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Do I have a good personal injury case in Washington State?

Posted by attorney Kevin Conner

Only a qualified attorney can answer that question after learning the specific facts of your case. I offer a free consultation for that purpose. A person has a strong legal case if certain factual factors exist in their situation. Generally, in order to have a "winnable" case, you need three things: 1) liability, 2) damages & 3) a solvent (or insured) defendant.

I explain to clients that liability means legal wrongdoing. In legal terms, a breached duty owed to the client. In simpler terms, did someone do something wrong that caused the accident? In other words, every accident is not a compensable personal injury claim. Sometimes accidents like tripping over a curb or stubbing your toe on furniure just happen. Usually, however, accidents are caused by someone not paying sufficient attention or failing to be concerned with the safety of other. Either of those two scenarios constitutes legal liability.

Damages come in the form of tangible, demonstrable monetary impacts such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. These types of specific damages are known as special damages. Damages that cannot be directly tied to a specific pecuniary loss are known as general damages. General damages are often thought of as pain and suffering or loss of quality of life. A spouse of an injured party may also have a derivative cause of action or basis to file a claim for damages known as a loss of consortium.

The final component that is prudent to consider when analyzing a case is whether there is applicable insurance or an alternative funding source to satisfy a potential judgment. The person who causes an accident may have insurance, known a 3rd pary insurance, or the injured party may have underinsured motorist protection (uim) or personal injury protection (pip) which is known as 1st party insurance. If no insurance is available, an assats check of the tortfeasor can be conducted to determine whether pursuing a given cause of action will likely yield a collectible judgment.

The plaintiff has the burden of showing there is a direct connection between the specific negligent conduct and the alleged damages. This connection is known as proximate causation. Evidentiary requirements to establish causation are complex. Unfortunately, it is not sufficient to say logically "I never had symptom x before the accident and I have had it since so it stands to reason symptom x was caused by the accident." Instead, a thorough medical opinion will be required to explain the mechanism of injury, or how specific movements in the accident affected the plaintiff's body and caused specific biological occurrences resulting in a specific symptom or injury.

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