If you have been injured in an accident, there can be some serious consequences. You may be out of work, seriously injured, or unable to participate in your daily activities. Both you and those around you are emotionally and financially impacted. You may have even lost a loved one as a result of a fatal car accident.
If you or someone you love has been injured as the result of an accident, and that accident is another person's fault, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Experienced Washington personal injury attorney Quinn Posner at the Posner Law Office, P.C. can fight to get you the compensation you deserve.
Compensation For Your Injuries
A personal injury lawsuit can compensate you for a variety of injuries you may have received because of another person's negligence or wrongdoing. A knowledgeable attorney can help you understand the nature of the different kinds of injuries and the compensation you can receive from them.
You could be compensated for:
Knowing about the types of injuries you may suffer and the compensation to which you are entitled is important in protecting your rights.
Types of Damages in Personal Injury Cases
There are different kinds of damages that can be won as part of a personal injury case, each with its own method of proof and areas to which they apply. Compensatory damages, which include both economic and non-economic damages, are intended to financially compensate the victim of an accident.
Economic damages are the financial losses you have suffered as a result of your accident. These monetary losses are typically specific and identifiable as they can be proven through financial records. These damages include the following.
- Medical Bills These include the medical expenses you have paid as a result of your injuries as of the date of your trial. The amount of medical bills can vary greatly depending on your injury, but if your injuries are the result of someone else's negligence, they can be required to reimburse you and your insurer for the cost of your care.
- Future Medical Bills These include the cost of future medical treatment, any long-term care, rehabilitation, and other possible medical costs which may arise as a result of your injuries. This can include the cost of a chiropractor, cost of medication, or even psychological treatment if necessary.
- Damage to Property Property such as your car, motorcycle, or other personal belongings has a market value. You may be entitled to the loss in value of your personal property when that loss is another person's fault. For example, if your car is totaled as a result of an automobile collision, your attorney will submit proof to the jury of the value of your car in order to obtain money damages for your loss.
- Loss of Income This includes any income you were unable to earn because of your inability to work. Injuries often result in short or long-term inability to work. The loss of your income can have a significant effect on you and your family's life. Whether you were unable to work for a short time, or a lengthy term, you are entitled to this loss of income.
- Loss of Earning Capacity Some injuries affect your ability to earn the wage you could before. For example, if your previous job as an aircraft welder required the use of your hands and you lost function in your hands as a result of your accident, you may no longer be able to work at your old job. You may be forced to work in a job that pays less than you previously earned. You can be entitled to the difference in income when that difference is the result of your injuries.
Non-economic damages are intangible losses and costs which tend to be more difficult to prove than economic damages. These types of damages are less easy to quantify, as they include compensation for psychological damages. These damages may include the following.
- Pain and Suffering Pain and suffering is an award of damages for the pain, anguish, and mental suffering you endured as the result of the accident. A jury must consider evidence such as the treatment for your pain, your own testimony, and possible psychological damage you suffered as a result of the pain.
- Loss of Enjoyment This includes any loss of ability to enjoy the things you once did. Let's say you really enjoy bicycling. It is your favorite hobby, it helps maintain your healthy lifestyle, and it gives you general stress relief and enjoyment. If your leg is broken, or in the more severe case of amputation, you can be compensated financially because you are no longer able to do the thing you love.
- Loss of Consortium This is a claim a spouse of an accident victim has against the person legally responsible for your accident. If your injuries were so significant that you and your spouse could not maintain a sexual relationship, you can recover damages for that loss.
- Mental Anguish Usually proven by expert testimony from a psychologist or other mental health professional, you may be entitled to damages as a result of your emotional distress. This could include loss of ability to sleep, loss of appetite, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress.
- Disfigurement The State of Washington specifically lists disfigurement in its non-economic damages statute. If you have suffered a major scar to your face, burning, or other significant damage to your skin or body, you can be entitled to compensation for the suffering you will face.
Punitive damages are a financial penalty meant to punish the party at fault for intentional, malicious, or reckless actions. This award is meant to go beyond simply compensating the victim for his or her injuries, but is meant as a punishment and deterrent to similar future conduct by the responsible party. It is also meant to send a message to others that such conduct will not be tolerated within the state.
In Washington, punitive damages are rare in personal injury cases. While many other states permit an award of punitive damages, Washington generally does not. There are, however, certain rare exceptions to this general rule. You should consult with your Washington personal injury attorney about the specifics of your case to determine if these exceptions may apply to you.
Many states place caps, or limits, on the amount of money you can be awarded by the jury for non-economic damages. Washington does not place these limits on personal injury plaintiffs. Washington's state courts have held that these types of limits are unconstitutional.
Quinn Posner has won hundreds of thousands of dollars for his clients by filing personal injury cases against responsible parties.
The Issue of Fault
Washington is a comparative fault state. This means that if you are partly responsible for your injuries, your awarded damages will be reduced by the percentage of your fault. The determination of your fault percentage is a question for the "trier of fact," which is usually a jury. A jury is given instructions by the judge on how to determine who is at fault in your case.
Let's say that you were involved in an automobile accident. The other driver ran a red light, hitting you in the process. However, that driver kept going because you failed to use a turn signal, and she thought you would go straight. The jury determines that the other driver is 90% at fault because running a red light is very serious. However, they also believe that you are 10% at fault because you failed to use your turn signal. You will only recover 90% of the total damages you were awarded by the jury.
Statute of Limitations in Personal Injury Cases
A statute of limitations is a specific time limit in which you are required to file your personal injury lawsuit in court. If you fail to file your lawsuit within the specific time set by law, your case will almost certainly be dismissed. This means that even if the other party is responsible for your injuries, and you would otherwise recover, you waited too long and you now get nothing.
The State of Washington has set a three-year statute of limitations. This generally begins to run as of the date of the accident or injury. You must be sure that you do not let the time limitation pass or you will lose all of your rights to pursue financial compensation.
Another word of advice: do not wait until the last minute to approach an attorney. Investigating your case and preparing court documents takes time. If you sleep on your rights, it can hurt your chances of a successful personal injury case.
Consult a Washington Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been involved in an accident and suffered injuries, you need an experienced attorney who understands the personal injury process and how to deal with another driver's insurance company. You may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries.
Experienced personal injury attorney Quinn Posner represents clients in Camas, Washougal, Vancouver, and the rest of Clark County. Contact Quinn Posner today to schedule a free consultation.