12 things Washingtonians should know about personal injury claims


  1. Time is not necessarily on your side. If you’ve been hurt because of someone else’s negligence, the faster you act, the better. After a car crash, be sure to call 911 and file a police report. This helps to build a strong case.
  2. This isn’t a time to play the tough guy. Accept medical attention, and all who have been involved in an accident should go see a doctor. Certain injuries aren’t obvious at first, or ever, to the untrained eye.
  3. You’ve got nothing to lose, other than the potential for a fair, full claim settlement. I work on a contingency fee basis, like most personal injuries lawyers. This means that I collect a fee only if a verdict or settlement is reached.
  4. 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. Avoid "settlement mills".
  5. The lawyers must prove negligence, and have many tools of the trade to do so. Contacting an experienced, skilled lawyer soon after the accident gives him or her more time to build a compelling, strong case for you.
  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. Claims have deadlines. This is called the Statute of Limitations, and it’s two years in Washington. If you wait too long to file and the Statute of Limitations has passed, well, you may be SOL.
  8. The proof is in the pudding, or, 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. While most claims settle, which means they never get as far as a courtroom and jury trial, 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.
  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.
  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.

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