Frequently Asked Questions about Personal Injury Law in Washington
Injury victims need accurate information on how to pursue their accident claim. If you have been injured in an accident through no fault of your own, you may have a lot of questions. Below are some of the initial questions that many of our clients have when they first contact Davis Law Group. The questions below may address some of your initial concerns.
If you don't find the answers to your questions here, feel free to contact us at any time to speak with someone about your case. There is no obligation in setting up a free consultation with our attorneys.
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Why Should I Choose Davis Law Group To Handle My Case?
Davis Law Group, P.S., named ‘Best Personal Injury Law Firm’ in Washington, protects the legal rights of injury victims and families that have been impacted by wrongful death. We are a boutique local law firm that is nationally recognized for the kind of exceptional experience and award-winning expertise that gets exceptional results for extremely satisfied clients.
We use the power of the American civil justice system to make the at-fault party and their insurance company take responsibility for the harms and losses caused by reckless and negligent acts.
Attorney Chris Davis and Davis Law Group have received dozens of awards, recognitions and honors spotlighting our extraordinary expertise including being named ‘Best Personal Injury Law Firm’ in Washington. > See Awards
Clients come first at Davis Law Group. The legal team provides victims and their families the best possible experience on the road to recovery and journey to justice. That’s why you can find hundreds of five-star reviews from satisfied clients. > See Case Results
After nearly a quarter century as a public safety advocate, Davis Law Group's founder, Attorney Chris Davis has developed an unparalleled track record for successfully taking on insurance companies, big corporations and government agencies. He is also the author of numerous books on personal injury law. > See Resume
In The News
Attorney Chris Davis is one of the most respected and recognized civil litigation lawyers practicing in Washington State. You may have seen Mr. Davis on local or national news programs discussing the firm’s high-profile cases or offering commentary on other legal issues. > See TV Interviews
Davis Law Group is focused delivering the highest quality client service. We want our clients to understand exactly what we are doing to manage their case and to ensure that they get fair compensation for injuries, harms and losses. We have more attorney reviews written by happy clients than any other law firm in the region. > Read Reviews
No Fee Guarantee
Anyone can hire Davis Law Group without paying any money up front or out of their own pocket. No matter the outcome of a client’s personal injury case, they will never have to pay any attorney’s fees unless damages are recovered. > Learn More
Free Case Review / Consultation
Davis Law Group is a boutique law firm that deliberately selects the cases we take on--because attorney Chris Davis is directly involved with every in-house case our firm accepts. Using specific criteria, our case investigation team and attorneys thoroughly examine and review the case details of every potential client that contacts our office. And we offer free, no-obligation legal consultations for victims of personal injury cases who can truly benefit from using our services. > Schedule Your Free Consultation
What Does a Free Consultation With a Lawyer Actually Mean?
There is not necessarily one true definition of a “free legal consultation” with a personal injury attorney.
Most attorneys use this phrase simply as encouragement for people to call their office.
Davis Law Group has represented accident victims and their families in Washington state and beyond since the firm was founded by attorney Chris Davis in 1994. In this time, we’ve had the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the common needs and concerns of accident victims.
We believe that educating people about their rights after an accident is the best way to help accident victims make the best decision for their own future. And while we can’t necessarily tell you what other firms mean when they offer a “free legal consultation,” we can tell you exactly what it means at Davis Law Group.
Free Legal Consultations at Davis Law Group
When you call our office to discuss a potential personal injury case, you’ll first speak with one of our Case Investigation Coordinators. They work closely with the legal team to evaluate claims from accident victims and determine the best course of action moving forward.
Many law firms simply sign up anyone who wants to hire them and will agree to handle their personal injury case as long as there is an opportunity to recover compensation. What many accident victims do not understand – due in part to the aggressive nature of lawyer advertising – is that it is not always necessary or beneficial for an accident victim to hire an attorney. In fact, many personal injury claims could be resolved without the assistance of a lawyer.
In some instances, a personal injury victim may be able to negotiate and recover the same level of compensation that an attorney would be able to recover. Since hiring an attorney typically costs approximately one-third of the gross settlement value, victims in these situations essentially end up paying an attorney to do something that the victim could have done on their own.
At Davis Law Group, we only believe in representing victims of accidents in situations where we are able to improve upon the current value of the claim. This may include situations where an insurance company is devaluing or outright denying an accident victim’s claim altogether and is trying to take advantage of the victim’s limited knowledge of the civil legal process.
After you discuss the details of your claim with one of our Case Investigation Coordinators and the legal team has determined that you have a valid claim, we will set up an appointment for a free consultation with our legal staff.
In this meeting, you will have an opportunity to voice your concerns and ask questions about the legal process. We will be very up front with you about whether or not we believe that hiring an attorney would truly benefit your claim.
Should I Talk To Reporters After An Accident? Should I Give An Interview To The Press?
Should victims or surviving family members speak with the news media following a major accident or catastrophy?
If you, a family member or someone you know has been involved in a serious accident or catastrophic event the news media may contact you. But if the circumstance are such that you or a family member may have a potential legal claim for injuries, damages, or other harms and losses then you may want to think twice before agreeing to an interview.
It may be wise to delay speaking to the news media until you have had a chance to discuss your legal options with a media-savvy attorney who can help determine the best course of action.
Reporters are calling. What should I do?
The attorneys and media management team at Davis Law Group think that this question cannot be fully answered in a few simple sentences. So we have authored an 18-page report on the subject to help you understand the pros and cons.
News Media Interviews: Are They An Asset or Liability For Your Legal Claim?
A Television, Radio & Newspaper Interview Guide for Victims & Survivors of Serious Accidents
This FREE report outlines the specific pros and cons that news media coverage may have on the outcome of potential legal claims. It also addresses the type of media management services that a law firm which has extensive media experience should provide for clients for whom media coverage is a serious consideration.
How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Washington State?
The Statute Of Limitations (SOL) is a law that sets a strict limit on the amount of time that an accident victim has to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit in order to recover damages for their injuries, lost wages, medical bills, and more.
According to the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 4.16.080:
Actions limited to three years.
The following actions shall be commenced within three years:
(2) An action for taking, detaining, or injuring personal property, including an action for the specific recovery thereof, or for any other injury to the person or rights of another not hereinafter enumerated;
There are some exceptions to this rule, and you should consult with an attorney to determine whether any of those exceptions might impact your case. After the SOL has expired, injury victims are forever barred from pursuing a claim for damages. In Washington state, the SOL for many types of personal injury cases is three years from the date of the accident.
Even though your SOL may not expire for quite some time, you may still want to promptly consult with an attorney in order to protect your rights, maximize the value of your claim, and increase the odds of a favorable outcome. Watch the video below to hear attorney Chris Davis of Davis Law Group explain the Statute Of Limitations in more detail:
Warning: Don't Wait to Pursue Your Claim
As Mr. Davis said in the video above, it is a dangerous practice to wait until the statute of limitations period is about to expire before filing a personal injury lawsuit. If the lawsuit is filed right before the deadline and if the defendant cannot be found, or if the wrong defendant is served, the case will be dismissed and the injured person may be left with nothing.
For this reason, it is very important to hire a personal injury attorney long before the statute of limitations expires. Many attorneys will refuse to accept a case when the statute of limitations period is about to expire because there may be insufficient time to investigate the case, file a lawsuit, and locate and properly serve the proper defendants.
The lesson: Do not wait until the statute of limitations is about to expire before you protect your rights. In many cases, an experienced personal injury attorney who is hired early enough in the claims process can help you avoid mistakes that may harm your case and perform work to greatly enhance the value of your claim.
How Long Does It Take For A Personal Injury Case To Be Resolved?
Generally, the more serious and long lasting the injuries, the longer the claim may take to resolve your personal injury claim. There are exceptions to this, of course, but the general rule is that insurance companies are more likely to push back and deny or devalue a personal injury claim, especially in situations where the victim's damages are significant.
The exact length of time that it takes for a personal injury claim to be resolved is primarily dependent on the length of your medical recovery, or how long it takes you to reach Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI).
When you ultimately decide to settle your claim with the insurance company, you want to be sure you have accounted for all of your damages, past and future. You cannot re-open a personal injury claim once it has been settled, so it's extremely important that you reach the maximum level of improvement before you even consider settling the claim.
Why Patience Is Key To Personal Injury Cases
With many types of injuries, it may take months or years before you know a firm prognosis and how much future treatment may be necessary. It will be in your best interests to wait to negotiate a possible settlement until you have recovered from your injuries and no longer require ongoing treatment.
It is important to wait to settle your claim until you are reasonably certain of how much your past and future losses will be. If your medical providers expect that you will require future medical care or treatment, then that treatment should be accounted for in any settlement discussions with the insurance company.
As confusing and frustrating as the personal injury legal process is, the last thing you want is to settle your injury claim and then discover that you will require additional treatment or care. If you settle your claim before you fully understand the long-term implications of your injuries, you could be left to pay for that on your own.
What Is A Contingency Fee Agreement And How Does It Work?
When people contact our team of personal injury attorneys about a potential case, one of their biggest concerns is about how much it might cost to hire a lawyer. It seems that many people are conditioned to hearing about the stereotypical high-priced hourly attorneys who charge their clients thousands of dollars up-front in "retainer fees."
The personal injury attorneys at Davis Law Group, P.S. work on a contingency fee - also known as a contingent fee - basis. Put simply, this type of arrangement means that all legal fees associated with hiring us are contingent on our ability to successfully resolve your case and recover compensation on your behalf. It also means that the client would not owe any attorney fees if for any reason we were unable to successfully resolve their case. (Fortunately, our award-winning legal team has enjoyed a great deal of success in resolving our clients cases for more than 20 years.)
How The Contingency Fee Benefits Clients
From a client's perspective, the main benefit of a contingency fee agreement is the fact that they do not owe anything up front in order to be able to hire an attorney. If all personal injury attorneys required their clients to pay thousands of dollars in retainer fees up-front before agreeing to accept the case, then only wealthy people would be able to afford hiring a personal injury attorney. That wouldn't be right, and it would leave millions of Americans without quality legal representation annually.
There are also several other ways that a contingency fee agreement is beneficial to clients. First, a contingency fee agreement incentivizes an attorney to achieve the best possible result for the client. If the attorney cuts corners or settles the case for less than it ultimately may be worth, then the attorney will also receive a reduced fee for his or her services. Leaving money on the table is bad for both the attorney and the client, which motivates the attorney to only settle the case when the insurance company has made a fair offer.
How The Contingency Fee Benefits Attorneys
The most significant way that a contingency fee agreement is beneficial to an attorney is in that the attorney is rewarded for recovering the highest possible level of compensation on the client's behalf. As mentioned previously, accepting an unfair settlement offer from the insurance company means the attorney would also be accepting a lower fee. A qualified personal injury attorney will fight to get the best possible result so that both the client and the attorney receive more money in the end.
Accepting cases on a contingency fee basis does not come without risk for the attorney, however. While a contingency fee arrangement is risk-free for the client, an attorney takes on a great deal of financial risk each time he or she agrees to accept a new case. For example, an attorney can easily incur thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars related to gathering medical records and documents, hiring and consulting expert witnesses, and other related legal costs early on in a new case. And since the agreement dictates that the client does not owe anything if the attorney fails to resolve the case, the attorney is risking all of the early costs under the assumption that he or she will be able to resolve the case successfully.
Contact Us To Learn More
In addition to offering a contingency fee agreement to accident victims, we also offer a complimentary case review to anyone who wishes to learn more about their legal rights and the merits of their potential case. If we believe we can add value to your case and help you successfully recover the compensation you are entitled to under the law, we will schedule you for a free legal consultation with our attorneys.
Call (206) 727-4000 or use the confidential contact form on this page to get started with the case review process.
Can I Switch Attorneys for My Personal Injury Case?
Should You Hire A New Lawyer To Handle Your Personal Injury Claim?
Davis Law Group often receives phone calls from accident victims who are unhappy with their current attorney.
The source of your 'buyer’s remorse' could be caused by a number of factors such as:
- a lack of clear communication during the early stages of your case;
- unprofessionalism from the attorney or the legal staff;
- or an attorney's lack of experience with your specific legal issue.
The good news is that in most cases, there is nothing stopping you from switching attorneys. However, you need to understand a few important things before you begin searching for a new lawyer.
Three Important Factors to Consider Before Changing Your Lawyer
Once you hire an attorney and he or she begins working on your case, you may have entered into a contractual agreement allowing the attorney to be paid for the work performed. Although that contract cannot force you to keep your attorney, it does give your current attorney the right to be paid for the work they’ve done.
If you decide to fire your current attorney and hire a different one, the previous attorney may also file a lien against your case. The lien may require you to pay your former attorney the reasonable costs incurred on your case. The lien may also require you to pay your former attorney a reasonable amount for work performed. The amount of the obligation may depend on the terms of your fee agreement. Often times there is an issue as to the reasonableness of the lien amount.
When Davis Law Group takes over a case from your former attorney, we will review the lien amount and determine whether the work performed was necessary or reasonable, and also whether the amount being claimed for the work is appropriate. In many cases Davis Law Group will negotiate the amount of the lien on your behalf to make sure you are not overpaying your former attorney.
The more time that your current attorney spends working on the case, the more costs they are likely to incur as a result of that work. The more time spent with your current attorney also means the more work your attorney has performed, and hence a higher lien amount. If you are considering switching attorneys, then you should do it sooner rather than later. The longer you wait to switch attorneys could result in a very high lien asserted by your current attorney. A high attorney lien could dissuade a new attorney from taking over the case.
2. Mistakes Made by Previous Lawyer
As you may already know, pursuing a personal injury claim – or any sort of legal claim– involves a lot of work. If the attorney currently handling your claim has made a mistake in your case then that mistake may be difficult or even impossible to fix.
Some mistakes can further complicate your case or reduce the overall value of your claim, and may discourage another attorney from taking over the case. The sooner you switch attorneys in your case, the less likelihood your attorney may have committed a serious mistake that could damage your claim. Act sooner, rather than later.
3. Length Of Time Your Current Attorney Has Had The Case.
This could be directly tied to the previous two factors that we’ve discussed – lien amount and any potential mistakes made by your current attorney – but does not necessarily have to be tied into these factors.
Regardless of the potential cost of an attorney lien or any potential mistakes made by that attorney, the length of time that another attorney spends working on a personal injury case can be an important factor for an attorney when considering whether or not to take over a case.
For example, allowing your current attorney to litigate your case for several months and then attempting to switch attorneys a few months before the trial date may not be the wisest decision. Your new attorney may be seriously disadvantaged by having to try your case in court on such short notice. Every case is unique so make sure you discuss this potential problem with your new attorney before making the decision to switch.
Act Sooner Rather Than Later
The significance of each of these factors may vary between different lawyers. The good news is that there is always a chance that an attorney will be willing to take over a personal injury case if the accident victim is unhappy with their current attorney.
If you are unhappy with your current attorney and decide that you want to consider finding another lawyer for your personal injury case, the best way to minimize any further headache is to do it as quickly as possible. The potential negative effect of each of the factors discussed above can be minimized by acting sooner rather than later.
Contact Davis Law Group
If you or a loved one has been injured and are unhappy with what you have experienced with your current attorney, we may be able to help. Please fill out the contact form on this page or call our office at 206-727-4000 to discuss your legal options with our award-winning staff.
Why Won’t An Attorney Take My Personal Injury Case?
I've called several different law offices and no attorney will take my case. Why?
If you have called several attorneys’ offices, spoken to lawyers or their paralegals, and all have rejected your personal injury case you may be asking yourself, “Why won’t any attorney take my case?”
I understand that you may be disappointed about the attorneys' decision to decline your case. And although making this realization only adds frustration to an already difficult time, the good news is that it does not necessarily mean that all hope is lost.
9 Possible Reasons Why No Attorney Will Accept Your Case
Of course, I cannot speak to the exact reason that a different attorney has declined to take on your personal injury case. But I can tell you some of the reasons that a law firm might typically decline to accept your case. Some of these reasons include:
1. Outside of Practice Area
Lawyers typically don’t take cases in which they have no experience. It's beneficial to you that they turned down your case. A good attorney knows his limitations. If there is another lawyer that has successfully handled cases similar to yours then an attorney may refer you to that lawyer rather than take on your case.
2. Time Limitations
Some law firms get hundreds of calls every month from people that have been injured because of someone else’s negligence. Firms with a high call volume must evaluate a lot of cases to determine how they can be most effective and do the most good.
3. Low Damages, Harms or Losses
If you were involved in an accident but only suffered minor injuries (i.e. scrapes and bruises) you may not benefit from hiring a lawyer for your case. In most cases, it is not beneficial for an accident victim with a low level of damages to pay for an attorney to represent them due to the cost of hiring a lawyer.
4. Legal Costs
Any compensation you receive might be eclipsed by legal fees created by your case. Legal expenses (such as court filing fees, expert opinions, and medical record costs) may be more than what you can expect to receive in a settlement or court award. If the claim is small, then the expected recovery will be eaten up by attorney fees and expenses. Often times the expenses of a case can run into the thousands of dollars. If the expected value of the case is not high enough to justify the expenses, then most of the client's recovery will go to pay the attorney's fees and expenses. Many law firms will not accept a case where most of the settlement will be used to pay the attorney fees and expenses.
5. Liability Questions
Most injury attorneys will only take on cases where it's clear that the injury victim is not in any way at-fault for the accident.
6. Little or No Medical Treatment
In a typical personal injury case, your medical records and medical bills are the proof of your injuries. Even if you have injuries but have not seen a physician, have not made all of your necessary medical visits and appointments, or documentation of medical treatment is unavailable, an attorney may have a difficult time handling the claim. All legal claims require supporting evidence in order to prove the claim, and in personal injury claims, medical records are one of the most important pieces of evidence.
7. Lack of Insurance Coverage
There won't be a realistic means to compensate you for your damages if the person who injured you does not have insurance or if you do not have uninsured/underinsured coverage. People of limited means don’t have the money to pay a judgment and most would most likely file for bankruptcy to avoid paying.
8. Conflict of Interest
An attorney is unlikely to accept a personal injury case in which his own interests would interfere with his ability to properly attend to your case (for example, if his or her family member were the at-fault driver in your case).
Another example might involve you calling an attorney’s office because you have a potential medical malpractice claim against a doctor, let's call him Dr. Jones. If the attorney has a client that is receiving treatment from Dr. Jones and/or Dr. Jones will be acting as a medical expert in another case handled by the firm, ethically the attorney cannot accept your case as his relationship and communications with Dr. Jones could be detrimental to either your case or that of the other client. An honest attorney will not take your case.
9. Out of State
If you were injured in Washington State you should find a Washington personal injury attorney to take your case. If you call an attorney that is located in another state he may not be able to help you unless he or another attorney in his firm is licensed in Washington.
Don't Give Up
If you were injured in an accident that was not your fault, have received proper medical treatment and have supporting documentation that can be used to validate the injury claim, and know your case has merit, then you should not be discouraged by attorneys' decisions to decline your case.
Is Lane Splitting Legal In Washington State?
One of the most controversial issues when it comes to motorcycles is the practice of lane splitting. No matter what your stance is on the subject, one thing is clear – lane splitting is not legal in Washington state.
Lane splitting is riding a bicycle or motorcycle between lanes or rows of slow moving or stopped traffic moving in the same direction. The practice is sometimes called lane sharing, whitelining, filtering or stripe-riding. Lane splitting can save motorcyclists time, allowing them to bypass heavy traffic.
Illegal lane splitting in Washington state carries a $136 fine. Depending on how erratic the driving is or if there’s a passenger, motorcyclists could be charged with reckless driving, illegal passing, endangering others, etc.
California is the only state that allows legal lane splitting, passing a law in 2016, though it had been common practice there for many years without a law preventing it.
A push was made in 2017 by Washington state legislators to make lane splitting legal. A bill passed through the Senate but stalled in the House. Washington State Patrol and the state Traffic Safety Commission argued that lane splitting is unsafe and would not help reduce motorcycle fatalities or serious injuries.
Washington state law (RCW 46.61.608) forbids lane splitting: “(3) No person shall operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.”
A 2015 study by the University of California Berkeley found lane-splitting appeared to be a “relatively safe” strategy if it’s done in traffic moving at 50 mph or less and motorcyclists don’t exceed other vehicles’ speed by more than 15 mph. The study also concluded that lane-splitting motorcyclists were less likely to suffer head or torso injuries or die in a crash than those who didn’t split.
Legislation introduced in 2015 in Washington state that ultimately did not pass would have kept lane splitting illegal, but allowed shoulder driving by motorcyclists in some cases. It also would have opened shoulder driving to motorcycles where transit vehicles could drive on the shoulder.
The bill did not pass. Motorcyclists can receive a ticket for driving on the shoulder which carries a $136 fine.
Will My Nursing Home Lawsuit Help Prevent Abuse And Neglect?
If you or a loved one has been injured or harmed as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect, pursuing a personal injury claim or lawsuit may allow you and your family to recover compensation for your injuries and other losses. Filing a claim against the nursing home responsible for the absue or neglect is the best way to ensure that victims are made whole and that they do not suffer financial trouble in addition to their physical injuries.
But in addition to ensuring they are fairly compensated for their own individual losses, many nursing home abuse and neglect victims are also concerned about ensuring that nobody else suffers from future negligence on behalf of the nursing home facility. In fact, many of our nursing home abuse and neglect clients have made it clear that they are equally focused on holding the wrongdoers accountable for their actions in every possible way.
Do Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuits Help Enact Change?
On the whole, lawsuits against nursing home facilities for abuse and neglect do help prevent future incidents and help raise the bar for the standard of care that nursing home residents receive. The risk of a potential lawsuit is one of the single greatest incentives for nursing home facilities to improve their protocols and procedures and ensure that their patients receive the best possible care.
Not only do lawsuits penalize nursing home facilities for their negligence, but negative publicity and the public relations disasters that accompany a nursing home abuse lawsuit can forever damage the reputation of a facility and force it to shut down if business is negatively affected. If a nursing home facility ends up in the news because of a lawsuit, that facility may have a difficult time attracting new residents and their business is likely to suffer.
This is another reason why it is pertinent that residents and their families report any potential abuse or neglect on the part of a nursing home immediately and to the proper authorities. If nursing home facilities are able to continue to abuse and neglect their patients, then it is nearly impossible to hold them accountable for their actions.
Should Amtrak derailment victims speak with news media reporters?
Should victims of the Amtrak Cascades derailment disaster in Washington State speak with reporters?
If you, a family member or someone you know was involved in the Amtrak Cascades derailment in Washington State members of the news media may contact you. But given the fact that victim/survivors may have a potential legal claim for injuries, damages, or other harms and losses they should think twice before agreeing to an interview.
It may be wise to avoid speaking to the news media until you have legal representation. And you should work with a media-savvy attorney who can help determine the best course of action.
The attorneys and media management team at Davis Law Group have authored an 18-page report to help victims of major accidents understand the pros and cons of speaking with reporters. The report also addresses the type of media management services that a law firm which has extensive media experience should provide for clients for whom media coverage is a serious consideration.
For more detailed information about the disaster, read AMTRAK CASCADES DERAILMENT DISASTER: A Legal Guide For Accident Victims/Survivors by the Amtrak train accident attorney team at Davis Law Group.
Where did the Amtrak Cascades train derailment take place?
The Amtrak Cascades train derailment disaster of December 2017 took place in Dupont, Washington where Mounts Road crosses Interstate 5 near the Joint Base Lewis-McChord's Eagle's Pride Golf Course in Pierce County, Washington.
For more detailed information about the disaster, read AMTRAK CASCADES DERAILMENT DISASTER: A Legal Guide For Accident Victims/Survivors by the Amtrak train accident attorney team at Davis Law Group.