Frequently Asked Questions
Current research shows the amount of damage to a car cannot be equated to the amount of injury to the passengers. A passenger may be seriously hurt, even though the car has minimal damage. Often, a car struck from behind will accelerate very fast, causing less damage to the car and more damage to the passengers. Remember, bumpers are designed to protect the car, not the passengers.
The rapid motion of the neck and back during an accident can cause a number of injuries to the spinal bones, nerves, discs, and supporting soft tissues. When left untreated, these injuries can cause long term chronic pain in the neck and back, with radiating pain or numbness into the head, arms, and legs.
Disc protrusions have been noted in accidents as slow as 5 to 10 miles per hour. Other joints of the body can also be sprained or injured by blunt trauma.
Shoulders often are at risk for injury. Especially the shoulder that is not strapped in by the safety belt.
There are many factors that determine a patient’s degree of injury, such as position of the body at impact, rotation of the head at impact, position of the headrest, age, gender, and preparation for impact. It is not unusual that while one passenger is seriously injured, another passenger in the same vehicle escapes essentially unharmed.
Does my car insurance cover my medical costs?
It can depend on your insurance coverage. In the State of Washington insurance agents are obligated to offer you PIP (Personal Injury Protection) insurance with your auto policy. You are not obligated to accept it, but if you have PIP coverage then it will pay up to $10,000 regardless of who was at fault. If you don’t have PIP coverage it can depend on who was at fault. In these circumstances it is important to consult with a lawyer who specializes in personal injury. Most will do a consultation for free.
What is PIP (Personal Injury Protection Insurance)?
PIP is insurance coverage for medical and other expenses, such as wage loss and funeral expenses, which result from an auto accident, no matter who is at fault. You are not required to have PIP coverage in the State of Washington, but the insurance agent must offer you coverage.
Will my rates go up if I get care for my injuries?
If you were at fault for the accident, then your rates will go up regardless of whether you get care or not.
If you were not at fault then your rates will not got up. If you have PIP coverage then your medical expenses will be paid by your insurance company through the PIP fund, but your insurance company will recoup these costs from the insurance company of the person at fault.
If you don’t have PIP coverage then you will have t reach a settlement with the insurance company of the person at fault. Many times they will try to settle the case as early as possible, so it is important to consult with an attorney before you reach a settlement with the insurance company.
What if I wasn’t at fault? Should the other driver’s insurance cover my care?
If you have PIP coverage then your insurance will pay for your care regardless of who was at fault. This will not cause your rates to increase. Your insurance company will recoup the costs from the insurance company of the driver at fault. If you don’t have PIP coverage then you have to reach a settlement with the insurance company of the driver at fault. It is important to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible if this is the case.
Do I need to talk to a lawyer?
Most lawyers who handle personal injury and auto accidents will provide you with a consultation for free even if they decide not to take your case. Also, most personal injury lawyers have no up front costs.
We recommend that anyone who has been involved in an accident consult with an attorney.