Friday, September 13, 2013

Seattle Personal Injury Law: What Should I Do if I Need to File a Personal Injury Claim?

Accidents can happen at anytime, but handling the legal aspects of a personal injury claim can be challenging.  Personal injury claims can involve many different types of injuries, including automobile accidents, slip and fall accidents, or defective products

Fortunately, there are several steps you can take after a personal injury to prepare you for filing a claim or a lawsuit.  Here’s a list of the top ten tips for personal injury claims:

1) Seek out medical attention immediately:  If you have been seriously injured, the first thing you should do is to get medical attention.  Do not attempt to handle any claims before you have properly addressed your injuries with a medical professional.

Note that failing to seek medical attention after an accident can sometimes reduce the amount of damages you are able to recover.  As the injured party, you may have a duty to “mitigate your losses”.  This means that you must take steps to ensure that your own neglect does not cause any further injuries or economic losses.

2) File a Police Report: Filing a police report can help ensure that you have records of important information.  This may include the names and contact information of other parties that were involved.  Also, the report itself can serve as a record of the important facts involved in the accident.  The police report can be used in court if a lawsuit arises.

3) Be aware of what you say at the scene of the accident:  While it is necessary to communicate with the other party after an accident, exercise discretion when speaking with other parties.  You are under no duty to state whose fault the injury was or to offer additional information.  Avoid making statements that might make the situation more complicated, and avoid creating conflicts in relation to the event.

4) Keep accurate records of all costs and expenses related to the injury:  These may include hospital bills, medical diagnosis statements, bills related to property damage, and insurance records.  You may also need to maintain records of lost wages if the injury has caused you miss work.  It’s also a good idea to make a written account of the injury, especially while the events and facts are still fresh in your recollection.

5) Be cautious when dealing with insurance companies:  Involvement with insurance companies can sometimes make the legal process more complicated in a personal injury claim.  However, in most cases, working with an insurance company will be necessary to completing your personal injury claim or lawsuit.  Be sure to protect your interests when negotiating with an insurance company.  It may be helpful to have a lawyer on hand for advice when dealing with third parties.

6) DO NOT sign any forms or documents without understanding themThis is huge!! Make sure you completely understand the terms of any forms and documents to be filled out in relation to the personal injury.  Do not sign any forms if you are not sure of how they will affect you in the long run.  This includes any forms that may be presented to you well after the actual event.  Be especially wary of any documents or contracts that ask you to release the other party from liability, or that require you to forfeit your right to a lawsuit.

7) Avoid trying to settle on your own if you don’t understand what to do:  Trying to settle on your own with the other party or with their insurance company can sometimes be a complicated process.  If you are unsure of what you are doing, it is best to find some help through the advice of a legal expert.  This is especially important if the other party will be hiring a lawyer.  Working with your own lawyer can help you avoid costly mistakes that can have negative effects on your claim.

8) Be aware of filing deadlines:  Make sure that you file your legal claim or lawsuit in a timely manner.  For most personal injury claims, you only have a certain window of time after the accident to file with the courts.  This is known as the “statute of limitations”, which can vary depending on the state and the type of accident involved.  Once the statute of limitations has expired, you might not be able to file your claim anymore.

9) Do some preliminary research on the legal process:  It may be worth your while to familiarize yourself with the basics of personal injury lawsuits in your area.  Local rules may vary, and personal injury claims can take some time to be fully resolved.  While you are not expected to become an expert, speaking with a lawyer for some basic guidelines can help take some of the confusion out of the process.

10) Be aware of what type of lawyer you will need to hire:  Remember, not all personal injury lawyers are the same.  Some specialize in certain fields, while others handle more general claims.  There are many different types of personal injury lawyers, and one may be more suitable for your situation than another.

If you find yourself in a Personal Injury situation, we can help. We pride ourselves on providing honest, effective advice. If we can help, we'll get you to the best teams in town who can. We are Seattle Personal Injury Attorneys looking out for your best interest.

Our Firm:

Weitz Law Firm, PLLC
520 Kirkland Way, Ste 103
Kirkland, WA 98033
(425) 889-9300

Seattle Slip and Fall Legal Facts

We have a lot of slip and falls cases come into our office. We've established some facts to help those who face such cases.

1. A slip and fall injury is a type of tort or civil case: This means it is a private lawsuit that one person brings against another in order to recover monetary damages.

2. Slip and fall injuries can occur in businesses or in private homes- Most often, slip and falls occur in stores or other public places. However, if you go to someone's house and they have created unsafe conditions which cause you to fall and hurt yourself, that individual can be liable and you may be able to sue and recover damages from him and his home owners insurance.

3. The standards for a slip and fall injury differ depending on where you are- If you are in a public business, the business has a higher duty of care. You are considered an invitee and they must make sure the premises is safe. If you are in a home, on the other hand, you are a licensee only and that homeowner doesn't owe you quite the same duty of care as a store owner does. As such, it will be harder to prove negligence and to recover for a slip and fall injury if it occurs at a private home.

4. A personal injury attorney can help you bring a tort case- If you want to sue as a result of your fall and your injuries, a personal injury attorney can help you file the necessary papers and collect the necessary evidence to do so.

5. It is your burden to prove the negligence- If you fall and hurt yourself, the other party is liable only if their actions were a breach of legal duty that caused your fall. As the plaintiff, it is your burden to prove this. You must prove it by a preponderance of the evidence, which means you have to prove that- more likely than not- the defendant was negligent in creating the conditions that led to your fall.

6. You will have to prove damages- This means you have to prove you actually suffered some type of harm that you can be monetarily compensated for.

7. Your recovery can be reduced if your negligence contributed to your injury- Under the laws of most states, you can still recover damages even if you were partially at fault for the fall. Your damages will simply be reduced by the percentage of responsibility the court decides belongs to you.

8. Your damages will be based on the extent of your actual injuries-
The more severely injured you are, the more monetary compensation will be appropriate to pay for your medical bills, pain and suffering or emotional distress.

9. Emotional distress damages may also be possible- In addition to compensation for your actual injury, if you experienced stress or fear as a result of your fall or the resulting injury, this is compensable as well.

10. Most slip and fall cases settle out of court. This means that most of the time, you won't have to go to trial and the defendant will simply offer you a lump sum payment.

For more information on your rights if you are a victim of a slip and fall case, consider contacting a Seattle Personal Injury Attorney.

Our Firm:

Weitz Law Firm, pllc
520 Kirkland Way, Ste 103
Kirkland, WA 98033

(425) 889-9300

Who Should Attend Mediations?

Weitz -  All “decision-makers” who have the authority to make a binding decision should obviously attend the mediation along with their Counsel. In most cases, this person will be an officer of a company, or a human resources representative who will have “settlement authority” up to a set dollar amount.

In some cases, it makes sense to have a technical expert on hand. This is especially true for noncompete or injury matters. Because noncompete matters can turn on highly technical issues, bringing a person who can explain the company’s software, trade secrets, or other technology can help an employer ensure that the mediator understands its position.

Some employers like to bring other key people so that these people can explain facts, if necessary. While this can be helpful, sometimes it’s best to leave the people closest to the dispute behind. For example, in a harassment situation, inviting the alleged harasser to the mediation could lead to an emotional response from the plaintiff that does nothing to further the settlement discussion between the parties.