Personal Injury FAQs

I was recently involved in a hit-and-run accident and sustained pretty bad injuries. I have been to see the doctor and he recommended that I see a specialist. But, who can I sue for the money to cover all of my costs? I shouldn’t have to pay when it wasn’t even my fault and the other driver left the scene.

I went to a consultation with a Washington auto accident lawyer and, when I told him that I hadn’t been in to see a doctor yet, he pulled out a stack of business cards and referred me to a doctor that he has sent other clients to. Should I go to this doctor?

What does pain and suffering mean in regards to my personal injury case?

What does loss of enjoyment of life mean in regards to my personal injury case?

Am I guaranteed to get compensation for pain and suffering?

Is there a limit on how long I can continue treating for my car accident injuries?

If I hire a personal injury lawyer, how long will it take to settle my claim?

What happens if the defendant doesn’t show up at my personal injury trial?

What is comparative negligence?

What constitutes negligence?

I was recently injured in a car accident and can barely keep up with the mounting medical bills. How am I supposed to pay to hire an experienced auto accident lawyer?

If I am ever involved in an auto accident what kind of evidence will be most important to my claim?

What are non-economic damages?

What does it mean to settle out of court?

What is mandatory arbitration?

What Happens If The Defendant Doesn’t Show Up At My Personal Injury Trial?

This can either be a good thing or a bad thing; it really just depends on the individual case and its circumstances. If the defendant doesn’t show up then they are not able to give their side of the story and it is likely that all the jury will hear is your first-hand account of the accident. However, this does not mean that you can embellish or falsify your story in any way; you need to be as non-biased as possible when you are giving your account of the accident.

The only potential downfall of the defendant not showing up is that your Seattle personal injury attorney will not be able to speculate on the defense’s evidence and testimony. But this won’t cause many problems and if the defense doesn’t show up it will not do anything to hurt your case.

What Is Comparative Negligence?

Comparative negligence is what is used in Washington State to determine who is at fault for what percentage of the accident. Fault can be divided up between the parties and even if you are partially at fault you may still receive a settlement. Washington State uses a system known as pure contributory negligence. This means that a judge or jury will determine the percentage of fault for the parties involved and then distribute the settlement accordingly.

For example, Steve and John are involved in a car accident and Steve was found to be 99% responsible, but the jury also found that Steve suffered $10,000 worth in damages. The award amount of $10,000 would be reduced by Steve’s 99% fault in causing the injury so John would only be responsible for $100 of Steve’s damages.

What Constitutes Negligence?


Negligence is when a person’s failure to act responsibly causes you harm; it is defined as the carelessness of another to act within the recognized standards of behavior established by law. The state of Washington uses comparative negligence to determine who is at fault for an accident, which means that you can be partially responsible for you injuries and still possibly receive a settlement. There are many different types of accidents where negligence can be a contributory factor; such as auto accidents, construction site injuries and even stores that don’t properly clean their floors.

I Was Recently Injured In A Car Accident And Can Barely Keep Up With The Mounting Medical Bills. How Am I Supposed To Pay To Hire An Experienced Auto Accident Lawyer?

Most Washington State personal injury lawyers do not take attorneys’ fees up front; in fact many do not take any attorneys’ fees if you do not win your case. There will be costs associated with your case, but these are necessary and pay for things like making copies, sending out official letters and obtaining medical records and police reports. Most Seattle personal injury lawyers will cover the costs associated with the case until you receive your settlement. For larger cases that require the knowledge and possible testimony of an expert, like a doctor or engineer, your attorney will discuss the costs with you before hiring them because these costs like the smaller things will be paid with your settlement.

The important thing to remember is that an experienced Seattle personal injury lawyer will not take your case unless they are sure that they will be able to get a settlement that is worth enough to cover all of your expenses as well as theirs. Personal injury lawyers don’t take cases they can’t win, because they don’t get paid unless you do.

If I Am Ever Involved In An Auto Accident What Kind Of Evidence Will Be Most Important To My Claim?

Here is a list of the most important pieces of evidence if you are ever involved in an auto accident.

  • The other parties information: name, phone number, address, insurance information, vehicle information
  • Contact information from any witnesses: name, address, phone
  • Pictures of the accident: your vehicle and any other vehicle involved, the scene of the accident
  • Pictures of your injuries: if possible pictures of your injuries at the crash site, in the hospital and pictures or videos of how the injuries are affecting your life, like having to use a walker to get around.

The insurance company cannot deny hard evidence; if you are diligent and collect this useful information your case will be a lot smoother than it would be without it.

What Are Non-Economic Damages?

Simply put non-economic damages are basically the same as pain and suffering. Non-economic damages cover non-monetary losses, things like: pain and suffering, disfigurement, disability and even the loss of enjoyment of life experienced and the loss of enjoyment of life in the future.

What Does It Mean To Settle Out Of Court?

This is actually how most personal injury lawsuits are settled. An out-of-court settlement basically means that the insurance company offered you a settlement that was equal to or comparable to what your attorney was asking for, and you decided to accept rather than go to trial.

What Is Mandatory Arbitration?

Arbitration is an alternative type of dispute resolution.  Generally speaking, arbitration is where a neutral third party arbitrator, usually a lawyer or retired judge, will assume the role of both the judge and the jury.  In other words, they will make all evidentiary rulings and then decide the case.  Some insurance policies will have a clause stipulating that you must resolve a case through arbitration instead of filing a lawsuit and going to court.  Depending on what your insurance policy says, the arbitration can be binding or non-binding; with binding meaning that you must accept the decision and non-binding meaning that you may appeal the arbitrator’s decision.  In the State of Washington, a plaintiff can compel Mandatory Arbitration (MAR) by stipulating that their case is worth less than $50,000. The court will then appoint an arbitrator to hear the case, and the hearing process will have relaxed rules of evidence making the process cheaper and quicker than a jury-trial. Once the arbitrator has entered their MAR award, either party can appeal that award by requesting a Trial De Novo, which means that the case will then be heard by a judge and jury. However, if the appealing party does not improve their position at trial, they will have to pay the other party’s attorneys’ fees and all other costs incurred from the time they made the request forward, which can be a significant financial penalty to appealing a reasonable MAR award.

I Was Recently Involved In A Hit-And-Run Accident And Sustained Pretty Bad Injuries. I Have Been To See The Doctor And He Recommended That I See A Specialist. But, Who Can I Sue For The Money To Cover All Of My Costs? I Should not Have To Pay When It Wasn’t Even My Fault And The Other Driver Left The Scene.

The type of insurance that you have will be a big factor; also the circumstances of the accident will make a difference in the legal options available to you. Check with your insurance provider to make sure that you have uninsured motorist coverage because this will be what you use to cover expenses. Without uninsured motorist coverage, you really don’t have any other options. Also, make sure that you call the police immediately after the accident to file a report and write down information you remember about the other driver and their car, and get contact information from anyone that witnessed the accident. Because a hit-and-run can be difficult to prove, it is probably best to think about hiring an experienced Seattle personal injury lawyer to help you.

I Went To A Consultation With A Washington Auto Accident Lawyer And When I Told Him That I Hadn’t Been In To See A Doctor, He Pulled Out A Stack Of Business Cards And Referred Me To A Doctor That He Has Sent Other Clients To. Should I Go To This Doctor?

No. This is usually a very bad idea and will not help when you are trying to file a claim. Attorney-doctor referral relationships do not look good when an attorney is sending all their clients to one doctor. This makes the doctor look less credible and that they are only saying what the attorney wants them to say because they get so much business from the relationship. The attorney may even have some sort of deal on the side with the health care professional.

The only instance in which this would be acceptable was if you were in need of specialized care and your attorney recommends that you go and see a particular doctor. But, regardless of the circumstances, always question the relationship between your attorney and the doctor they are recommending.

What Does Pain And Suffering Mean In Regard To My Personal Injury Case?

Pain and suffering covers both mental and physical distress that you suffered due to the accident. Washington State law says that pain and suffering can include but is not limited to: inconvenience, mental anguish, and emotional distress that has already been experienced and with reasonable probability will be experienced in the future.

What Does Loss Of Enjoyment Of Life Mean In Regard To My Personal Injury Case?

Loss of enjoyment of life, like pain and suffering, is compensation for your loss of the ability to enjoy the pleasures and amenities of life. This can also include no longer being able to perform your job duties or hobbies that you can no longer continue doing.

Am I Guaranteed To Get Compensation For Pain And Suffering?

No. It can sometimes be very difficult to get the insurance company to pay for pain and suffering. If you were involved in a serious accident, you should at least consult with an experienced Seattle personal injury attorney to find out if they think that you should receive money for pain and suffering. Most insurance companies do not want to pay for any pain and suffering. You may need the help of someone who has experience negotiating with the insurance company.

Is There A Limit On How Long I Can Continue Treating For My Car Accident Injuries?

Technically no, there is no limit. But you need to keep in mind that the insurance company will only pay for treatment that they deem to be reasonable and necessary. It is important to continue treatment until you fully recover or reach maximum improvement because this is your health we are talking about. But you also cannot settle your case until treatment is through or you reach maximum improvement, so you want to make sure that you have accounted for all past and future damages. If you sustained and injury serious enough to require lifelong treatment, then your settlement should be significant enough to help cover those lifelong costs. In this case, it would be a good idea to discuss your case with an experienced Washington personal injury attorney to determine whether or not a lawyer would be beneficial to your case.

If I Hire A Personal Injury Lawyer, How Long Will It Take To Settle My Claim?

The time is takes to settle your claim will depend on how long it takes for you to reach maximum recovery from your injuries. Claims can take anywhere from six months to over a year, just depending on how much treatment you actually need.

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