Following are some of the questions that are most often asked during the initial, free consultation. If you have a question that is not answered below, please e-mail me for additional information.
Q. How do I Know if I Need an
A. Most personal injury cases are better resolved with an attorney at your side. If you are involved in a case where a small amount of money is being pursued you may be able to represent yourself in a small claims court. Where larger claims are being considered, however, you should begin with an attorney consultation. Insurance companies are skeptical of claimants in personal injury cases, and the injury and insurance laws have become more complex. When you consult with me I will ensure that your case is fully evaluated, present you with your options, and thoroughly explain the claims process to you. Documentation is a critical part of the process and our offices will fully document your case and manage the paperwork for you. I will protect your rights.
Q. How do I Pay for Your Services?
A. If you decide to retain our services, we will work for you on a contingency basis. This means that the attorney’s fees will not be billed to you unless we are successful in obtaining settlements or recovering compensation from the case. At Selander O’Brien, PLLC, our contingency fee is most often one-third of the recovery although this can vary based on the complexity and type of claim. The Washington State Bar Association requires that we advise you that there may be additional out-of-pocket expenses, separate from fees, incurred by our office. These costs are typically advanced by our offices on your behalf.
Q. How Much Money Will I Recover?
A. Every case is unique, and we will give you an honest evaluation of your claim once we have reviewed all the necessary information and fully assessed your case. The assessment process requires collecting documentation and information, as well as meeting with you personally to understand all the nuances of your claim. Personal injury claims entitle you to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, lost income earning potential, pain and suffering, and reduced quality of life, as well as other potential compensations. We will work for you to get you the compensation to which you are entitled.
Q. Will There be a Trial of My Case?
A. More than likely your case will be settled out of court. Only a small percentage of lawsuits require a court case in Washington State. Cases under $35,000 can be arbitrated in many areas in Washington. The arbitration process, a legal hearing conducted in an attorney’s office, is less formal, less expensive and faster than a trial.
Q. Is a Lawsuit Necessary?
A. While a lawsuit is not required, you will have a weaker case if you do not sue the other party. Your claim can be settled outside of the courtroom, without starting a lawsuit or suing the negligent person or company, but you are limited in your bargaining position. If you bring a lawsuit against the party responsible for your injuries, you will have more leverage and clout which can translate to a higher compensation amount being recovered.
Q. Who Do I Sue: the Negligent Driver
or the Insurance Company?
A. The only time you sue an insurance company is when they act in bad faith, or unfairly, or if you are making a claim against your personal insurance company for the benefits for which you have paid. In the state of Washington you will generally sue the company or the negligent individual directly that caused your injury, and not their insurance companies.
Q. How Long Will the Claim Process
A. I will move as quickly as possible to resolve your claim and bring an end to this process. Since the time periods vary from court to court, there is no set answer as to how long your claim process will take. There is a chance that the case will settle without a trial or hearing, bringing closure sooner than if we had to take the case to trial.