Do Most Personal Injury Cases Reach a Settlement Prior to Trial?
Based upon the most recent statistics In Washington State, 95% of all personal injury cases are settled before trial. There are several reasons for this. In the larger counties, the parties are required to complete ADR, which means alternate dispute resolution, before trial. The court rule forces the parties to sit down and try to settle the case informally. This process is also called mediation. Mediation is non-binding, so if the mediation doesn’t result in a settlement then the case will move towards trial. Case settlement also commonly happens near the scheduled trial date because by trial time the insurance company and its attorneys have run out of stalling time. They’ve seen that you and your attorney are ready for trial.
What Should I do if the Other Party’s Insurance Contacts Me Looking for a Statement?
You should never give a statement to anyone representing the other party or its insurer if they contact you for one. Giving a statement can only hurt you and it will never help you. This is true whether or not you believe you have anything to hide. Adjusters always want to tape record your conversations. These conversations will also be used against you later. Finally, never give a medical authorization to anyone from the other party. They have no right to invade your privacy and dig for harmful information. Your attorney will guide you as to what is appropriate, what is not appropriate, and what is legally sufficient.
What Factors Constitute a Viable Personal Injury Claim?
The quality of the client is an important factor for us in evaluating a viable personal injury claim. I’ve found over the years that my first impression of a person is likely to be similar to how the jury will see him or her. For example, someone who appears greedy, dishonest and disingenuous to us will probably be seen the same way by jurors. Assuming we have an injured person that we would be happy to represent, sooner or later, most cases boil down to two issues: The first is liability, which is another way of saying fault. The second is the nature and extent of our client’s injuries and losses. Liability is established by examining what happened. Was anyone at fault? If so, who? Why? Was our client comparatively at fault? Why? If we cannot establish fault, damages really don’t matter. We likely won’t take the case. The nature and extent of the injuries must be causally related to the event. Can we prove that through medical testimony? Was there another cause such as a pre-existing or unrelated medical condition?
How Important is Evidence in a Personal Injury Claim? What Kind of Evidence is the Best?
Evidence is central to every personal injury case. Unless each element of the claim is proved, the case likely can’t be won. Liability evidence has a way of disappearing over time so it’s important to gather it as soon as possible. Witnesses relocate, eye witnesses forget, memories become hazy, people no longer want to cooperate. Many cases are lost because the injured person waited too long to contact an attorney. Every year in this office we turn away someone with a viable claim because they waited too long to see an attorney, and the Statute of Limitations ran out.
Do You Advise Your Clients to Keep a Log or Journal of Events Following the Injury?
Yes, we advise our clients to keep a log or journal of events following the injury. We want our clients to create a timeline of what happened, what was said at the scene and the client’s general impressions of the incident. We always need a comprehensive list of the medical providers seen. We also want a list of medical providers seen before the incident because we will need to review those records for pre-existing conditions that may relate to this case. A decision on whether to ask a client to keep a daily journal is made for tactical reasons and only on a case-by-case basis.
How Soon Should Someone Seek Medical Treatment after an Injury Where They May File a Claim?
If you are hurt, see a doctor immediately after an injury. There are various reasons for this. You may have an injury that is far more serious than you think. For example, you may have a broken bone that you thought was a sprain. You may have a closed head or brain injury that you thought was just a severe headache. You may have a spinal disc injury that you assumed was just a sore back. You may have a concussion that needs treatment even though you didn’t strike your head in the incident. Children are notoriously poor at providing accurate injury information. Therefore always err on the side of caution. Another reason to seek immediate treatment is to document your injury claim.
Besides trying to minimize your injuries, insurance adjusters always make the argument that you really couldn’t be hurt because you never even went to the doctor or you didn’t go to the doctor for weeks or months after the event. If so, the defense position will be that your condition probably has nothing to do with this event. Although there are always exceptions, these kinds of delays are usually fatal to a good outcome. Medical documentation of your injuries, made by a qualified health care provider, is essential to proving your claim.
For more information on Settling Personal Injury Claims Prior to Trial, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (425) 451-8333 today.
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