What is a personal injury?

A personal injury may be any manner of harm caused by the negligent or intentional conduct of another. A personal injury may involve medical malpractice, auto accidents, a slip and fall accident, construction or maritime accidents, dog bites, assaults, defective products, sexual assault and sex abuse. Whenever someone or some entity like a corporation or branch of government owes another a duty of care and that duty is breached and causes an injury, a personal injury lawsuit may be warranted.

Why should I file a personal injury claim or injury lawsuit?

Many people are hesitant to initiate a lawsuit or even retain a lawyer. Over the years insurance companies and other corporate interests have worked overtime to stigmatize personal injury lawsuits, the lawyers who initiate them, and the injured people who benefit from them. That propaganda campaign, the voice of tort reform, has consisted of little more than spreading false rumors. But that misinformation has had the intended effect. People often feel hesitant or ashamed to pursue a personal injury claim, even when they’ve suffered catastrophic losses. They shouldn’t.

When someone is injured through the carelessness of another, the effects can be catastrophic. Children can lose the affection and care of a parent, parents lose jobs, injured people and their families suffer economic hardship, the injured struggle under the weight of medical bills. If someone or some entity must bear these losses, why shouldn’t it be the careless party, the person who caused the harm? In most cases, though not all, it is an insurance company who steps in on their behalf and assumes the loss…but usually not without an ugly fight.

If you have suffered an injury and believe it was caused by the negligent or intentional conduct of another, please contact the Seattle injury attorneys at Peterson Baker to discuss the issue.

Should I talk to the at-fault driver’s insurance company?

After a car accident, there’s a good chance the at-fault driver’s insurance   company will contact you. You’re not required to have a conversation with their adjuster, and we always encourage potential clients not to. While it may not be harmful to provide a few details like your name and mailing address, I would   never allow an adjuster to record a conversation.

We also usually tell potential clients the following:

1. Don’t discuss your injuries with a third party insurance adjuster. Most people don’t usually understand the full extent of car accident-related injuries. A sore neck may ultimately be just that – a sore neck. It may also be a bulging disc or a facet injury that requires extensive long-term future care. It can take many months before an injury can be properly diagnosed and treated.

2. Don’t sign any third party insurer medical authorizations.

3. Don’t discuss liability or accept that the accident is in any way your fault. Clients rarely know the rules of the road or may be manipulated into admitting to partial liability when they are not liable at all.

4. If you do discuss the accident with an insurer or the liable party, don’t be dismissive or minimize your injuries. Nobody likes whining or exaggerating, but your attempt at stoicism may be used against you unfairly.

5. Never assume that the insurance company means well. This isn’t to suggest all adjusters are out to wrong you or that all insurance companies are the same. However, a third party insurer operates for their benefit, not yours.

6. If you have personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, you are required to cooperate with your PIP adjuster. If you retain a personal injury attorney at Peterson Baker Law to help with your car accident injury case, we will handle this for you.

How much does it cost to hire a Seattle Personal Injury attorney?

At Peterson Baker Law, we work on a contingent fee basis –  you pay nothing to hire us. Generally, we take 1/3 of whatever we recover in your case and you owe nothing if we lose. In certain cases, we often reduce our fees, and sometimes significantly

The rules of professional conduct mandate that the client remain ultimately responsible for litigation costs such as use of experts, record retrieval, and court costs. However, the rules do not require us to collect that debt. When

We do everything to keep those expenses as low as possible and we do everything to ensure you receive as much as we can secure for you.

Will a prior injury hurt my claim or lawsuit?

Insurance companies and the people who represent them sure like to make an issue out of a prior injury or pre-existing condition. However, Washington law is very clear that a negligent party is responsible for any exacerbation or lighting up of a previous but asymptomatic injury or condition.

An example: if you hurt your back once but were free of symptoms for many years, then sustain another injury in the same area, the negligent party that caused the new damage is still liable.

This is not to say that a prior injury won’t complicate your case – insurance adjusters always want to make this an issue, but they don’t have a great argument if the injury was not bothering you. If, however, the injury was bothering you at the time of the accident, you are still entitled to recover the difference between the prior problem and the new, exacerbated problem.

Call Peterson Baker Law and let a personal injury help you deal with issues like prior injuries and the  gauntlet of problems an insurance carrier is likely to throw in your way.

How much is my personal injury claim worth?

It depends a lot on the type and severity of your injuries, their effect on your personal and professional life, and how long it took you to get better. In very general terms, the various kinds of compensation can be divided into four categories:

1.Property Damage –

If you experienced property damage along with your injury, as is common in car accidents, you may be entitled to the repair or replacement value of that property. This may include compensation for diminished value.

2.Medical Expenses –

You are entitled to have your medical expenses paid. Often, a personal injury victim may have had their medical expenses paid by a health insurer or by their own first party med pay or personal injury protection coverage. What often comes as a rude surprise to many is that a personal injury and car accident victims is that are legally obliged to repay the insurers from the proceeds of their settlement. This is called subrogation and it strikes many of our clients as unfair; it strikes me as unfair as well. After all, you’ve paid premiums for this insurance so that you would not have to concern yourself with using other resources to pay medical bills. We work very hard to negotiate with insurers to ensure that you do not have to pay back the entire amount, and Washington law allows reimbursement reductions in many instances.  You are also entitled to be reimbursed for any future medical expenses related to your car accident or personal injury.

3.Income Related Losses –

After a car accident or personal injury you may miss work or lose a job as a result of your injuries. You’re entitled to be compensated for lost wages as well as loss of future earning capacity. Tragically, severe injuries can leave people unable to work for a lifetime. Others may be forced out of a profession entirely. You can and should be compensated for the effect a personal injury has on your professional life.

4.Pain and Suffering –

As you might expect, this can be a very difficult loss to calculate. If you’ve suffered only briefly and managed to get better in a relatively short period of time, odds are this will not be a big number. But even in cases where someone has endured terrible pain and loss, it can be a difficult thing to calculate.

What is nursing home neglect?

Nursing home neglect may take many forms but an understaffed or poorly run nursing home may engage in the following forms of neglect:

Emotional and Social.

This may occur when and understaffed nursing home may leave residents alone for long period, ignore requests, or   verbally abuse residents.

Hygiene.

Elders often struggle with very common daily tasks such as   bathing, cleaning, toileting, dental care, shaving and laundry. Nursing   home staff should assist with these things but where nursing homes are   understaffed or poorly run, they may neglect to aid residents.

Nutrition and safety.

A nursing home may neglect to provide healthy or   adequate food and water. They may also neglect to provide a safe and   hygienic facility.

Medical.

A nursing home may neglect patients through inattention to   medical needs and residents may develop bed sores or pressure ulcers, develop infections, may not be given their prescribed medications, and   new illnesses may go ignored.

How do I know if a loved one is a victim of nursing home neglect?

It can be difficult to assess the quality care your loved one is receiving in a nursing home. We rarely have a clear view of what happens during nighttime hours or when we are not there visiting. In cases of dementia, a problem afflicting many seniors in nursing homes, a person’s reasoning or language capacity may be impaired. They may be unable to express what is happening when we are not there, or they alert us of something that sounds implausible that we dismiss it as a product of dementia.

When my own father was dying in an adult family home he once told a story of a staff person’s behavior that sounded so implausible I dismissed it. It still haunts me to think of how, a few weeks later, I found out the story was true. Fortunately, he was housed in an excellent facility with owners who truly cared and they remedied the problem immediately. Not everyone is so lucky. For that reason it is important to be aware of signs of potential neglect such as the following:

  • Sudden Weight Loss
  • Bedsores and pressure ulcers
  • Injuries from falls
  • Bruising
  • Dehydration and malnutrition
  • Unusual changes in behavior
  • Diminished personal hygiene or
  • appearance
  • Hostile or unfriendly interaction
  • with the staff
  • Poor lighting in the facility
  • Unsafe furniture
  • Broken or defective equipment such as buzzers or bells in the room
An uninsured driver hit me. Now what?

I was asked this not long ago. The client had been struck by a driver with out of state ID. My client, a bright and personable guy who may be slightly too trusting, made a few errors post-accident.

  • He did not call the police.
  • He didn’t get the driver’s insurance information.
  • He trusted the other driver.He did, fortunately, get the license plate of the car and the driver’s license number. With the plate, I was able to get an owner name through the DOL, and then did a background check of the car owner. That car owner’s insurance would make the claim viable.We tend to see people injured by non-owner drivers in three different instances:A family car member lends the car to a family member, and they cause an accident. In such a case, we look to the family member owner for insurance coverage.An employee causes an accident while entrusted with the car of his or her employer. There, we look to the employer for insurance coverage or assets if there isn’t sufficient insurance coverage.

    And finally, we have that situation I described above.

    If you’ve been struck by a car operated by a non-owner driver, contact Peterson Baker Law by phone or email.