At this time, we are directing everyone with information on the whereabouts of Brian Laundrie to the FBI tip line, 1-800-CALLFBI (225-5324).

How Long Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Take?

Tatiana Boohoff Lawyer
Seattle Personal Injury Attorney, Tatiana Boohoff

A personal injury lawsuit allows injured victims to seek compensation from the parties responsible for their injuries for any accident-related damages. Injured victims may be entitled to financial compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Unfortunately, victims will not receive the compensation they are entitled to overnight. The duration of an injured victim’s personal injury claim from filing to resolution may depend on many factors.

The biggest factor: An experienced personal injury lawyer can DRAMATICALLY cut through red tape, make sure all paperwork gets properly filed, and through the right negotiation tactics, speed the settlement process and efficiently navigate any court proceedings that need to take place for you to recover the compensation you deserve. Read on to learn more about what a personal injury lawyer can do for you.

The 4 Stages of a Personal Injury Lawsuit

After sustaining injuries in an unexpected accident you will likely be preoccupied with your recovery. You may require medical procedures, follow-up appointments or therapy sessions. You may also need to discuss time away from work with your employer. Depending on the severity of your injuries and recovery outlook, you may need to request a modification of your current job duties to accommodate any temporary or permanent disabilities.

In addition, you must comply with many legal procedures and requirements throughout the personal injury claim process. Your personal injury lawyer, however, can perform many of those tasks for you as quickly and efficiently as possible, and help you through the others that require your participation.

1) The Discovery Phase

During the discovery phase of your personal injury lawsuit, both sides—your attorney and the attorney or attorneys for the defense—have the opportunity to collect evidence. When appropriate, attorneys may investigate your accident, your injuries, and the value of your claim.

The discovery phase can involve several stages, many of which require your cooperation to proceed as smoothly as possible.

  • Gathering evidence. Each side in a personal injury lawsuit has the opportunity to collect evidence that supports their legal argument regarding the claim. Your attorney, for example, may want to talk to witnesses, review video footage, or take a look at any pictures of the accident. You may need to provide copies of your medical records. To ensure your case continues to move forward, you should promptly gather any evidence requested. Gathering some of the information required for your case may be out of your control. For example, the discovery phase may take longer if you have trouble contacting a critical witness.
  • The deposition. During the deposition phase of discovery, each attorney has the opportunity to obtain a statement from any witnesses at the scene of the accident. You and any others involved in the accident may also be required to give a deposition. If you schedule your deposition promptly, answer questions clearly, and keep your statements consistent, it can help streamline the deposition process. On the other hand, if unexpected information arises during the deposition, you may need to bring in additional witnesses, which may extend the process.
  • An independent medical exam. If you suffered severe injuries in your accident the defense may request an independent medical exam, conducted by a doctor of its choosing. If your injuries cause limitations that will cause long-lasting impacts, it is highly likely you will be required to submit to the medical exam. Scheduling that exam promptly and following your attorney’s recommendations can expedite the process so that your claim can move forward. On the other hand, if you wait to schedule that appointment or miss an appointment it can slow down the process.

An experienced lawyer doesn’t need to learn on the job, but knows how to accomplish these tasks in a competent but streamlined fashion.

2) Negotiation

Following the discovery phase, the parties may have an opportunity to negotiate a potential settlement. Some insurance companies will try to quickly settle your case by proposing a low settlement offer immediately after your accident. Speak with an attorney before agreeing to any settlement offers. If appropriate, your attorney may create a demand package to justify the value of your claim.

As your personal injury lawsuit progresses, you may go through several stages of negotiation. At each stage, you have the option to accept the offer of the responsible person or entity. Upon accepting a settlement offer, you will likely have to relieve responsible parties from any future responsibility for your injuries. A finalized settlement agreement ends negotiations, and you will receive compensation.

If you have the right lawyer working on your case presenting strong enough evidence, the defendant will feel more inclined to settle, rather than dragging out the process (and costing him or her more and more money in attorney fees than settling for a reasonable amount of money).

3) Mediation

If you cannot reach an agreement with the responsible entity for any reason you may proceed to mediation. Mediation may be needed if an entity refuses to acknowledge liability for the accident or fails to offer adequate compensation for your injuries. Typically, a current or retired judge will act as the mediator to facilitate the parties in creating an agreeable solution. During mediation, you will decide whether the agreement adequately addresses your needs. Mediation often helps parties reach an agreement when the two sides cannot come to a settlement on their own.

4) Trial

How Long Will My Case TakeShould either party decide not to accept the offer put together by your mediator, you may have the option to proceed to trial. If your personal injury lawsuit goes to trial, it will significantly lengthen the time it will take for you to receive compensation. Most personal injury claims are resolved without proceeding to trial.

In the event of a trial, both sides will have the opportunity to present evidence. Evidence presented may include information about the accident’s cause, the severity of your injuries, and how those injuries continue to affect your life. Then, a judge or jury will determine how much the liable entity owes you and set a timeline for payment. After the trial, the liable entity must provide those funds within the agreed-upon time or face further legal penalties.

As with negotiations, an experienced lawyer presenting strong evidence will encourage the defense not to waste their own time and money by dragging things out.

4 Factors That May Influence How Long Your Personal Injury Lawsuit Takes

In addition to the required stages, many factors can contribute to the time it takes to resolve your personal injury lawsuit. In turn, these factors also increase the time it takes for injured victims to receive the compensation they are entitled to.

1) Do your doctors believe you have made a full recovery?

Immediately following your accident, it is difficult to predict the amount of compensation an injured victim may be entitled to. Victims of traumatic brain injury may surprise their doctors by recovering more than expected. On the other hand, they might never progress as far as their doctors had hoped. Victims of spinal cord injuries will often come close to a full recovery within six months of the date of injury.

Regardless of the type of injuries, if you are still recovering, it may be difficult to calculate medical expenses. Accurately predicting future medical needs requires the consideration of multiple factors. In some cases, the legally liable entity may want to wait until you are recovered before finalizing the settlement.

2) How long did you wait to contact an attorney?

While the liable entity may want to wait until you recover before offering a settlement, you should not hesitate to contact an attorney. In fact, in most cases, you should contact a personal injury attorney as soon after your accident as possible.

The sooner you contact a personal injury lawyer, the sooner that lawyer may begin protecting your best interests. If necessary, an attorney may help you create a demand package and begin investigating your accident and claim. Much of the evidence related to your accident may be harder to obtain if you delay beginning the investigation.

For example:

  • Witness statements can grow less accurate with time. The more time that passes after an accident, the more your witnesses’ memories may fade. As a result, witness statements may grow less accurate. You may struggle to get witness statements that correlate with your version of the events that led to the accident. When you take witness statements as soon after the accident as possible, on the other hand, you can improve the accuracy of those statements. Accurate witness statements will provide a more clear view of what—and what entity—caused your accident.
  • Video footage may get deleted. Many businesses keep recorded security footage for a set period of time. At the expiration of that time period, the video footage is permanently deleted. Your accident could occur in clear view of security cameras. However, if you do not access that footage as soon as possible, it may be difficult or impossible to access it. If you report your accident when it happens, the facility may keep that footage longer. As time goes on, however, that footage grows more likely to get lost or recorded over. Prompt investigation of your accident may ensure that you can obtain valuable evidence.
  • The scene of the accident may change. Photo evidence or a visit to the scene of the accident can be invaluable in attempting to recreate the accident. Documenting the scene as it was on the date of the accident will help demonstrate exactly how your accident occurred. If you wait months to contact an attorney, however, the scene of the accident may change substantially. After a slip and fall, for example, the business or premises owner may decide to take care of much-needed repairs. Improvements may be made to the scene or items may be rearranged to decrease the risk of future accidents. Construction sites change between one day and the next. Outdoor accident sites may change significantly based on the season. To ensure an accurate picture of the accident scene, you should contact an attorney who may begin a prompt and thorough investigation.

If you waited to contact an attorney after your accident, it may not change the amount of compensation you are entitled to. However, it may extend the duration of the claims process. As time passes, evidence becomes hard to collect, so discovery may take longer if you wait. By contacting an attorney quickly, you can reduce the amount of time needed to investigate your accident.

3) Who caused your accident?

When an accident causes serious injuries, you will need to identify the entities that caused your accident. In an auto accident, for example, you may determine that the other driver bears full liability for the accident. In that case, the other driver’s insurance company will pay the costs associated with your injuries. On the other hand, further investigation may reveal that mechanical failure caused the accident.

Therefore, the manufacturer of the vehicle or a mechanic who recently serviced it may be liable for damages. The entity that caused your accident may have a substantial impact on how long it takes to resolve your claim.

  • When dealing with an auto insurance company, the limits of the driver’s policy may define how much compensation you can expect. Washington law, for example, requires drivers to carry a minimum of $25,000 in personal injury coverage for each individual injured in an accident. If your expenses related to your injuries clearly exceed this amount, you may easily settle your personal injury claim.
  • Some big businesses, including large insurance companies, may drag out the claims process. Many companies hope that if they delay the resolution of your claim, you will accept a lower settlement offer. Repeated delays may influence injured victims to end the claims process, so they may recover the compensation they are entitled to. Insurance companies often have large internal legal departments. Delays in processing a claim will not increase their overall legal costs, but, in some cases, delays may increase yours.
  • If more than one entity is liable for your injuries, the claims process may be complex. In some personal injury lawsuits, you may have multiple defendants. Several individuals or entities may have contributed to causing your injuries. When you must deal with multiple entities who caused your accident, it may take longer to resolve your claim.

4) How much money are you asking for?

Ultimately, claims involving minor injuries with lower costs may be resolved more quickly than severe injuries with higher costs. Seeking higher levels of compensation, especially following an accident with severe or complicated injuries, can extend the claims process.

Experience allows attorneys to regularly fight for the injured victim’s right to the compensation they are entitled to. Having an attorney on your side can make a big difference. Allowing an attorney to handle your legal matters may reduce your stress levels and increase the compensation you receive for your injuries. if you are having trouble deciding on an attorney learn what factors make up an ideal attorney to choose.

An experienced personal injury lawyer may also, in many cases, streamline the process so that you get your settlement faster. Contact a personal injury lawyer as soon after your accident as possible to increase the chances of maximizing the benefits you recover and the speed with which you can receive it.

Boohoff Law
2200 6th Avenue, Suite 768
Seattle, WA 98121
(877) 999-9999

When to Hire a Car Accident Attorney

No matter how defensively you drive, it only takes a second for a reckless driver to change your life. A violent crash can have devastating impacts on injured victims’ lives. Victims may suffer catastrophic injuries, which prevent them from returning to work. In the most unfortunate circumstances, a car accident may cause a loved one’s death, creating a permanent void in their families’ lives. If you experienced serious harm or a loss due to the negligence of another driver, consider contacting a car accident attorney.

Common Causes of Car Accidents

Many factors may cause a car accident, but most commonly it’s driver behavior. Reckless drivers often engage in risky behaviors on a pretense that an accident will not happen to them. However, no one is invincible and a driver’s license is a privilege, not a right.

A few common driver behaviors that are likely to lead to an accident include:

  • Distracted drivingDistracted driving refers to any action that takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, or your mind off driving. A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 78 percent of those surveyed believe that texting behind the wheel is a significant danger to their personal safety. Despite this finding, nearly 35 percent of drivers in the study admitted to sending or reading a text while driving. Drivers who text while operating a motor vehicle are up to 8 times more likely to become involved in a crash.
  • Drunk driving – According to the Arizona State University (ASU) Center for Problem-Oriented Policing, one-fifth to one-fourth of drivers admit to driving after drinking. While most drinking takes place at bars or restaurants, 25 percent occurs in vehicles, commonly in cases involving underage drivers.
  • Road rage – Aggressive driving, such as running red lights or tailgating, can quickly escalate into dangerous road rage. Road rage typically occurs when drivers are under stress in other areas of their lives. Traffic congestion can add to that stress, and if a susceptible driver perceives another driver’s behavior as aggressive, they may react with reckless behavior. An enraged driver may try to run you off the road or throw objects at your vehicle, causing you to lose control. Failing to share the road in a responsible manner can result in serious life-changing injuries for you and your passengers.
  • Drowsy driving – The National Sleep Foundation reports that approximately 60 percent of drivers admit to driving while drowsy. Additionally, one-third of drivers admit to falling asleep behind the wheel. The effects of drowsy driving are similar to those of drunk driving, including impaired judgment and slow reaction times. Drowsy driving is of particular concern for semi-truck drivers. Drivers are typically required to work long hours causing unusual sleep patterns. Others may have an undiagnosed sleep disorder making traveling long-distances dangerous.

Always drive defensively, but sometimes another driver’s behavior makes it impossible to avoid an accident. It is difficult to predict how other drivers will behave or react to circumstances on the roadways. Experiencing serious injuries due to the careless actions of another person isn’t fair, and responsible parties must be held accountable.

Injured victims may consider contacting a car accident attorney to learn about the process of filing a personal injury claim. A licensed and experienced attorney can review your case and determine if you may be eligible to seek compensation for your injuries.

Serious Injuries Associated With Car Accidents

The force of impact when vehicles collide is typically violent, even at relatively low speeds. You may suffer severe injuries when stopped at a traffic light if a distracted driver causes a rear-end collision. Dangerous drivers surround us every day, and those who do strike innocent drivers can cause serious injuries, including:

North Port Spinal injury

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) – The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) define a traumatic brain injury as a bump, blow, jolt, or penetrating head injury that disrupts normal brain function. A TBI can affect the following:

  • Cognitive function: memory skills and the ability to process information
  • Motor function: balance and muscle weakness
  • Sensation: vision, hearing, taste, and touch
  • Behavior: depression and anger outbursts

If a loved one experiences a severe TBI, they may never return to the person you once knew. Despite your best intentions, the care your loved one requires may far exceed what you can provide. Deciding to place our loved one in a skilled nursing facility is both difficult and expensive. The average skilled nursing facility costs an average of $8,365 per month.

Spinal cord injury – The spinal cord performs an essential function in brain-body communication. The consequences of spinal cord injuries may include limited or no movement or sensation below the point of injury. Injured victims often require mobility chairs, home modifications, and accessible transportation. Mobility chairs and specialized vehicles must be periodically replaced throughout the patient’s lifetime. The costs associated with a spinal cord injury can reach into the millions of dollars per year.

Broken bones – It is not uncommon for car accident victims to sustain multiple bone fractures. Depending on the severity of the break, victims may miss time from work and require future surgeries, extensive physical therapy, or a caretaker. Breaking one or more of your limbs can limit your mobility and result in a slow recovery process.

Burns – When a fire erupts after an accident, the risk of experiencing dangerous burns is very high. Burns vary in degree of seriousness, and some burn patients require emergency transportation to a specialized burn trauma center. Painful skin graphs and plastic surgery are often included in burn victims’ treatment plans. Burn patients are also at risk of infection.

These are just a few examples of serious injuries that can result from a car accident. If you have been injured, due to no fault of your own, you may have options for pursuing justice. A civil action against the responsible party has no bearing on any criminal proceedings. Injured victims who plan to pursue compensation for their injuries should secure the services of a car accident attorney as soon as possible.

Why You Need a Car Accident Attorney

The aftermath of a serious crash in which you experienced serious injuries is no time to speak with insurance representatives. It is not uncommon for a representative to reach out to you soon after the accident with a settlement offer.

While the initial offer may seem like a lot of money, it is likely insufficient to cover your future medical needs. Insurance representatives are aware of your situation and may try to take advantage of your need to cover medical costs. Don’t fall for the pressure representatives may apply to get you to accept and sign a settlement agreement. By doing so, you may lose the chance to pursue future civil action should your condition worsen.

Tatiana Boohoff Lawyer
Seattle Car Accident Attorney, Tatiana Boohoff

Insurance companies aim to settle accident claims for the lowest amount possible and they are very skilled at what they do. It is in your best interest to avoid communicating with representatives directly. Rather, contact an attorney who may help you determine how to proceed. Anything you say to an insurance company representative may hurt your case later. Representatives may trick you into admitting fault for the accident or get you to sign something you don’t understand.

Experienced car accident attorneys regularly look out for the best interests of injured victims. Most attorneys offer free case evaluations, leaving you nothing to lose by discussing your case with them.

If you need legal representation during this difficult time, the sooner you contact an attorney the better. Your financial future is too important to risk pursuing a car accident claim on your own. When appropriate, a highly-skilled car accident attorney may negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf. Experienced attorneys have helped many people recover the compensation they were entitled to. If settlement negotiations are unsuccessful, an attorney should be ready and willing to go to trial, if necessary.

The Statute of Limitations

Time passes quickly when you experience a serious injury. Your condition occupies your mind as you focus on your treatment, recovery, and family. You may desire to pursue a civil action against the responsible party but think that you can “get around to it later.”

Under Washington law, the statute of limitations determines the time period within which injured victims must file a car accident claim. The Washington statute of limitations allows injured victims to bring a claim within three years of the date of the accident. While 36 months may seem like a long time, it can pass in the blink-of-an-eye.

It is heartbreaking when victims of another driver’s negligence allow the statute of limitations to expire, missing the opportunity to pursue possible compensation. Don’t let this happen to you. Gather your evidence and begin the legal process to hold the responsible party accountable for their actions.

Should you decide to secure legal representation, an attorney can help handle the legal complexities of your case, so that you can concentrate on your recovery.

You Need an Attorney as Soon as Possible

In the aftermath of a traumatic car accident, you may feel overwhelmed and confused by your circumstances and that’s understandable. The realization of what happened and how it will affect your life may take some time to set in. When reality sets in, you may find that discussing your case with an attorney can ease your mind about your future.

Pursuing justice takes time and is best left to legal professionals. An experienced car accident attorney will strive to secure the best possible outcome for injured victims. Most attorneys know that their clients are eager to know the status of their case. Frequent updates and open-door communication are important so you stay informed.

The sooner an attorney reviews a case, the sooner they can get to work. When appropriate, your attorney may review police reports, interview witnesses, and gather accident scene photos to prepare the best case possible.

If you experienced serious injuries, you may not feel well enough to travel to an attorney’s office or to discuss your case over the phone. When contacting law firms, inquire whether the attorney is willing to visit you in the hospital.

No matter how you contact or meet with an attorney, the important thing is to reach out as soon as possible. Having someone by your side, protecting your best interests can decrease the stress associated with pursuing legal action.

Your injuries were not your fault. While you recover and adjust to the changes in your life, you must learn to accept the help of others. Friends and family are often vitally important support systems. By adding a licensed car accident attorney to your list of supporters, you can have better peace-of-mind about your future.

Avoiding contact with insurance representatives and other drivers involved in the collision may be imperative for protecting your rights. Limit what you say to others to prevent misinformation from reaching social media channels.

You have a right to remain guarded with who you trust after an accident. Do know that a licensed car accident attorney will treat your case with the confidentiality required.

Your Car Accident Was Not Your Fault

You may share the road, drive defensively, and still become injured due to another driver who failed to do the same. When another driver neglects to use the same standard of care in the same circumstances, their conduct is negligent. However, determining liability for an accident is best left to a car accident attorney.

You have enough battles to fight with your health. From broken bones to a loved one with a serious head injury, life is never going to be the same. This thought, and others, can occupy your mind as you take your life one day at a time.

Consider giving careful thought to contacting a car accident attorney without delay. While no one knows what the future holds, you may need extensive medical care for the rest of your life. As medical costs continue to climb, the financial burden can become a serious challenge for you and your family.

You deserve quality care for your injuries. Depending upon the severity, you may never return to work or to a career you once loved. Your quality of life may diminish and lead to bouts of depression. Injured victims have a right to recover the compensation they deserve.

If a drunk, distracted, drowsy, or angry driver caused your harm, a car accident attorney may be able to help you. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by scheduling a free case evaluation. Consider reaching out to a trustworthy attorney in your area as soon as possible.

Boohoff Law
2200 6th Avenue, Suite 768
Seattle, WA 98121
(877) 999-9999

What to Expect Physically After a Car Accident

Car accidents are often traumatic experiences. Victims may sustain a wide range of injuries varying in severity from broken or fractured bones to serious head injuries. The shock resulting from a violent collision can leave injured victims scared and confused. An understanding of common accident injuries and their symptoms may strengthen a victim’s ability to inform medical professionals of the full extent of their injuries. After a negligent driver causes serious injuries in a collision, victims should consider a free case evaluation with a car accident lawyer.

Injuries With No Visible Signs or Symptoms

Immediately following a car accident, if able, drivers should check themselves and their passengers for injuries. Any actively bleeding wounds are obviously injuries that need immediate medical attention. Other injuries may be more difficult to detect because they may not have apparent signs or symptoms. However, serious and even life-threatening injuries may develop symptoms with time. Seek a medical evaluation after suffering trauma even if your injuries are not immediately evident.

Examples of injuries that can display symptoms hours, days, or possibly weeks after the accident include:


Neck and Back Injury Lawyer WAWhiplash is most commonly sustained by victims involved in rear-end collisions. The forward force of a rear-end collision often causes a vehicle occupant’s head and neck to move rapidly in a back-and-forth motion. As the injury’s name suggests, the swift and violent movement of the head and neck resembles the cracking of a “whip.” Whiplash may result in damage to the bones, ligaments, muscles, nerves, and soft tissues in your neck.

Symptoms of a possible whiplash injury include:

  • Headaches
  • Loss of motion in the neck
  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness in the arms

If left untreated, whiplash can develop serious complications and result in chronic pain and discomfort. Patients with severe cases of whiplash often experience ringing in the ears, blurred vision, and/or depression.

Whiplash is just one type of injury that may not exhibit immediate signs or symptoms. However, due to the risk of complications that may develop, injured victims should never undermine neck pain they experience following a car accident.

Hypovolemic Shock

When an accident causes sudden and significant blood or fluid loss within the body, hypovolemic shock may occur as a result. Shock occurs when there is not enough blood to sufficiently supply your whole body. While hypovolemic shock is a life-threatening condition, symptoms are often difficult to interpret and may be dismissed as insignificant.

The following are common symptoms of hypovolemic shock:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Cold, clammy, or pale skin
  • Shallow breathing
  • Blue lips or fingernails

Internal bleeding is one type of injury that can lead to hypovolemic shock. Abdominal pain, blood in stool or urine, or vomiting blood after an accident are possible indications of internal bleeding. Depending on the severity, internal bleeding can lead to organ failure, coma, and even death. You should never dismiss seemingly minor symptoms, such as an increased heart rate. Make it a priority to get medical attention immediately.


The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) classifies a concussion as a type of traumatic brain injury. A concussion can occur when there is a forceful bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body. A concussion occurs when an impact causes the brain to move back-and-forth within the skull disrupting normal brain function.

Traumatic brain injuries may not exhibit symptoms for hours or days after the accident. A concussion is more than just a headache and may be associated with a loss of consciousness or an altered mental state. If you experience any trauma or impact to your head, be aware of the symptoms of a brain injury, including:

  • Difficulty thinking clearly or communicating
  • Changes in mood, behavior, personality
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness and changes in usual sleep patterns

Silent injuries resulting from a car accident are fairly common and particularly dangerous. After experiencing trauma, even if you lack visible injuries and seemingly feel fine, you should be evaluated by a medical professional.

Visible and Serious Car Accident Injuries

When a negligent driver causes a collision, those involved frequently experience visible and life-changing injuries. The type of vehicle, the speed, and the force of impact can contribute to the severity of the resulting damage. Examples of life-changing injuries that can result from a collision include:

Spinal Cord Injury

The spinal cord serves a vitally important function in controlling movement and sensation. When injured, the spinal cord loses its ability to effectively communicate with the brain. Depending on the severity, a spinal cord injury can severely limit victims’ mobility and sensation. Severe injuries may cause permanent paralysis, requiring a power chair for mobility as well as home modifications to accommodate the power chair.

The unanticipated costs associated with home and vehicle modifications required to accommodate limited mobility can be significant. The costs of required medical equipment and ongoing medical care can easily reach into the millions of dollars each month.

Broken Bones

With more than 200 bones in the human body, car accidents could break several of them. An open fracture occurs when a severe break results in the bone penetrating the skin. Open fractures are particularly dangerous because they increase the risk of infection. Multiple broken bones can result in the need for daily personal care, numerous surgeries, and extensive rehabilitation.


When a car accident results in serious burns, a patient may require specialized care at a burn center. When burns occur near the face, neck, nose, or mouth, the victim may also suffer from smoke inhalation. Inhaling harmful smoke particles and gases may cause swelling of the lungs and airways, making it difficult to breathe. Victims experiencing extensive burns that cause disfigurement often require plastic surgery and report feelings of depression.

Suffering from one—or more—of these serious injuries due to the negligence of another driver isn’t fair. When the commute to work or a trip to the store turns tragic due to a reckless driver, injured victims deserve justice.

No one should suffer physical, financial, and emotional stress due to the reckless actions of another person. If you are the victim of a car accident, and you experienced serious injuries, consider contacting a car accident lawyer. Experienced car accident attorneys regularly fight for the right of injured victims to recover compensation.

Common Causes of Car Accidents

Common causes of car accidents that can result in serious injuries include:

According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, talking on a cellphone while driving increases the likelihood of an accident by up to four times. Those who text while driving are up to eight times more likely to be involved in a crash.

Every time you get behind the wheel, you share the roadways with dangerous drivers with unpredictable behavior. You will likely be unaware that the driver next to you had a few drinks before driving until they cause an accident. If you are involved in an accident with an impaired driver and you are permanently injured, you may be entitled to compensation.

How a Car Accident Attorney Can Help You

Insurance companies aim to settle cases quickly for the lowest amount possible. Representatives from the other driver’s insurance company may contact you soon after the accident. Avoid speaking with insurance representatives for the following reasons.

First, insurance company representatives may attempt to get you to admit fault for the accident. If you contributed to causing the accident, the insurance company can justify less financial responsibility. While representatives will likely seem to be friendly, their ultimate goal is to protect the company’s best interests and not yours.

Typically, insurance companies will propose a settlement offer that may initially seem like a lot of money to you and your family. In reality, initial settlement offers are almost always insufficient to cover injured victims’ future medical needs. Victims should avoid accepting an offer or signing an agreement before discussing the offer with an attorney. Upon accepting a settlement, victims waive their right to seek any further compensation for their injuries.

Most car accident attorneys offer free case evaluations to help injured victims determine the best way to proceed. While no one knows what the future holds, your injuries may take months, if not years, to heal. Other injuries may leave you permanently disabled and cannot participate in hobbies or a career you once loved.

A Car Accident Attorney Can Protect Your Best Interests

The sudden and traumatic experience of a car accident can have devastating consequences. Injured victims may face extensive medical procedures, lost wages, and anxiety about the future. Immediately following an accident, injured victims should devote their focus and energy to healing. If necessary, an attorney can handle negotiations with the insurance company on injured victims’ behalves to ensure they receive adequate compensation.

An experienced car accident attorney can look out for injured victims’ best interests and relieve stress. Hiring a trustworthy and compassionate attorney can provide injured victims with the peace-of-mind they need to focus on their health and their family.

A driver’s license is a privilege and not a right. When someone abuses that right and causes serious harm to others, they must be held accountable. A car accident claim is a civil action. If the responsible party faces criminal charges for the accident, the proceedings and outcome have no impact on your civil claim.

An experienced car accident attorney who is familiar with Washington law will have an in-depth understanding of the legal process. If negotiations with the insurance company prove to be unsuccessful, a qualified attorney will be ready and willing to go to trial, if necessary.

Planning for your future medical needs and calculating the impact of your loss of income is important for your future. An attorney may help injured victims by preparing your case according to predictions of future costs and losses. Injured victims may protect their future and increase their quality of life by pursuing the financial compensation they deserve.

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations defines the time period within which a victim may file a personal injury claim. Under Washington law, victims must file a personal injury claim within three years of the date of the accident. While victims have a legal right to pursue a car accident claim, if the statute of limitations expires, they will likely be barred from seeking compensation.

Tatiana Boohoff Lawyer
Seattle Car Accident Attorney, Tatiana Boohoff

While three years seems like a long time, it can pass quickly, especially when victims are focused on their health and recovery. After you experience a serious injury, the days, weeks, and months can become confusing. A car accident attorney can keep your case on track by scheduling negotiations and ensuring court procedures are adhered to.

A car accident claim involves research. For example, when appropriate, your attorney will most likely want to interview witnesses and review police reports. Police reports are especially important documents for your claim. While you should always speak with the police, it is best to avoid communicating with the other driver. It is also important to share any evidence of the accident you may have, including cellphone videos and possibly social media posts by the other driver.

When an attorney is handling the legal complexities of a car accident claim, victims can focus on their health and recovery. Car accident lawyers experienced with car accident cases have compassion for victims because they understand their stress. Car accident attorneys are familiar with the challenges car accident victims  encounter with medical treatments and procedures. Through their work, they also understand the emotional and financial toll a car accident has on a family. By contacting an attorney, you can learn how they approach cases like yours and how they communicate with you throughout the process.

Consider Pursuing Legal Action Without Delay

While each case is different, injured victims may be entitled to financial compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. It can be difficult for victims to navigate negotiations with an insurance company on their own. Insurance company representatives are too experienced and too skilled at what they do for you to experience a successful outcome.

Injured victims should contact a car accident attorney experienced in car accident claims. Car accident attorneys strive to defend the rights of those who experience serious harm caused by others. Working with a trustworthy attorney can be essential for injured victims seeking to recover compensation.

No one anticipates being involved in a traumatic car accident. We all make choices when we get behind the wheel. If someone’s poor choices lead to an accident causing you injury, a car accident attorney may help you. By holding irresponsible drivers accountable, your claim may prevent similar behaviors and additional injuries in the future.

Boohoff Law
2200 6th Avenue, Suite 768
Seattle, WA 98121
(877) 999-9999

What Is a Wrongful Death?

At Boohoff Law, our attorneys regularly fight for the rights of injured victims to recover the compensation they deserve. Some representation involves injured victims who survived the accident. We also represent family members whose loved ones tragically died as a result of injuries caused by another’s careless or reckless actions.

In this blog post, we discuss the latter type of case, which is referred to in the law as a wrongful death lawsuit. We consider the significant changes to Washington’s wrongful death laws that took effect in mid-2019.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits Under Washington Law

Under Washington Law, “wrongful death” is expressly defined. A wrongful death refers to “the death of a person … caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another person.” A death that occurs during an accident, or a later death resulting from injuries sustained in an accident may qualify as a wrongful death. A wrongful death may result from the commission of a crime, but criminal behavior is not required. Simply put, if a loved one dies as a result of another’s careless, reckless, or intentional actions, their death may be considered wrongful.

A wrongful death lawsuit involves a family member’s legal claim for compensation for losses stemming from a wrongful death. Technically, the lawsuit has two components. One part consists of a “survival” claim asserting the personal injury claim that the deceased person could have brought if they had not died. The other part is the “wrongful death” claim, which seeks damages suffered by family members as a result of the death. For simplicity, when we refer to a “wrongful death lawsuit” we mean both types of actions combined in a single case.

Who Files Wrongful Death Lawsuits?

Under Washington law, a victim’s “personal representative may maintain an action against the person causing the death” for the benefit of certain “beneficiaries.” In other words, the “personal representative” (usually, the executor of the deceased person’s estate) can file a wrongful death lawsuit. If the lawsuit results in a financial settlement or money judgment, that money is distributed to the “beneficiaries.” The personal representative can also file certain other types of lawsuits that benefit the deceased person’s estate. However, this blog focuses on the wrongful death lawsuit.

Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Who are the “beneficiaries” of a wrongful death lawsuit? Under Washington law, beneficiaries include “the spouse, state registered domestic partner, child or children, including stepchildren,” of the accident victim. If no such people exist, the personal representative can file a lawsuit on behalf of the deceased’s parents or siblings.

(Be aware that, previously, special rules in Washington limited how parents of an adult child could seek damages for that child’s wrongful death. A new law that took effect in mid-2019 eliminated those limitations, making it easier for grieving parents to file a claim. Speak with an experienced Washington State wrongful death attorney to learn more about the expanded legal rights of parents of adult children.)

To summarize, a wrongful death lawsuit is a legal claim that seeks damages resulting from the death of a victim caused by another’s wrongful acts. Wrongful death claims are brought by the victim’s personal representative, for the benefit of certain of the victim’s family members.

Damages in Washington Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Washington law permits recovery of “the economic and noneconomic damages” resulting from a wrongful death. Let’s take a closer look at what that means.

Whose Damages?

The newly-revised wrongful death statute clarifies that a wrongful death claimant may seek damages sustained by both the deceased victim and the “beneficiaries” described above. It may seem confusing at first blush. However, it means that the victim’s surviving loved ones can recover compensation for harm the victim suffered before dying. In addition, they may also recover compensation for the losses they incur as a result of their loved one’s death.

Economic Damages

As the statute states, there are two general “types” of damages claimants may recover in a wrongful death lawsuit. The first, economic damages (also sometimes called “special damages”), are the out-of-pocket costs associated with the victim’s injuries and death. For example, a person may die from injuries sustained in a car accident after spending two weeks in intensive care. The cost of the victim’s medical care constitutes economic damages.

In addition, economic damages include the victim’s pay for the two weeks they missed work while fighting for their life in the hospital. Economic damages will also include the costs borne by the victim’s loved ones for funeral expenses. Any other quantifiable costs incurred as a result of the victim’s death may be included as economic damages.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic (also called “general”) damages constitute financial compensation for harms that are not associated with an out-of-pocket expense. “Pain and suffering” is the most well-known type of non-economic damage. Remember a wrongful death claimant can seek compensation for both the victim’s pain and suffering before death and their loved one’s pain and suffering resulting from the death. Other common non-economic damages that apply to both the victim and surviving loved ones include “loss of consortium” and “loss of companionship.”

In other parts of the country, non-economic damages have a reputation of being virtually limitless. However, that is not the case in Washington State. Washington law caps non-economic damages at a maximum of 43 percent of the average annual wage in the state multiplied by the average life expectancy of the victim (which can be no less than 15 years). Washington State jurors are not informed of the limitation on damages before their deliberation of cases. The cap only comes into play only if the jury decides to award an amount of non-economic damages that exceed the cap.

But Not Punitive Damages

Washington State, unlike many other jurisdictions in the United States, does not award punitive (or exemplary) damages in most cases.

Common Wrongful Death Causes

Some of the most common scenarios that may cause a wrongful death include:

  • Motor vehicle accidents. Crashes involving cars, trucks, buses, and motorcycles, represent a leading cause of accidental death. Careless and reckless driving behaviors, such as drunk, drugged, or fatigued driving, contribute to a significant proportion of motor vehicle accident fatalities. When another driver’s recklessness takes the life of an innocent victim, the surviving family members deserve justice.
  • Accidental falls. State data also shows that accidental falls are a major cause of unintentional injury fatalities across the state every year. In particular, falls threaten the lives of older individuals because their injuries can lead to a cascade of catastrophic health complications. Many family members do not realize that a severe bone break can significantly contribute to an elderly loved one’s death. Complications from accidental falls may entitle the victim’s family to seek compensation in a wrongful death suit.
  • Medical malpractice. We trust doctors to “do no harm” and, most of the time, they live up to our expectations. Unfortunately, medical professionals also make mistakes that may have deadly consequences for their patients. A medical professional must be held accountable for an error that leads to an inevitable health crisis causing the death of a family member.
  • Construction accidents. Workers on construction sites know about the dangers they face every day. They rely on their bosses and other contractors on site to adhere to safety regulations. They must ensure smooth operations on-site to avoid the occurrence of fatal accidents. Construction workers should never die on the job, but when they do, their families must hold the many potentially-liable parties accountable. A wrongful death lawsuit may deter similar reckless behavior in the future, preventing further injury and death.
  • Pedestrian and bicycle accidents. The decision to walk or pedal on city streets, suburban cul-de-sacs, and rural roads, should never result in a fatality. Unfortunately, motorists often fail to take care around vulnerable pedestrians and cyclists. When motor vehicles collide with unprotected pedestrians and cyclists, they cause avoidable and senseless tragedies.

What Happens in Wrongful Death Cases

Families in mourning rarely give much thought to hiring a lawyer, at least not initially. When they do consider hiring someone to pursue justice and accountability for their loved one, they likely have lots of questions. They may worry about the costs and emotional stress associated with litigation. Here is a brief description of the legal processes involved in a wrongful death case.

Hiring an Attorney

Tatiana Boohoff Lawyer
Seattle Wrongful Death Attorney, Tatiana Boohoff

To begin, the personal representative of the deceased victim—who is often a family member—typically hires an attorney. The representative must choose an attorney with experience navigating the Washington State wrongful death lawsuit process. In addition, you need an attorney who has experience investigating and litigating cases involving the type of accident involved. Cost should not be a concern. The best wrongful death attorneys represent their clients on a “contingency fee” basis. Contingency fees typically involve the lawyer providing most of the upfront costs of the lawsuit. The attorney agrees to only collect some fees if they secure financial compensation for their clients.

Meeting With the Attorney

The attorney and representative, and often other family members as well, have an initial meeting. At Boohoff Law, we offer a free consultation for potential clients. During an initial consultation, the attorney will gather information about your case and discuss the potential for filing a wrongful death action. Assuming the lawyer and family agree to work together, the lawyer will likely begin to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death.

When appropriate, investigation may include hiring private investigators, accident reconstruction experts, and medical advisors to help the attorneys answer three questions:

  1. Who caused the accident that injured the victim?
  2. How and why did the victim die?
  3. What are the extent of damages the victim and the family members suffered as a result?

The Attorney’s Investigation

The first question aims to identify all parties who may have legal liability in a wrongful death action. The second question targets how to prove a direct link between someone’s wrongful actions and the death of the victim. The third seeks to establish a precise amount of money the family should demand.

Let us pause here to say that we understand that families sometimes feel uncomfortable with the third question. Money is no replacement for a life, and it cannot heal the pain a grieving family feels. What money can do, however, is help a family sustain itself financially in the wake of a tragic death. Otherwise, the decedent’s family may struggle to make ends meet. Our goal at Boohoff Law is always to seek the maximum compensation for our clients in wrongful death cases. We understand that the untimely loss of life leaves a family with significant needs that money can help to meet.

Pursuing Justice, Accountability, and Compensation

After evaluating a case, experienced wrongful death lawyers begin the process of pursuing parties with legal liability. When appropriate, lawyers may initiate negotiations with responsible parties to attempt to settle your claim. Sometimes negotiations immediately lead to “settlement” discussions.

Sometimes the parties resist, and the lawyer may file a formal wrongful death lawsuit in a Washington court, if necessary. In either event, the lawyer’s job is to represent the grieving family’s interests by obtaining the maximum compensation possible. In some cases, that may mean taking the case to trial.

If your family has suffered an untimely loss because of a preventable accident, contact an experienced wrongful death attorney today.

Boohoff Law
2200 6th Avenue, Suite 768
Seattle, WA 98121
(877) 999-9999

Medical Malpractice Defined

After experiencing symptoms of a medical problem, you often trust doctors and nurses to inform your decisions regarding your health and treatment. Medical care providers are expected to provide a responsible diagnosis and effective treatment for your injuries. Unfortunately, not every provider will offer the high-quality care and treatment you both need and deserve. In fact, every year, medical malpractice settlements result in more than $3 billion in payouts to injured victims.

If you suffer medical malpractice while being treated by a medical professional, you may have the right to file a claim by speaking with a medical malpractice lawyer today.

What Is Medical Malpractice?

Tatiana Boohoff Lawyer
Seattle Medical Malpractice Attorney, Tatiana Boohoff

Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider, including doctors and hospital employees, causes injury to a patient. Medical malpractice typically occurs due to negligence on the part of the provider, rather than a deliberate intention to cause harm. However, medical malpractice can lead to substantial pain and suffering for patients impacted by a healthcare provider’s poor decisions.

To define a patient injury as medical malpractice, the healthcare provider’s behavior must:

  • Violate the standard of care expected of medical professionals. Medical professionals have a duty to provide the level of care that others with the same training and experience would provide in similar circumstances. Physicians must not simply refrain from harming patients, they must also provide a high quality of care to all their patients.
  • Cause substantial injury to the patient.
  • Result from a provider-patient relationship between you and the care provider who committed the error. A doctor who is not responsible for your care cannot face liability for your injuries caused by another physician’s negligent behavior. For example, another doctor who is merely present in the emergency room at the time of an accident will not be held responsible for your inadequate care.

8 Types of Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice may occur in a variety of circumstances. Anytime a provider’s negligence causes injury to a patient, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim. A few circumstances that commonly lead to medical malpractice claims include:

1. Failure to Diagnose

Patients often seek a medical evaluation after they begin experiencing symptoms of a medical issue. Your doctor must then use your description of symptoms to inform his or her diagnose your illness or injury. Typically, doctors are qualified to diagnose routine illnesses or injuries by observing a patient’s symptoms. When patients present more complex or serious symptoms, diagnostic testing and further observation may be required to accurately diagnose the condition.

Even with diagnostic testing and observation, doctors sometimes fail to properly diagnose a patient’s condition. At times, doctors fail to diagnose a condition, despite symptoms that clearly point to a specific illness or injury. If another doctor with similar training and experience would have properly diagnosed the condition, an injured patient may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim. If a doctor’s failure to provide an accurate diagnosis causes complications or a worsening of symptoms, the patient may be entitled to compensation.

2. Misdiagnosis

What is Medical MalpracticeSimilar to the failure to diagnose, misdiagnosis occurs when a doctor looks at the symptoms you display, then assigns an inaccurate diagnosis. If another doctor would have reasonably diagnosed your actual condition, or ordered additional testing, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim.

Misdiagnosis creates two key problems for the victim. First and foremost, the initial condition often continues to go untreated as a result of the inaccurate diagnosis. In some cases, victims may ignore worsening symptoms, assuming they simply represent the progression of the condition described by the doctor. Unfortunately, misdiagnosis can sometimes cause extreme health complications.

Second, the victim of malpractice may receive treatment for an illness or injury he does not have. Often, the medications or procedures required to treat the diagnosed illness have side effects, which cause unnecessary pain and suffering. In addition, the prescribed procedures and treatment may have significant costs for which the patient is responsible for paying.

3. Birth Injury

During the birthing process, both the mother and baby experience a high degree of vulnerability. A birth injury occurs when either the mother or baby suffers a significant injury during birth, including:

  • Brain injury
  • Spinal cord damage, including paralysis
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Infection
  • Bruising from forceps
  • Hypoxia
  • Meconium aspiration
  • Fractures
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Stillbirth
  • Maternal death

Birth injuries may occur due to a variety of reasons. Some birth injuries are unavoidable despite the highest level of care. Other birth injuries, however, may occur due to:

  • Failure to provide necessary medical intervention. When a doctor fails to provide a necessary medical intervention, it can cause injury to either the mother or baby during childbirth. For example, a doctor may fail to acknowledge a baby’s distress signaled by an increased heart rate. If the doctor’s lack of awareness leads to their failure to intervene which causes a stillbirth, the doctor may be held liable.
  • Use of unnecessary interventions. On the other extreme, instead of failing to provide needed interventions, a doctor may use unnecessary interventions. Unnecessary interventions during childbirth may cause increased trauma and injury to the mother or baby. The use of forceps, for example, can cause excessive bruising to the baby and a greater risk of vaginal tearing during childbirth. If labor is unnecessarily induced early, the risk of complications for both the mother and baby are significantly increased.
  • Improper use of intervention tools. Most interventions commonly used during childbirth are intended to protect the safety of the mother and baby. However, improper use of those interventions can significantly increase the risks of injury.

4. Surgical Errors

medical malpractice errors may occur in a variety of circumstances. Surgical errors may include:

  • Operations on the wrong limb. Surgeries that require general anesthesia prevent patients from communicating with their surgeon during the procedure. Unfortunately, in some cases, a surgery may be performed on the wrong body part. For example, a doctor may negligently operate on a patient’s right knee, although the left knee was intended to be replaced. Enduring an unnecessary surgical procedure can cause significant and unnecessary pain and suffering for the patient. Ultimately, the patient will have to undergo an additional surgery on the correct body part. In cases involving amputations or organ surgeries, operations on the wrong body part can cause lifelong complications for the victim.
  • Performing the wrong procedure. In some cases, surgeons may operate on the correct limb or area of the body, but perform the wrong procedure. Performing the wrong medical procedure can, in some cases, worsen symptoms rather than improve them. Performing the wrong medical procedure can also make it difficult or impossible to perform the correct medical procedure on the patient.
  • Errors during surgery. In some cases, surgeons may make significant errors during surgery, leading to excessive bleeding. Anesthesiologists may also fail to properly medicate the patient during surgery, which can lead to difficulty breathing.
  • Infections. When a surgeon uses surgical equipment that has not been properly sterilized, it can quickly lead to serious infection. Follow-up care plays an important role in preventing and treating postoperative infections. Infections can cause significant illness and even death. If a physician’s negligence caused a patient’s infection, they may be liable for any resulting damages.
  • Leaving an item behind. Surgeons must exercise extreme care to ensure that all surgical equipment is effectively sterilized and properly stored after each operation. Leaving a surgical instrument in the body of a patient can cause significant problems, significantly increasing a patient’s risk of infection and subjecting him or her to an additional surgery to retrieve the abandoned item. Sharp objects, including glass, scalpels, and syringes, can result in significant internal damage.

5. Medical Product Liability

Defective Medical Equipement Doctors and care providers must provide a high standard of care when treating patients. In addition, they must use quality medical products to ensure that the products themselves do not pose a danger to their patients. Companies that produce and distribute medical products are similarly under a duty to provide quality products. Producers must ensure that medical equipment is sterile and will function properly.

Medical product liability claims may involve:

  • Medical devices that do not work as intended. Many patients rely on medical devices to manage their illnesses and improve their quality of life. When medical devices fail to function as intended, patients can suffer serious consequences. For example, faulty insulin pumps can improperly measure blood sugar or deliver the wrong dosage. A malfunctioning insulin pump may make it difficult for victims to maintain proper blood sugar levels. In an emergency, medical devices that fail to work properly could lead to permanent injury or death.
  • Medical devices that fail. When medical devices fail, they can cause serious injuries for the patients whose functioning relies on them. Unfortunately, faulty medical devices may cause injury to many patients before the manufacturer decides to recall the device.

6. Medication Errors

Medications provide valuable support to many patients, alleviating symptoms and helping them manage many medical conditions. Unfortunately, medication errors can pose significant challenges for patients. Medications often display unfavorable side effects, which can cause a range of problems for the patient to whom they are prescribed. Common medication errors include:

  • Dosage calculation errors. Too much or too little medication can create substantial problems. A patient who takes too much medication may experience extreme side effects. A patient who receives too little medication may not effectively treat their condition. Both doctors and pharmacists must pay careful attention to medication dosages to decrease potential errors. When a doctor or nurse improperly calculates the dosage of an IV medication, there can be devastating and even life-threatening consequences.
  • Prescribing the wrong medication. Sometimes, doctors may plan to prescribe one medication, but mistakenly prescribe a different one. Distraction or inattention may result in accidentally prescribing the wrong medication. When a doctor prescribes the wrong medication, patients may suffer extreme side effects. In addition, the patient fails to receive proper treatment for their conditions.

7. Failure to Warn a Patient About Known Risks Associated with a Procedure

Many medical procedures involve known risks. For example, any procedure that requires the use of general anesthesia poses an increased risk of complications. Some medications and treatments come with known dangers and potential complications.

As a patient, you have the right to make an informed decision about your care. To make an informed decision, you must be aware of all the potential risks associated with the suggested treatment plans. A doctor may fail to adequately inform a patient of the risks. If you would have avoided a specific treatment, had you known the risks, and you suffer injury from that treatment, the doctor may be liable for malpractice.

A doctor does not have to list every possible, minuscule risk or potential side effect to a patient before a procedure. Patients must do their own research, including the potential side effects of new medications or possible medication interactions. However, if the procedure or medication represents a significant risk or has substantial side effects, the doctor must inform you of those risks ahead of time.

8. Treatment Without Consent

Patients have the right to decide which treatment plan they will undergo. For example, you have the right to decide whether you want to submit to surgery or to a specific treatment protocol for a given illness. You also have the right to determine when medication side effects cause more serious side effects than the illness they treat. It is up to the patient whether they want to continue the suggested treatment plan. Your doctor must accept your decisions regarding your treatment, even if the doctor does not agree with your decision.

If you cannot consent to treatment, your doctor must exercise his or her best judgment based on the information available. For example, if a doctor discovers a previously unknown problem during surgery, he may decide to treat the issue to avoid future surgical intervention.

The doctor may consult your loved ones or may independently make a decision based on your current treatment. A doctor can also exercise his best judgment in providing care in an emergency without a patient’s consent. However, when a doctor chooses to perform a procedure that you could not consent to, the doctor may be liable for malpractice.

If you suffered injuries due to the negligence of a medical care provider, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to learn more about your legal right to financial compensation.

Boohoff Law
2200 6th Avenue, Suite 768
Seattle, WA 98121
(877) 999-9999

How to Choose a Personal Injury Lawyer

Most people know that they need a lawyer after experiencing the devastating impacts of an accidental injury or death. Fewer people, however, have a strong sense of what to look for in a personal injury attorney. It is important for injured victims to carefully select a competent attorney to represent their best interests. A trustworthy and experienced attorney may increase a victim’s chances of recovering the compensation they deserve. In this blog post, we cover how to select the best personal injury lawyer for your circumstances.

Cost Should Not Present an Issue

Let’s start by getting a major concern out of the way. Lawyers who represent people injured by another’s wrongful conduct—that is, personal injury lawyers—get paid differently than most other attorneys. Business lawyers, criminal defense lawyers, and lawyers in other specialized areas, usually charge an hourly fee. Depending on the complexity of the case, legal fees and costs can quickly become significant.

Costs and Legal FeesPersonal injury lawyers collect their fees differently. Reputable personal injury lawyers represent clients on what is known as a contingency fee basis. Think of it as something similar to a contractor building a house on spec. The lawyer typically fronts the majority of the cost of pursuing a case on behalf of a client. In return, the attorney receives a percentage (typically in the neighborhood of 33 percent) of any amount of money recovered. In other words, the lawyer only gets paid if the client gets paid.

However, potential clients should inquire whether the firm’s fee will be calculated before or after the deduction of court costs and fees.

Why represent clients on this basis? Two reasons:

  • It gives injured people access to justice during a time of their lives when they are financially strained; and
  • It aligns the client’s interests with the lawyer’s. The lawyer is incentivized to work as hard as possible for the best outcome because both the client and the lawyer will benefit.

When selecting a personal injury attorney, inquire whether they require an hourly fee or they offer their services on a contingency fee basis. If an attorney questions the strength of a personal injury claim, he or she may require an hourly fee. Inexperienced attorneys may also require an hourly fee. If they have only represented a handful of clients, they may not feel comfortable taking the risk of fronting the client’s fees and costs. Either way, an hourly fee may be a sign that the attorney is not right for you.

Finding a Personal Injury Attorney

Finding a personal injury lawyer is not difficult. Lawyers are everywhere you turn, advertising online, on highway billboards, and on TV. The trick is not locating a lawyer, but rather, choosing one who you can trust. To get started, some simple research can help narrow down a list of potential candidates.

Google It

To begin, do a Google search for “[YOUR TYPE OF ACCIDENT] injury attorney” in the area where you live. For example, if you got injured in a car accident in Seattle, search for a “car accident injury attorney Seattle.” If it was a construction site tragedy in Tacoma, search “construction accident injury lawyer Tacoma.”

This cursory search usually yields lots of results. Even if you live in a tiny town, Google will expand the search area for you. To limit your choices, take note of the results appearing on the first two pages of results. Now that you have an initial pool of candidates, you can begin narrowing the list further.

Get Specific About Your Accident AND Your Injury

Time to start narrowing. You should first eliminate lawyers who do not advertise experience representing clients who:

  • Got injured in the same kind of accident or incident that injured you or your loved one; AND
  • Sustained the same kind of injury that you or your loved one sustained.

For example, you may have suffered a spinal cord injury in a multi-vehicle truck accident on I-405. Strike any lawyer from your list who does not have experience with both truck accidents and spinal cord injuries. Why? Because how a person gets injured and what kind of injury the person sustained affect the complexity of a personal injury case. Who might be legally liable, and how much money the injured person needs to recover depends on the type of accident and injury.

In the truck accident example, you need a lawyer with experience confronting the complex factors involved in picking apart a multi-vehicle accident. When more than one vehicle is involved, it can be difficult to identify the root cause of the accident. Attorneys will likely be required to deal with the multiple layers of insurance coverage associated with commercial truck crashes. All injured victims should ensure their attorney has experience assessing medical factors to predict long-term medical costs.

Weigh Results, but Understand Their Limitations, Too

Lawyers, for understandable reasons, highlight their most eye-popping dollar-value results to attract clients. Take those results into consideration, but do not give them too much weight in the selection process. A lawyer who can point to a track record of success has a strong reputation that could serve you well. Reputable lawyers typically build relationships with large insurance company representatives after repeated negotiations.

Overall, defense lawyers and insurance companies take lawyers with big wins more seriously than lawyers who lack those bragging rights. Having a lawyer who has impressive results also gives you comfort that your lawyer knows how to win in and out of court. Having confidence in your legal team is always important.

Although past results have some bearing on your lawyer’s skill and experience, they do not guarantee an outcome in your case. Every personal injury claim is different. The fact that two lawyers recovered $1.5 million and $1.8 million for clients with similar injuries, does not necessarily reveal who is the better lawyer.

Geographic Convenience Helps

Having easy access to your lawyer can help to ensure your case proceeds smoothly. It makes meeting with your lawyer easier. It may lend some relief to know that you and your lawyer live in the same general area.

However, there are times when picking the lawyer nearest to you would be a mistake. The most important factor to consider is the lawyer’s type of experience and skill. Some accidents and injuries are so unique they require a specialized degree of knowledge. Oftentimes, attorneys with specialized experience may only be found in major metro areas, like Seattle. That is just a reality of the legal profession. Increased population density increases the opportunity for lawyers practicing in the area to gain specialized experience.

Also, it is equally important to inquire how frequently an attorney practices law in the court-system where you would file your personal injury lawsuit. Like any workplace, every courthouse has its own distinct personality and workflow. If your claim must be filed in a specific court, make sure to choose a lawyer who is familiar with that court.

Recommendations Matter, to an Extent

You might also consider recommendations from friends, family members, and colleagues who have had experience filing a personal injury claim. Likewise, lawyer review websites like rate lawyers similar to the way Yelp rates restaurants. There is certainly nothing wrong with considering these recommendations. We would, however, suggest you weigh reviews with caution.

Remember what matters most is your lawyer’s skill and experience, and every lawsuit is different. Someone else’s opinion of whether they had a good (or bad) working relationship with a lawyer is certainly relevant. However, without knowing all of the details of that person’s case and the personalities involved, it might not necessarily translate to your situation. In-person contact can help you determine whether the attorney is a good fit, which is why we recommend meeting with your top candidates.

Meeting With a Personal Injury Attorney

Following the steps above, you should narrow your list of potential personal injury lawyer candidates to three-to-five firms. If not, reduce your list by being more strict on each of the factors above, until you have a handful of candidates. Now, reach out to each candidate online or by phone to schedule an appointment. If you’ve followed the advice above, all of the lawyers on your list should offer a free consultation.

Prioritize Feel and Fit

At this stage, you should have a list of lawyers who meet the basic criteria. The candidates should have experience handling cases similar to yours with a track record that proves it. From a legal perspective, any of the candidates should handle your case. However, now, you need to decide something a little more subjective: which lawyer feels like the right fit for you.

Fighting insurance companies and large businesses for the compensation you deserve can get stressful for you and your lawyer. It helps to have someone you can imagine will relieve your stress when the process gets difficult. The right lawyer for you will depend on your personality. Some people want an aggressive pitbull-type lawyer. Others want an attorney who provides calm and steady guidance. Others may want a lawyer with an easy, compassionate demeanor.

Meeting with the lawyers in person allows you to determine whether their personality matches what you are looking for. Pay attention to how the lawyer interacts with you in the meeting, and also how the lawyer interacts with others. If you meet at the lawyer’s office, pay attention to how the lawyer and office staff work together and with their clients.

Is the space messy? Do phones ring without anyone answering? These are potential warning signs.

Does the staff warmly greet people when they walk through the door? Does the lawyer seem mentally present and focused on you? Pay attention to these details to help determine whether the team is a good fit for you.

Get the Lawyer’s First Impression of Your Case

Typically, an initial meeting with a lawyer lasts no more than an hour. There is only so much ground you and the lawyer will cover. The lawyer will spend part of the meeting asking you questions about your accident and injury. Answer as completely and honestly as possible. Everything you say to the lawyer is confidential. The more information you provide, the more accurate the attorney’s evaluation of your case will be.

Tatiana Boohoff Lawyer
Seattle Personal Injury Attorney, Tatiana Boohoff

At some point in the meeting, the lawyer will (or should) give you their initial impression of your case. Do not expect a full, detailed analysis. What you need is an answer to two simple questions. First, is this a case that the lawyer thinks could succeed? If so, is it a case the lawyer has an interest in taking? Obviously, you want a lawyer who thinks your case is winnable and who is interested in trying to win it for you.

Keep in mind, however, that, by nature, lawyers are a cautious group of professionals. A good lawyer will always tell you there are no guarantees. You want a lawyer who shows enthusiasm for your case and believes it is winnable. However, be wary of any lawyer who tells you they are certain your case will succeed. Ultimately, you want a lawyer who gives it to you straight, keeping your expectations realistic.

In short, you should look for an attorney who is cautiously confident in your case. Over-confidence and promises of guaranteed outcomes should be worrisome.

Make Your Selection

For most people, after meeting with a handful of lawyers, it becomes clear which firm can best serve their needs. Oftentimes, individuals will have a gut instinct about the lawyer that is the best fit for them.

Trust your gut. By following the initial research suggestions above, you will have targeted a group of lawyers who have the skill and experience necessary to best represent your interests. By meeting with the top candidates, you will have given yourself the opportunity to hear what the lawyer has to say about your case. Just as importantly, you will get a sense of whether your personalities and expectations match. Make your choice and let your attorney get to work.

Boohoff Law
2200 6th Avenue, Suite 768
Seattle, WA 98121
(877) 999-9999