Is it Possible to Bring a Car Accident Lawsuit if I Was Not Physically Injured?
Car accidents often leave victims with painful injuries that require extensive treatment and recovery time. However, some collisions do not result in any physical damage for some or all of a vehicle’s occupants. It’s important to note that you should never assume that you have escaped a car accident unscathed until you have undergone a complete medical evaluation.
After a frightening crash, the adrenaline in your system can sometimes mask pain, and certain injuries may not hurt until the damaged tissues begin to swell. Although you may not feel immediate pain after an accident, you could still have significant or life-threatening injuries, such as whiplash or internal bleeding.
Even if you have not experienced any injuries, it’s likely you will still have expenses related to the accident. If another person’s negligence fully or partially caused the crash, a Washington car accident attorney may be able to help you recover damages for your losses. Car accident claims that do not involve injuries typically fall into one of the following categories.
Washington State operates under a fault-based system for car accident claims. After an accident, you may file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance for damage to your vehicle, personal items within your car, and other harm to your personal property. In some cases, the insurer will pay this claim, and the issue will be resolved.
Unfortunately, many drivers are uninsured or underinsured. You may carry uninsured motorist coverage on your own policy to protect yourself from these situations. However, if you do not have this coverage or it is insufficient to cover your damages, you may be forced to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to collect compensation to repair or replace your vehicle and your personal property.
Car accidents can be incredibly traumatizing, even if you did not suffer physical injuries. You may have seen another person get severely hurt or killed, which can have long-term mental impacts. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can result from car accidents where you fear for your life. You could also develop a debilitating fear of driving or traveling in a car, known as vehophobia, because you are afraid that you may be involved in another crash.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms of emotional distress after an accident, it is critical to seek a diagnosis and treatment from a qualified medical professional:
- Flashbacks of the accident
- Anxiety or depression
- Nightmares or sleep disturbances
- Mood changes
- Panic attacks
- Avoidance behaviors, including a refusal to drive or do anything that could trigger memories of the accident
A car accident lawsuit could help you pursue compensation for damages related to your emotional distress, such as medical and therapy costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
What Are the Key Points of a Car Accident Lawsuit?
Whether your car accident lawsuit involves physical injuries, property damage, or emotional distress, it must demonstrate the following four elements of negligence to be successful:
- Duty of care: It must be shown that the defendant was obligated to act in a certain way to maintain the safety and well-being of those around them. When driving a car, an individual is expected to abide by the rules of the road and make reasonable choices based on road conditions and other common observations.
- Breach of duty: To prove negligence, you must show that the individual breached their duty by acting in a way that a reasonably prudent person would not. For example, speeding or driving while intoxicated are clear breaches of a driver’s duty of care to other motorists.
- Cause of harm: It must be shown that the defendant’s negligent actions led to the accident and, subsequently, the plaintiff’s injuries.
- Harm to the plaintiff: Without any provable damages, there is no action the court can take to rectify the situation. The plaintiff must show that they suffered consequences from the accident, such as damage to their car, physical injury, or mental anguish. The costs related to these losses can then be translated into a fair settlement amount.
What Can I Do Following the Accident to Help Support my Claim?
The time after a car accident can be very chaotic. It’s vital to stay as calm as possible to ensure your safety and help protect your legal rights. Steps you can take after a car accident to improve the strength of your claim include:
- Remain at the accident scene: If anyone has been hurt or killed in the crash, you must remain there until police arrive. Failing to stay could put you at risk of criminal charges.
- File a police report: While it is best to contact the police and have them make a crash report, if they deem your accident minor and do not respond, you should still file a report within four days to officially record the crash details. This step is required for accidents involving injuries, death, or property damage greater than $1000.
- Take pictures: Photos of the accident scene provide evidence of the damage and can help when trying to prove fault for the crash.
- Collect information: Get the other driver’s insurance information and record the names and addresses of any witnesses.
- Keep copies of bills: Retain an organized folder with your car repair expenses, therapy costs, or other bills related to your accident so your lawyer can accurately determine your losses.
How Can a Car Accident Attorney Assist Me?
Even if you were not physically injured in your car accident, it can significantly affect your life and finances. You deserve to seek full compensation for all the harm caused by a negligent driver. An experienced attorney from South Sound Law Group can help you navigate filing a claim, negotiating with insurers, and taking your case to court, if necessary. To learn more about your legal rights and options, contact our law firm today at 253-465-2722 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your claim.