What If You Discover Car Damage After An Accident?

Even if you’re fortunate enough to escape personal harm, dealing with vehicle damage can be complicated.

In fact, some serious and costly problems might be discovered after the collision. That’s a tough situation, with almost no legal recourse.

Below, we’ll cover why your options are limited and how to ensure all damage is discovered upfront.

Can’t I Just Claim More Vehicle Damage Later?

Generally speaking, you get one shot at a vehicle damage claim.

When the insurer offers a settlement check, it usually includes (or is contingent upon) a waiver of any future damage claims.

From an insurer’s perspective, this makes perfect sense. The matter is resolved, and no longer a pending liability on their books.

But as a vehicle owner, it means categorically no compensation for damage you notice after settlement. Even if the damage existed all along, its absence from your claim means it’s effectively off the table.

How to Avoid Missed Damage

In the overwhelming majority of cases, there’s no way to claim damage that you discover later. Settlements are effectively final.

Your best (and only) option is to avoid that situation altogether.

1. Get a professional inspection immediately

It’s tempting to try to end the matter quickly and move on with life as soon as possible. The insurer may also pressure you to settle promptly.

But proceed with caution.

Some damage (to electronics or engine components, for instance) is difficult or impossible for most of us to detect. What’s more, the stress of a collision—let alone any injuries—makes it even harder to notice hidden but critical damage.

After photographing the scene and filing police and insurance reports, get your car to a reputable mechanic immediately. They will calmly and thoroughly inspect your vehicle from bumper to bumper. They will also provide a comprehensive damage summary, repair estimates, and other critical details that your insurer will take into account.

We can’t overstate the importance of documenting all damage at once!

While it’s important to avoid haste, keep in mind that your time is limited. At minimum, your insurer will require prompt notice of a collision. They may even require a full claim within just days of the accident, so prompt inspection is essential.

Note that the exact time frame depends on the terms of your policy. Unlike with personal injury claims, these are not subject to Washington’s statute of limitations.

2. Seek counsel from a collision specialist

Even if you were fortunate enough to avoid injury, some damage claims are still complicated to resolve.

For instance, disputes over fault and negligence can seriously derail negotiations, and all the more so when a third party’s insurance is involved. An experienced attorney can help streamline this stressful process and win you the fullest possible compensation.

Additionally, our team of car accident legal specialists can help you decipher the legalese and potentially negotiate a fairer settlement.

This is of the utmost importance if you are pursuing vehicle and injury claims at the same time. Those different processes with different remedies and statutes of limitations. Before you sign anything, it’s critical to understand which claim(s) any settlement or release documents apply to.

The Problem With Damage Discovered After an Accident

The aftermath of a car accident can feel as stressful as the collision itself.

And it only compounds that stress (and financial hardship) if you find vehicle damage after filing your initial claim. It’s worth reiterating that there’s virtually no way to add newfound damage to a settled claim.

What you can do is get a prompt, professional vehicle inspection that leaves no stone unturned.

And if it proves difficult to reach a fair settlement, or to pursue an injury claim at the same time, you can also choose a legal team with a track record of winning on behalf of accident victims.

If you’d feel more confident with counsel on your side, then contact us today for a no-obligations discussion.

Hit by a commercial vehicle – Here’s what to do

It’s frightening and stressful to get hit by any vehicle, but all the more so with commercial ones.

Perhaps you’re certain the other vehicle or driver played a role, yet you feel like you’re up against a corporate Goliath, with a room full of lawyers itching to pin all the fault on you.

Even so, we’ve helped dozens of commercial collision victims like you collect their rightful compensation.

If you’ve been hit by a commercial vehicle, then here’s what you need to know:

  • Even if the other driver denies any fault, that still does not mean it’s on you. Collisions often involve factors behind the scenes, like vehicle maintenance or loading, which don’t always come to light without expert counsel.
  • Don’t automatically assume that a settlement offer is in your best interest. Rather, review it with your legal team to make sure it reflects every penny you deserve.
  • Washington law generally allows three years to file a claim, but it’s still important to act quickly. Investigation and insurance negotiations can be slower than we’d like, plus courts are backlogged as they catch up on criminal matters that were delayed during the pandemic. We have the resources to ensure your case gets heard as soon as possible and expedite the compensation you deserve.

What Exactly Is a Commercial Vehicle?

By Washington law, a commercial vehicle is “any vehicle the principal use of which is the transportation of commodities, merchandise, produce, freight, animals, or passengers for hire.” This includes obvious examples like tractor-trailers, but also taxis, buses, and even test vehicles in some cases.

That covers more than you might think, and does leave a little room for legal interpretation. It isn’t always obvious whether the vehicle that hit you was “commercial” under state law, so it’s important to talk to an attorney who specializes in accident and injury law.

Establishing Fault

As always, your claim hinges on who’s at fault and how much they contributed to the collision. That’s because Washington observes something called pure comparative negligence, meaning any contribution to the accident will affect compensation.

In commercial vehicle collisions, both the driver and their employer may be at fault. That isn’t always cut and dried, since details like the time of the collision or the nature of any cargo also affect liability. That’s another example of why it’s essential to seek counsel from a team of accident and injury specialists.

Common Factors in Commercial Vehicle Collisions

Our team realizes this event has disrupted or even altered your life, so we will leave no stone unturned in getting to the root of it.

Of course, bad behaviors—like speeding, recklessness, or intoxication—do occur. But some additional collision risks are unique to commercial vehicles. These may have contributed to your collision even if they weren’t obvious at the time.

Below are just a few of the factors we may pursue.

Commercial drivers are often subject to background checks followed by additional licensing and training requirements. Any gaps—whether accidental or deliberate—may have endangered you by putting an unprepared or untrustworthy driver behind the wheel.

Along the same lines, driver rest rules affect how many hours some commercial drivers may spend behind the wheel. Fatigue makes it exponentially harder to drive safely, so these rules are in place for everyone’s protection. Unfortunately, they’re sometimes disregarded, perhaps with disastrous results.

Commercial vehicle inspection and maintenance is another common factor. They often rack up high mileage with heavy cargo, so even small oversights come with high stakes. What’s more, maintenance problems can show up unexpectedly, at which point the driver’s best efforts still may not prevent a collision.

If you’ve ever loaded a moving van, for instance, you might recall how load and weight distribution can turn a steady vehicle into an unwieldy one. The same goes for commercial vehicles. Most companies have loading protocols in place, but the unfortunate reality is they’re not always observed. Heavy and unbalanced loads may directly endanger other road users like you.

Many other circumstances are rarer but no less impactful. For instance, a vehicle may hold hazardous materials that its operator was not warned about. In that case, the consignor (sender) may be responsible for the extent of damages, if not the collision itself.

Your Next Steps

If you were hit by a commercial vehicle, then you may be entitled to significant compensation for what you’ve suffered.

However, it can be complicated to figure out who’s legally at fault for commercial vehicle collisions. And without dashcam footage, you’re all the more susceptible to others’ allegations.

We’re here to stand in your corner, navigate legal complexities, straighten out conflicting accounts, and win a meaningful claim on your behalf.

In fact, our team has won compensation for dozens of victims of commercial vehicle accidents.

To learn more about your legal rights and possible steps forward, please contact us today.

Remember, building a robust claim takes time, and courts are more delayed than we’ve ever seen, so we urge you to act promptly.

Multi-car Fatality Collisions – What you need to know

The aftermath of multi-car collisions is stressful at best, and often devastating for everyone involved.

Sadly, such collisions are often fatal. That may lead to actions as serious as wrongful death, with damages running well into six or even seven figures.

Moreover, there’s often a web of liability that several drivers, insurers, and attorneys are all attempting to navigate.

If you’ve had the misfortune of playing any role in a large collision, then your first and most important step is to secure expert legal representation.

Multi-Car Accident Causes

Many factors can and do contribute to collisions between several vehicles. Some are as commonplace as speeding or tailgating on a busy highway. Others are as unusual as freak sandstorms or sudden fog.

The most serious and dramatic multi-car accidents tend to be on freeways. High speeds amplify driving errors, adverse weather, and flaws in the road. Too often, this results in dozens of injuries at once—some of them potentially fatal.

Even though freeway pile-ups are the most newsworthy, many multi-car crashes also happen at lower speeds on highways or even city streets. Legally, these can be difficult to disentangle. The complexity of urban driving creates distractions and split-second decisions that may affect liability.

In any case, the more vehicles involved, the more difficult it is to assign legal fault. Just reconstructing the events of large pile-ups can take months—if it’s even possible to reach a conclusion. Weather or driving behavior is usually involved, but most large and fatal crashes follow several interconnected events.

This ambiguity may create grounds for stiff and unanticipated claims against you.

Wrongful Death in Multi-Car Collisions

In Washington, a wrongful death is one “caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another person.” Car accidents are far from the only cause, of course, although they’re one of the most common.

The statute of limitations is generally three years. Even if no suit has been filed yet, that doesn’t mean you won’t face one in the future. In case worse comes to worst, you’ll be glad to have an experienced and effective legal team fighting on your behalf.

Understanding Fault & Liability

Washington observes pure comparative negligence. That means your liability is proportionate to the role the court believes you played in the collision, be it 1% or 100%.

Consequently, any contribution to a collision can expose you to liability. For instance, if the deceased were awarded $1,000,000 for wrongful death, and you were found just 5% at fault, then your own liability would be $5,000. Even if others played a much larger role, your own liability would remain on the table.

That’s also partly because Washington has discarded the doctrine of last clear chance.

Under that doctrine, you might have been liable for less (or no) money if the claimant had the last opportunity—the “last clear chance”—to avoid the collision, but neglected to do so. That no longer applies. If another motorist failed to avoid the collision, and tragically died as a result, their representatives may still claim wrongful death.

Remember: if dashcam footage isn’t available, then it’s even more difficult—and critical—to determine the roles of other parties and defend yourself against questionable claims.

Protecting Yourself While Moving On

Multi-car collisions are often too complicated for insurers to settle. Even without any fatalities, your situation is likely to end up in court, with attorneys on all sides.

We’re here to help you get the compensation you rightly deserve, without bearing unjust blame for a complex, ambiguous event.

While there’s no turning back the clock, it is within your power to work with an experienced attorney. After representing hundreds of people involved in car accidents like yours, we’ve built a track record of uncovering the real role of all parties.

If you were involved in any complex collision—especially a fatal one—then you owe it to yourself to consult a team with a history of successfully fighting for fairness.