Woman calling a car accident attorney after a crash

The terms “car accident attorney” and “personal injury lawyer” are often used interchangeably. Indeed, personal injury lawyers sometimes handle car accidents, and car accident attorneys commonly handle injury claims. However, while there is significant overlap between these two roles, they are not always the same thing.

Personal injury is a relatively broad term. It can refer to injuries sustained in all types of accidents. Car accidents are a specialized subset of personal injury. Lawyers who prefer this distinction tend to have extensive knowledge and experience dealing specifically with automobile-related injuries and incidents.

No matter the type of attorney, if you have been injured in an accident, you need qualified and experienced representation on your side as soon as possible. For more than half a century, Fuller & Fuller has been helping victims of serious injury in Tacoma, Olympia, and surrounding areas of Washington get justice. If you need assistance, reach out today for a FREE case review to learn how our accident and injury specialist can help. 

What Is a Personal Injury Lawyer?

Personal injury lawyers possess broad legal knowledge and skills applicable to various scenarios involving injury or harm. This breadth of knowledge allows them to analyze different injury scenarios, potentially finding avenues for compensation.

Personal injury law, also known as tort law, protects the rights of individuals who have suffered harm due to someone else’s negligence. The scope of personal injury law extends far beyond car accidents, reaching into legal areas including foster care abuse, nursing home negligence, and even defamation.

Some of the most common causes of personal injury claims are:

  • Motor Vehicle Accidents. Motor vehicle accidents may include car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, and accidents involving pedestrians and bicycles.
  • Dangerous Premises. Premises liability may include injury sustained in a slip and fall accident, dog bites, accidents at unmonitored pools, and more.
  • Defective Products. Product liability may involve faulty vehicles, dangerous medications, defective medical devices, and other consumer products.
  • Medical Malpractice. Medical malpractice may include medication errors, surgical errors, emergency room negligence, and similar mistakes made by doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers.

A personal injury lawyer can assist in seeking justice and compensation for serious injuries, such as brain injuries (TBI) and spinal cord injuries (SCI), to cover damages including medical expenses, lost wages and earning capacity, and pain and suffering.

What Is a Car Accident Attorney?

Car accident attorneys are experts in dealing with the myriad issues that arise specifically from motor vehicle accidents. They delve into the complexities of car insurance policies, state traffic laws, and procedures for establishing fault. Their expertise is useful when deciphering the often complex jargon and conditions buried within insurance policies. And they can prove invaluable when arguing for fair compensation for victims of severe injury.

Car accident attorneys also have extensive experience investigating the specifics of vehicular accidents. They’re adept at gathering and analyzing evidence to create a comprehensive picture of the incident. Like personal injury attorneys, they are typically familiar with medical issues that result from car accidents, allowing them to fight for compensation for medical costs, rehabilitation expenses, and future care needs, along with issues like lost wages, pain and suffering, and forced lifestyle changes.

Attorney Marya Fuller is a specialist in accident and injury law with substantial experience handling car accident claims. If you are in need of assistance, call our Tacoma or Olympia office to schedule a free consultation today. 

Can a Car Accident Attorney Also be a Personal Injury Lawyer?

All car accident attorneys are, by definition, personal injury lawyers. However, not all personal injury lawyers are car accident attorneys. Understanding the difference between the two can have a significant impact on the outcome of your claim. 

The best way to find out? Ask. It’s important to select a lawyer who’s equipped to handle your case and concerns. Keep looking until you find the best fit for your needs.

Regardless of who you choose, your attorney should be someone experienced, capable, and dedicated to ensuring that you receive full compensation for your injuries. In the end, the most important thing is that your legal representation aligns with your specific needs and the unique circumstances of your case.

How Do I Know Which Is Right For My Case?

When choosing legal representation, the specifics of your case should guide your decision. If your case involves a car accident, a car accident attorney’s specialized knowledge can be beneficial. Their expertise in dealing with car accident injuries can significantly influence the outcome of your case.

However, if your case involves injury but isn’t tied to a car accident, a personal injury lawyer may be a more fitting choice. For example, if you’ve been injured due to a dog bite, foster care abuse, or a slip and fall, a personal injury lawyer’s broader experience will be advantageous. Choosing a firm with attorneys who are experienced in both areas of law can help to ensure you select the best representation for your specific case. Attorney Marya Fuller has experience in both areas.

Are Damages Different in Personal Injury and Car Accident Claims?

When a car accident claim is handled by an attorney, it is likely a personal injury claim. In Washington State, there are two types of damages you can seek in these cases:

  • General Damages. Also known as noneconomic damages, general damages seek compensation for physical pain, psychological distress, and other issues that may be hard to place a figure on.
  • Special Damages. Also known as economic damages, special damages seek compensation for medical expenses, current and future lost wages, and other issues that have a fixed cost.

While many medical expenses and lost wages are covered through standard insurance settlements, victims are often left without sufficient compensation for the long-term consequences related to catastrophic injury. Working with a car accident lawyer who can assess the full extent of damages and seek every penny your injury demands is often the best way to protect your interests.

There are two very important things to bear in mind when considering your legal options:

  1. Once you have accepted a settlement offer from an insurance company, you will not be able to seek additional compensation through legal action.
  2. You generally only have three years to file an injury claim following a car accident in Washington. (See RCW Section 4.16.080) Failure to act within the statute of limitations will prevent you from seeking compensation through legal action. Check with an attorney about your circumstances because the statute of limitations can vary depending on the facts and location. 

Discussing your case with an experienced Washington car accident lawyer is the best way to make sure you are not waiving your rights or missing your window of opportunity. 

Our Car Accident Injury Lawyer Is Here to Help

When you are injured or a loved one is killed in a car accident, you need an experienced, dedicated, and proven attorney on your side. Personal injury and car accident lawyer Marya Fuller has decades of experience helping people throughout Washington get justice. She welcomes the opportunity to listen to your story and learn about your needs.

Contact Fuller & Fuller online or call (800) 570-4878 today to schedule a complimentary case review with our accident and injury law specialist today. Attorney Fuller is here to assess your claim, discuss your options, and help you determine the best path forward.

by Fuller & Fuller Attorneys at Law
Last updated on - Originally published on

Posted in: Car Accidents, Personal Injury