Personal Injury Overview
Who will pay for your medical expenses related to injuries from the car accident?
It is common for an individual injured in an auto accident to seek medical attention either at the scene of the collision by emergency response medics or fire department personnel, or at a Hospital Emergency Room or doctor’s office later in the day. Injuries from an auto collision vary from case to case, as people, their injuries, and their treatment vary. This generally comes in the form of Personal Injury Protection Insurance you have wither through your own car insurance, the vehicle’s insurance you are a passenger in, or your health insurance. While the at fault driver’s insurance will be responsible for paying all reasonable, necessary, and related medical bills, they have no obligation to pay these bills until ordered to do so by a Court. Most settlements include both general damages and special damages; the general damages are for pain and suffering and other things that cannot be specifically quantified with bills, and special damages are for things that have specific monetary sums attached, such as medical bill sand lost wages. As it can take several months to several years to properly settle or litigate a personal injury auto collision case, it is important to have your own medical insurance.
What if there is a dispute as to who is at fault for the accident?
It is not uncommon for there to be an issue as to liability. Either because the parties to the collision disagree as to the facts of the collision, or the facts are undisputed, but can be argues to show fault on both parties (such as one party made an illegal right turn, but the other party did not act reasonably under the circumstances, or there is a collision at an uncontrolled intersection and both parties believed they acted reasonably under the circumstances. In most cases, even if a plaintiff is found to be partially at fault, there will still be a damages settlement/award that will be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to the plaintiff. As such, even if you believe there are liability issues with your case, it is still prudent to contact an attorney to discuss the facts of the accident.
What if the Insurance Company for the at-fault driver refuses to settle the claim for a reasonable amount?
Most accidents are settled outside of the legal system. Insurance companies are businesses and one of their concerns is in limiting the amount of money they pay out. Adam Trotsky has experience in representing Insurance Companies on accident injury claims and has spent the last several years representing plaintiffs in their injury claims. While the attorneys at McNeese & Trotsky will attempt to negotiate a fair settlement before filing a lawsuit, we will not hesitate to go to trial if our clients are not being treated fairly by the at fault parties insurance representatives.
Due to deadlines for filing injury claims, it is critical that you meet with an attorney as soon as possible to evaluate your case. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to an automobile accident, you should speak with an experienced attorney to ensure that your legal rights are protected. Please call McNeese & Trotsky at 206.332.1918 to arrange for a free consultation.
What if the car accident exacerbated an existing injury or caused a pervious injury that was asymptomatic to become symptomatic?
Washington Law is settled as to the fact a negligent driver who causes a collision “takes his/her victim as they find them.” Washington Pattern Jury Instruction 30.18.01, Particular Susceptibility (Civil) states in pertinent part:
If [your verdict is for the [plaintiff] [defendant], and if] you find that:
(1) before this occurrence the [plaintiff] [defendant] had a [bodily] [mental] condition that was not causing pain or disability; and
(2) the condition made the [plaintiff] [defendant] more susceptible to injury than a person in normal health, then you should consider all the injuries and damages that were proximately caused by the occurrence, even though those injuries, due to the pre-existing condition, may have been greater than those that would have been incurred under the same circumstances by a person without that condition.
[There may be no recovery, however, for any injuries or disabilities that would have resulted from natural progression of the pre-existing condition even without this occurrence.]
General Damages v. Special Damages
As stated above, most settlements include both general damages and special damages. Damages in personal injury claim are awarded generally to place the plaintiff in the same position he would have been in had he never been injured in the subject auto accident Special damages compensate the claimant for the quantifiable monetary losses suffered by the plaintiff. For example, extra costs, repair or replacement of damaged property, lost earnings (both historically and in the future), etc. Special damages can include direct losses (such as amounts the claimant had to spend to try to mitigate problems) and consequential or economic losses resulting from lost profits in a business.
General damages are intended to compensate the plaintiff for the non-monetary aspects their injuries. This includes physical or emotional pain and suffering, loss of companionship, loss of consortium, disfigurement, loss of reputation, loss or impairment of mental or physical capacity, loss of enjoyment of life, etc. When an individual suffers injuries, often the physical nature of the injuries and limitations attached can affect the emotional well-being of both the injured party and that person’s loved ones.