People can suffer injuries through the intentional or unintentional (negligent) acts of another. It is important to know the next steps should this unfortunate predicament happen to you or your loved one. If you should sustain an injury in the state of Washington it is important to file a personal injury claim, seeking financial compensation for your losses (i.e., hospital bills, lost wages, pain and suffering).
An adult Washington citizen has 3 years to file a lawsuit to recover damages related to a personal injury claim. If the statute of limitations on your personal injury claim has expired, then you would be faced with what is known as a “time-barred claim” which means you are no longer eligible to seek financial compensation related to this claim. Speaking with an attorney as soon as the injury occurs (or as close to the occurrence as possible) will allow the attorney to take the proper steps to maximize the value of your claim.
Minors with personal injury claims have until the age of 21 to file a lawsuit to recover damages. Although the steps outlined below are the same for minors, it is important to note that the Courts in the State of Washington prioritize the protection of the funds that minors receive as a result of personal injury claims. The Court System will require that a Guardian ad Litem be assigned to protect the interests of the minors. Any settlement received will likely be put in a blocked account or a trust. The minor will not be allowed to withdraw the funds until they turn 18.
The majority of injuries are caused due to other persons’ negligence. In order for the attorney to receive a settlement or award to compensate you for your injuries he will have to prove the following: a) that there was a duty to be safe, b) that the at-fault party breached that duty, c) that the injuries were caused by the breach of duty and d) damages (value of the claim). Once you have retained an attorney, they will perform a thorough investigation to uncover evidence that will prove a) and b). For example, if you were injured as a result of a car accident, your attorney may be employing and working with investigators, accident reconstructionists, and witnesses, among others, to prove the breach of duty portion (liability) of your negligence claim.
This can be the longest stage of the process. Depending on the magnitude of the injuries you may have to seek months or years of treatment before a claim can be made. Your attorney will collect all of the medical records and bills to demonstrate causation and damages (items c and d) of negligence standard: that the injuries were caused by the breach of duty and the value of the damages. The medical treatment and bills help your attorney to assess and determine the monetary value of your claim. During the treatment phase, your attorney will check in with you to check on ongoing treatment. In cases with severe injuries, your attorney will contact your medical providers and experts to assess any future treatment the client might need along with the cost of the treatment.
There are other damages that need to be proven in the event of a serious injury. These include but are not limited to: past and future wage loss, loss of personal property, pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of relationship with a loved one, and even wrongful death.
Demand, Negotiations & Litigation
After your attorney has all the facts from both the investigation and treatment stages, he/she will then file a claim against the defendant. There are two options: a) negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance or b) filing a lawsuit in court. Negotiations will begin via your attorney, and if an agreement can be reached that is amenable to both parties, you will enter the settlement stage of your personal injury claim. If not, then you will move on to litigation wherein both parties will bring their evidence to court, before a jury, to reach a resolution.
Once a settlement has been reached through negotiations – or – a verdict through litigation, the case will need to be settled through payment to you, the victim, in exchange for releasing the at-fault party from any future liability. Note, this can be a frustrating process for victims for a myriad of reasons, but a trusted attorney will aggressively fight for you every step of the way, up-to-and-including, final payment.
When facing personal injury worker’s compensation, and criminal charges in Washington, you don’t want just any lawyer. You need a team of local attorneys who understand local, state, and federal laws inside and out. At Quantum Legal, we offer our clients over 50 years of experience representing clients in the areas of life that affect them most. You can rest assured that we will do everything in our power to get you the best results possible for your case. Call our southeastern Washington office at (509) 783-5551 to schedule your no-cost legal consultation.