Representing injured victims and
their families since 1952

What Documents Do I Need for My Personal Injury Case?

Posted on Saturday, October 1st, 2022 at 7:58 pm    

A solid personal injury case has robust supporting documentation. Precisely what information and records a plaintiff will need depends on their individual case, though the documents will fall into the same general categories. The proper documentation will allow the settlement to move forward in a timely matter. This post will explain what your personal injury case must prove. We’ll also explore what documentation your lawyer might use as a part of your case. You can also contact us for more detailed information.

Elements of a Washington State Personal Injury Case

documents for caseDuring a personal injury trial, your lawyer will argue that a defendant’s negligent acts led to your injuries and losses, making them liable to compensate you.

Negligence has four legal characteristics, called “elements.” For the best chances of a successful case, you must prove each element of negligence. They include:

  • Defendant had a duty of care – The defendant was obligated to protect you from harm. For example, a driver on public roads has a duty of care to other motorists around them. They must do everything possible to avoid causing an accident, such as following traffic laws and sharing the road properly.
  • Defendant violated their duty of care – The defendant violated their duty of care to you. In a personal injury trial, a judge will instruct jurors to follow a “reasonable person” doctrine. An act is “negligent” if someone who faithfully follows their duty of care would not commit it.
  • Defendant’s negligent behavior led to injuries – The defendant, by their careless acts, caused your injuries. Even if the defendant did not directly hurt you, their carelessness could spark other events that led to the injury. Let’s say a restaurant customer slips in a puddle of spilled milk and falls. The restaurant might be liable if they neglected to promptly mop up the spill.
  • You have losses from the accident – You should have documents ready to prove the extent of your injuries and losses.

Keep in mind that many personal injury lawsuits never proceed to a trial. If your legal team clearly shows that the defendant is liable, your side could have more leverage in the settlement negotiation process.

Medical Records

Your medical team’s reports are an essential piece of your case. They help to answer questions such as:

  • What injuries did you sustain, and how severe are they?
  • What do medical images, such as MRI scans or X-rays, indicate about your injuries?
  • What treatments did you receive?
  • How do your injuries impact your ability to perform daily tasks?
  • How do your injuries affect your ability to work?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) allows patients to request private health information within a “designated record set” from their doctor or hospital. This includes medical records, test results, images, and case files. Notes from psychotherapy sessions are not included.

Mental Health and Lifestyle Documents

A severe accident often leaves someone with depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder. If you are visiting a mental health counselor to treat any of these conditions, you should request documentation of your diagnosis and what treatment steps you are taking.

We also recommend keeping a journal where you can personally record:

  • Changes in your mood
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Mental “flashbacks” to the accident
  • Physical pain
  • Changes to your routine and activities

Financial Documents

Financial documents help prove the economic damages you claim. They include:

  • Pay stubs from your employer – Your lawyer will use pay stubs to estimate your total lost wages.
  • Medical bills – Your lawyer and medical experts will estimate the total cost of your medical treatment.
  • Repair receipts – If your vehicle or property needed repairs or replacement after the accident, you should keep all relevant receipts and invoices.

Documents About the Accident

legal documentsThe final category of documents you need will give an account of the accident itself. They include:

  • Official reports from law enforcement
  • Security camera footage
  • Photos and videos from witnesses
  • “Black box” data about a car accident
  • Transcripts of 911 calls
  • Transcripts from depositions (sworn testimony outside the courtroom)

Your attorney can gather some of these documents before filing a lawsuit. However, they can only obtain other information, such as phone records or deposition transcripts, once a suit is filed and discovery begins.

Contact a Lakewood Personal Injury Attorney

If a negligent party injured you in the South Sound, The Law Offices of Briggs & Briggs is ready to evaluate your case. Since 1952, our Lakewood firm has offered honest, high-quality representation to clients in Tacoma, Olympia, and the surrounding area. Speak with one of our Washington personal injury attorneys and learn more about your legal options by calling (253) 588-6696 today.

When Can I Expect to Get My Settlement?

Posted on Sunday, May 1st, 2022 at 5:17 pm    

After you’ve been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, when medical bills are mounting, and you’ve lost time at work, it’s a common question to ask – how long will it be before I get my settlement? The reality is that it can take a varying amount of time depending on several factors. After a personal injury case has settled, it can take several weeks or several months to get your final check.

If you have pressing questions about your case, don’t hesitate to contact us immediately.

The Steps Involved in Receiving Your Settlement

You may be entitled to compensation after a variety of different types of personal injury cases. This can include car accidents, product liability, premises liability, medical malpractice, or slip and fall accidents.

When you’re injured and have tangible expenses related to the accident, such as medical care, lost wages, or lost earning capacity, you may recover compensation through negotiating with the at-fault party’s insurance company or through a civil personal injury lawsuit.

Once the settlement has been agreed upon, the defendant’s insurance company will ask you to sign a release form. This promises them that no further legal action will be taken on this particular incident. The insurance company must then process the document before it issues a settlement check.

In most cases, the check is sent directly to your attorney and made payable in both your names. The personal injury attorney will have a special trust or escrow account. The check is deposited into this account, and once it’s cleared, the money can be distributed.

In some cases, your attorney may be legally obligated to put a portion of that money toward paying outstanding debts or liens. Since most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis, their fee is also deducted from the settlement check.

The settlement money may also be used to pay any subcontractors used to gather evidence in support of your case, such as expert witnesses or private investigators. Contact us today.

settlement check

What Factors Can Delay My Settlement Check?

There are several steps in the process that can delay the date when you receive your settlement check. Usually, you can expect payment within roughly six weeks after a settlement has been negotiated or the court has awarded you compensation.

This can be delayed if the victim is a minor or if the claim is for wrongful death. The insurance company can also delay the payment for a variety of reasons, including the company’s internal processes. For example, they may only write settlement checks on certain days of the week or process payments a few times a month.

Although your claim is processed in one state, the insurance company may be sending the check from another state. A bank holiday or the financial institution’s internal policies can also add a couple of days’ delay to receiving a check.

If it is a large payment, the bank will have internal policies that require an extensive review to ensure that the check is legitimate. This means that if the check arrives late on Friday, it may not be possible to deposit the funds until Monday.

Is Money Deducted from the Check?

Once the check has been paid and cleared in the attorney’s account, the attorney must pay off any liens and reimburse other payments before your settlement check can be sent to you. For example, there may be an outstanding medical lien, court costs, and other legal costs.

A medical lien is the third-party medical provider’s legal right to the proceeds from the injury case to pay for medical costs. A third party can file a request for a lien, which a judge can decide to approve or deny. However, once a lien is approved by a judge, there is nothing that can be done to reverse the decision.

This is another example of how an experienced personal injury attorney can protect your rights and help prevent another party from wrongly taking part of your settlement. Other costs that may be deducted from your settlement or award can include court reporting costs, expert witness fees, and legal fees for your personal injury attorney. It is crucial that you understand the fee structure for your case before engaging your attorney.

person in wheelchair

Call The Law Offices of Briggs & Briggs Today for Help with Your Case

If you were injured in an accident that was not your fault, contact the Washington personal injury lawyers of The Law Offices of Briggs & Briggs today for help. Our attorneys understand that compensation cannot make up for the physical injury or property loss you may have incurred during the accident.

However, compensation can help pay your medical bills and make up for lost wages if you were not able to return to work. Our attorneys are aggressive negotiators and skilled litigators. This means that our professionals can fight to protect your rights and your future, whether negotiating with the insurance company or arguing your case in court.

Call our office today at (253) 588-6696, or contact us online to schedule a confidential consultation and case evaluation. An experienced attorney will review the details of your case and advise you on your next best steps.

What Not to Say to an Insurance Adjuster

Posted on Saturday, January 1st, 2022 at 9:45 pm    

Many people file an insurance claim after an accident. If someone’s negligence caused your injuries, you likely want to seek the compensation you’re entitled to so you can cover your medical bills and other expenses. You might think you can handle the claims process yourself, but many factors could prevent you from securing the money you’re owed.

Insurance adjusters often seem caring, friendly, and willing to help claimants. However, insurance companies want to avoid paying large settlements whenever possible. The adjuster you work with could find a valid reason to deny your claim or intimidate you into accepting a low offer. If you don’t know the maximum available coverage and your rights, you might feel tempted to take any amount of money you can get.

The things you say could negatively impact your insurance claim. It’s critical to communicate with the insurance adjuster carefully. Saying the wrong thing could result in much less compensation than you deserve.

Below are the phrases you should avoid when talking to an insurance adjuster. If you need to know more, don’t hesitate to contact us today.

man calling his insurance company

“I Think…”

It’s a good idea to be respectful of the insurance adjuster. You should be polite and accommodating while they’re working on your claim. However, avoid making speculations about the accident. Unless you’re 100 percent sure of what happened, refrain from providing information the adjuster requests.

Speculating about the events leading up to the accident could backfire in the future. If you offer your opinion of the circumstances and change your story later, the adjuster will likely assume you’re lying. They might think you’re providing made-up information to secure a higher settlement.

“I’m Also Responsible”

Never admit partial fault for an accident. Even if you believe your actions somehow contributed to your injury, the insurance adjuster doesn’t need to know that. Your words could come back to haunt you later, especially if the insurance adjuster finds evidence of shared fault. They could deny any liability on their policyholder’s part and reject your demand for a settlement.

When you talk to the insurance adjuster about your claim, your statements become evidence. The adjuster can use whatever you say against you if it works in their favor. Admitting even one percent of the responsibility for the accident is enough reason for the adjuster to determine you’re not entitled to the full insurance coverage amount.

“I’m Not that Hurt”

Not all accidents result in severe or life-threatening injuries. Sometimes, there’s a minor injury that might not require much medical attention. However, you shouldn’t tell the insurance adjuster you didn’t get hurt or don’t feel injured even if you don’t have serious symptoms.

It could take days before the adverse effects of the accident arise. You might think you suffered a mild concussion or sprained your ankle but find out later from your doctor that the accident caused something more severe. The adjuster will likely assume you’re exaggerating your condition or pretending you’re hurt if you make conflicting statements about your injury.

“I Will Provide a Recorded Statement”

It’s common for the at-fault party’s insurance adjuster to reach out to the accident victim to discuss the case. They could ask you for a recorded statement so they can ask you questions about the incident and record your responses. They might tell you it’s the law or try to convince you it would be in your best interest to comply with their request.

However, you don’t have to provide a recorded statement to someone else’s insurance company. You are not in a contract with them, so you’re not obligated to discuss anything regarding the accident with them. You should politely decline and avoid discussing the matter further.

“I Accept Your Offer”

If the insurance company offers a settlement, you shouldn’t accept it until you consult a personal injury lawyer. It might not be the maximum amount available. Many times, adjusters will start settlement negotiations with a low offer and hope the injured party will accept. If you don’t know whether you’re entitled to more money, you might feel tempted to resolve your claim so you can pay for your incurred costs.

Most people don’t realize they can negotiate an insurance settlement. You don’t have to accept the first offer presented to you. It’s usually not the highest number. You might feel pressure from the insurance company to take whatever they say they’re willing to give. However, it would be beneficial to discuss all options with your lawyer first. Contact us today if you have pressing questions about your case.

car crushed by tree

Contact Us

The Law Offices of Briggs & Briggs has represented accident victims like you since 1952. We know how to handle personal injury cases and recover the maximum possible compensation for our clients in Washington.

You won’t be alone during the complicated process of seeking compensation for your injuries and losses. We can take over your insurance claim and communicate with the insurance adjuster on your behalf. Our legal team will be here to fight for your rights and the justice you deserve.

If you suffered injuries in an accident someone else caused, do not hesitate to call The Law Offices of Briggs & Briggs at (253) 588-6696 for your free consultation.