Getting injured is rarely an easy or comfortable experience. When someone else is responsible for your injury, that can add salt to the proverbial wound. Why should you be forced to pay for your care while suffering the pain and mental anguish of an injury that’s someone else’s fault?
In many cases in Washington, you shouldn’t be. A personal injury lawsuit is a way to get the court to compel the person who hurt you to pay for the associated costs. Not only could you get compensation for your medical bills, you could be eligible for additional economic costs like lost wages from time off of work, non-economic damages like pain and suffering, and even punitive damages that could apply to extreme types of injury-causing conduct.
Be mindful that you’re following Washington laws when planning your personal injury lawsuit; most of these cases are tried in state courts and Washington has its own unique rules separate from many other states’ laws. While you may choose to go it alone, consulting with an experienced Washington personal injury attorney can be a great place to start.
In Washington, as in many other states, a personal injury lawsuit can be pursued for nearly any kind of physical or mental injury someone else causes you, though they are typically limited just to injuries to your person and not to your property. Your goal in these suits is to collect financial compensation for your injury. Additional penalties, like jail time if applicable, would come from a separate case filed in a criminal court.
An intentional injury, like from an assault and battery, could be the basis for a personal injury lawsuit. You’ll need to prove that the person who hurt you made some kind of physical contact with you that caused your injury and that they intended to make that contact. Intent to injure is rarely required, just the intent to touch you in some way. A person who tries to shove you out of their way but knocks you over and breaks your arm would likely be just as liable as if they pushed you to purposely knock you to the ground.
Accidental injuries are unfortunate, but they’re rarely an excuse an injurer could use to avoid paying for your care. There are two main types of accidental cause of injury:
There may be limits to how much money you can get in your negligence case. Medical malpractice personal injury lawsuits, for example, often cap the non-economic damages at $250,000.
If you were also behaving carelessly at the time of your injury, you may be limited or stopped entirely from how much money you can get under Washington’s comparative negligence rules. Using our hunting example, if you broke the state rules for wearing orange or pink clothes while hunting, you could be found partially responsible if you’re shot by a careless firearm operator. If the court finds you 20 percent responsible when you’re seeking $10,000, that 20 percent will be subtracted and you’ll probably only get a maximum of $8,000. If you’re more than 50 percent responsible, usually you won’t get anything.
To file your personal injury suit, you’ll need to first gather all the evidence that demonstrates the damages you sustained and that proves the other person is responsible. Once you know the foundation of your case, you’ll need to file the appropriate paperwork with the court and provide notice of your suit to the other party.
In most cases, you only have three years from the date of your injury to file. That is Washington’s statute of limitations, or timeline for filing personal injury cases.
Once properly filed, you may have the opportunity to settle with the opposing side, or else you’ll need to go to court and argue your case there.
In many cases, you should consult a personal injury attorney to help you build and fight your case. With their experience, they may be able to find additional compensatory needs that you missed. They could also help you correctly file your suit to prevent delays or default judgements against you, and they can serve as a powerful advocate in settlement negotiations and court hearings.
Injuries cost money, including time away from work, medical bills, and other complications. Before taking legal action or trying to negotiate a settlement on your own, you should talk to an attorney about your case. You can search LawInfo’s legal directory to find a local personal injury attorney to discuss the merits of your case. This one step can level the playing field, help you protect your rights, and put you in the best position for recovering the compensation that you deserve.