Personal injury law is a highly specific area of practice with its own procedures and rules of evidence. It covers a wide variety of occurrences that might range from car accidents, slip-and-falls and trip-and-falls, medical malpractice and even dangerously defective products. Since no two personal injury claimants are the same, no two personal injury cases are the same either.
Liability, Insurance and Damages
Nearly all personal injury cases are brought under the law of negligence. Claimants will seek compensation for both past and future damages as a result of the carelessness and negligence of somebody else. Although every negligence case is different, three common threads run through them. Those are liability, insurance and damages. Without that tripod, no claim against an insurance company is going to be successful. Don’t even waste your time, effort or money. Your claim will go nowhere, and you’re likely to become frustrated. Personal injury lawyers are careful about the cases that they take. They don’t want to use bad judgment and be put in that same position.
Since nearly all personal injury claims and lawsuits in Spokane and beyond are based on the law of negligence, you’re first required to determine whether you can prove negligence. You’ll be required to prove the following elements:
- The person who you allege to be liable for your accident owed you a duty.
- He or she breached that duty.
- His or her breach of duty caused your accident.
- The accident caused your injuries.
- You suffered legally recognized damages.
Keep in mind that if you fail to prove any single element of negligence, your case will fall flat on its face.
Did the Other Person Have Insurance?
If you were in a motor vehicle accident, did the person who you allege to be liable for the accident have liability insurance? If not, did you have uninsured motorist insurance? If your injuries resulted from a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall, did the owner or occupier of the property have liability insurance? You’ll want to know if there was insurance coverage in effect at the time of any accident. Collecting on a judgment can be somewhere between very difficult and impossible if there was no insurance at the time of your accident.
Assuming there are no issues involving liability or insurance, you’ll still need to prove that you suffered legally recognized damages. The law in the State of Washington allows recovery for both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are easily ascertainable. They might consist of medical bills, lost time from work and out-of-pocket expenses. Non-economic damages are more difficult to calculate within a high degree of certainty. Those might consist of permanent disfigurement or disability along with pain and suffering.
Making the Claim
Filing the actual claim with the other insurance company might be the easiest part of the entire process. You need only put it on notice of your claim by letter. It’s recommended that the letter be sent by certified mail with a return receipt being requested. Your letter will generate a claim file being opened with an adjuster being assigned to it. We recommend that you don’t even take this first step by yourself. In fact, our best legal advice is for you to never communicate with that opposing insurer about anything involving your claim. That’s because if you represent yourself, even for purposes of an introductory phone call and recorded statement, you’re likely to make mistakes that will be used against you in the future to devalue your claim. We don’t make those mistakes, and anything that you say to us is confidential.
Contact a Spokane Personal Injury Lawyer
Even in the simplest cases with small claims value, it’s in your best interests for to talk with one of our Spokane personal injury attorneys to get some guidance. One of our lawyers listen carefully to you. That lawyer will isolate the issues, and then you’ll be advised of your legal options. That doesn’t cost you a penny. Consultations and case reviews are free of charge. Simply talking to us doesn’t mean that you’ve hired us to represent you. If we do enter into a retainer agreement with you, there are no up front charges. That’s because pursuant to our contingency fee agreement, we don’t get paid any legal fees at all unless we obtain a settlement or verdict for you.
There’s no reason not to talk to us after suffering any type of injury in an accident that was the fault of somebody else. There’s no obligation, and you’ll learn that there are many reasons why you shouldn’t even take that first step of making your claim alone.