What you Need to Know about Personal Injury Claims in WA State

Personal injuries happen in all kinds of circumstances and for all kinds of reasons from the negligence of another person or organization to a person’s own lack of care.

No one expects or plans on suffering from a personal injury so when it happens we are often left blindsided and overwhelmed. Depending on the severity of the personal injury, you may be facing extensive healing and medical care including rehabilitation, lost wages, pain and suffering. All of these consequences cost money; hiring an experienced personal injury attorney is the best way to re-coup these expenses through a personal injury claim. Personal injury cases are generally taken on a contingency fee basis which means that clients pay nothing upfront – the lawyer is compensated out of your settlement.

Why do I need a personal injury attorney?

While there is no requirement to hire a personal injury attorney for your accident claim, people who do almost always receive a settlement several times bigger than they could have negotiated on their own - even after attorney fees are covered. The reasons for this are many, including:

·         Expert knowledge and experience working with other attorneys, the legal system and insurance companies to get the best possible settlement using alternative dispute resolution.

·         The attorney provides a full evaluation of your damages and legal rights.

·         The attorney will represent your interests because they are paid a percentage of the settlement they recover for you.

·         Access to the firm’s investigative team means the ability to build a strong case by gathering all necessary evidence.

·         Personal injury lawyers provide peace of mind by taking on the work of building and settling a personal injury case.

If you or a loved one was injured through no fault of your own (even if it was partially your fault), contact a personal injury lawyer today. He or she will examine the circumstances around your accident and personal injury and may be able to fight for damages.

How is “fault” determined in WA State personal injury cases?

When a person is injured in an accident and a claim is made, insurance companies must first decide who is at fault in the accident. If the case is brought to trial, a jury will be assigned the task of determining fault. In some cases, the injured party will be assigned a certain degree of fault.

In Washington, fault can be shared in a personal injury case. Damages are awarded based on contributory fault law which says that you may only be awarded damages proportionate to the percentage of fault contributed by the defendant and nothing for the amount of fault that you contributed.

What is the Statute of Limitations for personal injury cases in WA State?

You have a limited amount of time to file your personal injury claim in Washington State.

Statute of limitations by type of personal injury claim:

  • Negligence claims have a three year statute of limitations; these include slip and fall accidents, workplace accidents, car accidents, toxic torts, etc.*
  • *Exception: If the injury is incurred by a minor child, the child may have three years from their 18th birthday to file a claim.
  • A Medical Malpractice case has a three year statute of limitations from the date of the act or omission or a one year statute from the date the injury should have been discovered (the Discovery Rule), whichever is later. Under no circumstances may a medical malpractice claim be brought more than eight years after the act or omission.
  • A Wrongful Death case has a three year statute of limitations.
  • A Products Liability case has a three year statute of limitations.
  • A Strict Liability case has a three year statute of limitations.
  • An Assault or Battery case has a two year statute of limitations.
  • A Defamation case has a two year statute of limitations.

It is always recommended that you do not wait until the last minute to file a personal injury claim.

What are the most common types of personal injury cases?

Car accidents: Car accidents are the most common cause of personal injuries and personal injury cases. More than six million car accidents happen each year; injuring millions of drivers, passengers, bicyclists and pedestrians.

Slip, trip, and fall accidents: According to the National Floor Safety Institute, falls account for more than eight million hospital emergency room (ER) visits each year. At 21 percent, this is the leading cause of visits to the ER. Slip and fall accidents represent 12 percent of all falls and account for an additional one million hospital visits each year. A slip, trip and fall accident can happen anywhere and cause serious personal injuries.

Medical malpractice: Thousands of Americans are injured through medical malpractice every year. When a medical facility or medical provider acts negligently by failing to perform in a manner that meets an established “duty of care”, a medical malpractice lawsuit may be in order. Common examples include improper administration of prescription drugs, surgical errors and delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis.

Wrongful death: A wrongful death can occur in many different circumstances. Any deaths caused by the negligence or intentional harm of another person or organization may be classified as a wrongful death. Some examples include medical malpractice, car accident, childhood sports injury and nursing home abuse.

Defective products: Consumers assume that when they purchase a product it will be safe to use as the manufacturer intended. In some cases, however, the product has serious manufacturing defects that make it unsafe to use. When these defects cause a personal injury, a product liability lawsuit may be brought by an attorney.

This information is not meant to be legal advice. Call the accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom, Skagit, Island and Snohomish Counties since 1979.