Pursuing Compensation From Negligent Drivers In Tacoma
Whether you are taking a walk along the waterfront, taking a stroll down Ruston Way, or crossing the Narrows Bridge on the Scott Pierson Trail, Tacoma is a fantastic city to walk, jog, or hike around. The vibrant culture and scenic trails allow residents to enjoy the beauty of Washington while getting a little exercise. Sadly, reckless drivers often are not focused on the safety of local pedestrians and their careless actions can easily lead to a devastating accident.
If you or someone you loved were injured by a negligent driver, then do not hesitate to contact the Tacoma pedestrian accident attorneys at Pendergast Law. We understand just how traumatic this experience has been for you and can provide a much-needed helping hand with getting you proper compensation from the at-fault driver. We have nearly 30 years of experience advocating for the residents of Tacoma in car accident claims and can relentlessly pursue compensation so you can heal properly Call us toll-free at 888-539-9211 to set up a free consultation and discuss what options are available to you.
Understanding The Claims Process
After a car accident, a timeline is started for how long a victim has to file an auto accident claim against the at-fault driver. In the state of Washington, you will have up to three years from the date of the accident to file a claim. Often, this claim is filed against their auto insurance liability policy, however, you may also be able to utilize your personal insurance policy such as Medpay or UM/UIM coverage, even though you were not in a vehicle.
Filing a claim for a pedestrian accident is not as simple as submitting a form. The driver’s insurance company will often contact you through an insurance adjuster who will handle your case. While the adjuster may seem friendly and sympathetic to your situation, they almost always attempt to minimize the amount of money they pay you in a claim. They will try to offer a quick settlement to placate your immediate medical bills, but these offers usually do not include the full costs of your injuries. Or, they will try to get you to admit some fault for your injuries or say that you are not as injured as you claim. This is especially true with collisions with trucks, as their insurance policies can reach as high as a million dollars, and the adjuster will want to avoid paying you the policy limit, even if your injuries are extensive.
You may attempt to negotiate with the insurance adjuster on your own, but oftentimes they are resistant to providing proper compensation to pedestrians if they do not have a significant amount of evidence or understanding of Washington state laws. However, if you enter negotiations with an experienced attorney, you may be able to receive a significant offer that accounts for the full extent of your injuries, including lost wages and mental anguish.
At Pendergast Law, our founding attorney is a member of both the Million and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, and our legal team is a staunch advocate for pedestrians injured by negligent drivers. We have an in-depth understanding of the claims process and can provide sound legal advice from the moment you contact us. When you choose to work with us, we can:
- Review all available insurance policies
- Collect evidence of negligence
- Calculate the total costs of the accident
- Prepare a sizable claim on your behalf
- Negotiate with the insurance adjuster
- Advocate for compensation in a jury trial, if necessary
But you may still be wondering whether or not you have a claim and what options are available to you after an accident.
Common Injuries In Pedestrian Accidents
In the majority of pedestrian accidents, the pedestrian is eligible to pursue a claim against the driver. This is because drivers have a general duty of care towards everyone around them, from other drivers to local joggers. When they violate this duty, often through an act of negligence, they can become liable for paying for any injuries they cause.
Generally, auto insurance policies require an accident to involve “great bodily injuries” for a victim to pursue a claim, but that is a fairly broad description. Often, following a pedestrian accident, the victim can suffer:
- Traumatic brain injuries and head trauma
- Spinal cord injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Several fractures and broken bones
- Amputations or the loss of a limb
- Severe lacerations
- Soft tissue damage
These injuries are almost always traumatic, leaving the pedestrian with expensive medical bills, months out of work, and a great deal of pain and suffering. This does not even begin to cover the psychological trauma, which can follow them for years after an accident. However, under a liability policy, you may be able to recover the full costs of your injuries, including any lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional trauma so long as you can also prove negligence caused the collision.
Comparative Negligence Laws In Washington
Alongside accounting for the injuries you have suffered, you must also demonstrate how the at-fault driver acted negligently and caused said injuries. Negligence is a broad term that covers several different actions that can cause a driver to break their duty of care. In Tacoma, the most common forms include:
- Driving while texting or talking on the phone
- Making dangerous left-hand turns
- Failing to check blind spots or mirrors
- Recklessly backing out of a driveway
- Driving while intoxicated
- Not coming to a complete stop at red lights or stop lights
- Ignoring yield to pedestrian signs
However, negligence can go both ways. In the state of Washington, auto insurance claims are evaluated under comparative negligence laws. This means that both parties in a claim can be found liable for an accident and potentially be denied the right to compensation. For pedestrians, this means that your actions contributed to your injuries, such as jaywalking.
While comparative negligence laws only come into play during jury trials and most claims are settled out of court, it is still important to be aware of how these laws could impact the amount of compensation you receive. During a civil trial, the jury will evaluate how much fault can be placed on the driver and pedestrian. If you are assigned 50% or more of the fault, then you will lose the chance to receive compensation. However, if you are found less than 50% at fault, then you will still be able to recover a proportional amount of compensation.
For example, if the jury determines that you stepped into a crosswalk before it was safe to do so but the cross-traffic had a red light, they may assign 20% of the fault to you. If you are awarded $100,000 for your injuries, then you will only receive $80,000, as $20,000 was taken away from you. This means that even if you were jaywalking or otherwise acting negligently, you may still be able to receive compensation in a pedestrian accident.
Securing Legal Representation
Dealing with an auto accident claim on top of recovering from your injuries can be extremely difficult, especially if you are worried about Washington’s comparative negligence laws. However, if you reach out to the Tacoma personal injury attorney at Pendergast Law, then we will do everything in our power to not only ensure you receive a fair shot at compensation but that the process is as stress-free as possible. We will handle everything from calculating the cost of your injuries to dealing with the insurance adjuster so you can focus on recovering. To learn how we can represent you in a pedestrian accident claim, contact us toll-free at 888-539-9211.