Monday, July 29, 2013

What To Do After a Car Accident in Washington State

Being involved in a car accident is an overwhelming, and often painful, experience. It can be particularly frustrating having to worry about paying for medical bills and missing time at work when the accident was not even your fault. The very last thing you want to do in the middle of all of that stress is ensuring proper compensation from an insurance company.

Some insurance companies are very skilled at minimizing the amount they pay for personal injuries. Typically, an insurance company will not be forthcoming about the amount of coverage an insured driver might have, and can even pressure the injured person to settle for far less than deserved. Personal injuries fall under Tort Law, and being familiar with it can increase your settlement considerably. Obtaining skilled legal representation can relieve much of the stress following your accident and facilitate a more favorable settlement.

What To Do Following Your Car Accident
There are things that you can do following your accident which will set the foundation for receiving the proper settlement for your injuries:
1.  Do not claim that you are uninjured immediately following an accident. While it may feel natural to insist you are OK to reduce the stress of the situation, making such a statement can cause future difficulties when injuries surface. Many accident related injuries lay dormant and pain associated with those injuries can increase over time.
2.  Document your experience as soon as possible following the accident. Your account of the accident will be much more accurate the closer it is to the actual event. Having documentation of specific details can help you and your lawyer refute inconsistent or false statements from the other driver(s).
3.  Keep a journal of all pain and suffering related to your injuries, as well as any subsequent expenses you have incurred. It is easy to forget or overlook increasing pain or medical expenses over time.   

                                                                 Report Your Collision
All collisions involving a personal injury or injuries are investigated by the Washington State Department of Transportation (DOT). If the police are called to the scene of the accident they will file an official report. In this case, you can obtain a copy of the official report for your records. If the police are not called to the accident, and therefore do not file an official report, it is important for you to file a report with the DOT. Each driver must file a report within four (4) days of the accident. This is particularly important if you sustained any injuries. You can get collision report forms from your local police department, county sheriff’s office, or Washington State Patrol detachment. Preserving evidence is essential to later establishing that your injuries are a direct result of the accident.

Get Help
A personal injury lawyer can help you preserve evidence early in the process. Your lawyer can also be proactive in negotiating with the insurance company early on, when you are still recovering. Furthermore, most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means they only get paid if you do, and will offer you a free consultation to discuss your options. One very important thing to remember is that time can either work for or against you. Documenting your injuries, reporting or collision (if not already done by a police officer) and consulting with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible following your accident will greatly help when later reaching a settlement.

For more information consider contacting a Seattle Personal Injury Lawyer.

Weitz Law Firm
520 Kirkland Way, Suite 103
Kirkland, Washington

Monday, July 22, 2013

Personal Injury Protection Insurance in Washington State

What is Personal Injury Protection?

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is insurance coverage which is added to an auto insurance policy. PIP is not required in Washington State, but insurers are required to offer it. Generally speaking, PIP pays out regardless of who is at fault and applies to all parties injured in the automobile accident (some exceptions below). Pedestrians and bicyclists injured by an automobile are also covered.

What does PIP cover?

·         Medical Expenses:

Minimum of $10,000 for reasonable and necessary medical expenses for each person injured in an automobile accident

Available up to three years from the date of the accident

·         Loss of Wages “income continuation benefits”:

Minimum of $10,000, subject to a limit of $200 per week

·         Loss of Services: (payment to non-family members for work the injured party cannot perform)

Minimum of $5,000, subject to a limit of $200 per week

·         Funeral Expenses:

Minimum of $2,000

RCW 48.22.095

Insured parties have the option to increase PIP coverage upon request, at a higher monthly premium, to $35,000 for medical expenses, $35,000 for income continuation benefits and $14,600 for loss of services.

RCW 48.22.100

Exceptions: What is not covered by PIP?

It doesn’t cover injuries caused by using:

·         Farm equipment

·         Recreational or off-road vehicles

·         Mopeds

·         Motorcycles (coverage may be available on motorcycle policies at a high price)

In addition, Washington law states that PIP does not cover:

·         Intentional, self-inflicted injuries caused by the insured person

·         Injuries sustained by insured person participating in, or preparing for, a prearranged or organized speed or racing contest

·         Injuries to the insured person while using automobile in commission of a felony

RCW 48.22.090

How do I get PIP?

Washington State law requires insurance companies to offer you PIP when signing up for auto insurance. Although PIP coverage is optional, it is most likely already included in the insurance company’s initial offer. An insured person has the option to reject PIP coverage, but that waiver must be in writing. Once an insured person has successfully waived his or her PIP coverage, the insurance company is released from coverage of all individuals who would have been covered under PIP. An insured party does have the ability to request coverage at a later date, but that request must also be in writing.


Injured people often think they do not have PIP when they actually do. An insurance company will not readily offer up coverage if the insured does not file a claim. Simply put, if you have not waived PIP insurance in writing then you are covered. Getting compensation following an injury stemming from automobile accident can greatly reduce the stress associated with such an event. There is a reason Washington State requires insurance companies to offer it: injuries can be costly.

If you have questions regarding your auto accident injury or PIP coverage, consider contacting a Seattle Automobile Injury Lawyer.


Weitz Law Firm, PLLC
520 Kirkland Way, Suite 103

Kirkland, Washington 98033

About Personal Injury Law

In legal terms, “injury” is defined as any harm done to a person by the acts or omissions of another. Injury may include physical hurt as well as damage to reputation or dignity, loss of a legal right or breach of contract. In cases of personal injury, lawsuits are focused on injury that results from acts of negligence from either a person or company.


The purpose of personal injury laws is to protect people from being harmed by the negligent acts of others. When harm does occur, a personal injury lawsuit is brought in order to compel insurance companies and/or the responsible parties to compensate the injured person, to the extent possible, so that the person is placed back into his/her pre-injury condition. A successful personal injury suit will ensure that the injured party’s medical bills, lost wages (both present and future), pain and suffering, and other related expenses are paid for by the party responsible for the injury.   


While there are many types of personal injury cases, the most common is for injuries sustained in traffic accidents. Other types of personal injury claims stem from animal bites, slip and fall accidents, workplace injuries, products liability and wrongful death. Since personal injury law spans a wide range of topics, many personal injury lawyers will specialize in a few select types. Some lawyers will focus more on individualized injuries, such as car accidents and slip and fall, while others will specialize in larger cases that deal with defective products and large-scale work injury, such as asbestos and mesothelioma. Most personal injury negotiations and litigation involve insurance companies to some extent.  


Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee. This means that the lawyer only gets compensated if the lawsuit is successful. If the lawsuit fails, the lawyer does not receive a fee. However, when the judge finds for the plaintiff, the lawyer will receive a percentage of the total amount awarded. The amount varies from state to state, but typically a lawyer will be compensated one-third of the amount granted. The percentage taken for legal services will be disclosed and agreed upon prior to representation.


For further information regarding Personal Injury claims, consider contacting a Seattle Personal Injury Lawyer.


Weitz Law Firm, PLLC
520 Kirkland Way, Suite 103
Kirkland, Washington 98033

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Monetary Compensation for Dog Bites in Washington State: Damages

When you hear about Personal Injury claims, you inevitably hear about what damages the injured party received. The term ‘damages’ refers to monetary compensation awarded to an injured party when the injury resulted from the wrongful (tortious) conduct of another party. Although there is no exact formula used to reach the dollar amount awarded, there are clearly defined categories of damages the courts look to when determining how much money to award the injured party.
The overall goal of damages is to make the injured party whole. In other words, the purpose of damages is to put the person who was injured by another person’s wrongful conduct back into the position he or she was in prior to the injury. While it is impossible to put someone in the exact ‘pre-injury condition’ with money, the amount decided on is supposed to account for the loss as best as possible. Washington courts adhere to this traditional rule of damages in these cases.
Damages are unique to every case and determined by the court on a case by case basis. Each dog bite is unique in physical damage and emotional impact. Damages are divided up into two main categories: compensatory and punitive.
The most common damages are compensatory. As the name would suggest, these damages compensate the victim’s loss. Examples of compensatory damages are: medical expenses, lost wages (both current and future) and loss of enjoyment of life.
Punitive damages are less frequently awarded. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the wrongdoer, rather than to benefit the injured party. Punitive damages are sometimes awarded in cases where the dog was trained by its owner to be violent or if the dog owner willfully and knowingly exposed others to a violent dog.
Both types of damages are determined by the unique set of circumstances of each case.
For more information on your dog bite claim consider consulting with a Seattle Dog Bite Attorney.
Weitz Law Firm
520 Kirkland Way, Suite 103
Kirkland, Washington 98033