Frequently Asked Questions
Seattle Personal Injury Lawyer
When considering the potentiality of significant financial compensation for your loss and suffering, it is important to realize a few of the basics before entering into any legal procedure. We have provided a list of some of our most commonly asked questions as a resource for our clients. Understanding that each case is unique, these answers may not fully explicate every detail desired, but it is a good starting point.
For more information about potential questions and concerns, please do not hesitate to contact our office for a free consultation.
What is my case worth?
An injury victim is entitled to recover compensation for property damage, medical bills, wage loss, out-of-pocket expenses, pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. While the exact amount of most damages can be determined, pain and suffering cannot. There are many factors that determine the value of pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life: the duration of the injury, the nature and duration of treatment, the effect on an injured person's daily life, the effect on an injured person's ability to enjoy life, and the disability suffered by the injured person. Every case is different. It is difficult, if not impossible to predict what a case is worth before a person has undergone the necessary treatment and reaches their pre-injury condition or maximum medical improvement.
What will this cost me?
There will be no charge for an initial meeting with Ward Smith, PLLC to discuss your case. Our firm takes contingency fee agreements on a case-by-case basis. A contingency fee agreement means that Ward Smith, PLLC takes a percentage of what is recovered. We also offer hourly fee agreements. Litigation involves additional costs that the client pays as well, often from the damages if there is an award, but from the client if there is not. In addition, the attorney may incur out of pocket expenses, such as hiring expert witnesses, filing fees, deposition fees, etc., that are also reimbursed to the attorney.
Do I have to sue?
The vast majority of personal injury cases settle. However, there are instances where we cannot agree with the insurance company on the value of a claim or whether the defendant is liable for the injuries he or she caused. In that case, we will need to file a lawsuit and have an impartial arbitrator, judge, or jury determine the value of the case.
How long will my claim take?
It is generally not a good idea to start the settlement process until you have reached your pre-injury status, or you have reached "maximum medical improvement." An early settlement may not take into account the full nature of the injuries, resulting in a lower settlement that should be achieved. Some injuries are unknown for months after an accident. If a settlement is made before those injuries are discovered, a person will lose the right to recover for those injuries. This loss can be significant. For example, a party could settle a case based on simply neck pain, and later require surgery which would not be paid for because the case is settled. Generally, a claim can be resolved within a few months of recovery from the injuries. If a lawsuit is necessary, the claim will take much longer to resolve.
Will there be costs involved?
Every case involves costs. In many cases, Ward Smith, PLLC will advance the costs of collecting records, investigating liability, and hiring experts. In the typical case, those costs are advanced, and then recovered when the case settles or is resolved by arbitration or trial.
Can questions of a personal nature be asked at a deposition?
Every lawsuit involves "discovery" which usually includes a deposition of the parties. In discovery, each side gets to ask the other side questions about the claims and defenses that each has brought forward for discussion. Unfortunately, in a
personal injury case many very personal areas can be explored by the other side. Fortunately, there are limitations. An attorney's questions must "be reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." An attorney cannot ask questions solely for the purpose of embarrassing or harassing a witness. If you are concerned about discussing any particular issues at deposition, you should make sure that you
discuss those issues before the deposition with your attorney. In all cases, you should have a pre-deposition conference to discuss what will happen in the deposition and any concerns that you might have.
What should I do at the scene of an accident?
If there are injuries, render any assistance that you can. Always call the police because often times injuries may manifest later, often overnight. Get information from the other drivers and witnesses. This should include name, address, phone numbers, as well as the name of the insurance company and the policy number of the other driver. Do not discuss with anyone other than the police responding to the scene.
What should I do after I leave the scene of the accident?
Report the accident to your insurer to preserve your right to make a personal injury protection or un/underinsured motorist claim. Complete an application if you have Personal Injury Protection so that your medical bills will be paid by your insurer. If you do not have Personal Injury Protection coverage, you should use your health care insurance to pay for treatment. Do not discuss the incident with anyone other than the police responding to the scene. The insurer for the other driver may want to take a recorded statement. You do not have to give it. The insurer for the other driver may want to collect your medical records. You do not have to agree. It is generally better to wait until we are ready to prepare a demand to the insurer to provide this information to the insurer.
Should I sign a release?
Do not sign anything without consulting a lawyer first. If you sign a release, it could stop you from recovering damages in the future. Sometimes an insurer will attempt to make a "first-call" settlement, or a settlement the day after an accident. Do not sign a release or settle a case until you know what your injuries are and have consulted with an attorney about your rights.
Should I see my doctor?
If you have been injured, see your doctor. You should follow your doctor’s instructions. Following your doctor's instructions is important to speed your recovery. Secondarily, records created by your doctor will help document your claim.
Qualified Legal Assistance
At Ward Smith, PLLC we have nearly 50 years of experience to assist you in your case. Included in the list of Washington's
Super Lawyers® from 2000-2004, 2007-2009 and a
Rising StarSM for 2000-2004,
Attorney J.D. Smith is considered at the top of his field. Committed to obtaining justice on behalf of our clients, we have attained millions of dollars for past clients. When you choose to work with our firm, you can feel confident that we will do all that we can to achieve positive results for you and your loved ones.
Attorney Ronald Ward as earned a spot as one of the
Top 40 Personal Injury Lawyers for the entire state of Washington. This is a prestigious honor and it denotes that he is not only qualified, but highly esteemed by his colleagues.
Timing is everything in these case, so do not hesitate to contact a Seattle injury attorney today!