Understanding Personal Injury Claims and Settlements
Our law firm will help you through every step of the process
When you’re injured, it’s natural to have a lot of questions – and to want to get the process over with as soon as possible. You have medical bills to pay, changing circumstances to work around, and a life to rebuild. The last thing you want is to deal with an insurance company.
Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone. Vancouver, WA personal injury attorney Colin Scott and the legal team at The Scott Law Firm, PLLC will be your advocate throughout the process, including investigation, negotiation, and if necessary, trial. Here’s what you need to know about claims and settlements.
How long do I have to make a claim for my injuries?
There are strict rules limiting the amount of time you have to make a claim for personal injury. This time limit is generally referred to as the “statute of limitations.”
Identifying the proper statute of limitations can be tricky. In the State of Washington, the statute of limitation for personal injury claims is generally three years. However, this general rule does not apply in every case and will vary (it can be shorter or longer) depending on the circumstances of your injury.
Once you identify the applicable statute of limitations, within this timeframe you must either resolve your claim or file and serve a lawsuit against those entities you believe are responsible for causing your injuries. If you fail to do this properly, the statute of limitations in your case will expire and your ability to make a claim and seek compensation for your injuries will be lost forever.
To prevent this from happening, you should consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can help identify the applicable statute of limitations in your case and take appropriate steps to ensure that your legal rights are protected.
Can I settle my own claim?
All too often people make the mistake of settling their personal injury claim before speaking with an attorney. In many cases, the insurance company will contact you, sometimes within days after the accident, and offer you a cash settlement. Due to the physical, emotional and financial strain caused by your injuries, you may be tempted to accept their lowball offer. But you should resist this temptation.
In order to fully evaluate your losses, it is necessary to have a complete understanding of the nature and extent of your physical and/or mental injuries. It is impossible to determine this until your medical condition stabilizes and you have reached what is referred to as “maximum medical improvement”. Therefore, it is generally advisable to wait until after you are finished treating before engaging in settlement negotiations with the insurance company (provided you do so within the applicable statute of limitations).
It is also important to perform an appropriate investigation before engaging in any settlement discussions. This can include identifying all the parties who are potentially responsible for causing your injuries, assessing theories of liability and amassing all the evidence needed to support your claim. This takes time, money and legal expertise, resources that are not available to most people, which is another reason it can be beneficial to hire an attorney.
At the very least, you should consider speaking with a personal injury attorney before attempting to settle your own claim. Hiring an attorney will allow you to focus on getting the medical treatment you need to regain your health. Having a lawyer at your side also improves the likelihood that you will be treated fairly and receive fair compensation for your injuries.
How much is my personal injury claim worth?
Every case is unique. What it is “worth” depends on a variety of factors. For example, how severe are your injuries? Who is at fault? Is there adequate insurance available to compensate you for your losses?
A sample of the results we have obtained on behalf of personal injury clients at The Scott Law Firm, PLLC can be found here. To learn more about making a personal injury claim in Southwest Washington, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.