What to Expect in a Kent Personal Injury LawsuitRequest Free Consultation
Injuries happen every day, and not all are avoidable, but when an injury directly results from someone’s negligence or wrongdoing, the at-fault party is responsible for the damages. In civil court, “damages” refers to the economic and non-economic consequences of an injury, such as medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.
Most personal injury cases begin with an attorney’s investigation to document evidence of negligence and then negotiations begin with the appropriate insurance company. Only if the insurance company denies or seriously undervalues a claim does the case proceed to a lawsuit.
Insurance companies protect their profits, and sometimes this means they’ll risk a lawsuit rather than pay out a large claim. Litigation in court is typically a last resort in a Kent personal injury case.
Should I Go to Court for Personal Injury Compensation?
Your Kent personal injury attorney can review the facts of your case to ensure there’s ample evidence of the at-fault party’s liability for a lawsuit. Proving liability requires documenting evidence to demonstrate the following:
- The at-fault party had a duty of care to prevent injury to others through reasonable measures
- They breached this duty by acting negligently, recklessly, or with intentional wrongdoing
- The breach of duty directly caused injury to the victim
- The injury victim sustained significant economic and non-economic damages
In most cases, this evidence is enough to negotiate a settlement with the defendant’s insurance company, but when the insurance company wrongfully denies the claim, you and your attorney can discuss proceeding to a lawsuit.
Another consideration before deciding to file a lawsuit is the amount of compensation you can expect for your damages. Do the damages add up to a large enough amount to offset the cost of a trial?
Fortunately, though a lawsuit takes longer than a settlement, jury awards for damages are usually larger than a settlement.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit Within the Washington Statute of Limitations
Injury victims in Kent may only file a personal injury lawsuit within the state’s statute of limitations. Washington allows up to three years after the date of the injury’s occurrence to file a lawsuit in court. This limit allows time to negotiate with the insurance company before following through with litigation. It also ensures that evidence remains available and eyewitness testimony is still reliable when the case comes to court.
The Court Process In a Kent Personal Injury Lawsuit
Once you and your attorney decide to pursue compensation for your Kent personal injury case in court your attorney will file the petition within the jurisdiction and have the papers served to the defendant. In most cases, the defendant will then respond with a counterclaim that you were partly or fully responsible for your injury.
A discovery process begins in which both parties and their attorneys exchange evidence and request any necessary documents. Depositions take place to record testimony from both sides.
The court sets a trial date, but either side may opt for further negotiations to attempt a settlement at any time until the trial begins.
At the trial, both sides present their evidence and testimony to a jury. The jury decides on a percentage of fault for both the plaintiff (injury victim) and the defendant (the party that allegedly caused the injury).
Because Washington is a pure comparative negligence state, an injury victim may recover a portion of their damages even if a jury finds that they were partly at fault for their injury. For example, if you’re found to be 25% at fault for a slip-and-fall accident because a hotel had a leaking pipe that left the floor slippery but you were wearing high heels that contributed to the fall, you’d recover $75,000 if your damages amounted to $100,000.