There are 3 aspects to every injury claim: liability, damages and money. A good case has clear liability, substantial damages and money available to recover. A bad case lacks at least one of these three elements.
- In the state of Washington liability in an injury claim generally involves the breach of a duty of care causing injury to another. This is called negligence.
- Even with a breach of duty and negligence we still have the burden of proof to show the negligence caused the injury.
- Even after proving liability and damages we still have to find the money, usually in the form of liability insurance.
Most injury claims are settled by making a claim against the insurance company for the negligent party. After the injured party reaches maximum medical improvement, i.e. gets as good as he is going to get, we gather your medical records and evaluate the case. The value of the case involves looking at both special and general damages. Special damages include medical expenses and wage loss. General damages include pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of like.
With your permission we will send a demand letter to the insurance company asking for compensation for your injuries. If negotiations are successful, the insurance company will send us a check and a release for you to sign. We will do up a distribution sheet showing where every penny is going and get your approval before we distribute.
If settlement is not achieved we will with your approval file a lawsuit against the negligent party and represent you through trial. Even when cases must be filed in court most cases eventually settle without going to trial.
If your case does go to court it will probably be tried to a jury. The defense almost always requests a jury. This is because we have to convince 10 of 12 jurors to vote in favor of the plaintiff or we lose.
The best time to get a lawyer in an injury claim is right after you see the doctor for your injuries. The insurance company will want to take recorded statement from you and have you release all your medical records to them and they will use whatever means they can to lessen the value of your case. A personal injury attorney can protect you and help you receive a fair result.