Here are seven of the most common questions we are asked about about filing personal injury cases and lawsuits in Washington and Oregon.
1. What does personal injury actually mean?
Personal injury is the legal term for injuries and damages to your physical or mental health, caused by the bad conduct or negligence of another person or company.
The category of personal injury law is broad and can include injuries caused in many different ways—such as car crashes, medical malpractice, on a dangerous premises, or by a dangerous product.
2. Can you tell me what my case is worth?
We need to review the facts of your case before assessing the value. If you have been seriously injured, we will need opinions from your doctors and we may need expert witnesses to review the claim before we know the full value. If we are handling a wrongful death case, we will need to work with expert witnesses to assess the damages.
It is important to carefully assess all the details associated with an injury claim, since you can’t come back in the future if your injuries don’t heal.
Please, be wary of any lawyer who would tell you what personal injury cases are worth before they know the facts.
3. What are damages in personal injury cases?
“Damages” is a legal term for money awarded by a court in a personal injury case. When you file a civil lawsuit, you are asking to be fairly compensated for the harm and losses caused by someone else’s bad actions.
Our civil justice system recognizes that no one can undo what happened to cause your injuries. The only thing we can do is to provide a way for you to recover damages.
There are a few different types of damages.
Economic damages: The direct costs for things like medical bills, transportation, lost wages, home assistance.
Non-economic damages: The intangible costs of things like loss of enjoyment, disabilities caused, pain and suffering—these are very important for people with permanent injuries.
Punitive damages: Punitive means to punish, and these damages may apply when a person or company was doing something extremely dangerous, or likely to cause harm.
4. What does statute of limitations mean?
A statute of limitations is a law (statute) that limits how much time an injured person has to file a lawsuit.
The statute of limitations in personal injury cases depends on:
- the cause of the lawsuit;
- your state;
- and where you could file a lawsuit if your injury claim can’t be resolved.
In Washington State, most personal injury claims must be filed within 3 years after the date of the incident.
However, there are exceptions depending on the type of claim, or the age of the victim, or other factors. In some cases, an injured person has a very limited amount of time to give what is called notice of intent to file a lawsuit.
5. How do I know if I even need a lawyer?
If you’ve been hurt, or a family member has died, because of someone else’ negligent or bad actions, you should talk to a lawyer.
Sometimes, personal injury claims can be quickly and fairly resolved with insurance adjusters … but remember, they are working for the insurance company—not for you.
If you are unsure if you need a lawyer, try scheduling a free consultation to ask a few questions.
6. How can I tell if a lawyer has experience with personal injury cases like mine?
You should ask.
An experienced lawyer should ask you questions about your situation, and then be able to tell you about their previous work with similar cases or legal issues.
If you aren’t ready to talk with a personal injury lawyer yet, then you could get a good idea of their experience by reading their client’s reviews. Additionally, look for case examples on the practice area pages of their website, and in blog posts and other articles.
7. How do injury lawyers get paid?
Personal injury lawyers usually take a percentage of the total amount of money you get at the end of the case. This is called a contingency fee.
A contingency fee means a lawyer only earns a fee by successfully resolving your case—so they have financial incentive to help you get the case done as successfully as possible.
It also means that we incur the risks of litigation: if we aren’t successful in your claim, we don’t get paid an attorney fee.