instance, if the court finds you 20 percent at fault for the accident and your claim is worth $300,000, you would only be entitled to walk away with 80 percent of the total award (i.e., $240,000). As expected, determining fault takes time, prolonging the auto accident settlement timeline.
Factors That May Prolong the Accident Settlement Timeline
In general, car accidents that cause minor damage and injuries tend to move forward and resolve more quickly than cases involving severe injuries and multiple parties. It’s natural to want to recover compensation as soon as possible so you can start paying down your medical bills. Still, certain factors (listed below) can delay or prolong the auto accident settlement timeline.
The Severity and Prognosis of the Injuries
Injuries that require lengthy hospital stays, surgeries, or other major medical interventions often take longer to assess and quantify than more minor or surface-level injuries. If your injuries have left you with a long path to recovery (i.e., physical therapy, ongoing medical care, or long-term damage), it can take more time to estimate how long this process may take. You can work with your attorney to quantify your injuries, including costs like medical bills, medications, physical therapy bills, and other expenses. You should also consider the long-term financial impact of your injuries to arrive at a more complete picture of how much compensation you will need to support your recovery, both in the moment and in the future.
Navigating the Accident Investigation Process
Another considerable factor that can prolong the auto accident settlement process is how long the insurance company takes to investigate the incident. When you file a claim with an auto insurance company, your case will be assigned to an insurance adjuster. This individual will assess the details of the accident to identify the factors contributing to your injuries. Accidents involving multiple parties, substantial injuries, or conflicting statements from witnesses or the parties can take much longer to investigate than more straightforward accidents.
Pushing For a More Favorable Settlement Offer
Even though an insurance company may claim to have your best interests at heart, it’s essential to recognize that their loyalty lies with saving the company as much money as possible. Unfortunately, insurance companies often try to exploit a victim’s desperation for compensation by presenting them with a lowball initial settlement offer. It can be tempting to accept this initial offer in your eagerness to start paying down your bills, but doing so almost always denies you the total worth of your claim. If you can wait a bit longer, your attorney can help you negotiate a more equitable settlement offer. In most cases, insurance companies are willing to work with you to arrive at a better figure, as they want to avoid litigation as much as possible.
Here to Keep Your Future Bright
Coping with the aftermath of a car accident injury can be a stressful and isolating experience. However, it’s essential to recognize that you do not have to go through this process on your own. Reach out to a caring and trusted Vancouver personal injury attorney to discuss your situation. Together, you and your lawyer will explore your options and identify the most strategic path forward to secure you the compensation you need to support your recovery.
Reach out to the dedicated and caring legal team at Henderson Taylor Law Firm today by calling our Vancouver office at (360) 737-1478.