Colburn Law

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Colburn Law

Bellingham Car Accident Lawyer

Car Accident

As drivers, we have a responsibility to operate our vehicles carefully and to follow all of the rules of the road. Unfortunately, not all of us adhere to these standards, leading to serious accidents, injuries, and even death. If you are suffering from the aftermath of a car accident that you did not cause, you may be struggling to receive compensation for your injuries — and Colburn Law can help.

Car Accident Resources:

Why Choose Colburn Law

Our Bellingham car accident attorneys will work closely with you each step of the way, whether you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim against the driver responsible for our injuries. For years, Bellingham drivers have trusted us with their car accident claims due to our dedication to our clients, passion for personal injury law, and experience working with car accident cases.

  • At Colburn Law, we understand that legal representation can seem expensive and inaccessible. That’s why we operate on a contingency fee basis — if we do not secure a settlement on your behalf, you do not pay legal fees.
  • Our firm understands how painful and difficult suffering a personal injury can be. Our founder, Greg Colburn suffered a fall from a rooftop as a young man due to a negligent subcontractor — and this experience inspired him to help others seek the compensation they need to recover.
  • Colburn Law combines the personalized attention and close lawyer-client relationship of a small firm with the resources and tenacity of a large firm. We will communicate with you each step of the way.

Your Legal Options After a Car Accident in Bellingham

Washington follows a traditional fault car insurance system, which means that the driver responsible for the accident is responsible for paying for the damages that the other drivers sustain in the crash. You can claim compensation for these damages in three ways.

  • You can file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
  • You can file a claim with your personal insurance company.
  • You can file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court.

Typically, drivers file an insurance claim first and proceed to civil court if the insurance company refuses to settle. Your attorney can advise you on the best course of action for your case.

What to Do After a Car Accident

If you are in a car accident in Bellingham, you may feel severe pain and experience confusion, disorientation, and fear. However, you will need to take necessary steps to seek medical attention, preserve evidence, and collect important information to benefit your case.

  • First, get to a safe place if you have not done so already. Pullover in a safe location and exit the vehicle if you are able to do so.
  • Next, call 911. This will bring law enforcement officers and emergency medical services to the scene. Your police report will be a crucial piece of evidence in your case, and it is important that you relay your version of events to the officer.
  • Seek medical attention as soon as you can. You may not feel pain in the moment, but it is important to visit a hospital — you may suffer from internal injuries you may not be aware of, or you may be in shock and not feel your injuries in the moment. In addition, avoid stating that you do not have any injuries. This can reduce your chances of receiving a settlement in your case.
  • If you can walk around safely, document the scene and collect necessary pieces of information at the scene. Take pictures of all vehicles involved, your injuries, and any traffic signs and indicators around the area. Exchange information with the other driver, such as phone number, insurance information, and license plate number. If there are any witnesses in the area, collect their contact information as well.

Bellingham Car Accident Statistics

According to a 2018 report from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, Washington traffic fatalities increased by 5.4% in 2017. Accidents involving drivers who were under the influence of alcohol also increased by 3.1% in 2017, signaling a disturbing trend and a dangerous risk to other motorists, passengers, and pedestrians alike.

For Bellingham specifically, traffic incidents pose a significant risk to residents’ safety. According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, Bellingham saw the following car accident trends during 2019.

  • 1,346 car accidents occurred in Bellingham during 2019.
  • 76 of these crashes resulted in minor injuries.
  • 21 of these accidents resulted in serious injuries.
  • 2 of these crashes involved a fatality.
  • 261 of these crashes involved a possible injury.

Is Washington State a No-Fault Insurance State?

After a car accident, you may wonder who is responsible for paying for the damages you suffered. This question depends on whether you reside in a fault or no-fault insurance state.

Under the no-fault insurance system, you and your insurance company are responsible for paying for your injuries, regardless of who was at-fault. You can file a personal injury lawsuit or a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance if your case meets certain criteria.

Only a few states operate on a no-fault system, and Washington is not one of them. Instead, Washington follows a fault-based insurance system, which requires the at-fault driver to pay for all damages in an accident he or she is responsible for. Under this system, you will typically file an insurance claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance or proceed with a personal injury lawsuit.

What Is Washington’s Pure Comparative Fault Rule?

In addition to being a fault insurance state, Washington also follows a pure comparative fault rule during car accident lawsuits. This rule may impact your final settlement amount.

During your trial, the jury will determine who was at-fault for the collision. If the court finds you were partially liable for the accident, your settlement amount will decrease by the percentage of liability you share. For example, if you ask for $20,000 in damages and the court finds you are liable for 20% of the accident, you will only receive $16,000.

Unlike many other states, Washington allows you to collect damages even if you share the majority of the liability. If the court finds you 99% liable and you are seeking a $20,000 settlement, you can recover $200 out of the original amount.

What Is Washington State’s Uninsured Motorist Law?

Since Washington is a fault insurance state, all drivers must carry certain amounts of liability insurance in case they cause a car accident.

  • $25,000 in bodily injury or death liability per person per accident
  • $50,000 in total bodily injury or death liability per accident
  • $10,000 in property damage liability per accident

Drivers must also apply for a certificate of deposit with Washington’s Department of Licensing and have a liability bond of at least $60,000 to comply with these requirements. Drivers who do not have this minimum insurance can face serious consequences, including fines, license suspensions, and court judgements.

Although Washington doesn’t require drivers to carry uninsured or underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage, it is an important policy to purchase in case you are in an accident with a driver who does not have insurance. UM/UIM coverage provides compensation for your damages in situations where you may not be able to collect these funds from an at-fault driver.

Choose Colburn Law for Your Bellingham Car Accident Case

If you need a car accident attorney who will advocate for your side of the story from consultation to settlement, look no further than Colburn Law. Our attorneys will work closely with you to build your car accident case, guiding you through each step of the claims process so that you can receive the compensation you need to recover. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation and to discuss your legal options.

 

Client Testimonial: 5/5 ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Greg guided me through a stressful process involving a car accident and the insurance company. Not only did he put me at ease, but he was truly an advocate for me and my family. I am truly thankful for his help, and would highly recommend him to any of my friends or family. 

-Jeff P.
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