Washington Personal Injury Attorney

Recent Posts in Personal Injury Category

September 16, 2010

Can you get compensation for your child car seat after an accident?

Posted By Angel Chenaur

We have represented numerous people injured in car accidents over the years.  Often, the car accident involves a child that is in the vehicle riding in a car seat.  Our injury attorneys and staff always ensure that the car seat is replaced for our clients.  The cost of replacing the car seat is borne by insurance and is covered personal property damaged as a result of the car accident.  For the first time in recent memory we were forced to actually argue with insurance with respect to the issue of replacing a car seat involved in a motor vehicle collision.  The insurance adjuster asserted that insurance had no duty to replace the car seat absent affirmative evidence that the car seat actually suffered damage.  Aside from the obvious that any risk associated with a child is unacceptable, especially when easily (and inexpensively at that) avoided, there are other authorities that demand replacing the seat. 

law mandates that every child restraint system (car seat) must comply with standards of the United States Department of Transportation as well as manufacturer guidelines.  RCW 46.61.687.   The NHTSA official position recommends that child safety seats always be replaced following a moderate to severe motor vehicle collision / accident.  In minor accidents NHTSA states that the child safety seats do not automatically have to be replaced.  A list of replacement criteria is provided as a guideline to help assess if the accident was indeed minor.  Even if deemed minor, NHTSA ultimately recommends having the seat inspected by a certified safety technician.  The primary goal of the legislature is “to maximize the protection of children in vehicles.”  This should be everyone’s goal, insurance included.  In reviewing manufacturer guidelines, every major manufacturer of car seats not surprisingly recommends replacement following a car collision / accident.  Bottom line, in the above case, insurance paid for the replacement car seat.  If unsure how to proceed, a victim of a car accident can also take the seat to a local child safety seat inspection station.

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August 25, 2010

Medical Errors on the Rise?

Posted By Park Chenaur

It is always a good idea to stay alert and informed concerning the medical care we receive.  Restricted resources can make obtaining safe and competent health care even more of a challenge.   A recently published article appearing in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Tribune addressed a shocking new survey of acute care nurses.  Over 230,000 hospital employees were involved in the survey.  Nurses disclosed the fact that they believe that problems and medical errors are prevalent in the hospitals where they work.  Nearly half of the nurses surveyed reported feeling unhappy, disengaged and disempowered in their jobs.  These attitudes affected the standard of care patients receive and many reported that they could not recommend their hospital as a care center.  The medical errors the nurses reporting seeing with the most frequency were medication errors, pressure sores, allergic reactions, missed dressing changes.  The general consensus was that hospital administrators either are unaware or choose to ignore this growing problem.  Cutting financial corners in an effort to increase profits was cited as a main source of the turmoil brewing between employees of the hospitals and those that run it.

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August 25, 2010

Deposition Preparation

Posted By Park Chenaur

All clients experience anxiety in anticipation of being deposed by defense counsel.  Preparation for the deposition is very important in large part to minimize nerves.  Anxiety can be diminished by knowing what to expect and eliminating worry about even the simplest of things -- where to park, what to bring, how long it will take, what you should wear, whether you can request a restroom break, etc.  Be prepared that the initial questions will seem unnecessary, redundant and intrusive.  Stay calm and just answer to the best of your ability.

The first advice we always give to a client is to tell the truth.  If you are being deposed, you should always listen carefully to the question, pause, and think before you answer.  Be positive and precise, answering only the question answered.  Do not volunteer unrelated information and do not think out loud.  Do not exaggerate and do not go off on a tangent.  Remember to focus and pay attention.  Be courteous, even though you may not feel like it, and be polite.  Never use inappropriate language to answer a question.  Do not speculate, guess or assume.  If you do not know the answer, say that you do not know, or you do not remember.  Remember that depositions are always disconcerting for the one being examined.  The importance of preparation with your attorney cannot be overstated and will go a long way in calming your nerves.

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August 02, 2010

Independent Medical Exam (IME) and PIP in Washington State

Posted By Park Chenaur

In Washington, although PIP is not required, an insured must sign a waiver rejecting said coverage.  If your insurance company cannot produce your signed waiver, they must provide PIP coverage.  Under a PIP policy, your insurance company must pay for those medical bills that are reasonable, necessary and related to the accident.  They cannot deny coverage on a blanket statement saying the bills were not related, they must provide some form of proof.  Insurance companies typically call for an Independent Medical Exam or IME to gather evidence sufficient to deny further coverage.  If you choose not to attend, they can terminate PIP benefits.  You and your attorney should do a cost benefit analysis on whether or not you should submit to an IME.  If your IME results are unfavorable, the third party insurance carrier is entitled to a copy of the report if your case proceeds to litigation.  If you choose to not attend, however, you may need to pay your medical bills from your own pocket.  If you do decide to attend, you should have your attorney or another representative record the IME.  Recording helps with an accurate account of the examination as well as keeping the medical doctor honest.

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July 26, 2010

Children involved in a Car Accident and Minor Settlements

If your child or another child under the age of 18 was injured in a car accident, handling the minor settlement can be difficult.  First, you need to work out a settlement amount with the insurance company that fairly compensates your child.  After a fair monetary figure has been agreed upon, a petition for approval of settlement needs to be filed with the court.  The court, depending on jurisdiction, will appoint a Settlement Guardian Ad Litem (SGAL) to oversee your child's case.  The SGAL, after an investigation into the facts of the accident and the type of injury and treatment, will make a recommendation to the judge.  If the judge approves your the settlement amount, usually the funds will be placed in a blocked account until your child reaches the age of 18.  In Washington, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until your child reaches 18 years of age.  At that time, your child will have 3 years to resolve his claim.

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July 22, 2010

Should i see a doctor after being hit by another car?

Posted By Park Chenaur

When you are injured in a car accident it is important to get evaluated by a medical professional immediately.  Even if you are initially experiencing minimal pain symptoms, a full evaluation will help ensure that there is no permanent damage to your health.  Often times, your symptoms will progressively worsen over the days following the car accident.  Do not attempt to suffer through the pain in hopes that it will simply get better on its own.  If you are injured, you need treatment early on to increase the chances of a full recovery and also lessen the length of treatment overall.  Insurance companies will use any delays in seeking treatment as evidence to minimize you injuries, or assert you were not injured at all.  Once you begin treatment, it is important to follow all of the instructions and advice from your treating practitioner(s).  This includes informing your treatment providers of all the symptoms that you are experiencing on a given day.  It is a good idea to maintain a journal throughout your recovery to document symptoms and progress.  Be present and punctual for all appointments as any missed appointments will be documented.  Avoid any significant “gaps in treatment,” meaning periods of time where there is no treatment at all.  Again, the insurance company will take this as evidence that your injuries were nonexistent or so minor that you did not need treatment and the effect will be to devalue your case.  We all have life emergencies or periods of time where attending a doctor’s appointment will be impossible; for example, a death in the family or serious illness.  If this is the case, document your reasons for being unable to make the treatment session(s) and inform your doctor/provider why you are unavailable.  It is important to resume and maintain a consistent treatment plan on your road to recovery.  

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July 20, 2010

Rear-End Accidents

Posted By Park Chenaur

The Following Car Doctrine has been established by a long line of cases in Washington , including Ryan v.Westgard, 12 Wn. App. 500.  

The doctrine states “when two cars are traveling in the same direction, the primary duty of avoiding a collision rests with the following driver.  In the absence of an emergency or unusual condition, he is negligent if he runs into the car ahead.” 

The reasoning is simple: the following car is in the best position to avoid the accident.  If you are a following driver, you should have your eyes positioned ahead where you see the car in front of you.   You must give yourself enough room to stop if necessary.  Obviously, the faster you are driving, the more room you should give yourself between you and the vehicle ahead. 

An emergency situation or unusual condition is an exception to the general rule, but very difficult to show.  For example, driving in the snow and poor visibility conditions did not constitute sufficient facts to be considered an emergency situation where the snow and poor visibility had existed for some time.

For practical purposes, rear-end collisions are usually not contested and the following driver’s insurance company typically accepts liability for the accident.  

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June 22, 2010

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) in Washington

Posted By Park Chenaur

If you have ever been in a car accident in Washington State , you probably have heard of PIP insurance coverage.  Having PIP coverage means your own insurance company will pay for your medical expenses and loss of income, regardless of fault.  Most policies are $10,000.00 which is the minimum in Washington State .  Pursuant to RCW 48.22.085, PIP is required on all policies unless you sign a waiver to exclude that coverage.  If you or a loved one has recently been in a car accident, remember to use your PIP coverage to pay for your medical bills and loss of income.

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April 21, 2010

Future Medical Expenses

Posted By Park Chenaur

Damages are awardable for medical expenses that are reasonably certain to be necessary in the future.  Leak v. U.S. Rubber Co., 9 Wn. App. 98, 103 (1973).

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April 11, 2010

Subrogation

Posted By Rick Park

Subrogation is an important concept to understand in a personal injury claim.  Subrogation literally means the substitution of one person for another in reference to a lawful claim.  An example in a personal injury claim would be as follows:  You are injured in a car accident.  You get medical treatment from a chiropractor and massage therapist.  Your car insurance pays your medical bills weekly while you are being treated, even though you were not at fault for the accident.  At the end of your case, when your attorney recovers your medical bills and other damages from the insurance company of the negligent party, your insurance company requests repayment of those monies used to pay your bills.  They are asserting a subrogation interest.

Washington case law, such as Mahler v. Szucs, is our state's leading case on the issue.  The question is, who should get the windfall - you or the insurance company?  Essentially, the case allows attorney's fees to be collected proportionate to the amount you had to pay in order to recover.

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April 05, 2010

Welcome to Our Personal Injury Blog

Posted By Personal Injury Attorney

Our Attorneys are pleased to announce the launch of our Personal Injury blog with an RSS feed available at  http://www.federalwayinjuryattorney.com/Blog/Recent-Blog-Posts/RSS.xml

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