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Frequently Asked Questions
Auto Accident FAQs

Auto accidents can be extremely stressful events. Following a collision, many victims are unsure of what to do, especially if they have suffered injuries. Injuries from a car crash can be severe and can require extensive medical care, keep you from working, and have long-lasting effects. The following are some frequently asked questions that car accident victims often have regarding recovery for their losses.

Every case is different so it is hard to answer this question. Some cases can be resolved quickly because there isn’t a lot of money at stake or the insurance company decides to act reasonably. In other cases, the insurance company may act unfairly to you. In these cases, the case may result in a long process and even trial.

This is impossible to know until we have more facts and an opportunity to review medical records and speak to your doctors. Factors that affect the value of a case include the degree of injury, pre-injury health, the facts of the incident that caused the injury, whether the injured person is likable, whether the at-fault party is likable, where the case happened and more. Consult with an experienced personal injury case manager to see if your case has merit.

The scene of an accident is often chaotic, but it is important to remain as calm as possible and take certain steps to protect your health and your legal rights. If emergency medical personnel advise you to go for emergency care, you should listen to them and seek the necessary medical treatment. If you can remain on the scene, you should do the following:

  • Wait for law enforcement and give them your side of the story;
  • Collect the names and contact information of witnesses and anyone involved in the collision;
  • Take photos of the scene and make notes of any unusual weather or road conditions;
  • Seek a medical evaluation to ensure any injuries are timely diagnosed.

Any party that acted negligently and contributed to causing the accident may be held responsible for your medical expenses and other losses. Some examples of negligent parties in collisions include the following:

  • Distracted drivers;
  • Drunk drivers;
  • Aggressive drivers;
  • Drivers who violated traffic laws;
  • Government entities that failed to maintain, inspect, or repair the roads;
  • Auto manufacturers that sold defective brakes, tires, airbags, or other pertinent auto parts.

It is highly important to identify the correct negligent party so that you can seek compensation from them. The action you take to seek recovery can vary based on whether the liable party is a person, a company, or the local government.

When you make a claim with the responsible party’s insurance company, you will likely receive a settlement offer. Many people believe their only option is to accept the offer, however, accepting a settlement that does not fully cover all of your losses can result in financial disaster. Once you accept a settlement, you will have to sign a release that waives your right to file a subsequent lawsuit. Therefore, if the settlement is too low, you will have no other way of obtaining compensation and will be responsible for paying your own medical bills and incurring your other losses with no legal relief. Unfortunately, many insurance companies begin with a low offer, so you should always review settlement offers with an experienced case manager before accepting anything.

In many collisions, more than one driver makes an error that contributes to the accident. Fortunately, Washington State allows victims to recover even if they were partially at fault, though they will not be able to recover for the full amount of their losses. Instead, the insurance companies will determine what percentage of fault is attributable to you and will decrease your compensation by that percentage.

For example, imagine that one driver suddenly slams on their brakes for no reason in the middle of the highway. The car behind the braking vehicle would have had time to stop, except that the driver was sending a text message at the time and was not looking at the road. By the time they look up, it is too late to stop and a collision occurs. This is a common example of a situation in which a driver may be partially at fault but may still be able to recover for some of their losses.

Like the majority of legal cases, there is time limit–called the statute of limitations–set out in Washington State Law. Specifically, you have three (3) years from the date of the accident to file a claim for personal injury against the negligent party. If you miss this deadline, you will likely lose your right to recover.

PIP stands for Personal Injury Protection. PIP is important because until you settle your case against the at-fault driver, you may have expenses that need to be covered such as medical expenses, lost wages or earnings, and expenses for necessary services. In Washington, your own insurance company will cover some of these items while you are waiting to get your case settled.

It is important to know that there are limits on the amount and/or duration of PIP benefits. But, in Washington PIP covers reasonable and necessary medical expenses relating to the auto collision, wage losses after 14 days of continuous disability, essential household services, reasonable and necessary funeral expenses and childcare. Each of these has specific limits.

No. PIP covers passengers in a car too. It also covers pedestrians or cyclists struck by a car.

This is tricky. The short answer is sometimes yes and sometimes no. Consult with Gaylord Claims or someone familiar with auto collision cases to discuss this issue.

Wrongful death is one that is caused by the negligent or reckless acts of another, or due to someone failing to take the appropriate precautions that could have prevented the death from occurring.

First, there is no such thing as full coverage. Some people think that full coverage means the other driver (or themselves) have unlimited coverage for any damage that is caused. That is not true. It just means that the policyholder has coverage for damage to their own vehicle as well as liability coverage. The limits of that policy are an amount negotiated between the insured and their insurance company.

When a person buys a car insurance policy there are limits to how much the insurance company will pay for the damage the person causes. That is the “policy limit” on the case. In Washington, the law requires policies have at least $25,000 in coverage per victim or $50,000 in coverage per incident and $10,000 for property damage. We call this a 25/50/10 policy. This means that if you were hurt by someone with minimum 25/50/10 limits, the most the insurance company is ever obligated to pay you is $25,000. If there are multiple victims in one crash, the most the insurance company might have to pay is $50,000 for the entire group even if that means each is left with less than $25,000. Finally, the $10,000 relates to the total property damage paid for all vehicles involved and any property i.e. telephone poles, yard damage, etc.  Many people have higher policy limits because they have assets they want to protect from a lawsuit and judgment.

Many pedestrian injuries occur because of a collision with a car, truck, motorcycle, or another type of motor vehicle. However, drivers are not the only parties that can cause a pedestrian accident. The following are some common causes of this type of accident:

  • Distracted driving;
  • Drivers who fail to yield at crosswalks;
  • Improper turns at intersections with crosswalks;
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
  • Improperly timed traffic and walk signals;
  • Dangerously designed intersections;
  • Defects in the sidewalk or on property;
  • Objects falling from windows or buildings.

If your pedestrian accident occurred due to any type of negligence, you have the right to hold the negligent party or parties liable for your injury-related losses.

Motorcycle Accident FAQs

In most cases, you will need to seek medical treatment first after a motorcycle accident. In addition to treatment for injuries, seeing a doctor creates medical records that can serve as primary evidence if you pursue a legal claim in your accident. But if you are able, there are additional steps to take to protect your rights after a motorcycle accident.

 

If possible, you should do the following:

  • Get names, contact information and insurance information from everyone in the accident. If there are witnesses, get contact information for them, too.
  • Take photos that will illustrate the accident. This includes pictures of the scene, your bike and its damage, the other vehicles, skid marks, your injuries, damaged clothing, road defects and weather conditions that may have contributed to the accident.
  • Cooperate with police who respond to the accident, but do not admit fault or downplay your injuries or the damage to your bike. Ask how to get a copy of the police report and do so as soon as possible.
  • If your motorcycle is taken from the accident scene, tell the towing company that every effort should be made to preserve physical evidence. Follow up in writing.
  • If you don’t need emergency care, see a doctor as soon as possible for a full examination. Some serious injuries are not apparent right away.
  • Report the accident to your insurance company. Decline to provide a recorded or written statement without representation by an attorney.
  • Create a file and keep all records of your accident, including receipts for medical treatment or medication of any kind.

If the accident was someone else’s fault, you may be able to obtain compensation for injuries, damage to your motorcycle and other losses.

The amount of financial compensation you receive in a cash settlement is contingent upon what damages you can prove were caused by your accident. Your case might net you hundreds, thousands, or maybe even millions. It all depends on the nature of your crash and what losses you suffered as a result. If you were injured in a motorcycle accident that wasn’t your fault, you may be entitled to compensation for:

 

  • Past, current, and future medical expenses
  • Lost wages from missed time at work
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Damage to your motorcycle

 

Depending on your specific situation, you may also be entitled to noneconomic damages, like pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of quality of life.

No, not without speaking to Gaylord Claims first. Many times, an insurance company representative will contact you to discuss your case soon after an accident. This is something you should avoid doing by yourself. It is best to turn insurance negotiations over to a skilled personal injury professional.

The insurance company may ask you to provide a recorded or written statement. Do not do this without the advice of an experienced claims professional. In many instances, the facts of an accident are not clear in the immediate aftermath of a serious motorcycle accident. An injured motorcyclist is often on painkillers, in the hospital or recovering at home or with relatives. This is not the right time to begin a conversation about what happened.

Instead of talking to the other driver’s insurance company, you should call a motorcycle accident professional. It’s best to let us deal with the insurance companies while you focus on recovering.

Yes. As of July 28th, 2019, motorcycles are required to have mandatory liability insurance. This is outlined in RCW 46.30.020, which states that a motorcycle operator must have a liability policy with acceptable limits as defined by RCW 46.29.090 along with written proof of insurance. Insurance identification must be presented to a law enforcement officer when requested; otherwise, refusal may be construed as not having a license, which is treated as a traffic infraction and carries penalties. Motor scooters and mopeds are still exempt from the law.

 

The liability insurance policy must provide the following:

 

  • Minimum $25,000 in liability insurance to cover injuries or death to another person
  • Minimum $50,000 in liability insurance to cover injuries or death to all other people
  • Minimum $10,000 in liability insurance to cover damage to another person’s property

Yes, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics, motorcycle riding is more dangerous than riding in other vehicle types. Motorcycle accidents result in injuries or death more often than accidents involving passenger vehicles.

Motorcyclists are about three times more likely to suffer injuries compared to people in other vehicle types. Additionally, motorcyclists are 18 times more likely to die in traffic accidents.

Your insurance company’s uninsured motorist clause might provide coverage in this situation. It should help you pay for medical bills as well as covering repairs to your damaged motorcycle.

No, the law doesn’t require the release of medical information to insurance adjusters by accident victims. An experienced case manager should review and release all relevant medical information as needed.

Consult with a personal injury professional as soon as possible if you receive a request for medical records. After securing representation, refer the insurance adjuster to your case management team for all future communication.

No. According to RCW 46.61.608 (4), “no person shall operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.”

Yes, but no more than two motorcycles can share a lane side-by-side.

Diminished Value FAQs

DV claims arise after a vehicle has been damaged by the negligence of another driver.  The claim arises from the fact that a vehicle that has been involved the crash is now worth less than a similar vehicle that has not been involved in a collision.  The DV is the difference between what the vehicle was worth before the crash and what the vehicle is worth afterwards.

The amount can vary greatly.  To determine the amount of the claim an expert will look at how much the car was worth immediately after the collision compared to how much it was worth immediately before the collision.

Each claim is unique, but usually vehicle make, model, mileage and year are important. Also, the damage to the vehicle is important.  Whether or not OEM (factor) parts were used is a variable that can be taken into account as well.

If you handle the claim yourself you should make a claim against the insurer of the at-fault vehicle that damaged your vehicle.

Experts that are usually people that have worked in automotive repair industry for years render an opinion regarding the diminished value.  They are usually paid a fee for their work and can provide you a report regarding their findings and the amount of the diminished value.  At Gaylord Claims, we are the experts because we’ve been trained by insurance companies to evaluate vehicle valuations.

I have heard from clients who have attempted to make a diminished value claim that the at-fault driver’s insurance company claims they don’t recognize diminished value claims.  That may be the case, but Washington Law recognizes these as valid legal claims.  What this means is if the insurance company claims they are not going to pay out because they have a policy of not honoring diminished value claims you can file a lawsuit seeking damages for the diminished value and may have a claim against the insurer that the Washington State Insurance Commissioner would be very interested in investigating.

Client-first approach

At Gaylord Claims, we put our clients first. We care about your case and treat you with the dignity and respect you deserve throughout the process.  We set high standards for ourselves which is reflected in our track record.

Years of Experience

Our proven approach to claims handling is personal and provides serious results for serious injuries.

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We work hard to earn the trust of every client. We do that by treating every client like we’d want to be treated ourselves. This entails offering our honest assessment of a case, performing the hard work necessary to present a case, and advocating for a fair settlement.

Communication

While technically a personal injury case management firm, we recognize that Gaylord Claims is first and foremost a communication company. We are communication warriors who make it our top priority to maintain consistent contact with you throughout every element and phase of your case.

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