How Personal Injury Law in Washington State Can Affect You

Although it’s always better to avoid bodily injuries, it’s impossible to control or account for every potential outcome. If you’ve been harmed in Washington state, it’s in your best interest to understand how personal injury laws work.

What Is Personal Injury Law?

Personal injury laws are designed to help victims recover following an injury incident. They can facilitate various actions, such as paying for medical bills that you incurred as a direct result of the injury or offsetting the wages that you lost due to being unable to work while you’re injured. By filing a lawsuit against the party or parties that you believe are at fault for your injury, you may be able to win monetary compensation, also known as damages.

Proving Liability in Washington State

Liability is an important concept in the world of personal injuries. Being liable means having contributed to the incident in a manner that somehow resulted in the victim getting hurt. The burden of proof, or responsibility for proving that someone else was liable, rests on you.

In Washington, different kinds of injury circumstances may have different requirements for determining liability. For instance, if you’re harmed by a health care provider, you have to prove that your injury was the result of treatment you didn’t agree to, that your caregiver failed to meet accepted professional standards or that you were promised that the injury wouldn’t occur. On the other hand, if you were hurt by a rescue volunteer or emergency worker who was trying to aid you, courts may be legally prohibited from finding that individual liable if they acted in good faith. The nuances of each circumstance affect the steps you’ll need to take to establish liability.

The Importance of Legal Representation

As you’ve probably figured out by now, there’s no single personal injury law in Washington state. Instead, the rules are defined in some separate statutes and codes that apply to different circumstances and forms of harm.

Before filing an injury lawsuit, you need to know which of the laws apply and what kinds of damages you’re allowed to pursue. For example, if you contributed to an incident where another motorist negligently caused you harm, you may be limited to claiming a certain fraction of the damages.

Your chances of winning a court case depend on how you formulate your legal arguments. Working with a personal injury attorney is vital to avoiding mistakes that might get your case thrown out or delay a judgment. In addition to helping you overcome potential pitfalls, legal representatives play a vital role in managing your lawsuit so that you can focus on healing.

Understanding Personal Injury Laws in Washington State

If you have been injured in the state of Washington, you will have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit against the negligent party. It is imperative that you contact an attorney right away to ensure that you do not miss the date that you need to file your claim.

The Statute of Limitations

The time that you can file your lawsuit is called the “statute of limitations,” and it is different for various types of claims. If you fail to file your lawsuit within the statute of limitations, you forfeit your right to sue the at-fault party forever. For example, if you suffered an accident that is the fault of another, you have three years in Washington to file your claim. If you fail to file the lawsuit within the three-year period, you will never be able to take the guilty party to court in the future.

Pure Comparative Negligence

Washington law uses “pure comparative negligence” in determining who is at fault. This means that you can be assigned a portion of the blame for your injuries. The court will determine how much the plaintiff will be ordered to pay you, but it will be reduced by the amount of blame that you receive. For example, the jury may decide that the at-fault party deserves 65% of the blame for the accident and that you deserve 35%. Your award will, therefore, be reduced by 35% to account for your portion of the blame.

The Damages

If the jury determines that the plaintiff truly is at fault for your injuries, the court will determine how much the guilty party must pay you in damages. Damages are the amount of money that you receive to compensate you for the accident. For example, you may have missed work because you were too injured to work, and may also have medical bills to pay for the injuries that you suffered. Your vehicle may have been damaged and must be repaired. You may need some rehabilitation to recover fully from your injuries. The damages that you are awarded can be used for all of these things.

Alternatives to Court

Some people prefer not to take their personal injury cases to court because it is so expensive and time-consuming. You do have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit in small claims court, but you will need to receive the judge’s permission to have an attorney with you. You may also avoid court in the state of Washington by having your case heard at the Washington State Dispute Resolution Center.

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What is A Personal Injury Attorney and How Can they Help Me?

A personal injury attorney is a civil litigator who offers legal representation to individuals who have suffered psychological or physical injury, due to the negligent actions of another person or entity. A personal injury attorney deals in a field of law called tort law that covers civil wrongs or injuries and also includes the breach of contracts and defamation. The primary aim of tort law is to compensate the injured person.

Types of Personal Injury Cases

How Can A Personal Injury Attorney Help Me?

The typical tasks of a personal injury attorney include evaluating the strength of any given case, investigating claims, gathering evidence, researching case law, formulating legal theories, drafting motions, pleadings and discovery, preparing for trial, interviewing witnesses and counseling clients.

A personal injury attorney will help a plaintiff get compensated for losses that include pain and suffering, emotional distress, medical expenses, loss of companionship, losing your earning capacity, attorney fees, and legal costs.

How to Handle a Car Accident

If you are involved in a car crash, there are several things you can do to uphold your rights. The following are some essential things to consider:

  • Drivers: find out whom the driver(s) involved in the accident were. Write their names, contacts and license numbers. Determine whether the driver was intoxicated.
  • Passengers: Determine if they were any passengers in the vehicles involved and if so, find out their names and contact details
  • Pedestrian and Witnesses: Acquire the names and contact details of pedestrians who are also the witnesses to how the accident took place.
  • Record where the accident took place, the time it took place, the weather conditions, how the accident happened and where the vehicles involved were headed.
  • Determine if there were injuries or if any of the vehicles was damaged
  • Call up the authorities: The presence of police will ensure that evidence at the scene of the accident is not tampered with and that the injured parties are attended to.
  • Get medical attention: Even though you are not injured or have suffered minor injuries, you should visit a doctor for a complete check-up.
  • Contact your insurance carrier

If you or a someone you know is involved in a car accident, you need to consult our dedicated Vancouver personal injury attorneys today. Our attorneys at CCRS Law will assist you in handling the auto insurance company and provide you with legal representation if the case goes to trial.

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I Was Injured In A Car Accident In Vancouver, What Should I Do?

A Vancouver car accident can be a life-changing event. Even if you feel you have not been injured in an accident, it can take days or even weeks to become aware of the symptoms of related injuries. It is important to defend your legal rights beginning the very day of any car accident, no matter how severe or minor.

When you are injured in a car accident, the first thing you should do is write down your recollection of the event. You may be challenged in court, so it is a good idea to make sure your version of events is clear in your mind. You may need to explain the circumstances several times throughout the course of a court case. It is crucial not to contradict yourself!

The following thing you should do is get a check-up. In the early days after a vehicle accident, only a doctor will be able to notice the subtle signs of injury that could become more serious later. After a thorough review of your health, a doctor can let you know whether a complete recovery is possible, how long it may take and what the related costs may be.

To defend yourself in an accident case, you should take every step possible to show you were not the responsible party. It is a good idea to get your car or truck examined at a service station. In many cases, this can help you prove your vehicle was in fine working condition prior to the accident, so mechanical failure was not a factor.

It is also a good idea to assemble witnesses who can testify that you were healthy and able to operate a vehicle at the time of the incident. If an accident took place over the weekend or at night, it might be more important to show that you were not under the influence of any substances. Character witnesses can testify to your responsible nature, too.

By contacting the personal injury firm of Caron, Colven, Robison, Shafton, you will receive the help you need to defend your rights. Our law firm can take over communication with the authorities and other parties so you are less likely to say things that can be used against you in the courts. Our personal injury attorneys are also skilled in getting you settlements that can help you with medical and transportation costs. Without the assistance of an attorney, it is easy to become overwhelmed by all the intricacies of such a case.

Vancouver Slip and Fall Attorney

Seeking Legal Representation After a Fall or Crash In The State of Washington

Walkways are often wet in Washington state, which increases the risk of slips and falls. It also increases the likelihood of traffic accidents on slippery roads and highways. The victims of traffic or slip-and-fall accidents may be seriously hurt and require compensation to cover the resulting costs. It is these victims who are in need of a Vancouver personal injury attorney.

In Washington and elsewhere in the country, tort laws are designed to help pedestrians and motorists who suffer physical and psychological harm from the negligence of others. In the case of a slip-and-fall accident, the victim would be expected to pursue damages under the principles of premises liability. Under these rules, business or property owners are expected to maintain their walkways, which should be properly designed and built, uncluttered and free from the accumulation of water or other slippery substances. Their failure to comply with these rules can make the owners liable for damages in the event of an accident. However, winning such a case may not be an easy task.

After a fall, the property owner may try to claim that the victim did something careless to cause or worsen his or her injury. If successful, the defendant may be able to reduce the amount being sought by the plaintiff significantly. In representing the victim, a personal injury attorney will study the circumstances of the accident, enlisting experts if necessary, to help determine who was most responsible and thus who is liable for damages. The attorney may agree to an out-of-court settlement or, in the interests of the client, could decide to take the case before a jury. Vehicular accidents can be even more complicated events, often lacking clear evidence as to who is most responsible.

After a traffic crash, it is important to record as much information as possible at the scene. In the event of severe injuries, it would be wise to seek proper legal representation. An attorney can help victims obtain the compensation needed to cover medical expenses, lost wages and even for the emotional pain and suffering related to their injuries. Whether you experience a fall while walking or a crash while driving, you should consider turning to our personal injury attorney at CCRS Law in Vancouver to help you obtain the justice you deserve.

Get in a Vancouver car accident? Keep it off social media!

If you get in a car accident, don’t post about it on Facebook. It should stay off Twitter, too.

I know that is hard. Because when something interesting happens to a person, most will tell other people about it. Get a job? Tell everyone. Land a record Steelhead? Brag about it to everyone you see.

The same impulse exists when you are in a car accident. Why? Because it is interesting! There is twisted metal, broken glass. You also get to complain about someone else’s boneheaded driving, which feels good. As far as topics go, a car accident is always interesting.

Despite that, it is a bad idea to post anything on social media that relates to a car accident in which you are involved. Pictures, status updates, location check-ins, everything can be used against you in some way or another.

How? In court! This stuff is admissible.

Now, this isn’t necessarily bad. If, for example, you post, “Got rear-ended and now my neck hurts so bad,” or, “Guy ran a stop sign and slammed into my car,” that wouldn’t necessarily cause you any problems. But this is not what people do on Facebook. On Facebook, you embellish. You crack jokes. You vent your anger. You insert cutesy icons or use antagonistic hashtags. In other words, Facebook is where you express yourself in ways that you never would in court.

In other words, you cannot “unsay” “Got rear ended – nbd tho #superman.” If you delete the post, you can be punished for hiding evidence.

The best way to avoid this problem is to simply resist the urge to broadcast this stuff over social media.

Hip fractures after a fall: more than just a broken bone

As a personal injury lawyer in Vancouver, Washington, I have seen my fair share of broken hips. A broken hip occurs when the femur breaks at or near the hip joint.

They can be caused by different things. By far, the most common cause of hip fractures is a fall, with 95 percent of hip fractures occurring as a result of a sideways fall. Car accidents also cause hip fractures in large numbers.

They vary in severity, as well.

One thing they all have in common, however, is that they are more than just a broken bone. For the elderly especially, a hip fracture can lead to a whole host of health problems, many of which are preventable. Proper recovery requires work and dedication.

When dealing with the legal aspects of a hip fracture, the same is true. It is not enough to focus merely on the fracture itself. Proper legal representation when someone breaks another person’s hip requires attention to the effect on the person as a whole. What other health problems became worse after the hip fracture? Did the person’s aging process accelerate due to the immobility that occurs after a hip fracture? These are all things that must be considered, among others.

 

How To Choose a Personal Injury Lawyer

Not All Personal Injury Lawyers Are The Same!

Recent conversations with Washington and Oregon insurance adjusters who specialize in automobile accident injury claims left me stunned. It is obvious that most of the people holding themselves out as capable personal injury lawyer are not. They are not ready to try a case. They are not willing to try a case and, they are not able to try a case. The insurance companies know this and they use it to full advantage. “We are seeing jury verdicts with hardly any damages for pain and suffering” one adjuster told me. Who is trying these cases? What are they doing wrong when instead of a multiple of the medical bills the verdict for mental and physical pain, suffering, inconvenience and loss of enjoyment of life are fractions of the monetary damages incurred? Have we really reached a point where human suffering has no value? No, we have reached a point where anyone can claim to be a personal injury lawyer, training and experience not required.

First, many of these folks are not even members of the trial lawyers association much less active members. They don’t understand basic principles of personal injury law such as “when does my client have to pay back medical payments for injuries sustained in the crash?”

Second, many of these folks are not working for the client. They have concluded in advance that the best they can do is collect most of the medical bills. They are collecting for chiropractors, personal injury protection carriers and health insurers not representing clients with personal injuries. They are happy to take a third of the medical bills, which often exceed the settlements they get. These attorneys do no one a favor when they roll over for the insurance companies.

The next time I hear an adjuster say “but we settle cases like this for that amount all the time”, I won’t have to ask “who actually takes these offers?” I will open the nearest Vancouver or Clark County Washington phone book and turn to the personal injury lawyer ads. I can tell who takes those inadequate settlements by looking at the phone book because I know who does not try cases.

If there is one question you have to ask before you hire a personal injury lawyer it is “how many personal injury cases have you tried?” Make them tell you.

Ask about the seminars that lawyer has attended while you are at it. Have they been to any of the advanced trial practice seminars such as the TLC, AAJ College of Advocacy or Ball-Keenan?

If you are in an auto accident, have a personal injury claim, are injured by a defective product or premises do yourself a favor and hire an experienced personal injury lawyer, not someone fishing for a case they can settle quick and cheap.

Deadly Distraction: Car accidents and Cell Phones

As a Vancouver, Washington personal injury lawyer, you might be surprised to hear how often I see injuries caused by cell phone use. No – I don’t mean overuse injuries caused by excessive gabbing. I mean rear-end collisions caused by people who are using their cell phones while they are driving.

I know – we always post about this, and you always read about it in the news.

But that is because it is a really, really big deal. Last week, an 89-year-0ld woman in North Dakota was killed by a driver who, according to police, was using Facebook on her cell phone when the collision occurred. Read about it here. 

The CDC says that 9 people per day die as a result of distracted driving.  As many as one quarter of all car accidents involve cell phones, according to another group. 

So if you are tired of hearing us talk about it, you can imagine how tired we are of seeing lives ruined by it.

As a lawyer, I have two bits of advice: while you drive, do not touch your cell phone. If someone hits you with their car, call a lawyer who can help you investigate the collision – including facts relating to cell phone use – and inform you of your legal rights.

Wrongful deaths on the rise: car accidents in Clark County

Fatal car accidents in Clark County are skyrocketing at an alarming rate, according to an article in the Columbian.

The disturbing trend goes like this. In 2012, 19 people died in traffic accidents in Clark County. In 2013, 18 people died in traffic accidents in Clark County. This year, in contrast, 24 people have already died in traffic accidents in Clark County.

When asked for any possible explanation, law enforcement can conceive of none.

“There are no common themes,” said Clark County sheriff’s Sgt. Dennis Pritchard, who supervises the deputies that investigate traffic fatalities. “We’ve got them in every corner of the county.”

While these numbers speak for themselves, it is easy to lose sight of the human impact that each and every Clark County car accident – fatal or not – has on the people involved. I see this every day as a Clark County personal injury and car accident lawyer. Even “smaller injuries” – let alone catastrophic injuries and fatalities – can exact a huge toll on the injured person.

I encourage everyone to do everything within their control to avoid car accidents: use defensive driving, keep your phone out of arm’s reach, and be smart. For those of you who drive safe and are injured by someone else, my advice? Call us.