Personal Injury Attorneys in Kennewick, Washington
Being injured in an accident can cause lasting harm both physically and financially for you and your loved ones. Across the country, individuals find themselves unintentionally injured every day. In 2021, an estimated 62 million people sought medical treatment for a nonfatal preventable injury according to the National Safety Council. And, when these injuries occur because of someone else’s negligence, you may wish to pursue a personal injury claim with the at-fault party to recover damages.
If you’d like help filing a lawsuit like this or establishing negligence in an accident, give us a call at Gierth-Eddy Law Offices PLLC. We have office locations in both Yakima and Kennewick, Washington, and can serve those all over the state of Washington including Richland and Pasco.
Personal Injury Claims in Washington
If you’ve never filed a personal injury claim, there are some basic questions you should consider before getting started.
Is Washington a fault state?
In general, every state decides for itself whether to follow an “at-fault” model or a “no-fault” model when addressing personal injury suits. The state of Washington adheres to an at-fault model, meaning whoever caused the accident or injury to occur is also the one who’s responsible for paying any damages related to it. If a state follows a no-fault model, then each party involved in the accident typically must pursue compensation from their own insurance policy before filing a claim against the other party’s plan.
Who pays for damages after an accident, and who is liable for the injury/accident?
Since Washington is an at-fault state, the negligent party is the one who will pay damages. However, there’s also something called the comparative negligence rule (also called “comparative fault”) that can affect this. Essentially, the state’s comparative fault rule allows the fault to be shared when one party isn’t found to be 100% responsible for the accident and injury.
Washington also uses a “pure” contributory negligence law, meaning you can seek damages from the other party no matter how much fault you have (even if you’re 99% responsible). If you are awarded a settlement, the total amount you receive will then be reduced by your share of the fault. For example, say you were seeking a total of $20,000 in damages after a slip-and-fall accident, and the court found you shared 30% of the fault, you could still get $14,000.
What is the statute of limitations for filing a claim?
The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim in Washington is typically three years from the date of the accident. It’s important to understand that there are very few exceptions to this rule and if you attempt to file a lawsuit after this time period, it will almost always be rejected by a judge.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim
Whenever you’re filing a claim like this it’s recommended you do so with the help of a personal injury attorney who can walk you through the process and ensure you have sufficient evidence and documentation to mount a successful claim. However, there are some basic steps that everyone will need to follow:
File a claim on your own policy: In Washington, you aren’t required to file an insurance claim against your own policy first, but you may choose to do so regardless. If you hold personal injury protection (PIP), this can often pay out quickly for medical expenses
File a claim on the other party’s policy: Most accident victims will start by filing an insurance claim against the at-fault party (for example, in a car accident that was caused by the other driver). Once this process is started, you’ll be contacted by an insurance adjuster who will start collecting information from you in order to get a better idea of what to offer you for compensation. This is a critical stage because everything you say at this point can be used either for or against you, and adjusters are notorious for trying to rush claims through to get them done as fast as possible and for the lowest possible settlement. Many people feel better when working with a lawyer who can negotiate on their behalf, advise them through all steps, and may ultimately help them achieve a higher settlement.
Legal action: The last step is litigation. If you still haven’t been adequately compensated for your damages after the insurance settlement has been reached, you may wish to start a personal injury claim.
Damages in a personal injury claim can be both economic and non-economic. This includes compensation for medical expenses, lost wages (both current and future), property damage, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium.
In the most grievous cases where you’d need to file a wrongful death claim, this can also cover funeral and burial costs.
Personal Injury Attorneys in Kennewick, Washington
If you’re in the Yakima or Kennewick, Washington, area and would like to speak with an experienced attorney about a recent injury you’ve received that wasn’t your fault, reach out to our team at Gierth-Eddy Law Offices PLLC to get started.