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My son was hit by a drunk driver, do we need an attorney? If so, what kind, and how do we choose one?

Seattle, WA |

My son was walking down the main street of Everett last week in the middle of the afternoon with his father and 2 cousins, on the sidewalk when a drunk driver drove up on the sidewalk and hit him. He has broken bones, a titanium rod and screws in his leg, scrapes and bruises and some other incisions to relieve pressure on the muscles. We have no medical insurance and are not sure if the driver has valid insurance. Does Washington have a reparations program? Do we need an attorney? How do we choose one?

Attorney Answers 9


  1. Terribly tragic event. Hope he makes a full recovery. Please contact a local and qualified attorney asap. Do not speak with the insurance company for the car that caused this ordeal. Good luck. Any further questions, please ask.

    Personal injury cases only; I'm good at it; you be the Judge! All information provided is for informational and educational purposes only. No attorney client relationship has been formed or should be inferred. Please speak with a local and qualified attorney. I truly wish you and those close to you all the best. Jeff www.nyelderinjurylaw.com


  2. Yes, your son needs a well qualified personal injury attorney. I can tell you not to choose one based on TV commercials. Word of mouth is the best way to find a lawyer. Avvo and the websites for AAJ (American Association for Justice) and NBTA (National Board of Trial Advocacy) are good resources. Your local bar association may have a Lawyer Referral Service.

    Any opinions stated in response to Avvo questions are based upon the facts stated in the question. Responses to Avvo questions are for general information purposes only, and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice.


  3. That is horrible. I agree with the earlier response. Speak to an attorney about your rights. With injuries such as these and the added complication of alcohol and no medical insurance you'll need help navigating the waters of this claim.

    If this information has been helpful, please indicate below. DISCLAIMER: This information is for general information purposes only. Nothing stated above should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. Scott W. Edwards Attorney at Law Schauermann Thayer Jacobs & Staples 1700 E. Fourth Plain Blvd. Vancouver, WA 98661 PHONE: (360) 695-4244 FAX: (360) 696-0583 E-MAIL: ScottE@stjs.com


  4. Yes, you should consult with a plaintiff's personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Washington Crime Vicitms Compensation Act may be a source of recovery for medical bills. Additionally, the insurance and assets of the at fault drunken driver should be gone after (if any). There are a lot of other issues that need to be taken into account, and the best way to understand what steps to take is to meet with a plaintiff's lawyer that provides free consultations.

    Please feel free to contact me if you would like. Also, I have drafted a guide on how to chose a personal injury lawyer that can be found in my AVVO profile. It should provide additional guidance on how to chose the right personal injury lawyer for your case.

    The above answer is provided for general informational purposes only and shall not be construed as legal advice, nor is the answer complete. Your questions require that you consult with an attorney who can fully investigate in order to provide you with legal advice, and the space for answer on AVVO is very limited. I would be happy to discuss your case over the phone or in person should you so desire actual legal advice regarding your particular issue. THIS ANSWER DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY CLIENT RELATIONSHIP.


  5. Yes, Washington has a reparations program. It is called the Crime Victims Compensation Program. It is best described in "A Practical Guide to Washington State Crime Victims Compensation Fund which can be found on the internet at victimsofdrunkdrivers.com/washington-state-comp-fund.asp.
    Yes, you do need an attorney, as drunk drivers are often uninsured with few assets. Again, try the website: victimsofdrunkdrivers.com. Before you hire an attorney, always check their AVVO rating by typing their name into the AVVO site. Good luck in this process, my heart goes out to you.


  6. Absolutely and without question… retain a local personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer will likely want to secure evidence, so the sooner you get one the better. You can find an experienced lawyer on this website (avvo) or you can check with your state or local bar associate. I do not recommend speaking with the other driver’s insurance company or investigator until you have a lawyer (who I am sure will tell you not to talk with them at all). Good luck and I am sorry that your family has to go through all this.

    This response is not intended to act as legal advice. I am not licensed to practice law in any state other than the State of Illinois. No attorney-client relationship is formed until you sign an attorney-client agreement with my office.


  7. If you son is under 18, any settlement you might make is not binding unless it is approved by the King County Superior Court. A settlement guardian ad litem should be appointed to review any proposed settlement, whether or not your son is represented by an attorney.

    Based on the severity of his injuries, I would recommend using an attorney.

    Washington does have a crime victims compensation program, but it would only pay medical bills, it would not compensate your son beyond that. If you have car insurance with UIM coverage, your son may be covered by that. It should also be possible to find out whether the driver or the owner of the car is insured.

    My office would be happy to speak with you regarding these issues. There is no charge for a consultation.


  8. A lawyer can 1) Gather and preserve facts (imporant evidence such as 911 calls or security camera video dissappears fairly quickly, 2) use the state's financial responsibility law to help discover insurance and "encourage" an uninsured defendant to pay what they owe, 3) gather medical records to prove the nature and extent your son's injury, 4) help determine how your son will do in the future, 5) deal with all auto insurance and the demands the insurance companies make, 6) deal with the health insurers and the demands they make, 7) help obtain payment for the medical bills your son will have, whether through insurance, the Crime Victims Compensation Act, or in other ways, 8) help determine what is a reasonable settlement amount, 9) locate all insurance policies applicable to a case. Insurance law is arcane and more confusting than it ought to be. 10) see that a settlement on behalf of a minor is approved by the court, 11) see that the settlement funds for a minor are protected, whether through a blocked account, structured settlement, or settlement trust. 12) take care of these and all the other legal issues that arise in a personal injury claim. 13) Free up your son, and the family, to concentrate on helping your son getting better, rather than dealing with insurance companies, paperwork, and wondering if they are doing the right thing for their son.

    I have always been a bit frustrated with the "Yes you need a lawyer respnse", because it sounds so self serving. But its true. Insurance companies have detailed and specific policies to delay, deny, defend, and underpay your son's claim. The simple fact is that a regular person is no match for an insurance company. Some lawyers have made it their life's work to understand these claims, and to handle them in a way that maximizes the result, and reduces the chance that another family will have to go through what you have. Some people don't want to hire a lawyer because of the fee the lawyer will charge. On average, a represented person will receive a settlement of around three times what they do on their own. So, you can hire an attorney to do the work they were trained for, you can concentrate on helping your son get better, and in the end your son should receive a net settlement of about double what he would have had the family had handled it on their own, even after deducting the attorney's fee.

    How do you pick an attorney? Not by TV ads. Not by Yellow Pages. Even online rating sources have some significant disadvantages, although AVVO in general gets it right. But the best way is to ask around. Talk to people you trust, to get referrals. Your son has a significant claim. Look at the attorney's website. Meet with a couple attorneys. Ask hard questions. Look the attorney in the eye and let them know that as a parent you want the best for your son. Go with the attorney you trust. Good Luck. Bob Dawson, DawsonBrown, P.S.


  9. I read about this horrible "accident" in the paper last week and was so relieved to read that your son, his father and your son's cousins survived the accident.

    I would recommend contacting a personal injury attorney who can advise you of your son's rights and can find out about the driver's insurance.

    I would advise you to speak with a couple of personal injury attorneys. Most will provide a free consultation and you can determine who you feel most comfortable working with.

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