Spokane Personal Injury Attorney FAQ
Some common questions you can find answers to here include:
– Why should I hire a Personal Injury Lawyer in Spokane?
– How Much Does it Cost to Hire an Injury Attorney?
– Are There different types of Spokane Personal Injury Attorneys for Different Types of Cases?
– Once I’ve Met With a Injury Attorney, Do I Have to Hire That Person?
– What Questions Should I be Asking Personal Injury Lawyers I Speak With?
Personal Injuries occur when a person has suffered some form of injury, either physical or psychological, as the result of an accident or medical malpractice. Traffic accidents, tripping accidents, on the job accidents, assault claims, in-home accidents, holiday accidents and defective product accidents are the most common types of personal injury claims. There are many types of accidents and the term personal injury also incorporates medical and dental accidents (which lead to numerous medical and dental negligence claims every year) and conditions which are often classified as industrial disease cases. Industrial disease type cases include asbestosis and mesothelioma, chest diseases (e.g. emphysema, silicosis, asthma, pneumoconiosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic bronchitis and chronic obstructive airways disease), occupational deafness, vibration white finger, occupational stress, repetitive strain injury, and contact dermititus cases. When the accident was the fault of someone else, the injured party may be entitled to monetary compensation from the person whose negligent conduct caused the injury. Call Fannin Litigation Group, P.S. to speak to a personal injury attorney free of charge.
Why should I hire a Personal Injury Lawyer in Spokane?
Without a lawyer, you run the risk of harming your case along the way by: 1) failing to adequately preserve important evidence; 2) providing the insurance company an opportunity to build a case contrary to your best interests, 3) accepting less than full compensation, 4) overlooking available insurance and benefits, and 5) failing to take the steps necessary to get you out of having to pay back your health insurer, PIP provider and other governmental agencies who may have provided you benefits.
1. Make sure to fully preserve and memorialize important evidence:
A good attorney will do the following if necessary to preserve evidence: order the police report; interview witnesses and have them sign statements favorable to your position; involve necessary experts, such as accident re-constructionists; photograph the accident scene before it changes; measure relevant distances and document other physical evidence at the scene of the accident such as skid marks; photograph physical damage to the vehicles involved and preserve broken parts and bent metal to later document angles of impact and the forces involved; and photograph bruises, cuts, and other physical injuries on your body before they heal.
Later on, other evidence will be necessary, including medical records, statements from your medical providers, medical bills, wage loss statements from your employer and possibly a host of other types of evidence. Nothing prevents you from doing these things on your own but it can be difficult to find the time, especially when you are injured.
2. Be leery of the insurance company building a case adverse to your interests.
Insurance companies will often ask you to provide recorded statements, sign medical releases to obtain your medical records, and submit to an IME (independent medical examine).
Submitting to a recorded statement without an attorney can harm your case. There is a reason they are recording it. Recorded statements can be dangerous because the insurance company’s goal, if possible, is to find a way to deny you fair compensation for your injury. Insurance adjusters are trained to conceal this goal by acting concerned and feigning that their goal is to complete an unbiased investigation.
A recorded statement is also dangerous because the insurance company is prepared to trap you. Behind the scenes, the insurance company has often already ordered and reviewed the police reports, secured other signed or recorded witness statements and interviewed their insured. The insurance company is fully briefed on the applicable law and any loop holes in the applicable insurance policy. The insurance company obtains pictures of the accident scene, the damage to the vehicles and is otherwise prepared to box you into a story. Subtle things, such as which way your head was turned, whether your foot was on the gas or brake, the gear your cars were in, issues involving time, distance and rate of speed can all significantly alter the settlement value of your case.
If you hire an attorney, make sure before giving a recorded statement that your attorney has thoroughly investigated the case and has gone over all of the facts of the case a prepared you for the recorded statement. The attorney should be present at the recorded statement to object to any inappropriate questions.
Signing a medical release without consulting an attorney can also be dangerous. It is often surprising to patients when they read their medical records to discover that what they told their medical providers is often recorded very differently. The classic example is the doctor that asks his very injured patient upon entering the examination room, “How are you today?” Thinking that the question was a friendly greeting, the patient responds, “fine.” The doctor records in the medical records for that day that “Patient here for appointment stating that she feels fine.” These kinds of misunderstandings happen all of the time in medical records. Even when you have nothing to hide, you may want to discuss with an attorney whether signing a release is the best thing for your case.
The decision of whether to submit to an IME is also complex and one that may be better reached after talking to an attorney. Although they are called “independent” medical examinations, there is often nothing independent about them. The insurance company pays for the exam. They often use the same examiners over and over. There is a reason why they use the same examiners – they consistently give reports favoring the insurance company – and there is a reason why the examiner consistently gives such reports – the insurance company keeps sending them business. On the other hand, if you fail to submit to an exam – the insurance company may cut you off from ongoing benefits. An attorney may know the examiner’s reputation, may suggest alternative examiners, may demand to video tape the examination and use other techniques to help avoid the trap the insurance company has set for you.
3. Without a lawyer, you run the risk of being under compensated.
When you or your loved one suffer an injury as the result of somebody else’s action, perhaps it seems natural that the person would offer to fairly compensate you for your injury, or that their insurance company will do the right thing and offer a fair settlement. Unfortunately, that rarely happens. Many people will not take responsibility for their actions, and insurance companies profit from under compensating injury victims. Insurance companies and their lawyers also know the governing law backwards and forwards, and they know that most non-lawyers have no idea what legal rights and remedies they possess.
An experienced personal injury lawyer knows how to build your case, how to negotiate your case with an insurance company, and, if necessary, how to take your case to trial. While it is possible to negotiate your claim with an insurance company yourself, insurance companies will typically do everything they can to take advantage of you and to effect the lowest possible settlement, while attempting to elicit statements from you that will damage your position if you ultimately decide to sue.
Your personal injury lawyer may also be aware of insurance that you overlook and the insurance company does not want to tell you about. An attorney may also be aware of certain types of damages that are recoverable under the law that you do not know about. Finally, a lawyer may know how to structure your settlement so that you do not have to pay back (or you pay back a reduced amount) of your health insurer, personal injury protection, (PIP), provider, and certain governmental agencies like State Labor and Industries, DSHS, and Social Security – which will net more money to you.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire an Injury Attorney?
Personal injury lawyers almost always accept cases on a contingent fee (or “contingency fee”) basis, meaning that they if they win they receive a percentage of the award as their fee. If they lose, they do not receive an attorney fee. (Please note that attorney fees are different from costs, and you may be responsible for certain costs associated with your case, such as the filing fee for your lawsuit, even if you lose. While this is rarely an issue, as most civil litigation settles short of trial, you may wish to clarify the issue of costs with your lawyer.
The amount of the contingent fee your lawyer will charge will vary somewhat from state to state. In most states, the attorney fee will be between one third and 40% of a personal injury award. However, most people do not know that is many cases, the actual cost to you may be significantly less. In some case, you do not pay the lawyer any fee for recovering money to compensate you for medical bills, lost wages, property damage and other economic damages. Make sure to ask your attorney whether your case is the type of case that qualifies.
Are There different types of Spokane Personal Injury Attorneys for Different Types of Cases?
Once I’ve Met With a Injury Attorney, Do I Have to Hire That Person?
No. Although personal injury attorneys rarely charge for an initial meeting with a potential client, before your meeting you should ask if there is a fee for an initial consultation. If there is, you will be obligated to pay that fee even if you do not hire the attorney. However, even when the consultation is free, you have every right to take some time to think before you hire a lawyer, and you have every right to decide not to hire the lawyer. Hiring a personal injury lawyer is a big step, and there is nothing wrong with consulting several lawyers to find one who makes you comfortable.
What Questions Should I be Asking Personal Injury Lawyers I Speak With?
The questions you should ask a Spokane Personal Injury Lawyer will vary with your case. Consider the following list to be a starting point:
- What are your areas of specialization?
- Have you handled cases like mine before? How many? What was the outcome?
- Will you be the only attorney who works on the case? If not, who else will work on it?
- How long will it take for this case to be resolved?
- Will you take my case on a contingent fee basis?
- Are there things I should do to improve my case, or to help you?
- How will you keep me informed about the progress of my case?
- If I contact your office with questions, how long will you take to return my call?
- If you are unavailable or on vacation, who can I speak to about my case?
- How often do you go to trial?
- If I am not happy with a settlement offer and you want to settle, will you go to court anyway?
- If I am happy with the offer but you think we can win more at trial, will you follow my wishes?
- Have you ever been disciplined by an ethics committee, or been suspended from the practice of law? If so, why?
- What “continuing legal education” courses have you attended during the past few years? Have you taught any?
Please note that, as desirable as references may be, it is usually not possible for personal injury lawyers to give references from past clients due to attorney-client confidentiality. However, you may wish to ask for references from other attorneys.