Auto Accident

What should I do if I am in a car accident?
If you or anyone is hurt, you should call 911 Emergency Services immediately. If you are able and the vehicles can be moved safely, you should move the vehicles out of the roadway and call the police to inform them of the accident.

Is it necessary to always contact the police?
Sometimes people prefer to not contact the police, however, under RCW 46.52.030, individuals are required to submit an accident report within four days after injury or property damage. A police officer’s report will fulfill this duty. Also, contacting the police will aid in the other driver providing accurate identification and insurance information to the authorities. An officer acting as an independent observer to the aftermath of an accident can be critical to proving liability. Having an officer present may also ensure the other driver provides proper identification and insurance information.

What else should I do at the accident scene?
If you are able to do so safely, you should take photos of the accident. Write down the contact information of any witnesses to the accident. Take note of the weather, conditions of roadway, any statements that the other party made to you following the accident, etc. Detailed information of the accident is important for proving a claim.

What if I am injured?
As mentioned above, you should contact 911. However, if you do not need emergency services, you should visit a doctor or your primary care physician as soon as possible. If you are injured, you have a duty to mitigate damages by obtaining reasonable and necessary care stemming from your motor vehicle accident.

Should I contact my own insurance company?
Yes, you should inform your own insurance company about the accident. If you have Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) Insurance, you will want to have your doctor bill your own insurance’s PIP.

What is Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”)?
PIP (“Personal Injury Protection”) extends no-fault coverage for medical, hospital, funeral expenses, income continuation, and loss of services by an insured due to bodily injuries suffered in an automobile accident.¹

What is Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
UM or UIM (“Uninsured Motorist Insurance” or Underinsured Motorist Insurance”)  provides insurance coverage for individuals involved in auto accidents where the other party has no insurance or inadequate insurance.  Just like PIP, you must reject this insurance in writing in order to later be denied this benefit.  “Washington has a strong public policy, both legislative and judicial, to protect innocent victims from uninsured or underinsured motorists.²Manytimes drivers turn down this elective coverage to save money, only to discover later the at-fault driver has little or no insurance.

What is the statute of limitations in Washington for an auto accident?
Generally, Washington requires auto accident claims be brought within three years.³

What is “Subrogation” and how will it affect my claim?
Generally, subrogation is an equitable principal that allows for reimbursement of monies paid by your own insurance company or other provider for services rendered as a result of your accident.

¹See RCW 48.22.095
²See Mid-Century Ins. Co. v. Henault, 128 Wn.2d 207, 212, 905 P.2d 379 (1995).
³See RCW 4.16.080