Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Handling Personal Injury Claims in the Seattle Area and Throughout Washington Since 1995

My name is Chris Thayer and I am a personal injury attorney practicing in downtown Seattle. I handle personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death claims throughout the greater Seattle area, including Issaquah, Mercer Island and Kirkland.

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Overview Of Personal Injury Lawsuits In Washington

Posted Wednesday, June 29, 2016 by Chris Thayer

If you are injured due to the negligence of someone else, you have the right to seek compensation for your injuries. Your medical bills, loss of income, as well as pain and suffering are all elements for which you may be compensated.

What Constitutes A Personal Injury Claim?

Personal injury cases can arise in a number of different situations where there is an injury caused by an accident or harm. Automobile accidents are a common source of personal injury. However, injuries can occur due to product defects. Also, you may suffer a personal injury when a landowner fails to maintain his property in the proper fashion. If you are bitten by someone’s dog, you may be entitled to compensation. You may also be entitled to compensation if you were harmed due to exposure to toxins through a person’s inattention and negligence. These are a few examples of how people suffer personal injuries and may have a case against the party that hurt them. Many more exist.

A cause for a lawsuit arises when a person has a legal duty of care and fails in that duty. As a result of that person’s failure to exercise due care, another person is injured. Suppose Joe is speeding down the road in his car and fails to stop at a traffic signal when the light is red. He hits a car that is driven by Inez. Because of the accident, Inez suffers a back injury and is temporarily paralyzed. In this case, Joe had a legal duty to drive his car in a safe and prudent manner. When Joe failed to stop at the red light, he failed to operate his car in a proper manner and breached his duty of care. As a result of running the red light, Joe’s car crashed into Inez’s car, which caused her injuries. Therefore, Joe is liable and has to pay for injuring Inez.

A personal injury case is a civil action. The purpose of a civil action is to resolve disputes between parties. In a personal injury case, you can sue the person or company that caused your injury. Often the cases do not go to trial, but are resolved through mediation and negotiations. Possibly, the party that injured you will make a settlement offer. Be careful if they do offer a settlement. Make sure you consult with an attorney before you accept or sign anything.

Attorneys Are Important At Trial And Negotiations

An attorney can strengthen your hand in negotiations by collecting evidence, examining police reports when they are available, and interviewing witnesses. The process is important because if you go to trial, preparation is key. Most cases do not go to trial but are ended in negotiations. If you negotiate a settlement, an experienced Washington personal injury attorney can review the case to be sure you are receiving a fair settlement. Also, an attorney will collect and preserve the evidence that is needed to prove your claim.

The Importance Of The Timing Of Lawsuits

The timing of a lawsuit is important. Personal injury lawsuits in Washington must be brought within three years of the date of the injury. However, if the injury occurred while you were under a disability that prevented you from filing an action within three years or you were less than eighteen years of age when the injury occurred, consult an attorney to determine whether your case can still be filed. If possible, consult an attorney immediately after the injury.

You also should know the full extent of your losses before you file a suit or reach an agreement with the party that injured you. Be certain to take a hard look at all of your losses. For example, if you provide services in the home for your family, you may need to hire someone to help you. Who will run the errands, take care of your small child, and take care of other essential responsibilities? You may recover for the added cost of hiring someone to help you with the services you could no longer due, whether permanently or temporarily.

Once a verdict is returned and no appeal is filed or an agreement is reached prior to trial; that is the end of the case. Consequently, if you later discover additional losses or need more medical care because of the injury, you cannot file an additional suit. Therefore, review losses and expected losses closely with your attorney.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are monetary awards to compensate you for damages, which include economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include losses that can be measured in money. For example, medical bills, loss of income, and nursing care can be counted and documented. Future medical expenses can also be anticipated and estimated. Pain and suffering is also recoverable but is considered a non-economic damage. Placing a dollar amount on pain and suffering is not objective compared to medical expenses and loss of income. Different approaches are used to calculate the amount. Thus, non-economic damages are intangible harms and, aside from pain and suffering, include emotional distress and loss of consortium.

Comparative Negligence Affects Your Compensatory Damages

Some factors can prevent an injured party from receiving compensation for their full losses. Washington is a pure comparative negligence state. In comparative negligence, a percentage of fault can be assigned to the injured party. When a percentage of fault is assigned, the compensation is reduced by the same percentage. Suppose the jury determines the injured party had losses of $100,000, but was 10% at fault for the accident, then the award would be reduced by 10%. So, instead of collecting $100,000, the injured party would receive $90,000.