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Comprehensive Legal Advocacy for Your Personal Injury Claims

If you have suffered due to another's negligence or wrongful act, it's important to protect your rights and pursue the compensation you deserve. At Freeman Law Firm, Inc., we’re committed to representing personal injury victims with compassion and determination to make sure they receive justice. Whether you're in Tacoma or anywhere in Washington, our skilled personal injury lawyers will take the time to understand your situation, clarify your legal options, and work hard to bring the best outcomes for your case. Call our Tacoma personal injury lawyers today at (253) 383-4500 or reach out to us via our contact form for a free consultation.

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Every day in Washington, lives are altered or lost due to the careless or reckless actions of others. Personal injury can occur unexpectedly, even to the most careful people. Our lawyers provide expert legal advice and will guide you through Washington’s personal injury laws. Below, you'll find further details about the various types of injury and accident cases Freeman Law Firm, Inc. handles, an overview of the personal injury insurance claim or lawsuit process, including potential damages, and the role of an attorney in these situations.

On This Page

Types Of Cases That Fall Under Personal Injury

Steps In a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Negligence

Settlements

Damages in Personal Injury Cases

Time Limits for Filing a Lawsuit

Wrongful Death Claims

Role of a Personal Injury Lawyer

Frequently Asked Questions

Hiring the Right Personal Injury Attorney

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Types Of Cases That Fall Under Personal Injury

Truck Accidents

Truck accidents in Tacoma involve collisions with large commercial trucks, often resulting in severe injuries or fatalities due to the size and weight of the vehicles. These accidents can occur for various reasons, including:

  1. Driver Fatigue: Long hours on the road can lead to driver fatigue. Federal regulations govern the maximum driving hours for truckers to prevent fatigue-related accidents.
  2. Speeding: Some truck drivers exceed speed limits, which makes it difficult to control their vehicles and react to sudden traffic changes.
  3. Improper Maintenance: Neglected maintenance, such as brake failures or tire blowouts, can contribute to accidents. Regular inspections and maintenance are crucial for truck safety.
  4. Negligence by Trucking Companies: Trucking companies may cut corners on safety to meet deadlines.
  5. Hours of Service Violations: Truck drivers must adhere to strict hours-of-service regulations to prevent fatigue-related accidents. Violations of these regulations are a contributing factor in accidents.

The details around the negligence involved in the accident can significantly impact the compensation received in your case. Victims of truck accidents typically receive compensation from the truck driver, trucking company, or their insurance providers.

Car Accidents

Car accidents are one of the most common case types in personal injury law. Depending on the crash, injuries can range from minor to life-threatening. Car accidents can happen for many reasons, such as:

  1. Distracted Driving: Technology has introduced distractions like texting, phone calls, and infotainment systems that contribute to car accidents. Last year, Washington state saw 12,889 crashes caused by distracted driving, with 114 of those crashes resulting in a fatality.
  2. Drunk Driving: Alcohol impairment significantly impairs a driver's judgment and reaction time, which makes drunk driving a major cause of car accidents. It's both a criminal offense and a civil liability. In Washington state last year there were 4,736 crashes involving alcohol with 117 fatalities.
  3. Reckless Driving: Speeding, aggressive driving, and disobeying traffic laws often lead to reckless driving accidents.
  4. Weather Conditions: Adverse weather conditions like rain, snow, and ice reduce road traction and visibility.
  5. Road Defects: Poorly maintained roads with potholes, lack of proper signage, or construction zone hazards.
  6. Mechanical Failures: Vehicle defects or failures, such as brake malfunctions or tire blowouts.
  7. Inexperienced Drivers: Inexperienced or teenage drivers can lack the skills to navigate complex traffic situations. Last year, Washington state saw 10,369 crashes involving teen drivers with 70 fatalities.
  8. Fatigued Driving: Driving while fatigued impairs a driver's reaction time and decision-making abilities.
  9. Hit-and-Run Incidents: In some accidents, drivers flee the scene. It is important to identify and hold these drivers accountable.

Wrongful Death

Wrongful death cases occur when someone dies due to the negligence or intentional actions of another party. These cases can arise from various situations, such as:

  1. Medical Malpractice: Wrongful death cases that result from medical errors can include misdiagnosis, surgical mistakes, improper treatment, or prescription errors.
  2. Workplace Incidents: Workplace accidents include industrial accidents, construction site mishaps, or exposure to hazardous substances.
  3. Car Accidents: When a fatal car accident is caused by another driver’s negligence, or reckless driving, surviving family members can seek compensation.
  4. Product Liability: Defective products, such as faulty vehicles or harmful pharmaceuticals, can cause fatal injuries.
  5. Criminal Acts: This includes assault, battery, or homicide. In such cases, both criminal charges and civil wrongful death claims may apply.
  6. Nursing Home Negligence: Elderly individuals in nursing homes can experience neglect or abuse that leads to wrongful death.

Surviving family members seek compensation for expenses related to the deceased individual's death, as well as emotional suffering and loss of support.

Dog Bites

Bites from aggressive dogs can lead to different type of injuries, including:

  1. Deep Wounds: Deep wounds from a dog bite require stitches, sutures, or even reconstructive surgery, depending on the extent of the injury.
  2. Infections: Dog bites are susceptible to infections, including bacterial infections like cellulitis. Prompt medical treatment and antibiotics are necessary to prevent complications.
  3. Emotional Trauma: Victims of dog bites often experience emotional trauma, including fear, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This emotional suffering can be long-lasting and require therapy or counseling.
  4. Scarring: Severe dog bites can cause permanent scarring and disfigurement.

When working on a dog bite claim, here are a few of the elements our attorneys consider when working on the case:

  1. Liability: Dog bite incidents typically occur due to owner negligence in controlling or restraining their pets.
  2. Dog Breed Considerations: Some dog breeds are known to be more prone to aggressive behavior. This can affect your case.
  3. Strict Liability Laws: Some states have strict liability laws regarding dog bites, which means that dog owners can be held responsible for injuries caused by their dogs regardless of the dog's past behavior or the owner's knowledge of aggressive tendencies.
  4. Insurance Coverage: Dog owners often have homeowners' insurance that can cover dog bite claims.

If you've been bitten by a dog, remember that you have the right to pursue compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and any long-term effects of the attack.

Pedestrian Accidents

Pedestrian accidents can lead to severe injuries or fatalities. Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Common Injuries: These can include fractures, head injuries, spinal cord injuries, and soft tissue injuries. The severity of injuries can vary based on factors such as vehicle speed and the point of impact.
  2. Causes of Pedestrian Accidents: Driver negligence, including distracted driving, speeding, running red lights, or failing to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians at crosswalks are common causes of pedestrian accidents. Weather conditions and poor visibility can also contribute to accidents.
  3. Legal Rights: Injured pedestrians have the right to seek compensation for their injuries. This compensation can cover medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
  4. Hit-and-Run Accidents: Unfortunately, some drivers involved in pedestrian accidents flee the scene. Pedestrians should try to gather as much information as possible about the vehicle and driver and report the incident to law enforcement.
  5. Liability Determination: Establishing liability in pedestrian accidents can be complex. Evidence, such as witness statements, surveillance footage, and accident reconstruction, helps determine fault.
  6. Insurance Claims: Injured pedestrians might need to file insurance claims with the at-fault driver's insurance company. Your attorney can help make this process easier. 

    Pedestrian accidents can leave victims and their families facing physical, emotional, and financial challenges. Seeking compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering can make a significant difference in their recovery process. If you’ve been involved in a pedestrian accident, a personal injury lawyer can help recover the compensation you deserve.

Bicycle Accidents

Cyclists are vulnerable to more serious injuries such as broken bones and head injuries due to the lack of protection. Here are some of the key elements we consider in a bicycle accident case:

  1. Types of Injuries: In personal injury cases, the type and severity of bicycle accident injuries—like fractures, concussions, or spinal cord damage—can influence the final amount of compensation received. Medical costs, lost wages, and pain can impact the claim.
  2. Helmet Importance: Wearing a helmet significantly reduces the risk of head injuries in an accident. Many states, including Washington, have helmet laws in place for cyclists. The presence or absence of helmet use and adherence to state helmet laws are influential factors in determining liability and compensation outcomes in bicycle accident cases. 
  3. Distracted Driving: Like car accidents, distracted driving is also a leading cause of bicycle accidents. Motorists who engage in activities like texting or talking on the phone while driving may not see cyclists until it's too late.
  4. Bike Lanes and Infrastructure: Bike lanes and infrastructure improve cyclist safety. When local governments fail to provide or maintain these, it can contribute to accidents, affecting liability and claims in bicycle accident cases.
  5. Right-of-Way Issues: Failure to yield right-of-way to cyclists can be a key factor in bicycle cases, as it often indicates driver negligence, impacting fault and compensation.
  6. Hit-and-Run Incidents: If you’ve been involved in a hit-and-run, It’s important to gather witness statements and any available evidence.

Injured cyclists have the right to seek compensation for their injuries, medical expenses, bike repair or replacement costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering. An experienced personal injury attorney can help protect their rights and advocate for fair compensation.

Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle accident cases are unique and often lead to more serious injuries due to the lack of protection for riders. Here are some key insights to help you understand the complex nature of these cases:

  1. Types of Injuries: Motorcycle accidents can cause severe injuries, including head trauma, spinal cord injuries, fractures, road rash, and internal injuries. 
  2. Lane Filtering Laws: In some areas, lane filtering, where motorcyclists move between lanes of slow-moving or stopped traffic, is legal. However, riders need to be aware of local laws and regulations regarding this practice.
  3. Left-Turn Crashes: Left-turn accidents, where a vehicle turns left in front of an oncoming motorcycle, are a common type of collision.
  4. Motorcycle Customization: In some cases, modifications or customization of the motorcycle can impact liability or the extent of injuries. 
  5. Helmet Laws: Helmet laws vary depending on jurisdiction. Whether or not the rider was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident is a significant factor in determining liability and damages.
  6. Motorcycle Training: The rider's level of training and experience can play a role in a case. Completion of a motorcycle safety course or advanced riding training demonstrates a commitment to safety.
  7. Roadway Design: Poorly designed or maintained roadways pose risks to motorcyclists. 
  8. Motorcycle Manufacturer Liability: Defective motorcycle parts or manufacturing errors can cause accidents. In these cases, product liability claims against motorcycle manufacturers come into play.
  9. Lane-Splitting: It's important to determine whether the rider was lane-splitting safely and within legal limits.

Our experienced attorneys specialize in motorcycle accident cases, understanding the unique challenges riders face. We're dedicated to helping you secure the compensation you need for medical expenses, lost income, and recovery.

Premises Liability / Slip & Fall

Premises liability slip and fall accidents happen when individuals are injured on someone else's property due to hazardous conditions. Property owners have a duty to maintain safe premises for visitors. Here are some key considerations in these cases

  1. Common Hazardous Conditions: Hazardous conditions include wet or slippery floors, uneven or cracked pavement, poorly maintained stairs, inadequate lighting, and cluttered walkways.
  2. Property Owner's Responsibility: Property owners, including homeowners, businesses, and public entities, are responsible for regularly inspecting their premises and addressing any hazards.
  3. Notice of Hazards: In some cases, property owners may claim they were unaware of a hazard. However, if it can be proven that they should have known about it through reasonable inspections, they may still be held liable.
  4. Duty of Care: The duty of care varies depending on the status of the visitor. Property owners owe a higher duty of care to invitees (those invited onto the property for business purposes) than to trespassers. 
  5. Documenting the Incident: After a slip and fall, documentation, such as gathering evidence (such as photographs) or obtaining witness statements is valuable when pursuing a premises liability claim.
  6. Medical Attention: Receiving medical attention quickly after a slip and fall is important not only for your health but also for establishing a link between the accident and your injuries.
  7. Insurance Coverage: Property owners typically have liability insurance to cover slip and fall claims. Understanding their insurance coverage and how it applies to your case will come into play when pursuing compensation.

Premises liability slip and fall cases, demand attention to detail when pursuing compensation for your injuries. These incidents can lead to significant medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. If you've been injured due to hazardous conditions on someone else's property, our experienced attorneys can help. 

Steps In a Personal Injury Lawsuit

The specific factors in a personal injury lawsuit vary. This includes the type of accident, the nature of injuries, and the case's complexity. Personal injury lawsuits don't always follow a uniform path, with some being resolved through negotiation or settlement prior to trial. Below are the potential steps in a personal injury case, but keep in mind that each case may follow a unique course.

Consultation with an Attorney

A personal injury lawsuit begins with a consultation with an experienced attorney. During this initial meeting, you'll have the opportunity to discuss the details of your case. The attorney will assess the strengths and weaknesses of your situation and determine whether they can represent you effectively.

Filing a Complaint

If your attorney agrees to take your case, they will prepare a legal document known as a complaint. This complaint formally initiates the lawsuit and outlines the allegations against the defendant. The complaint is then filed in court and officially served to the defendant.

The Discovery Process

With the lawsuit officially underway, both sides enter the discovery phase. This stage is a critical step in building a strong case. During discovery, the parties exchange information, collect evidence, and interview witnesses. This process helps both sides understand the facts and prepares them for the trial.

Pretrial Motions and Settlement Negotiations

Before reaching the trial stage, there are often pretrial motions and settlement negotiations. Pretrial motions involve legal arguments made by both parties to address specific issues or disputes. Settlement negotiations provide an opportunity to resolve the case without going to trial. Many cases are successfully settled at this stage, saving time and legal expenses.

Trial

If a settlement is not reached, your case proceeds to trial. During the trial, both sides present their arguments, evidence, and witness testimonies to a judge or jury. The trial's outcome depends on the ability to convince the judge or jury of the merits of your case.

Verdict and Damages

If you win at trial, the judge or jury will render a verdict specifying the damages the defendant must pay. This compensation typically covers medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and other relevant damages resulting from the injury.

Appeals

In case you or the defendant disagrees with the trial's outcome, there's an option to appeal to a higher court. This appeal does not result in a new trial but involves a review of the original decision for legal errors or irregularities.

Collecting Damages

Once the legal process concludes, and there are no successful appeals, the final step is to collect the awarded damages from the defendant. Timelines for collecting damages will vary.
Understanding these steps in a personal injury lawsuit will better prepare you for what to expect during the case.

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Negligence

In most personal injury lawsuits, proving negligence is a key element. This means showing that someone else's negligent acts caused your injury. You'll need to establish that the defendant had a duty of care toward you, breached this duty, directly caused your injury, and that you suffered actual harm or losses as a result.

Settlements

An injury settlement is an agreement made between you, the injured party (the plaintiff), and the person or entity you’re suing (the defendant).

Negotiation Process

The negotiation process typically involves discussions between your lawyer and the defendant or their insurer about the compensation. These negotiations can start at any point – sometimes even before a lawsuit is officially filed. The objective is to find a middle ground that satisfies both you and the defendant.

Factors Affecting Settlement Amount

The severity of your injury, how the injury affects your life, the medical expenses you’ve incurred, any lost wages due to the injury, and the strength of the evidence supporting your case all impact the settlement amount. When the defendant’s negligence is clear and your injuries are severe, you may receive a higher settlement amount. Every case is unique, and the settlement amount should reflect your specific circumstances.

Advantages of Settlements

Settlements are usually quicker than trials, which means you could receive compensation sooner. They provide a certain outcome, something a trial can’t guarantee. Trials are unpredictable, but settlements allow you to have control over the result. Moreover, settlements are confidential and private, as opposed to public trials.

Role of Your Lawyer

Your lawyer’s role is to ensure that the settlement covers all your damages, including any future medical expenses and the long-term impact of your injury. Once a settlement amount is agreed upon, it’s formalized through a written agreement. This legally binding document confirms that you agree to drop or not pursue the lawsuit further in exchange for the compensation. Once this agreement is signed, you cannot seek additional compensation for that particular injury in the future.

Damages in Personal Injury Cases

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In personal injury lawsuits, economic damages cover measurable financial losses due to the injury. This can include medical expenses, lost wages and earning capacity, property damage, and other financial losses. Non-economic damages address intangible impacts like pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, and loss of consortium. Also, punitive damages could potentially be awarded in cases of intentional or reckless misconduct by the defendant.

In Washington State, under RCW 4.22.005, if you are partly at fault for your injury, it does not prevent you from receiving compensation. However, it does mean that any compensation awarded could be reduced based on your percentage of fault. For instance, if you’re found to be 25% responsible for the accident, your compensation might be reduced by 25%.

Insurance Claims Versus Personal Injury Lawsuits

Filing an insurance claim is generally the initial step after sustaining an injury. It involves a direct negotiation process with the insurance company to settle for a compensation amount. This process is typically quicker and less formal than a lawsuit and does not require going to court. Personal injury attorneys can help you with the insurance claims process by negotiating with the insurance company on your behalf, making sure you receive a fair settlement. They can also provide guidance on what evidence to gather and how to strengthen your claim.

A personal injury lawsuit is a formal legal proceeding initiated in court against the person or entity responsible for your injury. This path is often taken if the insurance claim doesn’t provide reasonable compensation or if the responsible party lacks insurance. A lawsuit is more complex and time-consuming, involving legal procedures such as filing documents, presenting evidence, and possibly attending a trial. The final decision on compensation in a lawsuit is made by a judge or jury, unlike in an insurance claim where the insurance company plays a significant role.

Time Limits for Filing a Lawsuit

In Washington, under RCW 4.16.080, you have a three-year window to start a personal injury lawsuit. This time limit applies to various personal injury claims like car accidents and slip and falls. The clock starts ticking from the time of the injury or when you discover the harm.

For medical malpractice, under RCW 4.16.350, you have a limited time to file a medical malpractice claim. The statute of limitations allows up to three years from the act or omission causing the injury, or one year from when you or your representative should have reasonably discovered the injury, whichever is later. However, no claim can be initiated more than eight years after the event. Exceptions to this rule include cases involving fraud, intentional concealment, or a foreign body left in the patient.

Wrongful Death Claims

A wrongful death claim in Washington is a legal action you can take if someone close to you has died due to someone else's negligence or wrongful actions. According to Washington law, specifically RCW 4.20.010, wrongful death occurs when a person's death is caused by the fault of another, whether from a car accident, medical malpractice, or other scenarios. This claim allows you, often through the deceased's estate representative, to seek financial compensation for losses like the deceased's potential earnings, medical costs related to the death, and emotional pain and suffering experienced by the family.

In Washington State, you generally have three years from the date of your loved one's death to file a wrongful death claim. If you miss this deadline, you might lose the right to make the claim.

Role of a Personal Injury Lawyer

If you have been hurt in Washington because of someone else's actions or carelessness, an experienced personal injury attorney will be your biggest supporter. Here’s how they can help.

Simplifying Legal Matters

Your personal injury lawyer will simplify the law for you. They'll explain the laws related to your case and inform you about your rights. Based on their experience with similar cases, they'll advise you whether it's better to settle out of court or to go to trial.

Building a Strong Case

It’s important to gather evidence in a personal injury claim. Your lawyer will collect everything needed – like your medical records, accident reports, and witness statements – to build a strong case showing how you got hurt and why the other person is to blame.

Negotiating with Insurance Companies

Insurance companies often try to settle for less than you deserve. Your lawyer knows how to handle these negotiations, making sure you're not pressured into accepting a low offer. They'll fight to get you a fair deal that covers all your injury-related costs and losses.

Litigation Expertise

If a fair settlement can't be reached outside of court, your lawyer is prepared to take your case to trial. They know how to present your case effectively to a judge or jury, aiming for the best possible outcome. They'll handle all the complicated legal details, so you don't have to worry.

No Win, No Fee

Many personal injury lawyers in Washington work on a "no win, no fee" basis. This means they get paid only if they win your case or secure a settlement for you. This arrangement makes legal help more accessible, as you don't have to pay upfront costs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What types of accidents fall under personal injury?

Some of the more common injuries in personal injury cases are injuries from car crashes, truck accidents, dog bites, pedestrian or bicycle accidents, motorcycle accidents, and slip and fall accidents. Also fatal injuries, which constitute a “wrongful death.”

How do I start a personal injury lawsuit?

Begin by consulting a personal injury lawyer who will assess your case and file a legal complaint.

What is negligence?

Negligence is someone's failure to act responsibly, causing your injury.

What's the time limit for filing a personal injury lawsuit?

You generally have three years from the injury date.

Can I still get compensation if I was partly at fault for my injury?

Yes, but your compensation may be reduced by your percentage of fault under Washington's contributory negligence law.

What's the difference between filing an insurance claim and a lawsuit?

An insurance claim involves negotiation with an insurer, while a lawsuit is a formal court process for unresolved claims.

What are the types of damages I can claim?

Economic (like medical costs), non-economic (like pain and suffering), and sometimes punitive damages for misconduct.

Why should I settle my personal injury case instead of going to trial?

Settlements are quicker, less risky, and private, offering a guaranteed amount, unlike the uncertainties of a trial.

Hiring the Right Personal Injury Attorney

As a personal injury victim in Washington, it's important to seek legal advice sooner rather than later. Whether you're dealing with the aftermath of a reckless driving accident or any other form of negligence, Freeman Law Firm, Inc. is here to help ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. We’ll explain your legal options and guide you through the legal process, step by step. For more information, call a Tacoma personal injury lawyer at Freeman Law Firm, Inc. today at (253) 383-4500 or online.

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