12 things Washingtonians should know about personal injury claims

 

  1. Time is of the essence. Every state has a statute of limitations, which is a deadline for which a plaintiff can sue. In Washington, it is three years for a personal injury lawsuit. If you’ve been hurt because of someone else’s negligence, the faster you act, the better. 
  2. Accept and follow medical help. Everyone involved in a car accident should consider seeing a doctor, and if the accident was serious, a visit to at least one's primary care doctor should be mandatory. It can take time for injuries to manifest, and early medical intervention can head off longer term problems. 
  3. Talk to a personal injury attorney. I work on a contingency fee basis, like most personal injury lawyers. This means that I collect a fee only if a verdict or settlement is reached.
  4. Avoid "settlement mills". Like snowflakes, no two personal injuries are alike. While your claim may have many aspects in common with another, every case is unique. Find a lawyer who treats yours with the care and individual attention it deserves.
  5. A lawyer with strong skills and experience is critical. Insurance companies have experienced, skilled in-house counsel on their staff; accident victims need someone who can represent them with the same.
  6. Insurance companies are for profit companies. This means they have an eye on their bottom line, and shareholders who expect solid profits. Paying out large claims is counter to this. They’ll use all their tactics and a team of legal experts to delay or minimize claims. Hiring a lawyer gives you a voice.
  7. Accident victims are not helpless victims. There are a lot of things an accident victim can and must do to build a strong case. Follow these steps after a car accident to maximize your chances of a fast, full and fair settlement or verdict in your favor. 
  8. The proof is in the police reports. Documentation can help or harm your case. Make sure to document the scene of the accident – pictures, eye witness accounts and contact info. You want as much as you can get in written accounts, and from different sources.
  9. Most claims settle, which means they never get as far as a courtroom and jury trial. However, it behooves accident victims to get ready for a long-term process. Many claims will require a judge’s decision if parties cannot otherwise agree to terms.
  10. Car accidents – especially those that involve drunk and distracted driving – affect many people. You don’t have to have been directly involved to still be impacted. For example, think of a spouse who must care for the injured person’s lifelong consequences of an accident, like paralysis. There is money available for this support also. A skilled personal injury attorney can help accident victims think beyond the obvious lost wages and medical bills and find money for hidden ways an accident impacts someone's life.
  11. There is help available for personal injury and accident victims. Lawyers know what kinds and  how much these things might be worth, and it can include things that don’t seem immediately obvious, such as compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, even domestic help. Don't go it alone, as there is fine print that can derail a claim and only a lawyer specializing in personal injury law would know. Here's a quiz, for those who are debating about hiring a lawyer: know about the Hamilton Law? If this is the first time you're hearing this you probably need to talk to a Bellingham personal injury lawyer.
  12. Last but not least, you’re better off working with a lawyer who is experienced and focused on personal injury law. It is a specialty, and a jack of all trades type of law practice may not benefit you maximally.

If this hasn’t convinced you fully, find out more here:

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