Personal Injury -- Plaintiff Law
Washington Personal Injury Law
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. If you were injured in Spokane, Seattle or Vancouver, consulting with an experienced Washington personal injury attorney can be a great place to start.
What’s Involved in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
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.
What if Someone Injures Me on Purpose?
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.
What if Someone Injures Me By Accident?
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:
- Negligence can cause an injury when a person doesn’t mean to make contact with you, but because they were behaving carelessly, they did. If you’re out hunting and another hunter accidentally shoots and injurers you while they are breaking one of the state safety standards, like carelessly pointing their weapon, you may have a case for a personal injury lawsuit.
- Strict liability may make another person responsible for your accidental injury, even if they were reasonably careful at the time. Product liability cases usually fall under this theory. If a store sells you a defective product, unaware that the item was damaged by the factory, they could still be strictly liable for your injury if that product hurts you.
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.
How Do I File a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Washington?
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.