The Personal Injury Claims Process in Washington
Seattle Lawyers on Negotiating Personal Injury Claims
Negotiating with insurance companies can be a daunting task, particularly if you aren’t well-versed in Washington personal injury law. This is why it is vital to have an experienced personal injury attorney when pursuing compensation. The seasoned legal team at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., has been successfully representing Seattle-area injury victims for over two decades, and will put their skills to work on your claim. For a free case evaluation, call our Renton office at (888) 228-3860.
Before you begin filing your claim, you should receive medical attention. Get a record of your injuries and the doctor’s opinion. Taking this step will be essential down the line to determine the amount of damages you are entitled to. Once the nature, severity, and duration of your injuries have been established, then you and your attorney can initiate the settlement process.
Insurance Companies Are Businesses
Insurance companies - your own, as well as that of the party that caused your injury - are businesses, and they operate accordingly. They make a profit by making the lowest payouts possible, regardless of the needs of an injury victim. To accomplish this, they employ skilled lawyers whose sole job is to deny or diminish their client’s liability for your injury. They will try to use the legal system against you to keep from having to make a higher payout. This is why you should never try to negotiate a personal injury claim on your own. In fact, we advise you not to speak to an insurance company until you’ve retained an experienced attorney to represent you.
Meeting With Your Attorney
If you’ve been injured, contact a lawyer who specializes in personal injury claims. This lawyer will determine if another party’s negligence resulted in your injury, and to what degree. Washington is a contributory fault state (meaning that more than one party can share fault for an injury), and any jury award will be adjusted accordingly. For instance, a car runs a red light and T-bones your car, leaving you with a broken arm and broken ribs. However, it was dusk and you didn’t have your headlights on. A judge or jury could find that the other driver was 90% at fault for your losses, and you were 10% at fault. If the total sum of your losses amounted to $100,000, you could only be awarded $90,000.
Calculating Economic Losses
Once you’ve chosen the lawyers at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., to pursue your personal injury claim, your job is, essentially, done. Your only task moving forward is to heal and put your life back together. We’ll do the rest. We will start by determining what your losses are, and what kind of compensation we’re going to ask for. All monetary losses are referred to as "economic" losses or damages. These may include the following:
- Present and future medical bills
- Lost wages (this includes for a spouse or family member if he/she has to quit or miss work to care for you)
- Loss of career or earning capacity
- Cost of learning a new career
- Property damage
- Other recovery costs (special equipment, like hospital beds or wheelchair ramps; cost of hiring in-home care; cost of assisted living facility)
Calculating Non-Economic Losses
Non-economic losses, also called general damages, are more abstract and less material in nature, but they can have just as devastating an impact on their victim as economic damages. Non-economic damages may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish and emotional trauma
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of a limb
- Loss of reputation, consortium, or companionship
Non-economic damages have the potential to be much more lucrative than economic damages; however, they are much harder to prove. If a trial becomes necessary, testimony and legal arguments may help, but it is generally up to the discretion of the jury to determine the amount that is rewarded in non-economic damages.
For over 20 years, the esteemed legal team at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. has been honored to get Washington injury victims the compensation they so desperately needed and deserved. Let our compassionate, skilled, and experienced lawyers do the same for you by calling (888) 228-3860 for a free consultation.