“I think the first duty of society is justice.”

– Wendell Phillips

Frequently Asked Questions

Filing a personal injury lawsuit

Questions about filing personal injury claims and lawsuits in Washington and Oregon

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.

It depends on where you could file a lawsuit if your injury claim can’t be resolved.

All personal injury lawsuits have a “statute of limitations”, which varies by the state and the cause of the lawsuit.

A statute of limitations is a law (statute) limiting the time an injured person has to file a lawsuit.

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.

And in some cases, an injured person has to give notice of their intent to file a lawsuit in a very limited amount of time.

That’s why most attorneys recommend that you contact a lawyer as soon as possible.

Personal injury is the legal term for injuries and damages caused by someone else’s bad conduct or negligence.

personal injury lawyer represents injured people in the process of making sure that the person or company responsible for the injuries is held accountable and pays for the damage.

Personal injury lawyers assist with the process of filing the proper insurance claims, negotiating with the insurance companies and other attorneys, and file civil (not criminal) court cases to protect the rights of injured people.

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.

You should ask.

An experienced personal injury lawyer should ask you questions about your case, 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.

“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.

Not necessarily. We will discuss it with you first.

That depends on the facts of your case. Sometimes, we file a lawsuit very quickly to protect a statute of limitations, or to push negotiations.

It is possible, but most lawsuits filed are resolved before going to a full trial.

An “expert witness” is a person who is hired to review the facts of a particular aspect of a legal case, and give opinions based on their education and experience.

Expert witnesses review the facts of the case, and prepare a report based on their professional opinions. For example, in a personal injury case, the expert witness might be a nurse practitioner who can review all the medical records.

Or, an expert witness might simply answer questions in a deposition (an in-person interview of a party or witness, conducted under oath), or at a trial. The purpose of experts at trial is to help the jury understand the case.

More on personal injury case expert witnesses

It depends on the injuries, the medical prognosis, who you are filing a lawsuit against, and how much investigation is needed.

It could take a few months, or it could take a couple of years.

We can give you an idea of how long it takes to file an injury lawsuit once we’ve reviewed your case. It is important to not pursue settlement of your claim until the full extent of the damages are known.

It can be really hard to have your personal injury case rejected—and lawyers can’t always explain why.

Common reasons a law firm might not take your personal injury case include:

  • The statute of limitations has expired, or is expiring soon.
  • Your case is out of the lawyer’s jurisdiction, or out of their area of expertise.
  • The lawyer doesn’t have the time or resources.
  • There are problems with proving fault or liability.
  • There is no way to recover the money for your damages through insurance or other means.

These are general reasons and may not apply to your specific situation.

Keep reading: Reasons a lawyer might reject your personal injury case.

Finances and Costs

Questions about lawsuit expenses, lawyer fee agreements, and other financial questions about personal injury claims

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 a claim. A client cannot come back in the future and seek additional monies.

Please, be wary of any lawyer who would tell you what your case is worth before they know the facts.