Washington, D.C. Car Accident Lawyers

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When you get in your car to drive to work, to go to school, to run errands, or to go on a trip, you probably are not thinking about getting into an accident. Unfortunately, car accidents are a common occurrence, especially in Washington, D.C.

If someone else’s negligence led to an accident that left you injured or facing property damage, you have the right to pursue legal action and to hold them accountable for their negligence. You do not have to pay the price for someone else’s mistake. Ashcraft & Gerel can fight to ensure that you receive the full compensation you deserve.

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Car Insurance Requirements in Washington, D.C.

The District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles maintains that all drivers must have auto insurance and must have the minimum coverage in a few different areas.

Minimum insurance coverage includes:

  • At least $25,000 per person or $50,000 per accident to cover personal injury protection in the event that someone is hurt in an accident
  • At least $10,000 per accident to cover all types of property damage, including vehicle damage
  • At least $25,000 per person or $50,000 per accident to cover uninsured/underinsured individuals injured in an accident
  • At least $5,000 per accident to cover property damage for uninsured/underinsured individuals involved in the accident

Anyone who drives without insurance in Washington, D.C. is personally responsible for all costs associated with a car accident.

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A No-Fault District

Washington, D.C. is a no-fault district. Regardless of who caused the accident, you can use your personal injury protection (PIP) or “no-fault” insurance to obtain compensation for your medical expenses and lost wages. That said, it is usually better to bring a claim against the other driver if they were at fault, as your PIP insurance does not cover pain and suffering.

You have 60 days to decide whether you will bring a claim against the other driver. Should you choose to rely on your no-fault insurance, you will not be able to submit a claim – with very limited exceptions.

In Washington, D.C., you can only use your no-fault benefitsand file a claim against the other driver under limited circumstances.

You may be able to do so if:

  • Your medical expenses exceed your insurance policy’s PIP coverage
  • Your injuries involve permanent impairment or disfigurement, or disability lasting at least 180 days

Insurance policies and coverage limits are extremely complicated. It can help to work with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney if you are facing this situation. Ashcraft & Gerel is here to walk you through the process.

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What Is the Time Limit on Car Accident Claims?

There is athree-year statute of limitations for car accident claims in the District of Columbia. Since you may lose your right to compensation after this time limit is up, we encourage you to give notice to the other driver’s insurance company right away. Our attorneys can follow up with a written notice to the insurance company after you inform them you will be filing a claim.

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Contributory Negligence

Washington, D.C. still implements the contributory negligence policy, which means that anyone found even just 1% responsible cannot recover compensation – no matter how severe the damages were. Insurance companies often use this policy in their efforts to reduce the amount of money they have to pay out. Contributory negligence applies to civil lawsuits in addition to insurance claims.

Steps to Take after a Car Accident

After an accident, the first thing you should do is ensure that you and your passengers are not physically injured. Seek immediate medical attention for any severe injuries.

If you do not need immediate medical care, be sure to call the police. The police can make sure that you and the other driver exchange insurance and contact information. The officer can also write a police report detailing the incident. This can be a crucial piece of evidence when you file a claim.

After the accident, we recommend that you seek medical attention even if you do not think you sustained any serious or life-threatening injuries. Some injuries take several days or weeks to appear. Having a medical professional assess your health and physical condition can ensure there is documented proof of any injuries you sustained in the accident.

Once the accident scene has been cleared and both drivers have gone their separate ways, the insurance companies will get involved. This is perhaps the most complex and frustrating part of any car accident case. Many people attempt to deal with insurance companies on their own, but having our skilled Washington, D.C. car accident attorneys on your side can make a world of difference in your success.

Discuss Your Case with Ashcraft & Gerel

During a free initial consultation, our attorneys can discuss your rights and options and help you make informed decisions moving forward. Our goal is to ensure that you get the maximum compensation available under the law. We understand that there is a lot of red tape to cut through and that car accident claims can be overwhelming. Let us handle the legal legwork for you so that you can focus on recovering.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should You Always Call the Police After a Car Accident?

You do not have to call the police if the accident was minor, but it is always best to err on the side of caution and call them anyway. If you want to pursue compensation for any injuries or property damage, a police report may prove to be integral to your case.

Should I Continue Driving My Car After an Accident?

No, you should not drive your car after a collision. It is best to get your car inspected by a mechanic as soon as possible. If you keep driving your car before consulting a mechanic, the at-fault party may point to that fact and utilize it to falsely claim that they did not damage your car.

How Do I Pay for Medical Expenses if My Case Is Pending?

The first resource you can turn to in order to pay your medical bills is your PIP insurance. After that, you may need to use your health insurance. Unfortunately, once these two avenues are exhausted, you will need to pay for your medical expenses out of pocket. If you win your lawsuit, you should be able to use the jury award or settlement to cover your medical expenses. This is the very reason why personal injury lawsuits are so vital — often, they are the only chance an accident victim has of affording medical care.

Should I Talk to the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company?

No, it is always best to refer the at-fault driver’s insurance company to your own insurance company instead of talking to them. Typically, the at-fault party’s insurance agent will only contact you to pressure you to settle early onbefore you have a chance to calculate how much your case is worth. Don’t let them rush you, especially since the first offer an insurance agent makes tends to be a lowball payout.

What If I Was the Victim of a Hit-and-Run Accident?

It is common for victims of hit and runs to be at a loss for how to proceed when they do not know the identity of the driver who injured them. If you were injured in a hit-and-run car accident, it is advisable to work with a lawyer, as they can assist you in investigating your case, identifying the driver, or, if the driver remains unknown, pursuing compensation through your insurance. Since you were not given the opportunity to exchange insurance information with the at-fault driver, you likely qualify to use your uninsured motorist (UM) coverage for a hit and run.