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.

I am here to help you.

Call for a free consultation (206) 340-2008

What You Can Do To Help Prepare Your Personal Injury Case For Trial

Posted Monday, August 8, 2016 by Chris Thayer

Most people are familiar with a trial. However, most personal injury cases are resolved prior to trial. The purpose of this article is to provide some insight into how a personal injury case comes about, what to expect, and how to prepare for a trial.

**Consult An Attorney Before Signing Anything

After sustaining injuries in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, consult an experienced Seattle trial attorney prior to speaking to the insurance company. Do not agree to or sign anything with the insurance company, who usually offer low-ball settlements. The doctors and nurses will ask questions about the injury so they can provide medical treatment. Answer their questions so they can help you, but do not elaborate on how the incident occurred.

**Understanding Your Facts

The attorney will want to know the facts of the case. Take photographs of the accident. This will help preserve the evidence and provide your attorney with some insight as to the damages. Write down as much as you can remember concerning the incident. Write down the date, time, and names of any witnesses when the incident occurred. If there is a police report or incident report, obtain a copy of the report. If you believe that the accident was video recorded, whether from a traffic camera, from witnesses cellphones, or surveillance cameras, let your attorney know so that he or she can take steps to obtain a copy and demand preservation of the original film.

Also, prepare a description of your injuries. Take photographs of your injuries soon after you sustain them. Since injuries heal, such as bruising, by taking photographs, you are preserving the evidence supporting the severity of the injuries you sustained. Bring any medical records and bills that you have at your disposal. Anticipated future medical expenses are among the expenses that will also need to be calculated.

Do not exaggerate the extent of your injuries, or the facts of the case. For example, if you were involved in an automobile accident, tell the attorney if you were going 65 miles per hour in a 55 miles per hour zone. This will come out at some point so it would be better to get it out at first so your attorney can accurately assess the case and provide you with the proper advice.

After your attorney has the facts of the case, the next step is to determine your losses. Keep a journal and any evidence detailing any medical expenses and medical problems. For example, if you suffered a back injury in an automobile accident your life could be changed for an extended period of time. Simple tasks like mowing the lawn may become too difficult. If you needed to hire services to help you maintain your home or assist you with childcare because your injuries prevents you from performing these tasks, you should retain any documents supporting your use of these services. If you have missed work, bring evidence of your lost income, such as your pay stubs or W-2 form. Your attorney is the best person to advise you on what financial recovery to expect.

Your attorney will probably not file an action until you have been released from the doctors’ care, unless you have long term care.

**The Word Is Mum, Except With Your Attorney

Do not talk with your family, friends or anyone else about the accident or your injuries, except in response to medical questions for treatment of your injuries. If an insurance claims adjuster calls you, give them the name and telephone number of your attorney. What you tell other people can be admissible in a trial. Also, what you say can be taken out of context and used against you.

If you suffered a physical injury and have a long-term disability, assume the opposing side has a private investigator watching you. Make sure you follow the doctor’s recommendations. Defense attorneys have been known to hire private investigators to video record or photograph you performing tasks that may be contrary to what the doctor orders. This means you should not pick up a gallon of milk if you are not supposed to pick up anything heavier than ten pounds.

Refrain from posting pictures on social media that could be used against you, such as images of you skiing despite your complaint of a back injury. Request your friends and family to refrain from posting such photographs, even if the images were taken prior to the accident. These photographs can still be used against you, even if unsuccessfully.

What you say to your attorney is protected by attorney-client privilege. Your attorney cannot be required to tell other people what you tell him or her unless you give the attorney permission. It is important to be honest with your attorney, even if the information you provide can seemingly hurt you. This way your attorney can bring the information out in a positive light rather than waiting for the defense attorney revealing the information and hurting your case.

**Negotiating Settlement

Often the case can be resolved through negotiations between your attorney and the opposing side. Before meaningful negotiations occur, both parties want to know two things: the extent of your injuries and the facts of the case. This is also the time to start putting a hard dollar number on your case. The value of your case will be a blend of your damages and your chances to win at trial.

Although depositions generally occur after litigation has been filed, in some cases, the insurance adjuster may request to depose you regarding the accident and your injuries. At a deposition, an attorney from the opposing side will ask you questions. You will be under oath and your answers will be recorded. If you are requested to attend a deposition, your attorney should be present to protect your rights. Listen to the questions that are asked. Answer only the question that is asked, do not elaborate.

If informal negotiations between your attorney and the opposing side do not yield results, the next step is to file a lawsuit.

If informal negotiations do not work, you will probably go to formal mediation. Your attorney will be present. Mediation is an attempt to resolve the matter before trial with the assistance of an independent third party, called a mediator. Courts usually have a backlog of cases so everyone has an interest in resolving the case.

**When Negotiations Fail

In the uncommon case where negotiation for settlement is unsuccessful, the next step is trial. Seattle trial attorney Chris Thayer begins preparing for trial from the very beginning of a personal injury case to ensure that he can present a strong, persuasive case.