Distracted driving is a major cause of car accidents. When drivers take their eyes and attention away from the road to engage in activities such as texting, eating, or adjusting their music, they are more likely to be involved in an accident. A distraction takes only a few seconds to lead to an accident, causing severe injuries and death. Therefore, drivers need to focus on the road when they are behind the wheel to reduce the risk of being involved in an accident due to distracted driving.
Distracted driving falls under personal injury, a civil lawsuit in many states, including Washington. You can file a personal injury claim with the defendant’s insurer to seek compensation for your injuries. Ideally, the claim should be settled here after successful negotiations.
It is common knowledge that insurers tend to deny liability or offer lowball settlement offers. If this is your case, you can file a lawsuit to compel them to pay. The distracted driving accident lawyers at BoohoffLaw.com can help you or a loved one file a lawsuit post-accident. The following section presents an overview of the steps to take after a terrible road experience.
1. Hire a Distracted Driving Accident Lawyer
Hiring a lawyer is the first step in the legal staircase to justice after a distracted driving accident. Attorneys understand the inner workings of the judicial system and how lawsuits work. They can offer legal counsel and guidance on how to file personal injury claim lawsuits.
The attorney will evaluate your case for validity. Ensure you gather enough documents about the case, including those from the doctors and vehicle repairs. This will help show that you’re serious about the suing process.
Please note that the initial consultations at Boohoff Law are free. You don’t need to pay a dime to consult a personal injury lawyer.
An exploratory investigation follows the initial consultation. This is usually done to determine whether the defendant has sufficient assets or insurance coverage to afford the settlement awarded after judgment. If the initial consultations uncover that the defendant can afford to pay for the damages, you sign a fee agreement that establishes an attorney-client relationship. The game is on.
2. Gathering Evidence
A personal injury claim is awarded based on successful proof of fault. Solid evidence is needed to prove that the distracted driver was, for example, texting or on the phone when the crash occurred. You need more evidence besides the few shots you probably took at the accident scene.
Your lawyer will guide you in gathering the following evidence:
- Official reports from the police and accident reconstructionist
- Initial medical reports and subsequent second opinions
- Witness statements
- Videos, photos, or audio recorded before, during, and after the crash
Investigating the driver’s criminal records may uncover an undisputable history of past offenses. Your lawyer will prepare all the necessary evidence for the next step.
3. The Demand Letter
Your lawyer may serve the distracted driver and any other liable party a demand letter. The document notifies the defendants you intend to seek legal recourse if your demands for full compensation aren’t met. A demand letter also mentions your evidence and the value of losses you suffered from the distracted driving accident.
The defendant must move quickly to stop legal action by calling for negotiation and out-of-court settlement. Lawyers from both sides come to the negotiating table and agree on a favorable outcome instead of a lawsuit. Out-of-court personal injury settlements are common, with only 4-5% of cases going to trial. The party at fault may ignore the demand letter, and you can take the next step.
4. Filing the Complaint Letter
The last step is filing the complaint with a court or jury with jurisdiction to prosecute personal injury cases. This officially kicks off the lawsuit. The complaint details your allegations against the defendants. It also lists the harm you suffered and the value of damages you wish to recover. File the complaint in the county where the accident occurred or the defendant’s county of residence. Your lawyer should personally serve the complaint or ensure the document is delivered to the accused. The defendants have a month from the day of filing to give a response. The matter proceeds to the discovery and hearing phases.