Ritchie Reiersen Law – Auto Accident Lawyers
When you have been injured in an auto accident, you need an experienced and dedicated car accident attorney on your side. The auto accident attorneys at Ritchie Reiersen Law are passionate about helping victims who have been injured due to the negligent actions of others. We will help you pursue your claim to the fullest extent of the law. It can be very overwhelming to try to handle an insurance company on your own, especially when you’re injured.
According to the Department of Transportation, in 2017 there were 6.4 million police-reported auto accidents – averaging out to about 12 crashes per minute across the United States. In 2019, an estimated 38,800 people died in car crashes; an additional 4.4 million people were injured severely enough to require medical attention. Car crashes happen far too often, and can have devastating financial consequences on the injured party if they don’t receive the compensation they deserve.
At Ritchie Reiersen Law, we want you to know you don’t have to face an uncertain future alone. Ritchie Reiersen Law personal injury attorneys have offices across the state of Washington in Tacoma, Auburn, Yakima, and Kennewick, and service the entire Seattle area.
We also have an office in Portland, Oregon and have local attorneys who serve the Portland/Vancouver area.
Call us today at (888) 884-7337 to connect with a local car crash attorney for a free consultation.
Injured and Overwhelmed? An Auto Accident Attorney Can Help With That!
The claims process surrounding personal injury car accidents is often complicated and burdensome, especially when you are dealing with the stress of being injured. Having an experienced auto accident attorney makes the process easier. Studies have shown, as well, that settlement offers are significantly higher when you have an attorney at your side.
When you have been hurt due to the negligent driving of another individual, it is important to consult with an experienced auto accident attorney as soon as possible. This will allow you to focus on healing; your attorney will take care of the hard work.
The auto accident attorneys at Ritchie Reiersen Law want you to know that you don’t have to face the insurance company alone. We are here to stand up for your rights and we will help you receive the compensation you deserve.
We have offices with local lawyers in Portland, Yakima, Kennewick, Tacoma and Auburn for your convenience. Call our personal injury firm at (888) 884-7337 for a free consultation with an experienced accident attorney.
How Can A Car Accident Lawyer Help You?
Ritchie Reiersen Law has experienced personal injury attorneys with knowledge of handling car accident cases. As your car accident lawyer, we handle the medical bills, deal with the insurance companies, and take care of the legal paperwork. Most importantly, we will work hard to ensure you get a fair settlement. The last thing you need after an auto accident is additional stress. Let Ritchie Reiersen Personal Injury and Car Accident Attorneys take care of that for you. Call today for your free consultation with a local personal injury attorney at (888) 884-7337.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I do if I am in an auto accident?
When you find yourself involved in an auto accident, it is important you take some steps to protect yourself and decrease the possibility of complications with your claim process.
- Call the Police. An official accident report from police can will help establish fault and prove negligence.
- Move your vehicle to the side of the road if possible – for your safety as well as that of the other motorists on the road.
- Get medical care right away, and follow the physician’s orders. Call 911 if necessary
- It is important to remain calm and be mindful of what you say to others.
- Get the other driver’s information. Even if they suggest otherwise, never allow the other car to leave until you have exchanged insurance information with them.
- Never ever admit fault. This could be used against you during the claims process.
- Gather witness information. Witnesses can help corroborate what happened.
- Document the scene and the damage to your vehicle by taking photos.
- Call an experienced personal injury attorney. With years of experience, our auto accident attorneys can help you get the compensation you deserve.
What determines who is at fault in an auto accident?
Deciding who is at fault in an auto accident typically involves trying to determine who was acting careless. Each state has a set of rules that all drivers of motor vehicles must follow and each state is different. Car accidents in Washington State are handled differently from car accidents in Oregon, likewise, each county and city have their own unique procedures. Determining liability is based on facts surrounding the accident including witnesses, traffic lights and signs, speeds and often involves a police officer using those facts to come up with a conclusion of liability.
Sometimes the violation of one of the traffic laws is obvious – such as in the case of running a red light and hitting someone – and it is easy to determine the fault. Other situations are not so easy to determine fault, and the laws of negligence will come into play. A driver who is found to be acting negligent (acting in a thoughtless or careless manner) will be assigned at least some of the fault for the accident.
If my car is rear-ended in a crash, can I be found liable?
If your car is hit from behind, fault is almost always assigned to the driver in the vehicle behind you. The rules of the road state that a driver must be able to stop their vehicle if the vehicle in front of them stops. In the case of a rear-end collision, the driver of the vehicle in the back clearly was not driving safely and following the rules of the road.
To help with a rear-end accident claim, take photos of the damage of both vehicles. If the back of your vehicle and the front of the other vehicle are damaged, that shows that the other driver would be at fault for hitting your vehicle.
There are extreme cases where the car being rear ended could be found to be negligent, but those cases are much more.
Is a driver who is turning left always the one who is found to be at-fault in a collision?
A driver who is turning left is almost always going to be found liable in the case of a collision with a vehicle that is coming straight toward them from the other direction. There are a few exceptions, however, to this “almost always liable” rule:
- If the car coming straight towards the car turning was exceeding the speed limit, but this is very difficult to prove
- If the car going straight ran through a red light and the turning car had a green light
- If the car turning left started the turn when it was clear and safe to do so, but something unexpected caused them to slow down or stop turning
Since the law states that a driver should not attempt to turn into oncoming traffic unless it can safely complete the turn, the liability in this type of collision will almost always be placed upon the left-turn driver.
What happens when multiple drivers are injured in the crash, and both are found to be at-fault?
Both Oregon and Washington are known as “comparative negligence” states, although Oregon does use a “modified comparative negligence” rule. This means that you will be responsible to pay for the percentage of fault that you are found to be responsible for. Oregon’s modified comparative negligence does indicate that an individual can only recover compensation if the other party is determined to be at least 49% or more at-fault.
For example, let’s say John and Susan are both drivers in a collision. The police determine that John is 20% at-fault and Susan is 80% at fault. In Washington, which uses a pure comparative negligence rule, Susan may recover 20% of the damages as that was how much John was determined to be liable for. John, on the other hand, will be able to recover 80% of his damages from Susan.
With the same situation happening in Oregon, John can recover 80% of the damages against Susan. Susan, however, cannot recover any damages because John is not over that 49% threshold for fault.
Because of the nuances in determining fault and liability, having an experienced auto accident attorney on your team can make a huge difference in the outcome of your claim.
How much will it cost to hire an auto accident attorney?
Auto accident attorneys work on what is called a contingency fee basis. Simply put, this means that you don’t have to pay your personal injury lawyer unless they win your case for you.
With a contingency fee, the attorney knows that he isn’t going to get paid unless your case is settled to your satisfaction. This gives the attorney extra incentive to work hard and ensure you receive the highest reasonable settlement figure. In this type of billing situation, there are no up-front costs to the clients, and at the end of the time working together, there will be no surprise hidden fees.
When the case is settled, the attorney will keep an agreed-upon percentage of the full settlement amount. Most personal injury attornys charge a 33% of total settlement fee. Having an attorney on your side will help ensure you receive the compensation you deserve and in most circumstances the settlement will be higher than if you were to proceed on your own.
Do I have to take my car to an “insurance-approved” mechanic?
No, this is a myth. After a car accident you are able to take your car to any mechanic or body shop you trust. When you arrive at the repair center of your choice, simply provide them with your claim number, your adjuster’s name, and adjuster’s contact number – they will take care of the rest.
Should I use social media after I am involved in an accident?
In order to be completely sure you don’t inadvertently harm your case, we recommend that you turn off social media accounts after an accident. However, if you choose not to do that, we recommend that at the very minimum you take the following steps to protect yourself and your case:
- Check your privacy settings. Make sure your personal information and posts are private.
- Don’t upload photos that may hurt your case. Ensure only your friends are able to see your photo albums.
- Only accept friends requests from people you know personally. You don’t want to give access to personal information to someone working against your claim.
- Be cautious about public groups you join. Avoid groups that could compromise your claim.
- Make your personal profile viewable only by friends.
- Remove your Facebook profile from showing up in Google search results.
- Keep your case private. Don’t post information about an accident, injuries, or photos showing you doing something that could be seen as inconsistent with your claimed injuries.
- Don’t post photos of yourself, especially photos of you doing things as the insurance companies will use these photos to prove that you are not injured.
What happens when I’m injured as a passenger, not a driver, in an auto accident?
If you’re a passenger in a vehicle that is involved in an auto accident, medical care for your injuries can be paid through the PIP policy on the vehicle’s insurance policy and also your personal injury protection (PIP) policy for your own vehicle. You can also use your personal health insurance. You can file a claim against the at-fault driver and seek compensation for your injuries. This also applies if the driver of the vehicle you were driving in was negligent and caused the accident.
Who pays my medical expenses while my claim is pending?
Typically your medical expenses would be paid by your personal injury protection (PIP) policy after an auto accident. When your PIP is exhausted, the next line of coverage would be your health insurance. Your auto accident attorney will make sure that both you and your health insurance are fully reimbursed for the expenses through the compensation and settlement process. Some medical providers will work on a lien and hold the bills until the case is settled. You also have the option of paying the bills out of pocket and being reimbursed from the settlement.
What happens if the at-fault driver doesn’t have enough insurance coverage?
When the person who causes the accident has an insurance policy that isn’t sufficient to cover your expenses, you can file the remainder of your expenses against your Underinsured Motorist coverage policy. This coverage is meant to step in when the at-fault driver has liability limits that are too low to cover your damages and medical expenses. If you do not have underinsured, you have the right to sue the driver personally; however, this often times prove costly and unfruitful.
Should I continue to drive my car after a car accident?
Have your car completely checked out by an auto mechanic after a car accident and an auto body shop. Even if you just see a few scratches, you will want to know if something else was damaged in the collision prior to driving your vehicle.
What should I do if an adjuster from the “at-fault” driver’s insurance company calls me?
After your car accident, If you receive a call from the other insurance company, kindly refer them either to your own insurance company or your attorney. Most times when an adjuster calls you directly, they are trying to settle with you – usually for a low amount. Don’t entertain any settlement offers until you have completed all your medical treatment and have been able to come up with a comprehensive list of damages. An experienced auto accident attorney can help determine what a fair settlement amount would be.
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Figuring out the best course of action after a car accident can be intimidating. Without taking the correct steps to protect your rights, you could miss out on a significant sum of money. Our attorneys will go the extra mile to secure the maximum compensation you deserve. Get our free e-book on car accidents. You’ll learn everything you need to know about choosing the right auto injury attorney, dealing with insurance issues, getting medical coverage and more. To discuss the specifics of your case during a free consultation, get in touch with our office.
“I wish I would have had this book when I was hit 10 years ago. I made so many mistakes and ended up paying for it with long term injuries that weren’t covered, and the regret of looking back at the compensation I should have received for my car, my pain and my time.”
— Jordan from Yakima.
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