Personal Injury Lawyers in Yakima, WA
Everyone gets injured. Accidents happen, and it’s nearly inevitable you will get hurt at some point. But just because it’s inevitable doesn’t mean it isn’t impactful or can’t turn your life upside down. When you get injured because of someone else’s negligence or irresponsibility, you have the ability to regain a sense of stability while holding the responsible people accountable.
How to Approach Personal Injury Cases
There’s a reason why drivers are required to purchase auto insurance in most states. If you couldn’t cover your medical bills out of pocket, chances are the person who injured you also can’t. Insurance companies are meant to be a barrier between financial ruin for both you and the other party. Unfortunately, many insurance companies try to reduce the amount they owe as much as possible. This leaves an ugly coverage gap between what you are owed and what the other party can pay. We see our job as making sure you get every cent you are owed and you pay back only expenses required by law.
Fault in Washington State
Washington State has “comparative fault” laws, meaning that every person involved in an accident can hold some degree of fault. Even if you were the one injured, you can be found to be partially at fault. If that is an issue, do not despair, we can guide your case to reduce or eliminate allegations of fault on your part. It is important to seek legal help if fault is a question in your accident – any percentage of fault on your part will reduce the amount of compensation owed to you. Luckily, this is what we’re here for.
Damages Available in Personal Injury Cases
Personal injury cases have the goal of returning victims to the state they were in prior to the accident, and provide compensation if that isn’t possible. Essentially, an injured person’s medical bills and lost wages should be compensated. If the injury is a permanent disability, they should be compensated for their impacted ability to work, take care of their chores and for the change in your life. In general, compensation is available in three main areas of damage: physical, emotional, and property.
Physical damages are injuries. They can be proven with medical records and doctor testimony. Physical damages are the reason why it is important to visit a doctor as soon as possible after an accident.
Emotional damages are compensable when the emotional aftermath of the accident has a lasting and negative impact. This can be pain and suffering from recovery, emotional trauma or PTSD, or loss of enjoyment of life if the accident removed an opportunity that the victim enjoyed.
Property damage is what it sounds like. It’s damage to the victim’s property. This compensation can be for repairing a damaged car, replacing items, and refunding items that couldn’t be repaired or replaced. To receive proper compensation, the victim needs to have an evaluator calculate the monetary amount lost by the accident.
We Will Fight For You
If you or a loved one has been impacted by an accident that was someone else’s fault, you can receive compensation. Whether you sustained your injuries in a car accident, workplace accident, slip/trip and fall, or animal bite, we will be there for you. The attorneys of Brumback & Ottem Injury Law understand the complexities of personal injury law and will walk you through every option available. Contact us today to talk about your case.
Personal Injury Questions
What are your rights?
If you are severely injured by the negligence of another person or corporation, you should be allowed to recover damages for what you have lost. If you have suffered painful injuries; if you have lost the physical or mental ability to work; if you have been permanently injured; and if you have incurred substantial medical expenses, justice means having the right to recover what you have lost because of the negligence of another person or corporation. We are Bulldogs about this because you shouldn't pay for something you didn't do.
How long will this take?
It depends on your situation. Some people are injured and heal up in a matter of months. Others take years to heal. Part of the reason is the doctors may not be sure what the nature of the injuries are. Or, a person may be injured, but the injury initially caused a weakened condition that later degenerates to a more serious condition. Our team has seen cases were people think they just have whiplash, only to find out months later that they have a more serious condition, including a need for surgery. Your lawyers want you to follow your doctor's treatment recommendations. Also, it is important for you to be persistent and push for answers if you think your condition is not being understood by your medical provider. You are in the best position to know what is happening to your body. So, with all these variables, it is impossible to say how long a case will take to get resolved. We only resolve these claims once and we will help you to resolve it right.
How much is my case worth?
At the initial stages of the case, it is difficult to assess the value of a case, because the medical and diagnostic treatment has not been completed. Once the medical treatment has been completed and the client has reached maximum medical improvement, we evaluate the medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, if married, the loss of consortium aspects of your case, any permanent impairment and possible future medical expenses. However, all of the above is limited by "negligence." Someone else must be legally responsible for your injuries and have the ability to pay for your damages.
Who will pay your lawyer fees?
Most lawyers who represent injured people work on a "contingent fee basis". That means the lawyer is paid when the case settles. By not paying the lawyer fee up front, people with limited financial resources can pursue their claims with a lawyer who may help the injured recover greater amounts. Some insurance companies likely wish such arrangements were done away with so that people would not be able to hire a lawyer. These insurance companies would then have you where they want you... alone and unrepresented. Insurance companies deal in insurance every day. Injured people rarely experience these games until they get hurt. When you are injured, it is the worst time to start learning how to deal with insurance companies. A good lawyer will fight to get fair value on your claim. Insurance and tort law are complicated areas of the law. Insurance companies know the "ins" and "outs" of the law, but most people don't.
Who will pay your medical expenses?
If you have auto insurance and you are in an auto accident, your insurance company will pay your medical bills and a portion of your wages up to a certain point if you have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. The amount it pays depends on the coverage you have under your policy. You may find that your own insurance company will not pay some of your bills. It may also send you a letter advising you must be examined by one of its doctors in an "independent medical examination" (IME) before the insurance company will continue to pay any more of your medical bills. If that happens, we can help you fight your own insurance company when necessary to ensure your rights are protected. Remember these are benefits you paid for and we can help you to use them and stop the insurance company from taking them away. If your PIP benefits were waived in your policy or if your PIP benefits are exhausted, you may have health insurance to help pay your medical expenses. If you have health insurance coverage, you can submit your accident-related medical bills to your health insurance carrier. Most health insurance policies give your health insurance carrier the right to seek reimbursement (for the medical bills they pay on your behalf) when your personal injury claim against the other driver's insurance company is settled. If you are not at fault for the accident, submitting your medical bills to your own company will not cause the insurance company to "raise your rates." Likewise, submitting a claim under your medical payments coverage will not cause the insurance company to cancel your coverage. Your auto insurance company will be reimbursed (for the medical bills they pay on your behalf) when your personal injury claim against the other driver's insurance company is settled. At Brumback & Ottem, we can work with those providers to reduce the amount you pay back and put more money in your pocket.
If you're still hurting should you settle?
Not likely, but there are circumstances where it is okay to do so. We can discuss this with you. The basic rule is to not settle if you still need treatment. However, in cases with limited amounts of insurance to compensate you, it may be prudent to settle even though treatment is ongoing. Just take the time to sit down and talk to us about your case. We can analyze your situation and let you know what your rights are so that you can make an informed decision. Come find out what Bulldog Tough can do for you!
What about time you've lost from work?
If you miss time from work due to the accident, you are entitled to be compensated for this loss. In order for us to obtain maximum compensation for you, we will need a letter from your employer verifying the time you lost and the amount you earn. If you used up sick time, vacation time or holiday time from your job due to the accident but received your regular pay in full or in part, there is still a loss to you and you are entitled to be compensated. If this is your situation, advise us and we will do whatever is necessary to process this aspect of your case. Copies of check stubs and tax returns are helpful in establishing your loss of earnings. If you are self employed, we will need other documents to verify the loss. When you return to work, call us to discuss your loss of earnings.
Will you be compensated for your injuries?
You are entitled to compensation for injuries sustained in an accident caused by the negligence of another driver. You are entitled to recover your medical expenses, lost wages, future treatment needs as well as general damages which include your pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment following the accident.
What if you received a letter denying liability?
Talk to us. Consultations are free. We will tell you whether you have a case or not. We are here to work for you!
What if the defendant doesn't have insurance?
The best protection against drivers with no or little insurance is to have what is called "Underinsured or Uninsured motorist coverage" (UM/UIM). Your insurance company offers this coverage by law. We have seen tragic situations where a person comes to us for help after being injured by a person with no insurance, only to discover that they also have no Underinsured/Uninsured motorist coverage. That is a tough situation to be in. 99% of the time when a person receives compensation for accident injuries, it is from insurance. Simply put: carry Underinsured/Uninsured motorist coverage to protect yourself.
What if the insurance company wants your recorded statement?
Most insurance companies will send out investigators, or adjusters, to gather information about how the accident happened, whether their insured is responsible for causing the accident, and any injuries that might have been a result of the accident. You are under no obligation to provide any information to the other driver's insurance company. We advise our clients not to give any written or recorded statements to the other insurance company. We also advise our clients not to provide any medical authorizations or sign any documents whatsoever for the other driver's insurance company. You may receive letters, phone calls, and even get a personal visit from an adjuster working for the other driver's insurance company. We advise our clients to politely tell the insurance adjuster that they do not wish to speak about the accident and ask them to refer any questions to our team for handling.
What if the insurance adjuster is claiming that your injuries are not related to the accident?
The insurance adjuster will often try to exclude certain diagnoses as being ‘not related' to the motor vehicle accident. However, if your condition is confirmed as being ‘causally related' by your physician or a consulting physician, then it should be argued the related bills that are ‘reasonable and necessary' and any permanent damage from those conditions be included in your claim for damages. Like a stubborn bulldog, we will stand firm with you to make sure the insurance "machine" does not overwhelm you.