Friday, November 28, 2014

Seattle Personal Injury: Large auto accident verdict

This past Wednesday, a large $1.13 Million verdict was reached in a lawsuit for an Auto accident in Washington State. 

Our Firm is lucky to be a part of the Washington State Association of Justice (WSAJ) and received the facts surrounding the case. The law firm and the Plaintiff will remain anonymous for obvious reasons. That said, this is a really big deal to get a verdict this large for injuries that are not easily identifiable.  Million.
The Case: "a pretty simple, straight forward case like most strictly soft tissue cases.  Our client was a 40 year old male rear-ended ".  He first saw a chiropractor and an M.D. a month later.  He received physical therapy, additional chiropractic and acupuncture to the tune of $25,000 in medical bills. 
Plaintiff indicated he was 80 to 90% improved within 3 months so Insurance Co. postured that he was completely recovered in the magic "8 to 12 weeks" and had no explanation for his "ongoing headaches"for which there were no objective findings. 
The pre-trial offer was the typical less than the medical specials in this case $22,000.  Defense counsel suggested the jury award $1,000 in economic damages (loss of wages, etc.); $1,000 to $5,000 in non-economic damages (pain and suffering) and an unremarkable amount for the medical specials.  Plaintiff counsel asked for $1.5M.
The attorney polarized the case right from the start telling the jury in voir dire that they would be asking for over a million for an injury that you couldn't see and then laid out everything the defense was going to tell them during the trial. 

The turning point int trial was getting an expert witness of the defense to contradict herself from previous testimony during the trial. 

Overall, a remarkable outcome for this family and job well done by the Attorneys involved. 

Fore more information on your rights in a Auto Accident, consider contacting a Kirkland Auto Accident Attorney. 

Our Firm: 

DC Legal 
520 Kirkland Way, Ste 103
Kirkland, WA 98033


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Personal Injury Seattle: What is Subrogation?

Subrogation is one of the those legal terms that gets peoples heads spinning. We'll take this post to attempt to simply as best as possible for you. 

In the context of a lawsuit or claim, subrogation is essential the means through which an insurance company, or any other party, steps into the shoes of another party in order to assume that person's rights and remedies. 

In the context of a car accident case, it refers to your insurance companies right to seek recovery for expenses it paid due to the negligence of the driver that hit you. 

If your health insurer or automobile insurer, often under your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, pays medical or other expenses due to the at-fault driver's negligence, the insurance company has a right under its policy with you to recover those expenses. Realistically, your own insurance company often comes to you or your personal injury attorney and asks for repayment directly from the settlement amount. Whenever you are contemplating settling a car accident or personal injury case in Washington, be aware that your own insurance company is entitled to recovery for expenses, subject to a Mahler reduction

For more information on your rights in a Seattle Auto Accident claim, consider contacting a Seattle Personal Injury Attorney.  

Our Firm: 

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

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Seattle Personal Injury: Negligence Laws Defined

Washington State Negligence Laws at a Glance

Negligence Defined: Negligence is the failure to exercise an expected degree of care, leading to another individual's injuries. For example, a motorist who fails to wear her glasses (as required by her driver's license) and then causes an injury accident may be found negligent and thus liable for the other party's injuries. Most torts -- such as medical malpractice and slip-and-fall claims -- are based on negligence.

Washington Negligence Laws: Contributory Fault
While state negligence laws are generally the same, as they are based on common law, they often differ with respect to fault. In Washington, for instance, contributory fault diminishes in proportion to the amount of damages, but does not bar recovery.

For instance, a plaintiff may only claim 70 percent of her damages for injuries if the court determines that she was 30 percent responsible for the incident. A few states don't allow recovery at all if the plaintiff is partially responsible, but most have moved away from this and now recognize degrees of contributory fault.
What are the Elements of a Negligence Claim?
In order to demonstrate a defendant's negligence, the plaintiff must prove the following 5 elements:

1.        Duty - The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty, either to act (or refrain from acting) in a certain way, as would be expected from a "reasonable" person. A duty ALWAYS exists to act in a reasonable fashion.

2.        Breach of Duty - The defendant acted (or failed to act) contrary to his or her duty to the plaintiff. (ie. Rear ended a vehicle, ran a stop sign, etc.)

3.        Cause in Fact - The defendant's breach of duty in fact resulted in the plaintiff's injuries (would the injury have occurred without the defendant's alleged negligence?).

4.        Proximate Cause - The defendant's actions or inactions were within the scope of known risks; the defendant "should have known" an injury could occur. Sometimes this is obvious like if the plaintiff was injured in a car accident, but sometimes its not as obvious.

5.        Damages - The plaintiff in fact suffered injuries, physical or otherwise, as a result of the defendant's negligence. In an auto accident, the damages could be anything from medical bills, lost wages and other damages including pain and suffering. For more information on Washington Personal Injury Damages, please see our previous blog here.

For more information on your rights in an Auto accident, consider contacting a Kirkland Auto Accident Attorney. 

Our Firm:
520 Kirkland Way, Ste 103
Kirkland, WA 98033
(425) 889-9300

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Seattle Pain and Suffering Guidelines

If you have been injured in Seattle because of someone else’s carelessness, you can usually seek compensation from the at-fault party’s insurance company, by filing what's called a third-party claim.
After establishing that the defendant is the one responsible for your injuries (liable), you will also need to present evidence of all your losses associated with the incident (called "damages"). The insurance company should compensate you for your medical expenses as well as lost wages, and “pain and suffering.” This article discusses when an insurance company will provide compensation for pain and suffering, and how these kinds of damages are calculated.

"Pain and Suffering" defined: 

Pain and suffering is a legal term that refers to a host of injuries that a plaintiff may suffer as a result of an accident. It encompasses not just physical pain, but also emotional and mental injuries such as fear, insomnia, grief, worry, inconvenience and even the loss of the enjoyment of life.
In nearly every personal injury case, a plaintiff should recover some amount of pain and suffering, even if a nominal amount. 

How does an insurance company calculate pain and suffering damages? 

There is no hard and fast rule for how an insurance company must calculate pain and suffering. Many plaintiffs’ attorneys were trained to use one of two methods for calculating pain and suffering.

Method #1: multiply the plaintiff's actual damages (medical bills and lost wages) by a certain number, generally between 1 and 5 (depending on the severity of the injury). For example, if a plaintiff incurs $3,000 in medical bills related to a broken arm, he might multiply that by three, and conclude that $9,000 represents a reasonable amount for pain and suffering.

Method #2: Alternatively, many plaintiffs’ attorneys use a per diem (Latin for "per day") approach. Under this method, a certain amount -- perhaps $100.00 -- is assigned to every day from the day of the accident until the plaintiff reached maximum recovery.

Insurance companies are under no obligation to consider in calculating pain and suffering. Many companies use programs to determine what should be allotted for pain and suffering.

Proving Pain and Suffering

Damages for pain and suffering are certainly recoverable, but how can they be proven? Proof of this type of injury may take many forms, and the more evidence you have to support your claim, the better your chance will be of recovering an amount you find satisfactory.

The extent of your injury and accompanying pain and suffering can be evidenced through documentation such as photographs and personal journals that record the plaintiff’s physical and emotional feelings. Documentation from friends and family can provide additional evidence of the way the particular injury has negatively impacted the plaintiff’s life. Proof of treatment by a mental health professional is also helpful, and is necessary where the plaintiff is claiming injuries such as increased anxiety, insomnia, or depression.

How Do You Know What's Fair?
If the insurance company makes a settlement offer that includes compensation for pain and suffering, how do you know if it’s a reasonable offer? A reasonable approach is to use either the multiplier method or the per diem method to get a ballpark figure (as discussed above).

Then consider whether there were additional circumstances that might increase or decrease that amount. For instance, if your injury left you with a permanent scar on your face, it may be reasonable to increase the amount of pain and suffering you deem fair. On the other hand, a minor bump to the head that healed quickly probably is not worth all that much. Keep these factors in mind when considering how the insurance company has valued your pain and suffering, and when deciding whether the insurance company’s offer is reasonable and fair.

For more information on how to protect yourself against Insurance Companies, please call a Kirkland Personal Injury Attorney. 

Our Firm:
Weitz Law Firm, PLLC
520 Kirkland Way, Ste 103
Kirkland, WA 98033

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Steps of a Washington/ Seattle Personal Injury Lawsuit

Ever wonder the exact process behind a personal injury claim? We're here to help.
Summons and Complaint:

The insurance company has refused to make a reasonable offer of settlement on your injury claim.  We have filed suit on your behalf.  We have sued the responsible people and their insurance companies with a document called a Summons and Complaint.  The question then is - what happens next?


After the papers are served on the defendants and their insurance companies, they hire attorneys to represent them and to serve us with a document called an Answer.  The Answer responds to the claims we made in the Complaint and to some extent indicates what issues we are going to be fighting about.  Usually at this stage of a lawsuit, the defense attorneys send written questions called Interrogatories.  These can be detailed questions covering your personal history, your employment history, your medical history, what injuries you claim in the lawsuit, a list of your bills, who has paid your bills and other kinds of detailed questions.  We will need your help in answering these questions.  At this point, we may also send Interrogatories to the defendants and they would have to go through the same process. 

Discovery/ Depositions:

After this flurry of paperwork, the next step is taking depositions of you and the defendants and any key witnesses.  These are called discovery depositions.  This gives the opposing attorney the opportunity to ask questions under oath.  There are several purposes for the depositions:

  1. One is to find out what a person would say at trial. 
  2. To find out information that was not covered in the interrogatories. 
  3. To size up the person in terms of how they will be received by the jury, in other words will the jury like them or will the jury be turned off by them, things like that.
Defense Medical Depositions:

After depositions, the defendants may choose to send you to a doctor of their choice for a defense medical examination.  This doctor is someone hired by the insurance company or the insurance company attorney to examine you, write a report, and testify at trial if need be.  This doctor is not on your side and is not going to treat you.  His or her task is to find things that will help the insurance company.  When that time arrives, we will prepare you for the independent examination just like we will prepare you your deposition. 

Medical Depositions:

After the defense medical examination, the attorneys may need to take depositions of the various doctors and other experts involved in the case.  This is done if there is some question about exactly what the doctor would testify to at trial or an engineer as to his opinions on your claims.  This is not always done, but is a step that happens frequently.

Defense Re-evaluation:

After the discovery process, the defense has reevaluated your claim.  What usually happens is that the defense attorney sends a detailed report to the insurance company and the insurance company decides what amount of money they are willing to offer to settle your case.  At this point, there may be direct negotiations between the defense attorney and your attorney. 


What often happens is that the parties agree to a mediation.   A mediation is where the two sides sit down with a neutral third party whose job it is to try to get the case settled.  The mediator cannot force anyone to do anything.  The mediator cannot force you to accept an offer and he or she cannot force the insurance company to make an offer.  It has been our experience that many cases settle at mediation.

Trial Preparation:

If the case does not settle then we commence preparation for trial.  We prepare you by going through your testimony.  We will go through the questions that we will ask you at trial and try to give you an idea as to what kind of questions the defense attorney will ask you on cross examination.  If a witness or a doctor is unable to come to trial to testify we will make arrangements to take an evidentiary deposition that can be either read or shown to the jury during trial.  We will also be preparing exhibits such as photographs or lists of expenses and preparing other witnesses and if need be issuing subpoenas to make sure the witnesses attend the trial.


At the trial, the proceedings follow a relatively strict order. 

  1. Jury Selectin/ Voir Dire: The first thing that happens at trial is picking a jury.  A group of potential jurors is seated up in the front of the courtroom and then the judge asks them questions to see if there is some reason why they cannot sit through the trial.  Then attorneys for both sides are allowed to ask questions of the jury.  This process is called voir dire
  2. Opening Statements: Once the voir dire process is done and the jury picked, then the trial proceeds to opening statements.  This is when attorneys for each side can give the jury an outline of what they expect to happen at the trial, what they expect to prove. 
  3. Testimony: Then comes the testimony part of the trial where you and other witnesses testify, depositions of doctors or unavailable witnesses are given to the jury.  You as plaintiff get to present your case first and then the defense gets to present their case.  Each witness can be subject to both direct examination and cross examination. 
  4. Closing Agreement: After the testimony, attorneys for each side get to give closing arguments to tell the jury their view of the evidence and what the jury should do on their verdict. 
  5. Verdict: The judge gives the jury written instructions on what the law is to guide them on the case and then the jury retires to reach a verdict. The verdict contains questions for the jury to answer.  These include who is at fault and how much and how much money should be awarded for various portions of your claim.  Once the jury reaches a verdict and all the questions are answered, the jury comes back into the courtroom and the judge will read the verdict in open court.

For more information on your rights in a Personal Injury Claim in Seattle, please call a Seattle Personal Injury Attorney today at (425) 889-9300 or contact me directly at

DC Legal 

520 Kirkland Way, Ste 103

Kirkland, WA 98033

(425) 889-9300