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Bicycle Accident

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Your insurance company may not be telling you everything. Know what you’re entitled to with a free consultation. Rest assured that we will never charge any fees unless we win.

The Washington State Department of Transportation proudly advertises the state’s longstanding #1 ranking as a Bicycle Friendly State by The League of American Bicyclists.

It’s true: Washington is a great place to ride a bicycle. The state has a comprehensive biking infrastructure, a commitment to encouraging cycling, and strong public awareness of the benefits of riding a bike. With all of those bicycling-friendly traits, you’d think riding a bike would be very safe in Seattle and its environs.

Unfortunately, that is not always the case. The Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) reports that between 2005 and 2016, the number of bicyclist traffic fatalities trended upwards. In fact, the most recent data show a significant increase in the number of fatalities and serious bicycling injuries over the past four years in particular.

If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a Seattle-area bicycling accident, you may have the right to monetary compensation.

Contact the skilled, Seattle bicycle accident attorneys at Boohoff law today to learn more.

About Boohoff Law Seattle Bicycle Accident Attorneys

Attorney Tatiana Boohoff and her fellow attorneys at Boohoff Law offer clients in the Seattle area years of combined experience representing victims of bicycle accidents. Attorney Boohoff brings with her a wealth courtroom prowess, legal expertise, and a reputation as an aggressive, diligent litigator with a strong commitment to client service.

Tatiana graduated from top-ranked Boston University School of Law. She focuses her legal practice solely on advocating for the rights of personal injury victims who deserve accountability and compensation for their injuries.

About Bicycle Accidents

Bicycle accidents leave a wake of devastation in the lives of their victims. Unlike motorists, bicyclists take to the roads with relatively minimal protection from the hazards posed by road conditions and vehicular traffic.

When a bicycle collides with a car or truck, the cyclist usually sustains the brunt of the impact. As the statistics above attest, cycling fatalities are on the rise in Washington. Even when cyclists survive a collision, they’re often left with severe, life-altering injuries that require years of care and rehabilitation.

Common Characteristics of Bicycle Accidents

Bicycle accidents result from a combination of environmental factors and behaviors on the part of drivers and cyclists alike. The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) compiles data about fatal bicycle accidents around the country.

That information gives us some insight into where, when, and how cycling accidents happen.

Where. According to the NHTSA data, the vast majority of cycling fatalities happen in urban areas and on roads or at intersections. In contrast, relatively few fatal bike accidents happen in bike lanes, on road shoulders, or in other locations. This national data is also borne out by data from WTSC, linked above.

When. The national data show fatal bicycle accidents happen equally in daylight and darkness. However, the most dangerous time of day for bicyclists is in the afternoon and evening.

How. WTSC data show that “an overwhelming percentage of crashes occur when the driver overtakes the bicycle rider from behind or when a person riding a bicycle is either crossing or entering a roadway.”

These circumstances commonly result from driver inattention and failure to yield the right of way to a cyclist. Alcohol use by motorists and cyclists also contributes to crashes, as does how fast the motor vehicle was traveling at the time of the collision. It is common for vehicles to sideswipe cyclists who are riding with traffic, which is one of the most common settings for an accident according to WTSC data.

Another common collision is one in which the cyclist runs into the side of a vehicle that cuts the cyclist off while making a turn (often a left-hand turn).

Finally, urban cyclists, in particular, are familiar with the danger of doorings. A dooring happens a driver or passenger of a motor vehicle opens the door of the vehicle into the path of a cyclist. Most often, these accidents happen when the cyclist approaches the vehicle from the rear while the vehicle is stopped or parallel parked. The vehicle occupant fails to look backward before opening the door, and the cyclist collides with the open door and often flips over it.

Doorings can result in devastating injuries because of how sudden and unexpected they are for the cyclist, who often collides with the door while traveling at full speed.

Common Seattle Bicycle Accident Injuries

Bicycle accidents frequently end in the death of the cyclist, because of the virtual absence of physical protection for the cyclist in an impact with a car and the road surface. Helmet use can reduce cycling fatalities by a significant margin.

However, currently, there is no statewide cycling helmet law in Washington State, although some cities, including Tacoma (but not Seattle), have enacted helmet laws. Even when a cyclist survives, a collision can inflict significant and lasting injuries.

The cyclist’s body typically impacts the vehicle and/or the road surface with great force and at awkward angles. Some of the more common and life-altering injuries that result from these accidents include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries, particularly when cyclists do not wear a helmet;
  • Spinal cord injuries resulting in partial or total paralysis;
  • Crushed or traumatically amputated limbs, particularly if a vehicle runs over the cyclist after the initial collision;
  • Extreme lacerations that result in disfiguring scars and the need for painful skin grafts;
  • Broken bones and orthopedic injuries, especially injuries to extremities when the cyclist tries to brace for an impact; and
  • Severe internal and soft tissue damage resulting from the trauma and sheer force of an impact.

Some of these injuries heal over months or more, but many leave the victims with long-term disabilities and the need for extended medical care and physical therapy.

In seeking damages for injuries sustained in a bicycle accident, a Seattle bicycle accident attorney will often spend significant time and resources determining the magnitude of the client’s long-term medical needs, in order to make sure the client demands and receives adequate compensation from parties with legal liability for the accident.

Common Parties With Legal Liability for Bicycle Accidents

The cause of a bicycle accident is only one part of the multi-chapter story an experienced Seattle bicycle accident story attorney needs to tell in order to recover appropriate damages for her client.

It is also critically important to identify each and every person or entity who may have legal liability for causing the accident. The accident’s cause can point attorneys in the direction of those parties, but the attorney may have to do additional investigation to make sure no party with potential liability has been overlooked.

Some of the most common parties who have liability to cyclists for injuries inflicted by an accident include:

Motorists. Seattle drivers have a duty to share the road with cyclists. The scope of that duty varies depending on driving conditions, but in general, a driver who overtakes a cyclist aggressively and with inadequate distance between them, or who fails to yield to a cyclist at an intersection or when either of them is turning left, may end up with legal liability for the cyclists injuries in a resulting collision.

Commercial/governmental vehicle operators. When motorists operate vehicles owned by their employer or an entity for whom they serve as a representative, that entity may also have liability for the driver’s actions behind the wheel. For example, a municipality may face liability to a cyclist injured in a collision with a city bus.

Government road agencies and their contractors. Local and state governments, and those who work for them, have an obligation to design and maintain safe public roadways. Some road design and maintenance decisions create particular dangers for cyclists and may leave those entities exposed to legal liability.

Bicycle equipment manufacturers. If a cycling injury ties back to defective equipment used by the cyclist, such as a poorly-designed helmet or malfunctioning gears, then the manufacturer of that equipment could face liability to the cyclist. Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that every cycling accident is different. The parties with potential legal liability to a cyclist for injuries will likely vary from case-to-case.

The best way to identify parties with potential liability is to retain the services of an experienced, diligent Seattle bicycle accident attorney.

Common Damages for Bicycle Accident Injuries

Under Washington State law, bike accident victims and representatives of cyclists killed in those accidents typically have a right to take legal action for compensatory damages against parties with legal liability.

We classify these damages in two general categories: economic (or special) damages, and non-economic (or general) damages.

Economic damages reimburse out-of-pocket costs directly related to the accident and its resulting injuries. They include:

  • Un-reimbursed medical bills;
  • Chronic or long-term care costs;
  • Assistive medical devices and home modifications;
  • Physical therapy;
  • Lost wages from time off from work while recovering; and
  • Lost income or employment opportunity due to injuries and disabilities.

In Washington, the party with legal liability for a bicycle accident may have the right to pay economic damages over time, instead of in a single payment.

Non-economic damages pay an accident victim for injuries that are more difficult to quantify in dollars-and-cents terms. They include:

  • Pain and suffering;
  • Damage to personal relationships (a.k.a. loss of consortium/companionship/parent-child relationship); and
  • Negative impacts on quality of life.

Unlike many other states, Washington State law caps non-economic damages at 43 percent of the average annual wage in Washington multiplied by the cyclist’s life expectancy at the time of the collision (with a minimum of 15 years). Washington law also generally does not allow for an award of punitive damages.

Start Working With Our Seattle Bicycle Accident Attorneys Soon

Bicycle accidents inflict painful injuries and bring significant emotional challenges for cyclists and their loved ones. The aftermath of a cycling accident frequently entails burdensome medical care, financial stresses, and unwelcome interactions with doctors, law enforcement, and insurance adjusters, among others.

The team at Boohoff Law understands how, at this difficult moment, finding legal representation may be the last thing on an injured cyclist’s mind. Nevertheless, the sooner you consult with an attorney about a bicycle accident, the better your chances of protecting and advancing your rights to significant compensation.

For one thing, Washington State has a general statute of limitations on personal injury claims of just three years. That may not seem like a short time, but for lawyers, it is. A skilled personal injury attorney needs time to investigate the causes of a bike accident and to identify the parties potentially liable. As time passes without an investigation, critical evidence may get thrown away or cleaned up, and the memories of crucial witnesses may fade.

The best way to investigate a cycling accident is to start as soon as possible. Additionally, insurance companies for the parties with potential legal liability will not waste time doing their own investigation. But, instead of seeking the truth, insurance adjusters will often try to build a body of evidence that minimizes their liability. They may also try to get an injured cyclist or his family to accept a quick, low-ball settlement offer.

Having an experienced bicycle accident attorney on your side can protect against losing your rights to aggressive insurance practices.

Seattle Bicycle Accident FAQ

What rights do cyclists have in Seattle?

Washington state and local Seattle laws govern bicycles. Generally, bike riders have all the same legal rights and duties as motor vehicle operators and pedestrians.

However, the following special provisions apply to cyclists:

  • Bicycles cannot carry more people than intended by design, with exceptions for securely attached small children.
  • Cyclists cannot ride bikes attached to moving vehicles.
  • Cyclists may not ride more than two across on roadways.
  • Bicycles must have specific lights and reflectors when in use between sunset and sunrise.
  • Bicyclists should use Seattle’s bike lanes whenever possible, and should ride with traffic, on the right side of the road. Seattle doesn’t prohibit riding on sidewalks, but there they must yield to pedestrians.

Cyclists must obey all traffic laws and signs, and additional restrictions apply to roadways without bike lanes.

However, just because a cyclist violated specific bicycle or traffic regulations does not mean he or she can’t recover damages for injuries, since the violation may not have contributed to any injury.

Do bike riders have the right of way on Seattle roads?

For the most part, no. Riders must obey all right-of-way laws applicable to motor vehicles when on a roadway, and all right-of-way laws applicable to pedestrians when on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk.

Cyclists have the right of way when lawfully riding through a crosswalk or when they would have such a right while driving a motor vehicle. However, bicyclists riding more than two abreast outside of a designated bike lane cannot impede traffic, and must ride single file to avoid doing so.

Cyclists riding at a slower rate than the average speed of traffic must use a marked bike lane. If no bike lane exists, cyclists traveling below the rate of traffic must ride as close to the right-hand curb or right edge of the roadway as possible, to permit motor vehicles to pass.

Cyclists may, however, pass another bicycle or car moving in the same direction, move into traffic to make a left-hand turn, or navigate around roadway hazards. Cyclists riding on a one-way highway with two or more lanes may ride nearest to the left-hand curb.

Can I recover compensation if a car hit me outside a bike lane?

Yes. Not all Seattle roads have bike lanes. Further, cyclists only need to use a bike lane if traveling below the average speed of traffic. A rider has the same right to seek compensation after a motor vehicle accident as a motor vehicle driver.

Any cyclist riding outside of an available bike lane at the time of an accident may have reduced financial recoveries, if being outside of the available bike lane contributed to the accident. Riding outside the bike path does not bar your right to personal injury compensation, however.

Speak with a qualified Seattle bike accident attorney at Boohoff Law about contested bicycle-motor vehicle accidents.

Does it matter if I wasn’t wearing a bike helmet when I was injured?

No. Neither Washington state nor the city of Seattle require bicyclists to wear helmets. Not wearing a helmet, of course, can subject you to greater injuries, and defendants often argue for reduced financial recoveries for traumatic brain injuries in such cases.

Speak with our qualified bicycle accident attorneys immediately if this topic arises during insurance negotiations.

What injuries do bicyclists commonly suffer during motor vehicle accidents?

A simple tap from a motor vehicle may cause a Seattle cyclist life-changing or fatal personal injuries.

Seattle bike riders commonly report the following serious bike accident injuries:

  • Fractures – Depending on the angle and speed of impact, riders often suffer painful femur, tibia, fibula, hip, ankle, shoulder, and wrist fractures during motor vehicle impacts.
  • Facial Damage – Rear-end or roadway hazard accidents may cause cyclists to flip over their handlebars and suffer nose fractures and facial damage, resulting in permanent scarring.
  • Impalement Injuries – The impact and fall angle may result in parts of the bike, such as the handlebars or pedals, impaling the rider.
  • Dislocated joints – Sideswipe accidents and impacts often cause riders to land on their knees, hips, and shoulders, causing painful dislocations.
  • Traumatic brain injuries – Even with a helmet, riders may suffer concussions or potentially fatal traumatic brain injuries. Cyclists may suffer from a direct impact injury to the head if struck by an SUV or truck.
  • Spinal damage and paralysis – Any damage to the spinal cord and its delicate nerve fibers could result in loss of movement below the area of injury. Riders run over or trapped under motor vehicles often suffer from permanent spine damage.
  • Torn tendons and ligaments – Car impacts may result in damaged ACLs, as well as torn neck and back ligaments. These body parts will not regrow and may require surgery to repair.

Negligent drivers cannot disclaim liability because you were riding a bike at the time of the accident. You have the same right to compensation as other drivers after being injured while riding your bike in Seattle. Be on alert for insurers attempting to convince you otherwise.

If you lost a loved one in a Seattle bicycle accident, you might have a wrongful death claim to recover compensation. Connect with a Seattle bike accident attorney at Boohoff Law today to discuss holding a reckless driver accountable for fatal road and mountain bike injuries.

Is there such a thing as premises liability for bike accidents?

Yes. Whether you were injured by a negligent driver or because of dangerous sidewalk hazards, these are personal injury claims. Seattle property owners, including the state, might be obligated to provide specific legal duties to bike riders.

These duties may include inspecting and making designated bike areas reasonably safe for riders, or warning riders of potential roadway hazards. Special procedural rules apply to negligence claims against a state or local government.

You might need an accident lawyer to help you file an administrative claim with your local transportation department for injuries caused by a roadway or sidewalk hazard.

Can I sue a bicycle rental company or manufacturer for a Seattle bike accident?

Possibly. If your injuries occurred because of a defect in the bike’s design or lack of rental bike maintenance, you may have a product liability claim. Product liability is a subset of tort law and a type of personal injury claim.

Some bicycles cost more than used cars and come with certain safety warranties. You might have a claim against a seller, manufacturer, or designer of a defective bicycle or bike equipment if it caused or contributed to your injuries.

Who may be liable if I was injured while riding my bike?

Drivers owe a duty of care to all other vehicles on the road, including bicycles. Further, bike lanes cannot contain hidden hazards likely to injure the riders required to use them.

An experienced bicycle accident lawyer could hold the following people or entities liable for a Seattle bike accident:

  • The negligent vehicle operator
  • The owner of the negligent driver’s car or truck
  • A rental car company
  • A negligent driver’s employer
  • A bike rental company
  • The bike manufacturer or designer
  • The bike seller
  • Another cyclist
  • A negligent property owner
  • A reckless pedestrian
  • A state or local government

Liability depends on the nature of the accident and the facts of each case. If multiple reckless or negligent parties contributed to a bike accident, a jury might prorate liability accordingly.

What type of compensation can I recover if I was negligently injured while riding my bike?

Washington State permits injured claimants to recover damages for direct economic and non-economic losses sustained in a negligently caused bike accident.

These compensatory damages may include the following:

  • Hospital bills
  • Doctors charges
  • Lost past and future income
  • Loss of enjoyment of life, including riding
  • Property damage to a bike or other personal items
  • Pain and suffering
  • Rehabilitation expenses
  • Medical equipment
  • Pharmacy bills
  • Nursing care
  • At-home help

In rare cases, claimants may recover punitive damages. Riders might claim a punitive award directly from a negligent defendant (but not his or her insurer) if the injuring conduct was intentional or reckless.

Examples include cases where a driver intentionally baits or strikes a rider. These damages are designed to punish the offender, rather than compensate the victim. Speak with a lawyer today if you believe a driver intentionally injured you in an accident.

Is there a limit on the amount of compensation I can recover after a Seattle bike accident?

Washington State does have a cap for noneconomic damages like pain and suffering. Practically speaking, personal injury claims typically settle within the liable insurer’s policy limits. Most drivers do not have the out-of-pocket resources necessary to compensate riders for serious personal injuries.

After a bicycle accident, cyclists may also recover damages from a negligent property owner’s insurance policy or their own underinsured motorist policy.

In some cases, a business might be liable for the negligent acts of an employee and have sufficient resources to compensate an injured claimant following a jury verdict.

What is the statute of limitations for Seattle bike accident claims?

Bike accidents fall under the general three-year statute of limitations for negligence actions.

Speak with a Seattle bike accident attorney at Boohoff Law in case an exception applies that could decrease that time. Moreover, you will want to move fast to preserve evidence and expedite your bike accident claim.

How can I file a personal injury claim after a Seattle bike accident?

Bike riders injured due to the negligent or reckless conduct of another should make an insurance claim—and we can help you do that. Such claims may include recovering benefits from your no-fault insurer or the liable party’s bodily injury policy.

Experienced personal injury attorneys often assist clients with the insurance claims process. Many insurance adjusters review personal injury settlement packages and make a financial offer without the need to file expensive litigation.

An attorney may negotiate a higher settlement with an insurer or retain an expert economist to calculate the value of your past and future losses. Do not settle a bike accident claim without speaking with a qualified personal injury lawyer.

Once you sign for a settlement, you waive all future claims for damages against the insured party. If one or more liable parties refuse to settle the case, your bike accident attorney might file a personal injury or wrongful death complaint.

Plaintiffs must file civil litigation within the applicable statute of limitations. Settlement negotiations and insurance guarantees do not delay this filing deadline.

How much does it cost to retain a bike accident lawyer?

Personal injury lawyers, such as the experienced bike accident attorneys at Boohoff Law, typically work on a contingency fee basis. In contingency fee cases, the lawyer takes the case in exchange for a percentage of the final verdict or settlement.

Most law firms even front expert witness charges, filing fees, and litigation costs for viable claims. If attorneys cannot recover compensation or recover insufficient funds, claimants typically owe nothing to their lawyers.

Contingency fee structures incentivize attorneys to help injured claimants struggling with lost wages and medical bills, while at the same time encouraging lawyers to fight for the highest possible verdict.

Discuss the viability of your bike accident case with our experienced Seattle personal injury counsel today.

Please Contact Boohoff Law Seattle Bicycle Accident Lawyers Today

Boohoff Law P.A.
Tatiana Boohoff, Seattle, WA Bicycle Accident Lawyer

At Boohoff Law, we love our bikes and take great pride in representing Seattle-area cyclists who have suffered injuries in accidents on local roads.

We know what it’s like to have your life upended by a cycling injury, and want to give you the best possible chance of obtaining the compensation you deserve.

If you sustained a serious injury or lost a loved one in a Seattle-area bicycle accident, contact Tatiana Boohoff and her team at Boohoff Law today, or call them at (877) 999-9999.

We offer a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation for injured cyclists to learn about their legal rights and determine a path forward that fits their needs and circumstances.

Client Testimonial

“Really pleased with Boohoff Law! Received immediate responses when I had any questions. Treated amazing by all staff and made this process a true breeze!! Bill represented me professionally and received more than I ever expected. Will be recommending the Boohoff Law team to everyone!” – Caitlyn M.

Review: 5/5 ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

For most of us here in Seattle, one of the only times we ever truly place our lives in the hands of another person is when we seek medical care.

It’s difficult to overstate how deeply we trust in doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals…and how devastating it can be when that trust is broken. Healthcare providers make mistakes. They’re only human. If we’re lucky, a doctor’s mistake won’t do us harm.

But, unfortunately, sometimes the treatment we receive in a healthcare setting hurts us more than it helps. When Washington medical professionals fail to deliver the standard of care they owe to each and every one of their patients and a patient ends up injured, the law gives the patient the legal right to pursue a civil action for medical malpractice.

The skilled Seattle medical malpractice attorneys at Boohoff Law have the resources and experience to investigate and litigate even the most complex Seattle medical malpractice claims.

If you or a loved one suffered an injury because of a medical professional’s mistake, you may be entitled to substantial compensation. Contact us today to learn more.

Contact us today – call (877) 999-9999 or email us. We’re available 24/7!

About Boohoff Law

Attorney Tatiana Boohoff and her team of accomplished attorneys have years of combined experience representing victims of all manner of personal injuries, including medical malpractice.

She gained a sterling reputation among her colleagues and clients alike as a lawyer committed to serving the needs of her clients with a personal touch. She prides herself and her team on being accessible, compassionate, and willing to go the extra mile to ensure every client stays updated and in touch with the lawyer in charge of their case.

Tatiana earned her law degree from Boston University School of Law, which is consistently ranked among the top-25 law schools in the United States by U.S. News and World Report. In her 12-plus years of legal practice since graduating, she and her team have distinguished themselves as skilled, aggressive trial lawyers and passionate advocates for the rights clients struggling to recover from injuries that happened through no fault of their own.

About Medical Malpractice Generally

Typically, when we talk about medical malpractice under Washington law, we mean any circumstance in which a medical services provider—which could be a doctor, a nurse practitioner, a surgical tech, a pharmacist, a physical therapist, or any other person or entity providing services in a medical or para-medical setting– fails to deliver the accepted standard of care to a patient, and the patient suffers harm as a result.

Less frequently, medical malpractice takes the form of a medical provider causing an injury that the provider had promised the patient would not occur, or in a medical provider delivering health care to which the patient and/or patient’s representative didn’t consent.

The Standard of Care Explained

What is the standard of care?

Washington statutes explain it as: “[T]hat degree of care, skill, and learning expected of a reasonably prudent health care provider at that time in the profession or class to which he or she belongs, in the state of Washington, acting in the same or similar circumstances.”

In a medical malpractice lawsuit, the patient who suffered an injury caused by a provider’s failure to provide the standard of care must present evidence to establish what the standard of care was in the patient’s case, the ways in which the provider didn’t meet it, and how the patient’s injury was the result.

Types of Medical Malpractice

As the laws linked above suggest, medical malpractice can happen in a variety of settings and situations. It would be impossible to list all of those here.

But, it is possible to group some of the most common medical malpractice types into two broad categories to help show how they can occur.

Mistakes in Collecting or Communicating Medical Information

Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Seattle Washington One way in which medical providers regularly fail to provide a standard of care is by making mistakes in obtaining and transmitting information that is critical to the patient’s care.

This can happen, for example, when providers:

  • Fail to obtain a health history from a patient;
  • Make mistakes entering health information into computer systems; or
  • Forget to tell another provider about health information that the other provider needs.

It’s not hard to imagine how these mistakes can result in a patient getting hurt. When providers make mistakes getting and passing along information, they put patients at risk of not getting the care they need.

Health care providers who lack the necessary information to provide the standard of care can give incorrect medical diagnoses, prescribe the wrong medication, and even perform the wrong type of surgery on a patient.

Mistakes in Deciding On or Giving Health Care

Even when medical service providers have the information they need to provide the standard of care, sometimes they still fail to do so. There are many reasons this can happen.

Sometimes, doctors and other health care professionals have poor judgment. Sometimes they’re tired or overworked or feel rushed. Sometimes they’re just having a bad day.

Whatever the reasons, lapses in judgment, concentration, or skill can lead to devastating results for the patients on the receiving end of this sort of inadequate care.

For example, mistakes like these can cause a provider to:

  • Forget or decide against a critical step in a surgery;
  • Fail to order tests necessary for proper diagnosis;
  • Decide not to follow-up with a patient; or
  • Misread a test result.

These are just a few examples. As we said above, medical providers are human. They make mistakes. The vast majority of the time, they don’t intend to hurt anyone.

But, just because they are good people who provide an important service doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be held to account when they make mistakes that result in life-altering injury and illness to their patient.

Pursuing a Medical Malpractice Claim in Washington

Like many other states, in recent years Washington has implemented laws and rules that add complication to pursuing a medical malpractice claim. The supposed goal of these measures was to reduce the cost of medical malpractice insurance and to shield medical providers from baseless claims.

In practice, they can make it harder to recover damages from a medical provider if you don’t have a lawyer who understands how to investigate and litigate your claim.

Certificate of Merit Required in Standard of Care Action

One such provision of Washington law is the requirement that a plaintiff includes a certificate of merit with any claim alleging medical providers failed to provide the standard of care. A qualified expert must sign the certificate of merit. It must also state that, based on available information, the defendant probably didn’t provide the patient with the standard of care.

Boohoff Law regularly works with experts in the medical field who have the credentials and experience to issue a certificate of merit that will stand up to scrutiny by Washington courts and defense attorneys.

Mandatory Mediation

Medical malpractice claims in Washington are also subject to mandatory mediation, which is a form of non-binding alternative dispute resolution. In mediation, a mediator attempts to resolve a matter through agreement, rather than a trial.

The mediator does not have the power to force either party to settle, or to issue an award the way a judge can. But, mediation can frequently result in a favorable settlement of a personal injury matter when handled properly by an experienced lawyer.

Boohoff Law attorneys have participated in hundreds of mediations. They understand the dynamics of the mediation process, and how to approach a mediation so as to give a client the best chance of achieving a favorable outcome of a medical malpractice matter through a mediated settlement.

Attorney Certification of Reasonable Inquiry

Washington law also imposes an obligation on attorneys who file medical malpractice claims on behalf of their clients to conduct a reasonable inquiry into the matter before filing suit.

The attorney’s signature on any filing acts as a certification that the inquiry has been done and that the attorney believes the suit is not frivolous. Conducting a reasonable inquiry into a client’s cases is something an attorney should always do. The law in Washington, however, makes it especially important for the attorney to have the knowledge and skill to conduct a medical malpractice inquiry.

Without experience investigating and litigating medical malpractice matters, an attorney could put a client’s case at risk.

At Boohoff Law, we have in-depth knowledge of medical malpractice issues. When our attorneys sign their names to legal filings, they do so with the confidence that comes from years of experience fighting on behalf of injured clients and achieving results.

Potential Damages for Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice can cause terrible harm. Some patients die as a result of medical malpractice.

Even when they live, patients who receive sub-standard care from a medical service provider can end up:

  • Suffering from the debilitating side effects of improper medication
  • Battling an illness that, because it went undiagnosed, has progressed to the point that it cannot be fully treated
  • Contending with long-term physical disabilities caused by inadequate care
  • Facing a lifetime with a disfigurement or chronic illness

Categories of Damages

Washington law permits injured patients to recover compensatory damages in such cases. Damages generally fall into two categories: economic (or special) damages, and non-economic (or general) damages.

Economic damages generally compensate an injured patient for out-of-pocket costs associated with an act of malpractice, such as for:

  • Un-reimbursed medical bills
  • Chronic or long-term care
  • Physical therapy
  • Assistive equipment and home modifications
  • Lost wages from time-off from work recovering
  • Lost earning capacity because of an injury that limits the patient’s ability to work

In some cases, a Washington court may allow a party to make periodic payments of economic damages, rather than a lump sum payment.

Non-economic damages seek to compensate subjective harm that is more difficult to calculate. The types of non-economic damages an injured patient can pursue include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Damage to personal relationships
  • Negative impacts on quality of life
  • The difficulty of contending with disabilities and impairments

Under Washington law, non-economic damages are subject to a limitation, however. They cannot exceed 43 percent of the average annual wage in Washington multiplied by the plaintiff’s life expectancy (which can be no less than 15 years). Unlike most states, Washington does not allow for punitive damages in most cases.

Medical Malpractice FAQ

How does our state define medical malpractice?

Washington State recognizes medical malpractice and healthcare-related torts. Torts refer to civil wrongs committed by one party that entitle another party to money damages.

Medical malpractice, also referred to as medical negligence, generally occurs when a health care provider carelessly causes personal injuries to or kills a patient. Unlike ordinarily negligence claims, plaintiffs must prove that the liable health care provider deviated from the accepted medical standard of care. These care-based norms change with current medical trends, and similar doctors must typically testify about proper treatment.

If a health care provider treated a patient with less skill or care than her colleagues, and this carelessness caused an injury or illness, you may have a medical negligence claim.

What are the elements of medical malpractice in Seattle?

Because medical providers often treat claimants already suffering from an injury or illness, the law requires plaintiffs to prove all of the following to recover damages for medical negligence:

  • Legally recognized and licensed health care providers, including certain medical facilities, treated the patient
  • The healthcare provider breached the prevailing standards of care in his/her specific field
  • The breach proximately caused the claimant’s death, injury, or illness
  • The injuries did not result from the condition for which the plaintiff sought treatment or from reasonably foreseeable risks of treatment if the patient had received care for another provider

RCW 7.70.030 states that claimants have the burden of proving the treating healthcare provider acted negligently—this means with less skill and care than generally required by similarly situated medical professionals.

Proving medical malpractice claims in Seattle almost always requires expert witnesses to testify about the skill, care, and treatment a doctor should have provided considering all the circumstances. Experts must generally be other local medical professionals of similar experience in the same field of care.

Retaining the right experts with the help of Boohoff Law is critical to proving medical negligence claims as specific qualifications apply to medical witnesses in Seattle.

What is the prevailing standard of medical care in Seattle?

Medical malpractice cases often revolve around determining whether a health care provider delivered subpar care. No single standard of care exists for every medical negligence case.

Instead, courts look to all the surrounding circumstances, including the provider’s medical specialty, when determining the applicable standard. These standards may differ in every medical malpractice case but typically require expert statements.

Dueling experts often dictate the evidence needed in medical negligence cases, but Washington courts generally consider the following factors in adopting a standard of care:

  • How most similarly situated professionals would have administered care under the circumstances
  • Whether the treatment was ordinary or emergency-based
  • Specific care guidelines outlined by medical textbooks, treatises, and facility policies
  • The treating location, i.e., rural field hospital or advanced university facility
  • The availability and acceptability of alternative forms of treatment
  • Any exigent circumstances, such as COVID-19, or a patient’s religious or personal treatment requests

Emergency providers, including E.R. doctors, nurses, and paramedics, often make split-second decisions. In emergency response cases, the central question usually involves whether medical professionals prevented more significant harm.

Failing to sanitize a scalpel during an emergency amputation might not give rise to a subsequent medical negligence claim for an infection. However, inflections may qualify as medical negligence if developed during routine surgery.

How do Seattle courts decide whether an injury was reasonably foreseeable or resulted from medical malpractice?

Even negligent healthcare providers defend against medical malpractice lawsuits by arguing the damages resulted from the plaintiff’s initial condition or treatment protocol.

Doctors often warn patients of certain surgical or prescription drug risks before administering treatment. Even if a rare side effect occurred, this isn’t generally medical malpractice. When medical providers raise this defense, other health care workers should testify about how they would have treated your condition.

If four out of five doctors agree they would not have prescribed a risky medication, this may support a medical malpractice claim. The reverse might also hold. If four out of five doctors would have prescribed the same drug, you may not have a claim for medical negligence from foreseeable side effects.

Are only doctors liable for medical malpractice in Seattle?

No. Claimants may bring viable medical negligence claims against any licensed person or entity defined as a health care provider under RCW 4.16.350.

Health care providers include any or all of the following:

  • Physicians
  • Osteopathic physicians
  • Dentists
  • Nurses
  • Optometrists
  • Podiatric physician and surgeons
  • Chiropractors
  • Physical therapists
  • Psychologists
  • Pharmacists
  • Opticians
  • Physician’s assistants
  • Osteopathic physician’s assistants
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Physician’s trained mobile intensive care paramedic

Nursing homes and facilities employing covered health care providers may be vicariously (automatically) liable for an employee’s medical malpractice. Even if a person or entity does not qualify as a health care provider, you could demand damages for personal injuries by making a general negligence claim.

What are the most common Seattle medical malpractice claims?

Most medical malpractice cases arise when doctors fail to thoroughly evaluate your condition or make preventable administrative errors. Some of the most frequent types of medical negligence in Seattle include:

  • Anesthesia errors – Administering anesthesia and powerful pain medication requires precise mathematical calculations and diligent patient monitoring. Anesthesiologists need substantial training, but overworked doctors may make fatal errors while administering anesthesia and intubating patients
  • Misdiagnoses – Negligent diagnostics account for the highest percentage of medical malpractice lawsuits in most states. Missing signs of breast cancer during annual screenings or attributing COVID-19 to seasonal allergies might result in preventable injuries or fatalities. Patients may generally rely on doctors to accurately diagnose common conditions without having to seek a second opinion
  • OBGYN and childbirth claims – Birth may result in hemorrhaging, an unanticipated hysterectomy, or infant injuries. Even a few minutes of lost oxygen could cause brain damage to a child. Improperly reading ultrasounds or failing to recognize signs of dangerous prenatal conditions, such as diabetes and preeclampsia, might also give rise to medical negligence claims in Seattle
  • Prescription drug errors – Medical professionals may prescribe patients the wrong dosage or class of drugs. These errors may cause brain damage, liver failure, or even death. Missing a single decimal point or allergy when prescribing medication might result in death
  • Surgical mistakes – Doctors have operated on the wrong patient, amputated the incorrect body part, and left surgical tools inside patients during surgery. Infections and other surgical errors may also give rise to malpractice claims
  • Nursing home neglect – Bedsores, broken hips, malnourishment, and even sexual abuse habitually occur in eldercare facilities. Overworked nurses, underpaid medical aids, and apathetic geriatric physicians might engage in medical negligence. Many nursing home cases often involve additional claims such as general negligence, premises liability, battery, and negligent supervision

Can I sue a hospital or healthcare facility for medical malpractice in Seattle?

Yes. RCW 4.16.350(3) specifically authorizes malpractice lawsuits action against “a hospital, clinic, health maintenance organization, or nursing home; or an officer, director, employee, or agent thereof.”

Hospitals and most licensed medical facilities may be directly liable for medical malpractice. They may also be vicariously liable for the medical negligence of an employee, including a nurse. However, hospitals do not employ most doctors with admitting privileges. These legal distinctions seem minor, but failing to sue the right defendant under the correct legal theory may terminate your claims.

The experienced Seattle medical negligence lawyers at Boohoff Law carefully analyze each case before filing a lawsuit or demanding settlement to maximize the availability of compensation for viable malpractice claims.

Can wrongful death claims arise from medical malpractice in Seattle?

Wrongful deaths resulting from medical malpractice still generally require proof of medical negligence. If the deceased person could have brought a medical malpractice claim, his or her legal representative may recover damages payable to the estate or loved ones.

Cases for medical negligence include claims that such negligence resulted in a death; thus, the general two-year statute of limitations applicable to medical malpractice claims applies to wrongful deaths.

How long do I have to bring a Seattle lawsuit for medical malpractice?

Complicated time limits apply to medical malpractice claims in Seattle. Parties should generally bring a lawsuit for medical negligence within three years of the injuring event or one year after they reasonably should have discovered the malpractice.

However, calculating when the malpractice occurred, especially if patients were continuously under the negligent doctor’s care, often presents difficulties. Furthermore, exceptions exist—for example, if the doctor or healthcare provider committed fraud or intentionally concealed the malpractice from the patient.

Contact an experienced Seattle med mal lawyer at Boohoff Law immediately if you suspect medical negligence. Filling litigation now might preserve your claims while you investigate the negligent cause of your injuries.

What damages may I recover for medical malpractice?

Patients injured by a treating health care provider may recover both economic and non-economic damage for medical negligence. These damages include compensation for the following direct and indirect losses:

  • Additional medical bills
  • Reimbursement for negligent treatment
  • Corrective surgeries
  • Lost income, including salaries, commissions, and bonuses
  • Lost career opportunities
  • Medical equipment and transportation costs
  • Prescription drug costs
  • Pain, suffering, and mental anguish
  • Loss of spousal companionship and comfort
  • Inability to perform daily activities such as driving, cooking, or cleaning
  • Frustration, such as difficulties sleeping and emotional changes
  • Home nursing and companionship care

Serious injuries caused by medical negligence often result in years of pain and continuous treatment. Claimants may recover damages for past and anticipated future losses in successful medical malpractice actions.

Expert economics may work with your doctors to determine the overall financial impact of injuries and illnesses caused by negligent healthcare providers.

How much is my medical malpractice case worth in Seattle?

Scheduling a free case review with an experienced medical malpractice litigator at Boohoff Law is the best way to determine the potential value of your claims.

Every case differs, and no average verdict or settlement exists for med mal claims. Successful claimants may recover the past and anticipated future losses, including lost enjoyment of life and pain.

Factors that might affect your overall financial recovery include:

  • Your age and overall health
  • Your degree, salary, and work history
  • The severity of the injuries
  • Head of household status
  • Any fraud or unlawful medical conduct

Doctors and health care facilities often carry substantial liability insurance policies. Realistically, most insurers settle medical negligence cases with the applicable policy limits. Working with attorneys who build respectful relationships with insurance adjusters often results in an agreeable settlement for viable medical malpractice claims.

Do not accept a settlement, even one disguised as medical compensation, without running it by one of our lawyers. You may inadvertently and permanently be signing away your rights to needed future benefits.

Are prescription-drug based claims also medical malpractice claims?

Prescription errors, such as prescribing the wrong medication or dosage, often qualify as medical negligence. Actual injuries or illnesses caused by prescription drugs, including addiction to pain medication, are product liability actions.

You may bring both medical malpractice and product liability claims together if health care providers and pharmaceutical companies negligently contributed to your injuries.

Is nursing home negligence a medical malpractice claim?

Possibly. Elder abuse and medical negligence claims against nursing homes and assisted living facilities commonly arise in Seattle. Some nursing homes might provide services rendering them directly liable for medical malpractice under Washington law.

Other facilities might not qualify as healthcare providers. In such cases, an experienced personal injury lawyer may still bring a negligence, premise liability, or wrongful death claim against the entity if their negligence resulted in harm to a resident.

Choosing a Seattle Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you or a loved one suffered injuries or losses as a result of a Seattle medical provider’s mistake, broken promise, or provision of care to which consent was never given, you may have a claim for medical malpractice damages.

As the discussion above shows, however, you cannot just pick any old attorney for the job if you want to give yourself the best chance of recovering the compensation you deserve.

To pursue a medical malpractice claim with skill, a lawyer needs to possess a large body of legal and subject-matter knowledge. The lawyer should be familiar in medical terminology, record-keeping practices, and delivery-of-care protocols, but that’s not all. The lawyer should also have a strong commitment to listening to and serving clients’ needs, and to communicating with clients in a way that makes the complicated process of pursuing a medical malpractice claim understandable and unintimidating.

How do you find this attorney? At Boohoff Law we encourage our potential clients to meet with us one-on-one. We offer a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation with a member of our team at which we welcome questions about how we can help.

If you decide we aren’t the right fit for you, we will happily try to point you in the direction of someone who would be.

If a Doctor Injured You, Get in Touch With Boohoff Law Seattle Medical Malpractice Lawyers Now

Do not wait to seek legal help if you or a loved one have sustained an injury or loss because of a medical provider’s mistake.

In Washington, the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice claim is three years in most cases.

The sooner you consult with an experienced, skilled medical malpractice attorney, the better your chances of obtaining the compensation you need.

To schedule a free consultation with Boohoff Law, call (877) 999-9999 or contact us today.

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

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