Who Can I Sue for My Injuries?

Several personal injury cases have many parties who are to blame for an individual’s injuries. Even if an accident results in devastating injuries, the party who is determined to be the most responsible may not have enough insurance coverage to completely compensate an injured individual.

California’s minimum auto insurance liability limits are meager. A typical driver only needs to have $15,000 in coverage for a single injury victim and $30,000 for more than one injured person. However, the National Safety Council estimates the cost of vehicle accident-related injuries drastically exceed the minimum coverage. For an incapacitating injury, the prices are expected to total $72,200 and $23,400 for a non-incapacitating injury.

These estimates are calculated using lost wages, medical expenses and vehicle damage and disregard non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, lowered future earnings, adverse changes to lifestyle and other non-economic damages. If you experience a devastating brain injury, spinal cord injury or other critical injuries, the medical costs for the rest of your life can easily amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Due to the amount of uninsured or underinsured individuals, it’s recommended you speak with a knowledgeable attorney who can meticulously evaluate your case and find all potential defendants with insurance. Parties who could be at least partially responsible for injuries or damages as a result of an accident include:

  • Drivers: If a motorist ignores traffic safety laws, refuses to pay conscious attention to the road or their environment or engages in other acts of negligence, this driver could be responsible for your injuries. Presumption of negligence is applied if the following is met:
    • The defendant violated a statute, ordinance or regulation of a public entity;
    • The violation was the proximate cause of injury or death of another person;
    • The harm was the type that the law was enacted to prevent;
    • The person injured was within the class of people that the statute was intended to protect.
  • Important note: California courts have recognized speeding as negligence per se and have created a presumption of negligence driving. While it is possible for the assumption to be overruled, the burden of proving that the driver was not negligent rests on the defendant.
  • Owners of Premises: Commercial, public, or residential property owners may be liable for injuries that happen on their property. When you are hurt by an unwarned hazard on the property of another person or entity, you could create a claim for damages through a premises liability law. Property owners usually have to put a warning on hazards that are on their property or make an effort to resolve the risk. This still applies to owners who didn’t create the hazard.
  • Public Entities: Yes, a government entity can be liable for damages or injuries caused by public employees or conditions on the government owned property. However, personal injury suits against public entities are considerably more complicated than claims against private entities to individuals. The U.S. Constitution grants public entities sovereign immunity from civil lawsuits. Almost all public entities have enacted laws that waive this protection to some point. But, you are required to follow special procedures and notice requirements to start a claim against a government entity in California.
  • Employers: When a business employee is conducting job-related duties or operating a company vehicle, the employer of a negligent driver could be at least partially responsible for injuries caused by a traffic accident involving their employee. The legal doctrine that permits negligence of an employee to be attributed to an employer is known as “respondeat superior,” which translated to “let the employer answer.”

Washington Car Accident Compensation Laws

Washington’s “At Fault” and “Pure Comparative Negligence” Laws

Washington State’s negligence laws require that you give proof that another person was at “fault” for the car accident so you can recover damages for injuries sustained as a result of the incident.

Thankfully, for drivers who could potentially be at fault at least partially, Washington follows the pure comparative negligence law, which gives most injured parties to recover at least partial damages for their injuries. This guideline makes the court attribute percentages of fault to each driver involved in an accident and then reduce any damages accordingly. The primary component of pure comparative negligence is that if a driven is at 99% fault for a car accident, they can still recover 1% of that driver’s damage award.

If you sustained minor injuries, know that the State legislature requires mandatory arbitration of all claims less than $15000, and in certain counties, the limit is raised to $50,000.

The table below provides a more technical approach to Washington Car Accident Compensation Laws:

 

Statute of Limitations
  • 3 years for personal injury or personal property injury (RCW § 4.16.080)
  • 3 years for an action against a government entity (RCW § 4.16.160)
  • 60 days between serving a government entity and starting proceedings (RCW § 4.96.020)
Damages Limits
  • Non-economic damages limited to an amount equaling the average annual wage by the life expectancy of the injured party, not less than 15 years (RCW § 4.56.250)
  • $5,000 recovery from a minor’s parents for willful or malicious acts (RCW § 4.24.190)
Other Limits
  • Pure Comparative Negligence (RCW § 4.22.005)
  • Mandatory arbitration of claims less than $15,000 ($50,000 in select counties) (RCW § 7.06.020)

source: FindLaw

Types of Damages

Washington defines economic and non-economic damages by law. Economic damages are “objectively verifiable monetary losses” and include, but not limited to, medical expenses, loss of earnings, burial costs, and cost of replacement or repairs. Washington also defines non-economic damages as subjective, nonmonetary losses, including pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, injury to reputation and humiliation, and destruction of the parent-child relationship.

Examples of car accident damages are:

 

  • Emotional distress
  • Car repairs
  • Loss of earnings
  • Medical expenses
  • Loss of consortium

Washington State’s Limits on Damages

Washington caps non-economic damages to an amount equivalent to the average annual wage multiplied by the life expectancy of the injured party, with the life expectancy never being lower than 15 years. Washington is one of the few states that does not allow the court to award any punitive damages in personal injury cases. However, if your car accident was the result of the willful or malicious act of a minor, know that you may recover damages from that minor’s parents, but your compensation will be capped at $5,000.

Multiple states have deadlines or statutes of limitations which requires the injured party to wait a certain amount of time before filing a lawsuit. Washington’s statute of limitations is three years, meaning you must submit a claim within three years of the date of the accident, regardless if you’re trying to recover compensation for an injury to real property like your house, or personal property, like your car, or to a person, like a broken arm.

Washington in addition to requiring a claim submission within three years if the party is injured by a government entity, requires a mandatory waiting period of 60 days before any action begins.

 

 

Here Are Washington State’s Negligence Laws

State Negligence Laws Overview

Negligence is the term used for when you fail to practice an appropriate level of care, resulting in injuries to another person. When a motorist doesn’t wear their glasses, which is required by their driver’s license, and causes an accident that injured another individual, this would be considered negligent driving. Most claims, such as medical malpractice or personal injury, are primarily based on negligence.

Contributory Fault

Typically state negligence laws are the same because they’re based on federal law, however, they usually differ when it comes to fault. In Washington State, for example, contributory fault lowers in correlation to the damages amount but does not bar recovery.

For example, a plaintiff could only claim 70% of their damages for injuries if the court finds that they were 30% responsible for the accident. Some states don’t allow recovery at all if the plaintiff is even partially responsible, but they are slowly moving away from this and are now considering levels of contributory fault.

 

What are the Elements of a Negligence Claim?

To prove a defendant’s negligence, the plaintiff must demonstrate the following five elements:

  1. Duty – The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty, either to act (or refrain from acting) in a certain way, as would be expected from a “reasonable” person.
  2. Breach of Duty – The defendant acted (or failed to act) contrary to his or her duty to the plaintiff.
  3. Cause in Fact – The defendant’s breach of duty, in fact, resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries (would the injury have occurred without the defendant’s alleged negligence?).
  4. Proximate Cause – The defendant’s actions or inactions were within the scope of known risks; the defendant “should have known” an injury could occur.
  5. Damages – The plaintiff in fact suffered injuries, physical or otherwise, as a result of the defendant’s negligence.

The jury or judge has to decide whether these elements are there to determine negligence.

The basics of Washington negligence laws are listed below.

Code Section 4.22.005 to 925
Comparative Negligence Contributory fault diminishes proportionately the amount of damages but does not bar recovery.
Contributory Negligence-Limit to Plaintiff’s Recovery
Contribution Among Tortfeasors Yes; §4.22.040
Uniform Act Yes; 4.22.005 to 925

source: Findlaw

How Are Pain and Suffering Damages Awarded After a Car Accident?

Were you injured in a car accident caused by another driver’s negligence? If so, you could be entitled to earn financial compensation for injuries followed by a car accident including hospital bills and vehicle repair costs. Be aware that the amount of compensation given can highly differ based on the accident’s jurisdiction and how the accident transpired. Continue on to discover the process of a car accident claim.

Different Kinds of Damages

In multiple jurisdictions, injury suits create damages which are split into two distinct categories: special damages and general damages. Special damages refer to damages distinguished by economic harm like wage losses from missed work, vehicle or property damage, and medical bills. However, general damages blanket “non-economic damages” which include:

Pain and suffering
Physical disfigurement or impairment
Potentially shortened lifespan
Mental anguish
Loss of reputation
Loss of companionship
Loss of enjoyment of life
Emotional distress
Calculating Car Accident Pain and Suffering Damages

Damages like property harm or hospital expenses are usually simple to determine as they can easily be proven via receipts for medical costs or quotes from a vehicle repair shop. However, pain and suffering caused by a car accident are a lot harder to prove in comparison to the previous damages tangibly. There is little tangible evidence that can permit someone from assessing the amount of pain and suffering the victim is going through or how much money should sufficiently compensate the victim for their suffering.

In legal practice, there are several factors that courts use to determine what damages should be awarded to the victim for pain and suffering, they are:

Severity of the injury
Location and nature of any scarring or disfigurement
Recovery time needed
Potential for ongoing consequences
Amount claimed in special damages
Socio-economic or political factors
Personality and charisma of the injured party
Personality and charisma of the attorney
State damages caps
The ‘Multiplier’ Method

Some lawyers utilize the multiplier method to determine pain and suffering damages. This method requires a lawyer to use a multiplier on the total special damages. The idea is to use easier to account for injuries such as hospital bills and property damage and weigh them more than the harder to calculate damages that result in injuries. While this is frequently the case in the majority of car accidents, there are two issues this method has that is often critiqued.

  1. Arbitrary multipliers: Commonly, lawyers will use a variety of multipliers with this method. One lawyer could triple the special damages whereas a different attorney could only double them. Neither choice is incorrect, but with the different variety of multipliers between calculations typically results in inconsistencies.
  2. Possibly misleading results: A clothing model who was disfigured as a result of a car accident could have lower medical bills than a computer engineer who broke some bones. Their injuries, however, could potentially result in significantly more emotional and psychological trauma, primarily because models heavily rely on their physical looks to earn their wages.

As evident from the above, the multiplier method isn’t always perfect, however, it does provide a start to determining how much a car accident victim should be awarded for pain and suffering damages.

Get Legal Assistance Now

Objectively presenting car accident pain and suffering damages can be incredibly difficult, this is where an experienced car accident attorney can make a huge difference in how much compensation you may recover in a claim. A Vancouver car accident lawyer can review and provide crucial information regarding your case and can level with insurers and local juries if you decide to make a claim. Contact CCRS Law today to learn how you can begin taking the necessary steps in earning financial compensation for injuries caused by another driver’s negligence.

Washington Distracted-Driving Law is Here: What to Know

As of Sunday, July 23rd, it will now be illegal to use a cell phone or handheld device while on the road in the state of Washington.

As outlined in the state’s new distracted-driving law informational pamphlet, residents in the state of Washington will no longer be allowed to use a handheld cell phone while operating a motor vehicle. Following a six month grace period where Washington State Patrol will issue warnings and provide education on the subject, first offenders will be fined $136 with an increase to $234 for a second offense.

This law applies to anyone in the driver’s seat of a vehicle currently on the road, prohibiting other devices like tablets or computers, as well. Even while stopped, drivers will not be allowed to talk on the phone, send or receive messages, or watch videos. So far, exceptions include those using a hands-free device accessible with a single button press, those who are parked and out of the flow of traffic, or those contacting emergency services.

While some departments are intent on applying the few months grave period, others are determined to put the law into effect immediately. “Why wait six months, when sometimes the only message that will get through to people to change their behavior is actually to receive a citation?” said Sgt. Cindi West of the King County Sheriff’s Office.

In addition to electronic devices, this law also covers other kinds of distractions drivers may be susceptible to while at the wheel. Activities, like eating or doing hair and makeup, are considered a secondary offense officers can cite if they have already pulled over a driver for another offense like speeding or reckless driving. The standard fine is set at $99, an increase from the previous fine of $30. By comparison, DUI-E (driving under the influence of electronics) is now considered a primary offense that can get a driver pulled over all on its own.

While police admit that it would be impossible to ensure no one will ever use a cell phone while driving again, the aim of this law is to change public action using it as a deterrent. It is hoped that this will enact the same kind of change that seat belt laws did in the past (Washington has a 95% seat belt usage rate, for reference). Time will tell whether or not things will play out as such.

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.

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.

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.