GOAL IN PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM
Washington State law provides compensation for loss due to personal injury. If you have been injured in an accident caused by another person you may have a right to be compensated for your total loss. This includes much more than reimbursement for medical bills, lost time from work, or property damage. The laws primary goals include: (1) restoration of an injured person to a position equivalent to that prior to the accident; and (2) compensation in money for all damages caused by the accident.
Washington law permits personal injury recovery even in cases where you may be partially at fault. Comparative negligence statutes provide reduction of the value of a claim by the amount of your fault when compared to the negligence of the other party. All losses due to your personal injury must be well documented. Medical attention should be sought immediately following your accident. You should keep all bills and receipts so that your can document your claim in a demand to the opposing party or his insurer.
Soon after your accident, you may be contacted by an insurance adjuster representing the opposing party who was involved in your accident. The adjuster’s goals include an initial investigation of the facts of the incident and an assessment of your potential claim for injuries. The adjuster may offer you a sum for early settlement. You should not sign the required release from liability and accept early settlement until you have talked to an attorney.
Often it takes many months to assess your injury and the consequential loss due to pain and suffering, mental anguish, temporary or permanent disability, lost wages, loss of services to your spouse, and medical expenses. The adjuster wants to settle the claim in the best interest of his insurance company. Premature settlement may not compensate you for additional complications or loss which may occur after you sign the release form as well as any existing “general damages.” You must be reasonably assured by your physician of his prognosis before any settlement should occur.