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.

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.

Medical Examinations – What you Need to Know

Medical Examinations – What You Need to Know

As part of a personal injury claim, you may be asked to submit to a medical examination. You are probably dreading the prospect of being examined by an unknown physician or chiropractor. That is totally normal.  At the same time, submitting to an exam can be necessary to move your case forward. It is therefore important to understand the purpose of these exams and what you can do to best prepare.

Types of Examinations

There are two main types of medical exams in a personal injury case.  The first is referred to as an independent medical examination (IME) which has been scheduled by your own insurance company via the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) portion of your auto insurance policy. In this instance your insurance carrier is trying to ascertain your medical status to see if it can justifiably refuse to pay for treatment.

The second type is a defense medical examination (DME) that has been scheduled by the defense when your claim is in litigation. The defense will use this exam to diminish or defeat your claims of injury and the necessity of treatment.

What to Expect

The examiner will be a chiropractor, physical therapist or medical doctor who has reviewed your medical records and any other documents provided to him/her.  At the appointment he or she will first ask interview questions to get some background on your version of the facts and your resulting pain symptoms and injuries. He or she will then examine you to determine the cause and extent of injury and supply an opinion as to the past and future medical treatment needed, whether maximum medical improvement has been reached, and whether any permanent impairment exists. Remember that you do not have a doctor-patient relationship with this examiner and nothing you say is confidential.

What to Do During an Examination

When an IME/DME has been scheduled for you, it is important to do the following:

  1. Tell the truth: The most important thing about an IME or DME is to be truthful and be yourself. If you exaggerate  or lie, you put your credibility in serious doubt, and that will damage your case significantly.
  2. Do not exaggerate: Many people have a tendency to exaggerate, even on accident, in order to prove that they are right. Be very careful not to exaggerate your injuries and pain. These doctors are trained to detect exaggeration and your case will be weakened if they believe you are doing so.
  3. Organize your thoughts: Take a little time to sit down and organize your thoughts. Recall the specific areas of your body that were injured and in which you have felt pain or weakness. It will be critical to provide a complete and accurate description of your injuries and pain complaints, so take the time to mentally relive this difficult portion of time in your life. Also, never discuss prior or unrelated pain complaints and/or injuries unless specifically asked by the doctor.
  4. Support: You can bring a family member or friend to the appointment with you.  Not only can they offer moral support, but they can monitor the length of time you are in the exam and can attest to their observations (if necessary) before and after the examination.  It is likely that someone from our office may be able to accompany you to the examination as well.
  5. Be punctual: Be on time or even slightly early for your examination.
  6. Be respectful: Be courteous with everyone you encounter in the office.  Even if you get frustrated or feel uncomfortable, it is very important to be polite.  Everything you do will be documented at this visit.
  7. Only answer the question asked: When responding to the doctor’s questions listen carefully to what is being asked, and only answer the specific question asked, nothing more.  Do not volunteer any additional information.
  8. Focus on the location of the pain: You will be asked about your injuries and pain symptoms. It can be helpful in fully describing each and every injury you suffered to begin with your head and work down your body to your feet. Be sure to address the parts of your body that still cause you pain and limitation.  If at any time during the examination you are experiencing pain, be sure and tell the doctor.
  9. Do not sign paperwork without talking to us: As a general rule, do not sign anything that has not been reviewed and approved by our office.
  10. The exam begins when you arrive: You are being watched the entire time you arrive at the examiner’s office and possibly even after you leave and make your way to your car. Be aware of what you say and how you behave at all times.
  11. Don’t share medical docuemnts: Do not take any documents, x-rays or medical reports to the exam unless instructed by us to do so.
  12. Don’t ask the examiner for medical advice: Do not ask the doctor to give you any opinions about your injury or your case.
  13. Don’t let other doctors examine you: No other doctor should examine you or even be present other than the specific doctor scheduled to see you.
  14. You can take notes: You or your witness should feel free to take notes during or after the examination.  This would include any observations, thoughts, questions or comments you may have about the exam. Share this with our office.

It is normal to fee anxious about an upcoming medical exam. Please call us if you have any additional questions or concerns before your appointment. We want you to feel as comfortable as possible during this process.

Pedestrian Accidents – What you Need to Know

Pedestrians are far more vulnerable to serious injury in accidents than vehicle drivers, passengers or cyclists. When walking or jogging, you have to worry about bicyclers, skateboarders, other pedestrians and all the vehicles on the roads. And if you have a child with you in a jogging stroller, pram or alongside – or have your dog along – that’s even more to be mindful of. If you or a loved one have been in a pedestrian accident in Tacoma, you need to choose among pedestrian accident lawyers in order to pursue a compensation claim for your injuries and damages.

What You Need to Know About Pedestrian Accidents

Even if you’re doing everything right – sticking to crosswalks, watching when you cross and monitoring traffic signals – you can still be seriously injured in a pedestrian accident. Injuries to pedestrians are often traumatic (and sometimes fatal). The least serious injuries will be sprains to your extremities, road rash from skidding along pavement, scrapes, cuts or dislocations.

The most worrisome pedestrian injuries are those to the head, neck, spine or severe lacerations resulting in rapid blood loss. Even for those that survive a pedestrian accident, depending on the severity of the injuries suffered, recovery can be time consuming, painful and costly. Hiring a good accident lawyer can get you compensation to cover these costs.

Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents

If you are paying attention while you’re out for a walk or run, you may feel safe, but the fact is cars move much faster than you do and can come out of nowhere. Some of the most common causes of pedestrian accidents are drivers rolling through crosswalks, running red lights, ignoring pedestrian right of way, turning corners into a crosswalk without looking and texting or talking while driving.

Other reasons include driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol which slows reaction times, distracted drivers, driving above the posted speed limit, driving faster than road conditions warrant or driving with no headlights on early in the morning or at dusk when visibility is already an issue. A vehicle doesn’t have to be moving fast to do serious damage to a pedestrian.

What to Do After a Pedestrian Accident

If you are seriously injured, the best you can likely do is to remain calm and wait for police and emergency responders to show up and help. If you’re able and no one else has, dial 911 for help. If you have a smart phone and your wits about you, snap a few photos of the vehicle that hit you and how it’s positioned relative to where you were struck.

If there are bystanders, ask one to gather witness names and numbers so you can contact them later. If you are laid out, you can loan your phone to someone and ask them to take photos for you using your phone. Video never hurts either and this is a great way to gather witness statements. Be sure not to make any statements saying you are to blame in any way.

After Medical Care, Look for a Lawyer to Handle Your Claim

You may be contacted right away by the insurance company of the driver that struck you. They may come to see you in the hospital or while you’re recuperating at home. After an accident, you may not be thinking clearly, you will be in pain and may be medicated. You never want to talk to a lawyer under these circumstances. Send them away immediately and tell them you’ll be in touch. Don’t agree to anything and never, ever sign anything!

You need a lawyer of your own and should choose a local attorney with a good reputation and experience with pedestrian accident cases. Consider Park Chenaur and Associates. We have years of experience, excellent client reviews and a track record of winning significant settlements for pedestrian injury cases. We will take your case on a contingency-fee basis which means you won’t pay us until we get you a settlement.

We can come to you in the hospital or while you’re recovering at home to make sure the driver’s insurance company doesn’t take advantage. We offer multi-lingual services in English, Korean andSpanish. Contact Park Chenaur now so we can get to work winning you the best settlement possible as soon as possible for your pedestrian accident. Call for a free consultation today. You can contact usvia our website or call (253) 839-9440 .