Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Seattle/King County

Here at Park Chenaur and Associates we enjoy helping our local community this is why for this past holiday season we donated toys and clothing to the organization St. Vincent de Paul in Seattle and King County. If you do not know about St. Vincent de Paul in Seattle and King county below is a bit from their website describing their organization.

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St. Vincent de Paul in Seattle and King County is made up of more than 50 conferences—“all-volunteer neighborhood support groups” who make personal in-home visits and personal contacts to help people with survival and self-sufficiency support. Our neighborhood volunteers are the heart, soul, and face of our organization. We would not exist without them. Their approach to working with people who are suffering and need help is unique. Each conference has a group of members who gather to serve people who need help in their area. These visits help determine the exact nature and detail of the assistance required to help our neighbors.

We annually serve close to 150,000 people in home visits, case management, food bank, and related programs. Every year we know our service plays a major role in helping to prevent evictions, all of which are expensive personal and financial tragedies. Costs getting someone back into a home after an eviction are substantial and can amount to between $13,000 and $40,000 per year according to research done by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

We invite you to visit St. Vincent de Paul’s website to learn more about this wonderful organization. http://svdpseattle.org/

Proving Damages in a Personal Injury Suit

When we take personal injury cases, there is often no question that our client is injured. Instead, the question the jury must determine is just how injured they are, and to what extent the defendant is responsible for those injuries.

But how do we prove that the defendant was responsible, and how do we decide how much money they owe in damages?

Leak vs. U.S. Rubber Co.

One of the cases we look to in order to answer these questions is Leak vs. United States Rubber Co. (511 P. 2d 88 – Wash: Court of Appeals, 2nd the plaintiff was driving his pick-up truck when a wheel fell off, causing an accident.

The plaintiff sued the tire manufacturer as well as the company that installed the tire, and won a $48,000 verdict at trial.

Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that the accident was caused by the defendants’ failure to safely install the tire, and that the accident caused him to experience ongoing medical issues, including seizures, which were a pre-existing condition but allegedly aggravated by the accident.

The defendant appealed the verdict to the Washington State Court of Appeals, arguing several issues, including:

  1. The plaintiff had failed to prove that the accident aggravated his existing seizures
  2. There was not sufficient evidence to prove permanent injury. In other words, the defendant contended that they should not be liable for ongoing and future medical issues related to the accident, as the jury held they were.

Both of these questions raise a more fundamental one that the court had to consider; what evidence do plaintiffs need to support a claim for damages in a personal injury case?

Proving Liability

According to the court, to win damages “the plaintiff must produce sufficient evidence to establish with reasonable certainty a causal relationship between the injury and the subsequent condition.”

So how does the jury know whether there is sufficient evidence under this standard?

The court clarified that there is sufficient evidence when the jury “may decide the issue without indulging in speculation and conjecture.”

In other words, to win damages in a personal injury suit, we have to show, without any speculation, that there is likely a causal relationship between the accident and the injuries.

So what kinds of evidence can we employ to prove this?

The court further clarifies that either “direct or circumstantial evidence” may be sufficient to prove a causal relationship.

So, if we have direct, irrefutable evidence that the accident caused specific, measurable injuries, we have enough evidence for a jury to assign liability to the defendant.

However, direct irrefutable evidence is rare.

Usually, we only have circumstantial evidence. However, that evidence can be very persuasive to a jury, especially if it includes witnesses who can testify to the details of the incident.

What is important about this case is that it says circumstantial evidence of a causal relationship between an accident and injuries can be sufficient evidence for a jury to award damages.

Future Damages

Furthermore, the ruling notes that circumstantial evidence can be sufficient for awarding future damages, or costs related to ongoing future medical care, even if there is no direct evidence from a doctor testifying to the exact amount.

This is an important point, because it is often difficult for expert witnesses or treating doctors to estimate future medical damages. Instead, we can provide circumstantial evidence to a jury, showing how much care has cost, and how much it is likely to cost in the future, and the jury can use that information to determine damages.

Conclusion

To sum up, to prove damages in a personal injury case, we have to prove with a reasonable degree of certainty that the defendant(s)’ actions caused our client’s injuries.

Circumstantial evidence is sometimes enough to demonstrate this causation, but the evidence has to be persuasive to a jury.

Why a Motorcycle Accident Attorney?

At Park Chenaur, we represent individuals injured in motorcycle accidents. These accidents often result in complex personal injury lawsuits involving very serious injuries.

It is important when involved in a motorcycle accident to speak with an attorney who has experience with these kinds of cases specifically, rather than an attorney who has only worked on car accident lawsuits.

There are two main reasons why this is the case.

First, motorcycle accidents are usually much more deadly and, at the very least, typically involve more serious injuries than most car accidents.

According to the most recent data available from the Washington State Traffic Safety Commission, only .3 percent of passenger vehicles collisions were fatal. On the other hand, nearly 3.5 percent of motorcycles collisions were fatal. In other words, motorcycle accidents are more than 10 times as likely to result in death when compared to traditional car accidents.

The reasons for this are easy enough to see.

Motorcyclists are not protected from a collision the way passengers in a large vehicle are. They are more vulnerable to potholes and other road hazards, which can cause an accident. They are more difficult for other motorists to see when changing lanes, especially in the dark, and their smaller size makes them fall into drivers’ blind spots more easily.

Moreover, most car accident cases we handle involve a rear-end collision where the at-fault party simply failed to stop. These cases can involve serious neck and back injuries, but fatalities are rare.

On the other hand, a rear-end collision involving a motorcyclist will typically result in extreme injuries, including broken limbs, head, neck, and back injuries. Sometimes, as the statistics above show, these accidents are even fatal.

Only attorneys who have handled these cases in the past know what to look for in terms of injuries, evidence collection, and case law. Those attorneys also know how to correctly assess the financial damages from motorcycle accidents and, if need be, demonstrate those damages to a jury.

The second reason you want an attorney with experience handling motorcycle accident cases is that the motorcycle insurance market is different from the car insurance market.

In Washington State, motorcyclists are not required to carry insurance, and many don’t. Washington State is one of the few states with this policy and the only one in the Pacific Northwest; Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia all require motorcyclists to carry insurance.

Additionally, those who do carry insurance are often underinsured, only paying for minimum coverage and declining Personal Injury Protection (PIP).

This can create legal challenges when motorcyclists are injured. If they don’t carry motorcycle insurance, they will need to use their health insurance or other coverage to pay for medical bills in the short term.

One of the immediate jobs of a personal injury attorney in these cases, therefore, is to locate all available insurance coverage and advise their client on using their benefits.

In the long term, a qualified attorney can seek a settlement with the at-fault party’s insurance company, but this can take time.

In the meantime, injured motorcyclists will need an attorney that can help them navigate the insurance system and safeguard their rights, while giving advice on how to document damages to strengthen the settlement offer.

If a case goes to trial or arbitration, you want an attorney who knows how to present the case to the judge and the jury. An attorney who has handled motorcycle accident cases is best equipped to do that.

At Park Chenaur, we have handled motorcycle and car accident cases for more than 15 years. We understand the special circumstances and legal questions raised by motorcycle accidents, and are ready to take your case. If you have been in an accident are need legal representation, please give us a call, or contact us online.

Why a Doctor and Lawyer Should Evaluate your Medical Malpractice Case

Here at Park Chenaur, we pride ourselves on doing a complete investigation of the facts behind every potential case that comes through our doors.

We offer every person with a  possible case a free consultation. During this consultation, we ask questions about what happened and uncover the strength of the case by determining what evidence will be available, who was at fault in causing injuries, and whether the defendant was negligent. We can also assess existing and pending medical bills and treatment to determine potential damages.

To be fair, most law firms offer this free service.

In the case of a medical malpractice case, however, there is an additional step we take that other law firms do not.

As part of our initial evaluation process, we have medical malpractice clients meet with Dr. Angus Ng, a Park Chenaur attorney who is also a former emergency room doctor. Dr. Ng has more than 20 years of emergency room experience, and is also a personal injury lawyer.

Having Dr. Ng available to evaluate cases provides a number of benefits to our potential clients.

First, he can delve into important medical issues that will impact the case such as:

  1. Were the correct medications prescribed?

  2. Were the dosages correct, and adjusted based on side effects?

  3. Were the appropriate diagnostic tests and blood work conducted to correctly diagnose the patient?

  4. Was the patient given appropriate advice for when and how to follow-up?

  5. Was the patient referred to specialists, if medically necessary?

In addition to using Dr. Ng’s expertise, we, like other law firms, hire subject matter experts, medical specialists who can testify in court.

However, having Dr. Ng’s insight first can help us be more sure of the strength of the case, and the kind of expert we need to hire.

Second, having a medical doctor who is also a lawyer examine your case at the beginning of the process ensures that a fusion of both disciplines is included in our decision to take on your case. Some cases might be very powerful as a matter of medical evidence, but details in the law, such as the financial structure of the defendants or the amount of time that has passed, may make a substantial recovery.

Please contact us if you believe you may have a medical malpractice case. We can provide quickly provide a medical and legal consultation free of charge, with no obligation.

Self-employed Workers and Wage Losses

One of the possible ways to recover money in a personal injury lawsuit is to argue that you lost wages as a result of the incident because your injuries prevented you from working, or reduced your responsibilities at your job.

However, proving wage loss to an insurance adjuster, or if necessary, a judge and jury, can be difficult. We typically need signed statements with hours missed, salary verification and other documentation from an employer. Proving wage loss is difficult in these cases because employers may not fully cooperate or keep accurate time records of hours worked.

That’s why one of the first things we tell a new client is that they should go to their employer right away and make sure records are being kept so that we can confirm lost wages due to the injury.

But what about self-employed people?

According to Economic Modeling Specialists, International, a leading provider of employment data, about 10 million people in the United States are self-employed.

These workers own their own businesses with multiple clients, or are hired as independent contractors for one employer. They do not get standard benefits and work under a variety of tax categories, from sole proprietorships to LLCs.

Self-employed workers do not receive the same documentation that other workers can rely upon to prove wage losses. Instead, they must provide evidence of past income and testify to what income they lost because of their injuries.

Some examples of documentation we have used in the past include:

Tax Records

Tax returns and other tax records, properly filled out, dated, and filed with the government, can help demonstrate a record of consistent income in the past. They also are hard for defense counsel to question. After all, why would someone report and therefore pay taxes on income they did not earn. However, these records must be coupled with additional proof that suggests missed income to strengthen a case.

Bank Records

Records of deposits made into business accounts demonstrate that the worker was indeed paid for his or her work, and help to substantiate tax documents.

Checks from Customers/Clients

Checks from paying clients further substantiate the source of income, and provide witnesses who can testify if necessary that they did pay the self-employed worker the amounts claimed.

Medical Records

Medical records and notes from doctors are crucial in establishing both the proper diagnosis of injuries and the fact that the worker was unable to perform his or her job because of those injuries.

Customer Bids and Requests for Proposals

To show future lost income, the worker can provide documentation of customers who asked for services after the injury but were rejected.

But how do courts determine whether enough evidence exists to award lost wages? There is no easy answer, but we can look at what the courts have done in the past to determine the precedent.

One of the most important cases that established the precedent for damages is Sherrell v. Selfors (871 P. 2d 168). In that case, the court ruled that damages must be proven with reasonable certainty or be supported by competent evidence in the record. However, the court also said that recovery should not be denied because the extent or amount of damages cannot be ascertained with mathematical precision.

In other words, to win a wage loss claim, we need to prove with reasonable certainty that the self-employed worker missed out on income due to their injuries. But we do not need to prove with exact precision how much they lost and the specific payments they might have received if not for the injury.

In addition, the Washington State Supreme Court noted in Lewis River Golf v. OM Scott & Sons (845 P. 2d 987) that “the doctrine respecting the matter of certainty, properly applied, is concerned more with the fact of damage than with the extent or amount of damage.” This means that we must establish with reasonable certainty that some wage loss occurred, but once we have done that, the claim cannot be dismissed because of a disagreement about the amount of wages lost.

Therefore, the relative strength of the case will depend on the extent to which we can establish that wages were in fact lost, and the evidence we can provide to estimate the amount.

If we can’t prove convincingly that wage loss occurred at all, a judge may dismiss the case long before the trial. However, once we have proven that wage loss occurred, it is up to the jury to determine the exact amount to be awarded.

Slam-dunk cases, with perfect evidence on both questions, are very rare. At the same time, even the weakest cases have some kind of documentation we can use to argue when negotiating a settlement.

Most cases fall somewhere in between, and the stronger the case, the more likely we will be able to negotiate a large settlement.

So what makes a case stronger?

First, simply having tax returns is usually not enough for a strong case. While tax returns can help demonstrate some proof of income in the past, it does not necessarily suggest what income might have been lost in the future.

Second, medical records and notes from a doctor are absolutely necessary for any wage loss claim. We have to be able to demonstrate that the worker’s injuries made them unable to do their job, or significantly reduced their earning opportunities.

Finally – every little bit of documentation can help to strengthen a case. Invoices and checks from paying customers, business profit and loss ledgers, requests for proposals from potential clients, and other paperwork can substantially improve the value of the case.

Ultimately – we hope to receive a sufficient settlement offer before the trial. A good settlement will recognize the strength of the evidence available, and compensate our client for his or her lost wages.

If you suffered an injury due to a car accident, medical malpractice, dog bite or other incident, please call us or contact us via our website! We can help guide you in seeking damages, including lost wages.

On the Job Injuries – What if I’m a Contract Employee?

Most workers know that if you are injured on the job during the normal performance of your work, you are entitled to benefits through Washington State’s workers’ compensation system.

This system is run by the Washington Department of Labor & Industries (L&I), and allows for workers injured on the job to recover:

  • Payment for medical care directly related to your injuries
  • A portion of wages lost due to the injury

However, in exchange for these benefits, employers who join the L&I system are generally immune to personal injury lawsuits.

For instance, if you were injured because your employer failed to maintain a safe working environment, you would be barred from filing a personal injury lawsuit for additional damages. Instead, L&I would pay for your medical treatment and a portion of lost wages.

Temp Agencies and Contract Employees

However – there is one exception to this rule that covers a large number of workers in Washington State; temp agencies and contract employees.

If you are a contractor working through a temp agency, or an independent contractor, and are injured on the job, you may be able to both claim benefits under L&I and file a personal injury lawsuit.

Here’s why.

Temp agency workers are typically assigned a worksite by the agency in coordination with the agency’s client.

For instance, if you work for a temp agency that contracts with Microsoft, you may work on the Microsoft campus in Redmond. However – that doesn’t make you a Microsoft employee. Despite working on Microsoft’s property, you are an employee of the temp agency.

Now suppose you are injured while working on Microsoft’s campus due to the company’s negligence.

Under Washington’s workers’ compensation system you can seek benefits, and normally, Microsoft would be shielded from additional personal injury claims as an employer.

However, because in this case you are an employee of the temp agency, and not a Microsoft employee, you may be able to sue Microsoft for causing your injury, in addition to filing a claim with L&I.

Who is the Real Employer? 

The key question in these cases is simple: who is the real employer?

In the example above, Microsoft is not the employer. Rather, they are a third party, responsible for injuries they cause to individuals on their property.

So how do we decide who is the employer, and who is simply a third party?

There is no easy answer, but there are a couple questions we can ask to demonstrate who the employer is, such as:

  1. Who pays the employee?
  2. Who provides benefits, such as health insurance or 401k contributions?
  3. Who interviewed the employee; the agency or their client?

If the temp agency pays the employee, provides health insurance, and conducted all of the hiring interviews, they are probably the real employer.

But if in the example above Microsoft isn’t the employer, then what is the employee’s relationship with Microsoft, and how do we determine Microsoft’s responsibilities?

Business Invitees

Personal injury law recognizes a sliding set of responsibilities for property owners, depending on the circumstances of the injury.

At the lowest end of this scale are cases involving trespassing. If someone trespasses onto your property illegally, the standard for actions you need to take to protect them is very low.

On the other end of the spectrum are cases involving “business invitees.” Business invitees are persons invited to enter or remain on land for a purpose directly or indirectly connected with business dealings with the possessor of the land. If someone is a business invitee, such as a customer invited into a place of business, the property owner has a high bar of responsibility for ensuring their safety.

When temp agency employees are injured on the job, we ask the court to classify them as business invitees of the company that caused their injury.

The most recent and relevant case law for this distinction was established in Afoa vs. Port of Seattle (296 P. 3d 800 – 2013), a case taken up by the Washington State Supreme Court.

In that case, Brandon Afoa was injured at Sea-Tac Airport while driving a vehicle used to move airplanes between passenger gates. Afoa was an employee of Evergreen Aviation Ground Logistics Enterprises, Inc. (EAGLE), but sued the Port of Seattle for, among other things, failing to maintain a safe working environment.

The Court ruled that Afoa was a business invitee, not an employee of the Port of Seattle. Therefore, he could pursue personal injury claims against the Port for causing his injuries, in addition to receiving L&I benefits.

In this case, Afoa was a business invitee because he was invited onto property owned by Sea-Tac Airport for the benefit of the Port of Seattle.

Conclusion 

The bottom line is that in many cases, contract workers and temp agency employees can take legal action against the owner of the property where they were working, in addition to filing a claim with L&I.

However, doing so depends on having a capable attorney who can hold the property owner accountable. At Park Chenaur, we have more than 15 years of experience handling personal injury cases, including cases on behalf of temp agency employees.

If you were injured on the job due to the negligence of your employer or unsafe working conditions, please contact us by calling (253) 839-9440 or through our website.

Texting While Driving

Thomas Jefferson once said, “I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind…[A]s new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times.”

Clearly, laws must change, and attorneys must keep pace with the changes.

As lawyers who handle car accident lawsuits in Western Washington, one of the largest changes we’ve seen in the last decade is a dramatic increase in accidents involving distracted drivers.

Imagine, just 20 years ago, cell phones were a rare luxury limited to the ultra-rich. Most individuals who owned one wouldn’t drive their own cars in the first place!

However, times have changed. In 2008, The Washington State Department of Licensing (DoL) estimates that 6,000 people were killed and 500,000 people injured in crashes involving a distracted driver.

Of distracted driving incidents, the most serious and deadly is texting while driving. The DoL argues that texting impairs a driver as much as a .16 blood alcohol level, or double the legal limit.

Potential clients often come to us after a car accident and ask if they can sue the other driver for texting right before or during the accident. Every case is different, but in general, if the other driver was texting, that can improve your ability to collect damages from their insurance company as the at-fault party.

Washington State Law

Washington State was the first state to officially ban texting while driving in 2007. Since then, 43 other states have passed similar bans.

Washington State’s law is RCW 46.61.668, which makes it a traffic violation to “send, read, or write a text message” while “operating a moving noncommercial motor vehicle.” The law makes exceptions for emergency vehicles, some GPS systems, and using a device to report illegal activity or summon medical help.

The fine for texting while driving is $124, but that fine may increase if the texting party caused an accident.

Despite the law, the University of Washington conducted a study that showed more than 8 percent of drivers on the road in Washington were distracted by handheld devices. Of those distracted drivers, almost half were texting while driving.

Do I have a Case? 

This is a fast developing area of the law, and many of the crucial questions have not yet been answered by higher courts. To manage a case effectively, you will need a law firm with experience representing drivers injured due to other drivers’ negligence. Park Chenaur’s attorneys have more than 15 years of experience in this area. Please contact us for a free consultation.

That said, Washington’s very strong laws combined with general principles of personal injury law tell us that drivers who text are vulnerable to being placed at fault for an accident.

Ideally, in these cases, we can get the other driver’s insurance company to take responsibility and admit fault. This will substantially improve our ability to negotiate a settlement.

However – to do that we have to present evidence to the insurance company that their driver is at fault.

So how do we do that?

Proving Liability

As noted above, texting while driving greatly increases the risk of an accident. One study estimated that texting increases crash risk by 23 times. This means that a texting driver intentionally (and illegally) increased the risk of a crash.

In legal terms, we can argue that the texting driver breached a general duty of care that all drivers are responsible for upholding while driving. We can then argue that breaching that duty makes the driver negligent, and responsible for the accident.

In other words, if we can prove that the other driver was texting, and that their texting contributed to or caused the accident, then the insurance company will be much more likely to accept liability.

Collecting Evidence 

However – proving that the other driver was texting, and that their texting contributed to the accident, is difficult.

There are a couple steps you should take following any accident to improve your chances later.

  1. Call the police: Always call the police after an accident. For one thing, if you weren’t at fault, a police report will help strengthen your case. If you are lucky, though, the police may cite the other driver for texting while driving. If they do not challenge the ticket, this will make it difficult for the other driver’s insurance company to reject liability. If you saw the other driver texting, let the responding officer know, and he or she may investigate. 
  1. Photograph the scene: Take photos of both vehicles, as well as the surrounding area. This can be very helpful later if you can find evidence that the driver should have seen something, but did not. For instance, if the other driver blew through a stop sign, skid marks may indicate where the driver attempted to stop. This may help prove the driver was distracted, because they missed something a non-distracted driver would have seen. 
  1. Flag down witnesses: If any witnesses saw the other driver texting, and are willing to testify, that will improve your ability to prove your claims.
  1. Tell your insurance company: Tell your insurance company if you suspect the other driver was texting. Your insurance company has an interest in proving that you were not at fault, and the more evidence you give them, the better.
  1. Do not talk to the other insurance company directly: Seek legal help before talking to the other driver’s insurance company. You are not paying them premiums and they do not have a duty to treat you fairly. They may attempt to get you to admit liability, or sign medical authorizations or other waivers. Always speak to an attorney before saying anything!

What Happens if We Win?

If we can prove that the other driver was at fault, we will attempt to negotiate a settlement that offers funds for the following:

  1. Emotional distress and/or pain and suffering
  2. Compensation for your medical bills, including physical therapy or other extended treatment
  3. Necessary repairs to your vehicle, up to and including a replacement for a totaled vehicle
  4. Compensation for diminished value if your vehicle is worth substantially less following the accident, even after it is repaired

Please contact us if you were injured in an accident by a distracted driver. We can provide a free consultation and determine whether you have a strong case. We can also work with the insurance company, and make sure you are treated fairly and receive the compensation you deserve.

 

 

Dog Bite Lawsuits – Do I have a Claim?

If you’ve been bitten or attacked by a dog, you may be wondering if you have a legal claim against the dog’s owner. The answer is yes in many cases, but every case is different. A personal injury attorney with experience prosecuting dog bite lawsuits is best equipped to evaluate a potential claim.

Why Sue over a Dog Bite?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year. Of those, about 885,000 will require medical treatment.

The injuries from an attack can be severe, sometimes requiring reconstructive surgery to repair damaged tissue or casts to mend broken bones.

After the initial phase of treatment, patients may require additional therapy, including chiropractic treatment or physical therapy to restore lost mobility, flexibility or strength.

The costs for this treatment can be expensive and take months or longer to complete. Some of our clients choose legal action because it can help recover the costs of their medical treatment after an attack.

But a dog attack also often causes severe psychological anguish for the victim. An attack is an extremely traumatic experience, and we are often able to recover funds from the dog owner to compensate for the mental pain and suffering experienced by the victim.

What Does the Law Say? 

In Washington State, the most important law is RCW 16.08.040, which says:

“The owner of any dog which shall bite any person while such person is in or on a public place or lawfully in or on a private place including the property of the owner of such dog, shall be liable for such damages as may be suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of such dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.”

This law makes clear that dog owners are responsible for controlling their dogs in public spaces as well as private property, including their own. However, the person who is bitten must be on the property legally and not trespassing. The law also makes an exception for police dogs engaged in lawful activity.

Most importantly, the law does not require us to absolutely prove that the dog owner was negligent. Even if a dog had no history of biting or aggressive behavior, the owner is still responsible for the damage it causes.

RCW 16.08.040 gives us one argument to establish that the dog owner is liable for damages caused by his or her dog. However, there are two other general legal concepts that apply as well, giving us three total avenues to seek restitution in a dog bite case.

First, depending on the case, we may be able to argue the owner is liable under the theory of common law negligence. Under this theory, we argue using the facts of the case that the owner failed to take reasonable precautions to prevent the attack. The legal standard to establish negligence is what a reasonable person examining the total situation would have done. In other words, to prove common law negligence we have to prove that a reasonable person would have looked at the past aggressive behavior of the dog and other factors, and taken better precautions to prevent the attack.

Second, we can prove liability under the legal theory of common law strict liability. This theory applies to cases where we believe the dog owner knew that the dog had a past history of aggressive behavior, and therefore is strictly liable for injuries caused in an attack.

These three different legal approaches provide us the tools to seek damages from a dog owner after a serious attack.

What Makes a Good Case?

Dog bite lawsuits are made stronger by a couple factors.

First, a past history of aggression or attacks can substantially improve our chances of winning the case, and therefore will improve any settlement we negotiate. A history of aggression demonstrates to the court that the owner was aware of the danger, and failed to take action, improving our ability to argue the owner is liable.

Second, the actions the dog owner took to protect the public are important. If the attack occurred on the dog owner’s property, for instance, the owner may have failed to fence the property, put up a warning sign, or keep the dog on a leash while outside. Similarly, if the attack occurred on public property, but the owner failed to take precautions such as leashing the dog or avoiding close contact with children (if the dog is aggressive) then the case will be much stronger at trial.

How do Cases Work?

The vast majority of dog bite lawsuits are quickly and amicably settled. Very few of these cases go all the way to trial, and those that do typically involve extremely serious injuries and large damages.

Contact Us!

If you were the victim of a dog attack, either on public or private property, please contact us for a free consultation.

We can evaluate your claim and determine whether you have cause to take legal action against the dog’s owner. Contact us by calling (253) 839-9440 or through this website.

What if I Don’t have Insurance?

In Washington State, most drivers are required to carry insurance. Failure to have proof of insurance could result in a fine of $450 or more.

However – 16 percent of Washington drivers are uninsured. If you are uninsured, we highly recommend that you purchased insurance in the future, both to comply with the law and to protect yourself and your family in an accident.

So how does a personal injury car accident case work if you lack insurance?

In many cases, we can still recover funds, typically from the other driver’s insurance company.

However, this depends on two key factors:

  1. You weren’t at fault: If you were the at-fault party in the accident, there is little we can do to help you. We usually can’t recover money from the other driver’s insurance company if you caused the accident. 
  1. The other driver is insured: If both parties in a car accident case are not insured, we typically cannot recover a substantial amount of money. The exception to this is if the at-fault driver has a large amount of assets. In this rare case, we could sue the driver directly, but this is rare. 

Moreover, if you pursue a case, you should be aware of two additional issues:

  1. You are responsible for any fines: If you were fined for failure to carry insurance, you are financially responsible for paying that fine.
  1. No up-front payments: When you are insured, your insurance company may help quickly with your medical bills, but only if you purchased Personal Injury Protection (PIP) as part of your policy. However, if you are not insured, it will take much more time to recover funds from the at-fault party. In the meantime, you are responsible for paying your bills. Also note that even after a settlement is negotiated, you are still responsible for paying your bills.

Who can help me with my medical bills? 

Even if you lack car insurance, you may have a couple options for receiving helping in paying your medical bills.

As explained in more detail here, we look at all of the available insurance policies that may be in play.

First, if you were injured on the job, your employer’s workers’ compensation system may help pay for some or all of your bills.

Second, your health insurance will step in, per the terms of your policy. Note that you will still be responsible for any copayments, as well as meeting your deductible.

If there is no insurance available, we may be able to negotiate an attorney lien with your healthcare provider. This will allow the provider to make an immediate claim on any settlement you agree to with the at-fault party. However – this is only available with certain providers, typically smaller organizations like a chiropractor or physical therapist not connected to a larger hospital system.

Lastly – there may be options to receive charity help in mitigating your medical bills, especially if you are receiving treatment from a larger hospital system. We can call your provider and determine what options might be available.

Contact us! 

Every case is completely different, especially in instances where one or both parties does not have car insurance. Call us or contact us online for a free consultation. We can review the facts and determine whether you would benefit from taking legal action against the at-fault driver.

Park Chenaur Settles Matter for Elderly Woman Injured by Taxi Driver Negligence

Federal Way, Wash. – May 5, 2014 – Personal injury attorneys at Park Chenaur & Associates, P.S. today announced that they have agreed to a $350,000 settlement with Scottsdale Insurance Co., the insurer for Rainier Dispatch, after one of its drivers allegedly failed to put his taxi in park while helping an elderly woman into the cab, then allowed her to fall, resulting in serious injuries.

On May 6, 2013, Ina McCartney, 81, ordered a taxi from Rainier Dispatch, AKA Farwest Taxi, in Federal Way. When the taxi arrived, the driver allegedly failed to place the cab’s gear in park. While helping Ms. McCartney walk to the back door to enter the cab, attorneys claim that it began to roll.

According to documents submitted to Rainier’s insurer, Scottsdale Insurance Co., the driver let go of Ms. McCartney’s arm, and rushed to the cab to put the car in gear to stop it from rolling. This allegedly caused Ms. McCartney to fall, causing serious injuries, including a displaced fracture of the femor and contusions on her left elbow and knee. The injuries required surgery, as well as ongoing physical and occupational therapy. She continues to require a walker, as well as supervision to prevent another fall.

Park Chenaur attorneys represented Ms. McCartney, demanding that the taxi’s insurer pay for her reasonable medical expenses resulting from the incident.

“The driver in this case made two crucial, and completely avoidable, errors,” said Rick Park, partner at Park Chenaur. “First, he failed to safely park his cab to prevent it from rolling. Then, when he attempted to stop the cab from rolling, he failed to take any reasonable care to prevent Ms. McCartney from falling and suffering serious injuries.”

Following Park Chenaur’s efforts to resolve the matter, Rainer’s insurer agreed to a $350,000 settlement, which will reimburse Ms. McCartney for her extensive medical expenses.

“We are pleased that Rainier agreed to honor its policy and make things right,” concluded Park.

 

About Park Chenaur 

Park Chenaur & Associates, P.S. is a personal injury law firm located in Federal Way, Washington. The firm represents individuals injured by the negligence of others, including car accidents, medical malpractice cases, brain injuries, slip and fall cases, pedestrian injuries, and dog bites and attacks. Attorneys take cases on a contingency basis – meaning they only collect fees in the event of a positive outcome for clients. This gives Park Chenaur the incentive to zealously prosecute in their clients interest and achieve the maximum recovery possible. For a free consultation, call (253) 839-9440 or visit www.parkchenaur.com.