The Best Bellingham Car Accident Lawyers to Help Injured Victims
If you or a loved one was injured in a motor vehicle accident because of the reckless or negligent behavior of another driver, you are probably suffering from physical and emotional pain as well as experiencing financial losses. We understand what you are going through. Over the last four decades, we have helped thousands of people injured in motor vehicle accidents recover monetary damages concerning their injuries and family members get back on their feet with a wrongful death settlement.
We provide peace of mind to our auto accident clients by:
- Taking over the burden of gathering evidence on your claim.
- When necessary, hiring expert witnesses who can assist in recovering full and fair compensation.
- Protecting your rights and fighting on your behalf with medical and other lienholders so you can keep more of your settlement monies.
- Fighting for the full and maximum monetary compensation you deserve.
- Representing you in court, if necessary, when a fair settlement cannot be reached to assure that you receive the maximum monetary compensation needed to fully and fairly compensate you for your injuries and other financial losses. This includes money for lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering and disability.
What To Do If You Are In a Car Accident
If you are in a car wreck, follow these steps to ensure that you receive a fair settlement. If you are too injured to take steps 1-5, you should begin at step 6:
- Call the police so they can write a police report.
- Never admit fault to the other driver or the police officer.
- Take pictures of the scene, your vehicles and any visible injuries.
- Exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver.
- Take contact information for witnesses.
- Contact your insurance company to let them know about the accident.
- Seek medical care and follow all medical advice.
- Do not post anything about the accident on social media.
- Do not accept a settlement offer from the at-fault insurance agency early in the process.
- Contact a car accident lawyer.
What’s the Difference Between a Car Accident Claim and a Car Accident Lawsuit?
Both car accident claims and car accident lawsuits ultimately seek to provide the injured party with compensation for the damages they have suffered as a result of their injuries. The difference is that when a person is injured they file a personal injury claim with the insurance company or the person or entity that caused the injury. If an out-of-court settlement is not reached on the injury claim, a personal injury lawsuit often needs to be filed with the court. Typically, lawsuits become necessary in cases where a fair settlement cannot be reached through negotiation with the at-fault party or their insurance company. When a settlement is not possible, the amount of damages is determined by a jury.
If you are experiencing pain and suffering because of your injury, our accident attorneys will help you file a personal injury claim. We will fight relentlessly on your behalf with the goal of achieving the absolute maximum amount of monetary compensation that is needed to fully and fairly compensate you for the injuries and damages you have sustained.
If you are suffering from pain and stress because of your personal injury, we may be able to help. Please contact our Bellingham car accident lawyers today for a FREE consultation. Our law office also provides home and hospital visits for those who are unable to come to us. Our goal is always to treat you with respect and care while fighting for a fair settlement that fully compensates you for all of your financial, physical and psychological damages.
How is a Car Accident Injury Defined?
Personal injury is a legal term for an injury sustained to the body, mind or a person’s emotional well-being; it applies to people who are injured in car accidents. Personal injury law (also called tort law in legal circles) was created to protect you if you are injured, or if your property is harmed or destroyed such as in a motor vehicle accident because of someone else’s negligence or fault. Personal injury law is applied to car accidents to hold a negligent driver accountable. In a successful tort action, the negligent defendant is required to pay compensation to the person(s) they harmed; typically through either a car insurance settlement or an injury award made by a judge or jury.
There are many types of motor vehicle accident claims, including:
- Car accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Boat accidents
- ATV/dirt bike accidents
- Reckless driver accidents
- DUI accidents
- Hit and run accidents
- Uninsured motorist accidents
- Distracted driver accidents
- Failure to secure a load accidents
Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit in Bellingham
A car accident lawsuit is filed on behalf of an injured person to recover damages; it is used to hold a negligent party accountable for the injuries they caused. Accidents involving serious, permanent injuries often yield large settlements, but even with less serious injuries, accident victims can recover substantial damages for medical expenses and lost wages.
Note that under Washington State Law, fault may be shared in certain accident cases between one or more negligent parties. An injured person may only recover monies from each negligent party in accordance with the percent of negligence that they committed.
Types of car accidents most likely to cause life-altering injuries:
- Head-on collisions
- Side-impact collisions
- Run-off-road collisions
Factors that increase the risk for serious injuries in car accidents:
- Poor weather conditions
- Driving under the influence
Common causes of car accident cases:
- Rear-end accidents caused by negligent drivers
- High-speed crashes
- Distracted drivers
- Careless lane changes
- Running stop signs and red lights
- Failure to yield to oncoming traffic
- Travelling too fast for road/weather conditions
- Failure to keep a proper lookout
- Not following at a safe distance behind the car in front
- Drunk or impaired drivers
- Reckless drivers
- Failure to secure a load to a vehicle
- Road rage
Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Claims
A car accident injury claim should be pursued as soon as possible after the accident occurs or other damages are incurred because all personal injury cases have a statute of limitations. A statute of limitations means that you have a limited amount of time from the date that the injury occurs to file a claim or your case will no longer be viable. In Washington State, the statute of limitations on injury claims involving negligence is generally three years from the date of the accident.
Why Choose Tario & Associates, P.S.?
Because forty plus years of experience matters. Since Michael Tario opened his Bellingham personal injury law firm in 1979, the personal injury attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. have helped thousands of injured people in and around Whatcom County and throughout Washington State receive full and fair compensation and just treatment for their injuries. We fight tirelessly for you, our injured clients. Our goal is to help you get back on your feet, physically, emotionally, and financially.
We have the resources, experience, and knowledge necessary to represent you and achieve a maximum possible recovery for your injuries and your other financial losses. Our network of highly respected specialists in accident reconstruction, psychology, and engineering help us prove your claim and achieve a full and fair monetary award to fully compensate you for your injuries and monetary losses. With the Tario & Associates, P.S. accident lawyers you will have a strong team of trained professionals on your side with the experience and knowledge you need to get full and fair monetary compensation for your injuries; including pain and suffering, disability, mental and emotional harm, lost wages (past and future), medical expenses, and much more.
No out-of-pocket costs
If you need help with your personal injury claim, do not worry about paying large sums of money out-of-pocket. This is because we represent our personal injury clients on a contingency fee basis and our firm advances many out-of-pocket costs for our injury clients. When cases are concluded with a monetary recovery, our firm is repaid for the out-of-pocket costs we have advanced from the proceeds of a settlement or judge or jury verdict.
Free consultations, hospital and home visits
Our law firm offers free consultations where we discuss your injury claim and your legal rights. If you are unable to come to us, we will visit your home or hospital bed to see how we may be of assistance. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!
If you need help with a car accident claim, you can count on our Bellingham car accident lawyers. Reviews from some of Tario & Associates, P.S. satisfied car accident clients:
Mr. Tario represented me in a personal injury case against Allstate Ins. Co. After the accident I tried to resolve the injury claim with Allstate ins. co. . Their response was totally unacceptable. At that time I contacted Mr. Tario and asked him to represent me. What a perfect choice! Mr. Tario and his associates worked hard on my behalf and I was awarded an amount well over the policy limit. If I ever need legal assistance again, there is only one choice…..Tario & Associates. – Michael
I highly recommend Tario & Associates to help you if you are in a car accident. I was rear ended & Michael Tario made sure the responsible parties insurance company paid.
Mr. Tario did an excellent job handling my recent auto accident claim. He was quite easy to talk and work with. He explained the process and then kept us up to date on what was happening as it went along. He negotiated a satisfactory settlement with a minimum of stress for us. We would highly recommend him. – Lyle
Personal Injury FAQs
How do I know if I should pursue a personal injury claim for my car accident?
The only way to know if you have a case is to meet with one of our experienced car accident associates for a FREE consultation. We will fully evaluate your accident and injuries and discuss your legal rights.
Do I really need a lawyer if I am injured in a car accident?
In most cases, hiring an injury attorney will yield much better results than you would ever be able to achieve on your own, even for seemingly minor accident claims. At Tario & Associates, P.S., we stand by our injured clients every step of the way and have been rated as one of the best personal injury lawyers Bellingham and the State of Washington has to offer!
If you were severely injured, were hit by an uninsured motorist or involved in a multi-vehicle accident, you will especially benefit from our help but everyone could use advice if they are getting a low-ball settlement offer. Our injury services start with a discussion about your legal rights and the value of your claim and they do not end until we have successfully fought to get you every dollar you are entitled to.
Should I work with the at-fault insurance adjuster to settle my auto accident claim?
Remember this key point: an insurance adjuster works for the insurance company, not you. Insurance companies are in business to make money. Insurance adjusters are trained and go to special classes to learn how to convince people not to hire an attorney and are often taught how to be friendly and give the impression they want to give fair compensation. Most of the time this is far from the truth. If the insurance adjuster for the at-fault party has already presented you with a proposed settlement offer, you need to know whether or not it is fair. Since you are not an experienced personal injury attorney it would be hard to have an idea whether or not any offer is fair or how much your case might actually be worth. This is something that you need to discuss with an experienced and knowledgeable attorney from Tario & Associates. Our attorneys have evaluated thousands of cases and they are on the cutting edge with regard to current and up to date knowledge as to what a case like yours might be worth. It is not unusual for our attorneys to be able to achieve monetary recoveries five to twenty times what an insurance company has offered.
How much do I have to pay to pursue a car accident claim?
There are no upfront costs or fees paid by our clients to pursue an injury claim; we provide representation on a contingency fee basis for personal injury cases, which means we don’t get paid unless you receive monetary compensation. Our fees are a percentage of what we get for you on personal injury cases and you will not incur any attorney fees if we are unable to win your case and recover money for you. Washington law requires clients to reimburse the law firm for out-of-pocket expenses. Our firm advances out-of-pocket costs for our injury clients and does not require our clients to pay any of these costs up front. When cases are concluded with a monetary recovery, our firm is repaid for the out-of-pocket costs we have advanced from the settlement monies received.
What kind of compensation may I get from a personal injury settlement?
Depending on the severity of your injury, medical expenses and other financial losses such as lost wages can be devastating. The type of injury will affect the damages awarded in a personal injury lawsuit. A plaintiff may recover damages for pain and suffering (both physical and emotional), medical expenses, lost wages, disability, disfigurement, in-home care, rehabilitation and loss of enjoyment of life. The amount allocated for each aspect of your injury will be taken into consideration. Injury settlements can range between $15,000 for a small case to over 1M for very serious cases.
Washington State is a comparative fault state, which means that fault can be shared among multiple wrong-doers on injury cases. Damages may be awarded based upon contributory fault law which provides that you may only be awarded damages proportionate to the percentage of fault caused by the defendant. You cannot be awarded any damages for the amount of fault that you caused.
How is pain and suffering calculated in a Washington car accident case?
Putting a number on someone’s pain and suffering is often one of the most difficult tasks facing a jury or judge. Jury instructions don’t usually go into much detail about how the jury should calculate damages for pain and suffering. Jurors must draw upon their own life experience and common sense and try to determine what amount of money fairly compensates an injured party for their damages. A jury will determine the exact economic losses for medical expenses, lost wages, and other monetary damages that a person has suffered. These are called special damages, which are separately set forth by a judge or jury. In addition, a judge or a jury may award a separate amount for “general damages”, which are pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and in some cases, loss of consortium. Loss of consortium is damage to the marital and family community.
Read more car accident FAQs here.
Proving a Car Accident Claim
The following four elements must be proved for a successful car crash claim:
- Fault – duty to exercise ordinary care. In order to be liable for an accident or injury, a person or organization must have violated their duty to use ordinary care. For example, a driver has a duty to follow the rules of the road to protect other drivers. What defines ordinary care depends on the situation presented.
- Breach of ordinary care (negligence). Next, a personal injury attorney must prove that the defendant breached their duty to exercise ordinary care. For example, a driver who runs a red light.
- Causation – proximate cause. The third element that must be proven is causation, or as lawyers call it: proximate cause. This means that there must be a direct link between the negligent behavior and the harm caused to the injured victim. At a minimum, the breach of the duty to use ordinary care must have at least caused a portion of the injured person’s damages.
- Actual damages suffered. There is no claim unless the injured person has sustained and suffered damages. Recoverable damages include: medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional trauma, loss of consortium, and disability.
The Best Bellingham Car Accident Lawyer
A car accident attorney can determine whether your case has the four elements required for a successful personal injury claim. In addition, they can help you identify the damages involved in your case and what each of them is worth as to give you a total valuation for a reasonable settlement.
What You Need to Know About the Injury Claim Process
Patience is required for a car accident claim or lawsuit. In most cases, attorneys are able to work out a settlement without going to trial. Even an out-of-court settlement takes a fair amount of time because often an injured party has to conclude the treatment phase of their medical care in order for the attorney to determine the full nature and extent of the client’s injuries. Medical expenses cannot be accurately determined in many cases until a substantial portion of the medical treatment is completed. Prior to out-of-court settlements, the insurance attorney will take time to gather up all of the person’s medical records pertaining to the injury and in most cases even those records prior to the injury. Insurance defense attorneys will also often want to send written questions to the injured plaintiff and to take the injured plaintiff’s deposition, which is an out-of-court oral statement upon questions and answers.
The average time for an out-of-court settlement is often between one and two years. In some cases involving critical prominent injuries, a settlement can take between two and three years. Out-of-court settlements made by lawyers who want to get the case over as fast as possible usually end up with the injured plaintiff not receiving full and fair compensation for their injuries. In nearly all cases, the insurance company will hire a defense attorney who will vigorously attempt to reduce or eliminate the negligent party’s liability in the accident. A good personal injury attorney acts as an experienced and professional adversary who will overcome the common tactics used by defense and insurance lawyers.
A settlement is often a more desirable solution since a trial typically takes longer with increased costs and there is a certain amount of risk inherent in any jury trial. Juries are often unpredictable so it is better to reach a fair out-of-court settlement when possible. Even if an injured person receives a significant monetary award from a jury, there is always the chance that the other party will appeal any monetary award made by a jury.
Here is a basic outline of the personal injury claims process:
- The injury lawyer starts by gathering evidence in the form of documents, photographs, police and other reports, witness interviews and other pertinent documentary information. The attorney will analyze witness statements, medical evidence, accident investigative reports, and in some cases, retain necessary expert witnesses and schedule independent medical examinations.
- If a case cannot be settled out of court, the attorney will file a “complaint” with the court and serve the defendant with it. The complaint is an official, detailed document that describes the reason for the lawsuit and why the defendant is being sued. In Washington State, a defendant is typically allowed 20 days after the date of service to answer the allegations alleged in the complaint. At this point, most defendants will have hired a defense attorney. In cases where defendants have insurance, their insurance company will hire an attorney to act on their behalf.
- After a lawsuit has been filed, in the pre-trial litigation phase (also called the “discovery” phase), your personal injury lawyer will discuss the details of the case with the defense attorney and the parties will decide if the case can be settled out-of-court or if it will continue to trial. This is typically the longest part of the case, usually stretching on between six months and two years.
- Settlement or trial. The majority of personal injury lawsuits are settled out-of-court, sometimes right before a trial begins. Once a case is settled, the plaintiff usually receives damages within a few months. Before any case is settled, a plaintiff’s personal injury attorney must carefully analyze what expenses an injured person will have to pay from any settlement. This includes liens that medical insurance companies may have filed against the injured party’s lawsuit. This also includes any of the plaintiff’s unpaid medical bills as well as Medicare and Medicaid liens and any similar lien filed by any entity against the plaintiff’s settlement. Great care must be taken by the plaintiff’s attorney to make sure that all settlements are sufficient to fully and fairly compensate the plaintiff for their injuries and to fully pay all outstanding medical liens that might be asserted against an injured plaintiff.
If you are looking for the most experienced car accident lawyer Bellingham has; look no further. Our personal injury attorneys are ready to offer legal advice and fight for the settlement you deserve. The sooner we can begin gathering information about your claim, the better. Contact us today for your FREE consultation.