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Fault For Car Accident

Am I Eligible for Compensation If I Was Partially At Fault for My Car Accident?

While some car accidents are entirely caused by the negligence or recklessness of one of the drivers involved in the crash, in other accidents multiple drivers involved in the crash all bear some share of fault for causing the accident.

If you were injured in a car accident and the other party is claiming that you are partly responsible, you need to understand how that could impact your case and what your legal rights and options are. A knowledgeable Seattle car accident lawyer from Banks Law Office can help, so call us at (206) 497-HELP or reach out to us online right away.

How Partial Fault Is Determined?

Fault for a car accident may be determined by the insurance company during settlement negotiations, or it may be determined by a judge or a jury if a car accident claim ends up going to trial. Insurance adjusters and juries assign fault for a car crash depending on the circumstances of the accident and the state traffic laws that may apply to the accident.

If a driver broke the law in an accident, or where the evidence tends to show that a driver’s actions caused the crash, they will be held to some level of responsibility for any losses that result from the accident.

Contributory and Comparative Negligence

Traditionally, car accident claims were evaluated under a contributory negligence rule. This rule states that if an injured victim bears any share of fault for an accident and the injuries they have suffered, that victim was barred from recovering any compensation, even if they are assigned only one percent of the fault for the accident.

Given the potential for harsh outcomes from the contributory negligence rule, many states have since adopted a different rule, known as the comparative negligence rule. In comparative negligence systems, an injured victim is not automatically barred from pursuing compensation just because they have some fault for the accident.

However, any compensation the victim is entitled to will be reduced in proportion to their share of fault. For example, someone who might be entitled to recover $100,000 for their injuries from an accident they bear 30 percent responsibility for will have their recovery reduced by $30,000 to reflect their share of fault.

States that use the comparative negligence system either use the “pure” comparative negligence rule, in which an injured victim can have any share of fault and still be entitled to pursue a legal claim, or the “modified” comparative negligence rule, in which an injured victim’s share of fault usually cannot exceed 49 or 50 percent. Washington uses the pure comparative negligence rule, under which an injured party’s contributory fault does not preclude them from pursuing a claim for compensation. 

What to Do After an Accident If You Were Partially at Fault

If you may have been partially responsible for causing a car accident, steps you should take to protect your rights and interests include:

  • Take photos or video of the accident scene, including damage to the vehicles involved, skid marks and debris on the road, traffic controls at the scene, weather and lighting conditions at the time of the accident, or any visual obstructions for any drivers
  • Obtain a copy of the police accident report if law enforcement reported to the scene of the crash.
  • See a doctor as soon as possible after the accident for a physical exam to diagnose any injuries you may have suffered. Follow all your treatment instructions.
  • Finally, speak to a car accident lawyer about the details of the accident and get help in preparing a persuasive case to minimize your share of fault for the crash and your injuries.

Contact a Seattle Car Accident Lawyer

If you were injured in a collision in Seattle, contact Banks Law Office right away, even if you think your actions might have contributed to it. Our Seattle car accident attorneys will provide you with a thorough and honest case evaluation and could help you seek compensation for the harm you’ve suffered. Call us today at (296) 497-HELP today.

Motorcycle Accident

What Are Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in Washington?

Every motorcycle rider faces the risk of suffering serious injuries in a crash. Motorcycles’ inherent instability and lack of safety features, such as seatbelts and airbags, means riders must remain vigilant at all times. However, even the most cautious rider can be hit by a careless driver that fails to look for motorcycles, fails to yield, or drives while distracted or drunk.

If you’ve been injured by another driver’s negligence while riding your motorcycle, don’t hesitate to talk to the knowledgeable Seattle motorcycle accident attorneys at Banks Law Office about your options for seeking financial recovery. We can investigate the circumstances of the accident and help you pursue fair compensation for your injuries from the responsible party. Call (206) 497-4357 today for a free consultation.

Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in Washington State

Motorcyclists often suffer severe injuries in collisions because, aside from basic safety equipment like a helmet or jacket, the rider is at the mercy of physics. There is nothing restraining them, no seatbelts to keep them firmly in place, no airbags to cushion any hard impacts. When a negligent driver causes a motorcycle accident, the consequences for the rider are often painful and costly.

Some of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents include:

  • Impaired driving – Motorcycles can be difficult to see, especially at night or in bad weather. When you add drugs or alcohol into that mix, a driver will have an even harder time spotting a motorcyclist and reacting quickly when they do see them.
  • Bad road conditions – Because motorcycles are less stable, a pothole or broken pavement can spell disaster for a rider.
  • Distracted driving – Despite all efforts to the contrary, people will still take their attention off the road for a wide variety of reasons, such as checking a text, changing radio settings, or retrieving a dropped item. It only takes a moment to cause an accident.
  • Speeding – Speeding can make it harder for drivers to react to hazards or stop in time to avoid hitting a rider, especially in bad weather.
  • Lane splitting – Though this practice is illegal in Washington state, lane splitting is still occasionally seen on highways. Drivers are not expecting motorcycles between lanes, and dooring accidents can occur, causing severe injury.
  • Unsafe lane changes – If a motorist doesn’t check blind spots before changing lanes, they can easily strike a motorcycle and injure the rider.

Common Injuries Suffered in Motorcycle Collisions 

Unfortunately, injuries from motorcycle accidents tend to be more severe and costly than injuries from passenger vehicle accidents. Some injuries common to motorcycle accidents include:

  • Road rash (abrasions)
  • Broken bones
  • Sprains and strains
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Whiplash
  • Concussion
  • Head and neck injuries
  • Crushing injuries
  • Organ damage
  • Internal injuries
  • Amputation
  • Coma

Compensation You Could Be Entitled To 

You can be compensated for a variety of losses you suffer as a result of a motorcycle accident. Some of these are financial in nature and some relate to non-economic, subjective losses suffered by the injured victim, such as pain and suffering. These losses are called damages. Some examples include:

  • Lost wages if you’re unable to work as you recover
  • Lost potential earnings if a long-term injury prevents you from returning to work
  • Medical expenses
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Scarring and disfigurement

The exact amount of compensation you could obtain may vary widely depending on the circumstances of the accident and the extent of your losses. Talk to your attorney to determine what damages may apply to your claim for compensation.

How Banks Law Can Help

At Banks Law Office, we can help you determine your best options for seeking the compensation you deserve from the party responsible for your injuries. Call us today at 206-497-4357 or contact us online for a free case consultation with a compassionate, experienced Seattle injury lawyer. There’s no obligation and no fee unless we win compensation for you, so call today.

Distracted Driving

What Are the Three Main Types of Distractions that Cause Car Accidents?

Distractions are everywhere, and they’re getting worse every day. They’re in our homes, at work, and even on the road. Unfortunately, when drivers give in to distractions, they can cause collisions, injuries, and even death.

Distracted driving takes many forms, and all of them can have serious consequences. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that distracted drivers kill eight people a day in the US. You can help by avoiding distractions when you drive. But what are the most common forms of distractions, and what kinds of accidents do they cause?

Three Main Types of Distractions

Distractions fall into three major categories. The categories differ in how the distraction works and the effects it has on drivers. These distraction categories are:

  • Visual distractions take a driver’s eyes off the road. Any time this happens, it’s easy for a driver to make fatal mistakes. Smartphones and in-vehicle entertainment systems are common visual distractions that can draw a driver’s attention away from the important task at hand.
  • Manual distractions cause drivers to take their hands off the wheel. Doing so slows driver reactions. Again, smartphones are a common manual distraction, but there are many others. Food, beverages, unruly passengers, and tasks such as grooming can distract drivers and inhibit their reaction times.
  • Cognitive distractions take a driver’s focus and mind away from the task at hand. For example, drivers that daydream or engage in distracting conversations can lose focus on the road. The results can be devastating.

Accidents Caused by Distracted Drivers

Distracted drivers can cause all kinds of accidents, from low-speed fender benders to highspeed collisions on the highway. Regardless of their usual skill, a distracted driver is a poor driver, and they often cause injuries and even fatalities. The crashes caused by driver distraction include:

  • Rear-end accidents
  • Head-on collisions
  • Side impacts
  • Wrong-way accidents
  • Rollovers
  • Side-swipes
  • Tailgating accidents

Injuries Caused by Distracted Drivers

When a distracted driver causes an accident, serious injuries are common. Following a distracted driving collision, drivers and passengers can suffer:

  • Head injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Bleeding
  • Scarring
  • Internal injuries
  • Soft tissue and joint injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Facial and dental damage
  • Broken bones
  • Whiplash
  • Lacerations
  • Burns
  • Wrongful death

If you’ve been injured by a distracted driver, contact an experienced car accident attorney for help. From answering your questions about your legal options to demanding fair compensation from the irresponsible driver that hurt you, an attorney could help you on the road to recovery.

How Banks Law Could Help

If you’ve been injured by a distracted driver, Banks Law Office is ready to listen to you. Serving our clients with honesty and integrity, we put client service above all else. We care about you because we know how much damage a distracted driving accident can cause.

We’re ready to help by:

  • Listening to you and answering your questions
  • Advising you on your legal options
  • Pursuing the compensation you deserve
  • Investigating what happened and who is responsible
  • Managing every step of your distracted driving case while you heal
  • Coordinating with experts to understand your case
  • Negotiating aggressively with insurance companies for the money you need
  • Fighting for you and your rights in court

If you’ve been injured by a distracted driver, contact Banks Law Office today. We tailor our services to your need, and we’re ready to help you move forward from the accident. Our compassionate professionals are here to listen and help you, so don’t wait to contact us.

For a free consultation about how a Washington distracted driving accident lawyer could help you, get in touch with us now.

Jackknife Accident

What Is a Jackknife Truck Accident and Why Are They So Dangerous?

Jackknife truck accidents are both common and extremely dangerous. Every instance of this kind of truck accident has the potential to seriously injure dozens of people on a busy road or highway. But what makes these accidents so dangerous compared to other types of truck crashes? If you want to know more, contact a jackknife accident lawyer in Seattle with Banks Law Office.

Jackknife Truck Accidents

A jackknife truck accident refers to a collision in which the trailer on a semi-truck swings out wide. This motion can cause the trailer and truck cab to fold at the articulation joint, not unlike the action of a folding pocketknife. When a truck jackknifes, it can damage both the truck and the roadway.

Often, jackknifing causes the truck driver to lose control of their vehicle and collide with other vehicles on the road. Drivers and passengers in other cars find themselves helpless in the face of the huge trailer.

Why Are Jackknife Accidents More Dangerous Than Other Types of Truck Crashes?

Jackknife accidents often prove more dangerous than other types of truck accidents because the jackknifing motion causes the truck driver to lose control of their vehicle. An experienced truck driver who maintains control of their vehicle can prevent truck crashes from spiraling out of control following an initial collision with another vehicle. But even a seasoned truck driver has no control of their truck as it swings or spins out of control, so the cab and trailer of the truck can impact numerous other vehicles on the road.

Injuries Caused by Jackknife Accidents

Like other types of truck crashes, jackknife accidents can cause serious injuries for other vehicles involved in the collision. Some of the most common injuries sustained in jackknife truck accidents include:

  • Severe lacerations and bleeding
  • Broken bones
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Whiplash injuries
  • Neck and back injuries
  • Herniated disc injuries
  • Dislocated joints
  • Internal injuries and internal bleeding
  • Head injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Burns
  • Amputations
  • Spinal cord injuries, nerve damage, and paralysis

Who Is Responsible?

Most cases of jackknifing can be attributed to the truck driver’s careless or reckless driving. If a trucker exceeds the speed limit or drives too fast for road conditions, they increase the risk of causing a jackknife when they brake.

Improper use of a truck’s brakes can also cause jackknifing, even when a truck is traveling at a reasonable speed. If a jackknife collision is caused by a brake failure, the truck driver might be held responsible if they failed to conduct a required vehicle inspection before getting on the road. Such an inspection could have revealed signs of a potential failure.

The trucking company could be held vicariously liable for a truck driver’s negligence if they employ the driver. In some cases, the trucking company might also be held liable for its own negligence in hiring, training, or supervising the driver. The trucking company could also be held responsible for a jackknife accident caused by braking failures caused by deferred maintenance.

Finally, the truck’s mechanic could be held responsible for a jackknife crash caused by a brake or mechanical failure attributable to improperly performed maintenance.

Compensation for Jackknife Truck Injury Claims

Following a jackknife truck collision that leaves you with injuries, you might be entitled to financial compensation from the party or parties responsible for the accident. You and your attorney could demand money to cover losses that you incurred due to your injuries, including:

  • Medical expenses
  • Long-term care costs if permanently disabled by the accident
  • Lost wages and loss of future earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of quality of life or reduced life expectancy
  • Vehicle and other property damage

Contact a Seattle Truck Accident Lawyer

Have you been injured in a jackknife truck accident? Call or contact a Seattle truck accident lawyer at Banks Law Office today for a free, no-obligation consultation today. We can discuss your rights and options for recovering compensation for the harm you’ve suffered in a truck crash that wasn’t your fault.

Steps To Take After A Crash

Five Steps to Take Immediately After a Collision

When you’re injured in a motor vehicle collision, you may feel shocked, dazed, and unsure what to do next. However, it’s important to take certain steps in the minutes, hours, and days following the accident to protect yourself and your ability to seek compensation if your injuries were caused by someone else’s negligence. Below are five simple but crucial steps you can take to protect your rights after a car accident.

What to Do After a Crash 

After a car crash, taking these steps could help put you in a better position to pursue compensation for your injuries, repairs to your vehicle, lost wages, and more:

Contact the Police

In most accidents, you should notify local law enforcement or state police, even if the other driver tries to talk you into simply exchanging information. When police respond to the scene of a motor vehicle accident, they will usually fill out a police accident report that includes details from the accident scene, summaries of witness statements, and, in some cases, the officer’s opinion about which driver caused the crash.

Although a police accident report’s findings are not binding on a later civil claim for compensation, it often serves as highly persuasive evidence for insurance companies and juries.

Seek Medical Attention

You should either get checked out by paramedics who respond to the accident scene or see your primary physician or another doctor as soon as possible after the crash. Getting examined after an accident will allow you to document the injuries you suffered in the crash.

This can prove helpful if the at-fault driver or the insurance company tries to argue that the injuries you sustained in the accident existed before the accident or were caused by something other than the crash.

Make sure to follow all treatment instructions you receive. Otherwise, you may give the other side a basis to argue that you were not as seriously injured as you claimed.

Get Information from the Other Parties Involved

If possible, try to speak with any bystanders or witnesses to the collision. Record their contact information if they are willing to provide a statement about the collision. A neutral third party’s testimony can prove critical if your situation later becomes a “you said, they said” affair.

Do Not Speak with Insurance Company Representatives Without a Lawyer

You may be contacted by representatives from the other driver’s insurance company or from your insurance company soon after the accident. Although insurance company representatives may seem like they are trying to help you, you should remember that they are foremost interested in maximizing the insurance company’s profits, which means paying you as little money as possible for your claim.

Insurance adjusters have many tactics they use to get accident victims who aren’t represented by legal counsel to accept less than the fair value of their claim. You should refrain from talking to or providing a statement about the accident to insurance company representatives until you’ve had a chance to consult with an attorney.

Hire a Lawyer to Represent You

Although you might consider handling your car accident claim on your own, people who are represented by a lawyer often recover more compensation than those claimants who are unrepresented. An experienced car accident lawyer will provide straightforward advice about the value of your claim and your legal rights. A lawyer can also handle the entire legal process for you, aggressively pursuing maximum value for your collision claim. 

How Banks Law Could Help

 Following an accident, let a skilled Seattle car accident attorney from Banks Law help you get the fair compensation you deserve. Our team will assist you by:

  • Collecting evidence from the accident, including accident scene photos, police accident reports, and eyewitness statements
  • Taking the time to listen to your story and understand your needs and goals
  • Collaborating with accident reconstruction experts to help build a persuasive case to show who was responsible for causing the crash
  • Filing claims for compensation on your behalf with the insurance companies
  • Negotiating with insurance adjusters and defense lawyers to pursue fair and full compensation in your claim
  • Not backing down until you receive accountability and justice for your injuries

After you’ve been injured in a car crash, contact the Seattle car accident lawyers at Banks Law for a free, no-obligation consultation to speak to a knowledgeable member of our team about your rights and legal options. You could be owed significant compensation, and we will be ready to stand up and fight for you. Call us at 206-497-HELP or reach out to us online for a free consultation

Winter Is Coming

Winter Is Coming: Stay Safe On the Road

The leaves are starting to fall and the rain is coming down. Now is the time to check your vehicle to make sure you are ready for all the bad weather coming our way as we venture into winter. Here are some tips to help you and your family be safe on the road.

KEEP YOURSELF AND OTHERS SAFE BY FOLLOWING THE RULES OF THE ROAD:

  • Turn on your headlights at all times, day or night, and in all weather conditions.
  • Increase the gap between you and the car ahead of you, give yourself the time you need to identify a hazard and respond safely.
  • Look out for pedestrians, especially on rainy days, because pedestrians prioritize trying to keep themselves dry rather than looking out for oncoming cars.
  • Be aware of the blinds spots of large trucks and buses.
  • Avoid sudden motion, driving in wet conditions is hazardous because rain poses a grave risk to traction loss.
  • Avoid traveling in heavy rain and snow.
  • Drive Slowly! Slowing down and driving in the right lane in rainy and snowy conditions is the best way to reduce your vehicle’s chances of skidding or sliding.

GET YOUR CAR SERVICED TO MAKE SURE IT IS READY FOR WINTER.

Here are some items to have your mechanic check:

  • Tire Tread and Pressure
  • Change Oil
  • Heating System
  • Replace Wiper Blades
  • Wiper Fluid
  • Brakes
  • Antifreeze

PACK AN EMERGENCY KIT WITH THESE ESSENTIAL ITEMS AND BE PREPARED:

  • Reflective Pylons & Flares
  • Gloves
  • Ice Scraper
  • Shovel
  • Salt/Sand or other traction aid
  • Warm Clothing and Blankets
  • Jumper Cables
  • First Aid Kit

If you do get into an accident, get medical attention immediately, then meet with your primary care physician as soon as possible. Consult with a personal injury attorney to help you navigate the insurance process.

Stay safe out there!

Wrongful Death Laws

What rights do I have after the death of a loved one?

The sudden and unexpected death of a loved one is devastating. These tragedies most often occur in a car wreck or in a construction site incident.

While the family is in mourning and picking up the pieces, the last thing on their mind is the legal case. And rightfully so. However, immediately following the tragedy is a crucial time for evidence. This is where a wrongful death lawyer can do a lot of good.

We conduct a thorough investigation. We gather and preserve evidence and witness testimony. And most importantly, we find an answer to why this tragedy happened and help the family bring closure.

Who May Bring a Wrongful Death Claim?

When the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another, the deceased’s personal representative may maintain an action for damages against the person or company causing the death.

Washington State has specific laws governing who can bring a wrongful death case. You can review the actual laws here: http://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=4.20

In Washington, only people related to the deceased may bring a claim against the person or company that caused the death. The Law refers to these relatives as “Beneficiaries.”

Here is what the law says: Every such action shall be for the benefit of the wife, husband, state registered domestic partner, child or children, including stepchildren, of the person whose death shall have been so caused.

If there be no wife, husband, state registered domestic partner, or such child or children, such action may be maintained for the benefit of the parents, sisters, or brothers, who may be dependent upon the deceased person for support, and who are resident within the United States at the time of his or her death.

What damages can be recovered?

People and companies who violate rules that result in another’s death must be held accountable for what they unnaturally took from the family. In a wrongful death case, the jury may give such damages as, under all circumstances of the case, may to them seem just.

A wrongful death lawyer will help determine the amount of money which will reasonably and fairly compensate the beneficiaries for any economic loss to them, including money, goods and services the decedent would have contributed to them had the decedent lived.

There will also be a money recovery for what the decedent would have been expected to contribute to the beneficiaries in the way of support, love, affection, care, services, companionship, society and consortium.

In making your determinations, we will take into account the decedent’s age, health, life expectancy, occupation and habits.  We will factor the decedent’s earning capacity, including the decedent’s actual earnings prior to death and the earnings which might have been reasonably expected to be earned by the decedent in the future.

Contact Banks Law Office for a free consultation to learn more about Washington’s wrongful death laws and your legal rights.

Banks Law Office

Do You Have Full Coverage Auto Insurance?

Trick question, there is no such thing as full coverage. Instead, there are several different types of coverage with many different amounts of money they will pay after a collision.

I have written this article to help you understand auto insurance so that you can ensure you have the important coverage that will protect you, your friends, and your family if you are ever involved in an auto collision.

A lot of my clients come to me after they’ve been in an auto collision and they believe they have “full coverage”, when in fact, they only have bare bones coverage. It’s not their fault. If you are like most people, you don’t read much of what your auto insurance company sends you. The policies are written in a way that is difficult to understand and confusing. I’ve outlined the most important types of coverage you need to have on your auto policy to ensure you’re protected:

Liability Coverage:

First is liability coverage. This is the only coverage required by law in Washington State. You purchase it so that in case you do something wrong, there will be money available for the people you injure. The state minimum is only $25,000. 00. For you own protection, you should buy the highest liability coverage limits you can afford, especially if you make a lot of money or own property and assets. Purchasing high liability limits is also important because these limits will also determine the amount of underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) available to you.

Personal Injury Protection:

The second coverage you need to have is Personal Injury Protection (PIP). PIP will pay for your medical treatment immediately after the collision. Most people believe that the at fault driver’s insurance pays for their medical treatment. This is a common misconception. The other driver’s insurance does not pay for your medical treatment until the very end of the case at the time you settle your case. Think of it more as a reimbursement. However, your medical providers will expect to get paid right away, at the time of treatment. What about your health insurance? Unfortunately your health insurance has co-pays, deductibles you must meet, and they don’t cover all treatments. Therefore, purchasing PIP is a very good idea.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage:

Third is Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist (UIM). 17.4% of Washington drivers do not have insurance. That means you’ve got a 1 in 6 chance of getting in a collision with a driver who has no insurance. How do you like those odds? What are you going to do if a person with no insurance rear-ends you? Unfortunately, there is not a whole lot you can do, which is why UIM is so important. UIM will pay for all the damages caused by the uninsured or underinsured driver.

Collision Coverage:

The fourth type of coverage is collision. Collision coverage pays for damage to your vehicle from an accident regardless of who may be at fault. Collision coverage pays for repair or replacement of a vehicle, up to the fair market value of the vehicle, subject to a deductible which may range from $250 to $1,000. You can reduce the cost of this coverage by choosing a higher deductible amount.

Comprehensive Coverage:

The fifth type of coverage is comprehensive. This coverage protects your vehicle from damage caused by fire, theft, vandalism, weather, glass breakage and contact with an animal. Note, however, that this coverage usually does not cover such “portable” items as cassette tapes, CDs, personal music devices (iPods, etc.), tape decks or cell or car phones. Coverage for these items can typically be added by specific endorsement.

Other Insurance Options:

Other coverage which is typically offered includes towing and car rental. For a small additional cost, these benefits are usually worthwhile to have on your policy, as towing and car rental costs can be substantial if you are hit by an uninsured driver and have no other way to obtain coverage for these items.

What Next?

You are now armed with the knowledge of the types of auto insurance coverage you need to protect you. Review your insurance declaration page to find out what type of insurance coverage you actually have, rather than blindly believing you have “full coverage.” If you discover that you need to add coverage, contact a reputable insurance agent and have the above coverage added to your policy.

Seattle Car Accident Lawyer

5 Things To Do After A Car Accident

1. Call the Police.

This may seem obvious, but most people do not call the police if the collision was not extremely severe. This is a huge mistake. Tell the police you are injured and demand that they come to the scene. The police will interview everyone involved, and make their police report.  You’d be surprised how often the at-fault driver will change their story after they’ve had a few days to ruminate about what happened. They will change their story and put the blame back on you. However, if you have a solid police report that was taken shortly after the incident, you can use this later in your case to prove what happened.

Seattle Car Accident Attorney

2. Ask for an Ambulance.

Your body will go into shock after a sudden, unexpected car collision. Your adrenaline gets pumping so your injuries will not be so obvious. Although you may feel “fine,” it’s still important to get checked out. A trained EMT will help you calm down. Once you calm down, injury symptoms will likely start to show themselves. If you say you are not injured at the scene, but get medical treatment later, insurance companies may argue that the injuries were not caused by the collision.

Car Accident Attorney in Seattle

3. Take Photographs of Everything and Get Witness Contact Info.

Take photos of all the vehicles involved. Take photos of the other driver’s car from all angles. Take photos of your vehicle from all angles. Often damage to the outside of the vehicles will not be severe, but damage underneath the vehicle is extensive. Take photos from underneath the vehicle if you can. Take photos of the roadway and the conditions as they existed at the time. Take photos of the other person’s drivers license and insurance card. Finally, obtain the name, phone number, and address of everyone who witnessed the collision. Together with the police report, photographs, and eyewitness statements, you can prove what happened.

Car Accident Lawyer in Seattle

4. Contact Your Insurance Company.

Immediately after the collision, contact your own insurance company and report the collision and your injuries. You may have certain insurance benefits available to you such as Personal Injury Protection or “PIP” for short. PIP will pay for your medical treatment as you incur it. The other driver’s insurance company will not pay for your medical treatment immediately, but will only reimburse you at the time of settlement. This is a problem because  your medical providers will expect to get paid right away. And if they don’t get paid, they will send your bills to collections, which will damage your credit. Don’t worry about your insurance rates increasing. If the collision was not your fault, your rates will not increase. However, do not talk to the other driver’s insurance company until you’ve completed Step 5.

Car Accident Lawyer in Seattle

5. Talk to an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney.

Without an attorney, the other driver’s insurance company will take advantage of you. Trust me, they are not a “good neighbor” and you are not in “good hands.” They will look for any way to delay and deny paying your claim. A personal injury attorney will immediately step in and take over all communications with the insurance company. Other benefits of hiring an attorney include finding you the best possible medical care, recouping your lost wages, and obtaining the best possible settlement. An experienced personal injury attorney will provide a free consultation and will work on a contingency fee, which means you don’t pay an attorney fee unless they win your case. The attorney fee is a percentage of the total recovery that the attorney obtains on your behalf.

Follow these five steps after a car accident and you will protect your legal rights and set yourself up for a successful resolution of your case.

Car Accident Lawyer
Dog Bite Lawyer In Wa

Dog Bites: How to get paid for your injuries and medical treatment.

Dog bites are among the most frightening types of injuries many people can suffer. Such attacks are very up close and personal, and often horrifically fulfill the fear or wariness of dogs that many have had since childhood.

Money Damages Available

If you’ve suffered a dog bite, you need to exercise your legal rights to compensation from the dog owner. The dog owner is responsible to pay for your medical bills, lost wages, scarring, and pain, suffering, and inconvenience.

Homeowners Insurance

If you want to receive money compensation for your dog bite, you will have to make a claim with the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance or renters insurance policy. The money exists in these insurance policies to compensate people who have been wrongfully injured. However, do not expect compensation to come easy. Insurance companies will fight long and hard to prevent paying out on a claim. You may even have to file a lawsuit in court to receive compensation.

The Defense

A strategy the insurance company will use against you is the “Provocation Defense,” which is a complete defense to liability if they demonstrate that you provoked the dog prior to the attack. The word “provoke” is a vague term. It can mean any number of things. Expect the insurance company and their lawyers to twist the facts against you and allege that it was your fault. They will argue that your actions somehow “provoked” the dog to bite you. But these defenses are often bogus and you must be prepared to fight.

Dog Owner Liability in Washington

In Washington State, dog owners are responsible for the injuries and damages their dog causes. The legal standard is called strict liability, which means that the dog owner does have to be negligent to be responsible. For example, it does not matter if the dog owner tied up their dog and their dog chewed through the leash or somehow got loose. The law does not care about the precaution the dog owner took.

Thus, the person who suffered the dog bite need only prove that the dog bite occurred. Here is the text of the actual law: RCW 16.08.040

(1) The dog bites any person;
(2) While the person is in a public place, or lawfully in a private place – including on the property of the owner;
(3) Regardless of whether or not the dog had previously demonstrated viciousness; and,
(4) Regardless of whether or not the owner was aware previously of the dog having vicious propensities.

As you can see, dogs do not get a get out of jail free card. You do not have to show that the owner knew of the dog’s viciousness. Again, you only have to show that you suffered a dog bite.

The most important step you can to take to have your injuries and medical treatment paid for after a dog bite is to talk with a personal injury lawyer. Banks Law Office always offers a free case evaluation and there is no fee unless we win your case. You never have to pay us up front out of your own pocket and we front all of the costs of your case. Contact us now to learn about your legal rights if you’ve suffered a dog bite.

 

The Law

Here is the text of Washington Laws relating to liability for animal bites:

In Washington, dog bite/attack liability is governed by statute, and specifically RCW 16.08.010 – 16.08.100.

RCW 16.08.010- Owner Liable for Injuries (and Costs thereof) Inflicted on Other Dogs by Owner’s Dog: Pursuant to this statute, the owner/keeper of
any dog is liable to the owner of any animal killed or injured by such dog for the amount of damages sustained and costs of collection.

RCW 16.08.020 – Lawful to Kill Dog Attacking or Killing Other Domestic Animals: This statute makes it lawful for a person who sees a dog chasing,
biting, injuring or killing any sheep, swine or domestic animal, including poultry (the “poultry inclusion” clause!), that belongs to them on their
property or on any public way to kill the attacking dog.

RCW 16.08.030 – Marauding Dogs: This statute requires (“shall”) that the owner of a marauding dog found killing any domestic animal kills such dog(s)
within 48 hours of being notified. Failure to comply with the statute will make the dog owner guilty of a misdemeanor. This statute also makes it the
duty of the sheriff to kill any marauding dog found at large without an identification tag.

RCW 16.08.040 – Strict Liability for Most Dog Bites: This is the general dog bite liability statute. This statute imposes strict liability upon owners of
dogs that:

(a) bite any person;
(b) 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 the dog;
(c) regardless of the former viciousness of the dog; and,
(d) regardless of the owner’s knowledge of prior viciousness.

RCW 16.08.050 – “Lawfully” Defined: This section defines when a person is “lawfully” upon private property of the dog owner for purposes of applying
the strict liability standard of RCW 16.080.40. A person is generally lawfully on the dog owner’s premises when upon the property based upon the implied
or express consent of the owner, provided that such consent will not be presumed when the property of the owner is fenced or reasonably posted.

RCW 16.08.060 – “Provocation” Defense: This statute provides the only defense to a dog bite/attack falling under the statutes – PROVOCATION –
stating that “Proof of provocation of the attack by the injured person shall be a complete defense to an action for damages.”

RCW 16.08.070 – .100: These statutory sections deal with the definition of a “dangerous dog” or “potentially dangerous dog” and the process by which a
dog may be properly declared to be “potentially dangerous” or “dangerous.” RCW 16.08.100 details the right of animal control authorities to confiscate a
dangerous dog, and .080 and .090 the registration, liability insurance/bond and restraint requirements imposed once a dog has been declared “dangerous.”

Washington Car Accident Lawyer

E-DUI Law Will Make You Pay for Using Your Phone While In Your Car, Even If You’re Stopped.

No Hand-Held Cell Phone Use While Driving

  • Even when stopped in traffic or at a traffic light
  • No typing messages or accessing information
  • No watching videos or using cameras

Cost

  • First E-DUI: $136
  • Second E-DUI (within five years): $234
  • All violations will be available to your insurance company and may lead to rate increases

You CAN Use Your Device If You Are:

  • Hands-free (such as using Bluetooth) and can start use by a single touch or swipe without holding the phone
  • Parked or out-of-the-flow of traffic
  • Starting your GPS or music before you drive
  • Contacting emergency services

Dangerously Distracted

You can also get a $99 ticket for other types of distractions such as grooming, smoking, eating, or reading if the activity interferes with safe driving, and you are pulled over for another traffic offense.

Why?

  • Fatalities from distracted driving increased 32 percent from 2014 to 2015 in Washington.
  • 71 percent of distracted drivers engage in the most dangerous distraction, cell phone use behind the wheel
  • One out of four crashes involves cell phone use just prior to the crash.

Police in Bellevue will have a new reason to pull you over starting this Sunday, July 23rd. It will be against the law for Washington drivers to use hand-held electronics while they are driving. A Driving Under the Influence of Electronics ticket, an E-DUI, will cost more than before, they will go on your record, and they will be reported to your insurance.

Texting or holding a phone to your ear while driving is already illegal in Washington state, and the new law expands the distracted driving law to outlaw handling a phone behind the wheel for any reason, even when stopped in traffic or at a red light.

To read the actual language of the law, click here: RCW 46.61.668

To learn more about your rights,  contact Bellevue DUI attorney James Banks for a free consultation.

Boating Under The Influence

Boating Under the Influence – 4th of July Weekend

Law enforcement will be out in full force this 4th of July Weekend. You better believe they are looking to make some arrests on Lake Sammamish and Lake Washington for BUI. Operating a boat impaired is a danger to the public and the rest of the people on the water. Being alcohol-free is the safest way to enjoy the water. The Washington campaign for BUI is Operation Dry Water.

You can be convicted of a Washington BUI Lake Sammamish, Lake Washington under 3 scenarios:

  1. You have an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher as shown by analysis of your breath.
  2. You have a THC concentration of 5.00 or higher as shown by analysis of your blood.
  3. You are under the influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor, marijuana, or any drug.

The law, RCW 79A.60.040, applies to all boats, motorized and non-motorized, which includes, kayaks, canoes and rafts that are being operated under the influence on Lake Washington or Lake Sammamish.

But here is the truth: it is legal to drink alcohol and enjoy being out on the water on a boat. Unlike when operating a motor vehicle on the roads, there is no law prohibiting the consumption of alcohol while operating a boat on Washington waters.

How will I likely be arrested for BUI on Lake Sammamish or Lake Washington?

The most likely scenario is if you have a lot of people on your boat, are listening to loud music, and everyone has a beer or solo cup in their hand. Like a shark to blood in the water, law enforcement will move in for the kill.

Unfortunately, you do not have much protection against invasions of privacy by law enforcement while out on the water. Reasons law law enforcement can stop your boat in Washington are this: they don’t have to have a reason. Law enforcement officers have the authority to stop and board your vessel to check for compliance with state and federal laws. While they are “checking for safety compliance,” in reality they are looking to make  a BUI arrest Lake Sammamish, Lake Washington.

What do I do if I am boarded?

Law enforcement will ask “Who is the designated operator?” They will then direct all safety compliance questions to that person. During questioning, they are looking for signs of intoxication, including slurred speech, blood shot watery eyes, smell of alcohol, and fumbling around for things.

Make sure the other people in the boat are paying attention. They will later serve as witnesses to your sobriety and are important fact witnesses to contradict law enforcement’s story that you were intoxicated.

Do I have to do field sobriety tests?

Absolutely NOT. A law enforcement officer who has reasonable cause to believe that a person operating a boat might be under the influence of alcohol, drugs or a combination of the two can ask that operator to submit to waterside testing. Like roadside testing in a DUI stop, the operator isn’t required to submit to any of those tests. Those include field sobriety tests when the law enforcement officer might sound as if he or she is demanding or commanding testing. Listen carefully, and he or she is only asking for testing. Politely refuse those tests “on the advice of your lawyer.” There are no consequences to refusing waterside tests, but if breath alcohol testing at the station is refused, there will be civil consequences as discussed below.

Why should I refuse waterside testing?

The law enforcement official will use waterside tests and your behavior to articulate the “reasonable ground” for suspecting BUI in order to lawfully arrest you. The important takeaway here is that there has to be more than just seeing an open container of alcoholic beverage on the boat. For example, a frequently-cited ground for detaining a vessel is when they observed the boat to have a visible wake in a “no wake” zone. But reasons like this can be challenged in court. Bellevue BUI lawyer Banks Law Office will fight the officer’s reason for arresting you for Lake Sammamish, Lake Washington BUI. We will fight to get your charge dismissed or reduced.

Unless you haven’t consumed any alcohol or ingested any marijuana, it’s recommended that you don’t perform field sobriety or any other type of sobriety or drug testing. If you do submit to testing, you’re likely giving the law enforcement officer who stopped you more reasons to place you under arrest for Lake Sammamish, Lake Washington BUI. You’re also giving a prosecutor more evidence to convict you with. Your performance on waterside testing will likely be recorded and shown to a jury. Politely refuse any testing whatsoever without a search warrant. Whether you comply with all test requests or not, your boat is probably going to be towed to an impound facility anyway.

Can I refuse the breath test?

There are two types of breathalyzers: the portable test the officer will have on his person and the official breath test machine at the police station. Always REFUSE the portable test the officer has on his person because it is voluntary. However, refusing the test at the station will have significant consequences.

After you are arrested for BUI on Lake Sammamish or Lake Washington, the law  enforcement officer will take you back to the police station for a breathalyzer test. Can you refuse the breathalyzer at the station? The short answer is Yes, you may refuse the test. However, there are serious consequences. If you do refuse, you will automatically receive a $1,000.00 fine. Further, RCW 3.62.090 (the public safety and education assessment) adds 105% to the penalty, so the total fine could be up to $2,050.00. Ultimately, the decision is up to you to refuse.

What law enforcement agency can stop you?

Washington State Park rangers, Fish and Wildlife officers, city police officers, deputy sheriffs, and all other officers with law enforcement authority enforce the boating laws of Washington. If you are boating on open water in Washington State you come under the jurisdiction of both Washington State and federal law.  This means that the local police, state police, and the federal Coast Guard may enforce the Washington State BUI laws.

Contact Bellevue BUI Lawyer for a Free Consultation

You don’t want to be under the thumb of law enforcement, a prosecutor or the courts under any circumstances. Just because a Washington BUI doesn’t carry the same consequences as a DUI doesn’t mean that that you don’t need a knowledgeable and experienced attorney at your side who will require the prosecution to prove its case against you beyond a reasonable doubt. A BUI Lake Washington, Lake Sammamish conviction will likely require compliance of the same sentencing conditions as a DUI. It just doesn’t have the same penalties.

Don’t give the prosecution the evidence it needs to convict you with a Lake Sammamish, Lake Washington BUI. Unless you haven’t been drinking or used marijuana, don’t take any tests, and call us right away. Protect and preserve your rights. Without a search warrant, law enforcement can’t make you take any tests at all on a BUI. You may have felt intimidated when law enforcement stopped you and later charged you with a Washington BUI, but defenses and alternatives exist. Retaining a knowledgeable and experienced Bellevue BUI defense lawyer can turn a case around while protecting your liberty, job and future. Contact us right away after any Washington BUI arrest for a free case consultation and evaluation. We’ll give you the best BUI defense that you can get for Lake Washington, Lake Sammamish BUI.

I hope you have a fun, safe, and enjoyable 4th of July out on the water!

Prove Your Wage Loss Claim

Prove Your Wage Loss Claim

If you were injured in a Bellevue car or motorcycle accident and missed time from work, you have the legal right to recover your lost wages from the insurance company. This includes vacation time or paid time off (PTO) that you were forced to use. The at fault driver who caused the Bellevue car or motorcycle accident is on the hook to compensate you.

There are two elements required to prove that your Bellevue car or motorcycle accident injuries are the reason you missed work and have a wage loss claim.

Your Doctor’s Opinion

The first element is that your doctor must prescribe your time off from work. You must go to the doctor and get examined for your injuries and symptoms you allege were caused by the Bellevue car or motorcycle accident. You must explain to your doctor what you do for work and if your injuries interfere with your ability to complete your work duties, or if your work duties cause you pain. Your doctor will then tell you not to work for a specific number of days until they have the opportunity to re-examine you and clear you to go back to work.

Employer Verification

The second element is that you must actually not go to work. Your employer must complete a wage loss verification form that outlines your position, duties, rate of pay, and days missed from work. This documentation should be obtained as soon as possible after returning to work.

Although the above seems straightforward, difficult issues about wage loss claims may arise where the person injured in a Bellevue car or motorcycle accident is self employed, has periodic wage loss, loses out on overtime/fringe benefits, or the injured person is paid under the table.

This is a general guideline to prove your wage loss claim. Banks Law Office – personal injury attorney Bellevue – has the experience to gather the necessary documentation to recover your lost wages that resulted from being injured in a Bellevue car or motorcycle accident.

Washington Car Accident Attorney

Get a Rental Car After an Accident

If you’ve been in a car accident, one of your first concerns is getting a rental car. After being injured in a car accident, you will need a vehicle to get to your doctor appointments, get to work, and take care of your family.

When Can I Get the Rental Car?

Immediately. If your vehicle is damaged and undriveable, the at fault driver is required to rent a car for you or pay you for the loss of use of your car during the period of which the car is getting fixed or replaced.

How Long Can I Keep the Rental Car?

If your car is being repaired, you are entitled to a rental from the day that it goes in the repair shop until the day that your repair is finished.

 What Kind of Rental Car Can I Get?

The rental vehicle provided should be comparable to the vehicle damaged in the accident. If you were driving a pickup truck, it is not reasonable for your replacement vehicle to be a subcompact.

What If My Car is a Total Loss?

The insurance company will typically pay for your rental car until the day they make their offer.  Some insurance companies will allow you a couple of extra days in the rental so you can car shop or it might take time for them to get you the check.  The number of days they allow is negotiable and some will allow up to 5 days.  The courteous, cooperative, and professional people usually get more grace days here than the chronic complainers.

What If I Don’t Need a Rental?

If you have a second car or a friend’s car to borrow, ask the at-fault adjuster to “CASH YOU OUT” for your rental. The legal term for this is known as “loss of use.” You should be given a check for the daily rate that you were entitled to for the time frame of your repair. You should also be cashed out for any day that you did not have a rental when you were entitled to have one.

The above procedure should go smoothly when the other drive is clearly at fault and their insurance company accepts liability. However, when the other driver’s insurance company is being difficult or refuses to accept responsibility, then you will need to go through your own insurance company.

How to Use My Own Rental Coverage?

Read your policy or talk to your insurance adjuster to find out if you have rental coverage through your own insurance company. If you do, they will pay for your rental car while your car gets fixed. Your insurance company will, in turn, fight the at-fault driver’s insurance company to get compensated for the money they paid for your rental car once we get resolved the responsibility for the motor vehicle crash.

The key is to apply pressure to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. The pressure you can apply is limited if you do not have a lawyer because you do not have a hammer (lawsuits are hammers). But you can still apply pressure on the insurer to do the right thing. Keep in mind that you have to comply with the time limit to bring a claim in your jurisdiction.

What Should I Do If I Have Suffered a Serious Injury in My Car Accident?

We handle serious injury auto accidents cases in Washington. We have successfully resolved hundreds of motor vehicle collision cases, earning over $10 million in compensation for personal injury victims in settlements and trial verdicts.

If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a car accident, call us at 206-229-9475 for a free consultation.

Personal Injury Lawyer

How to prove the other driver was at fault?

Interested in proving how the driver, hospital, manufacturer, or property owner, is responsible for your harm? How about empowering the jury to assess a full money verdict against the defendant?

Rules of the Road, Roadmap to a Winning System is a series of six videos about using the Rules of the Road method to win cases. In Roadmap to a Winning System, Rules of the Road co-author Patrick Malone, joined by guest speakers Mark Kosieradzki and psychodramist Louise Lipman, provides comprehensive tools that enable you to use to use the Rules of the Road method to strengthen the following aspects of your case: Initial case analysis, shaping and framing your argument, structuring and conveying your case’s story during trial, taking depositions and utilizing the power of 30(b)(6) depositions, cross-examination and dealing with adverse witnesses, preparing witnesses, using psychodrama to improve your case, discussing damages in closing, and bookending your case with an effective opening statement and closing argument.

Pat Malone also incorporates fundamentals developed over the years by David Ball, the Reptile (though not explicitly mentioned), reframing, and psychodrama. Mr. Malone will teach you how these concepts work together and supplement each other. The lecture by psychodramatist Louise Lipman, who teaches at Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyers College, arguably has nothing to do with the Rules of the Road method. Nonetheless, the concepts of Doubling and Role Reversal you learn will strengthen witness testimony and allow you to become a more persuasive advocate for your clients. Not only are you taught these various methods, you are also shown how to execute them.

I favor learning from books over lectures, but reading about trial techniques can sometimes feel abstract, and I am left guessing how the concept works in real life. The most powerful benefit of learning from the videos is watching Pat Malone put the methods in to action. For example, he discusses cross examination in general: the purpose, the goals, and the problems with most cross examinations. Then he walks you through five “Witness Related Rules” to cross examine and slay any defense expert. Finally, he shows you how to apply the Rules of the Road method by performing a mock cross examination of a typical defense medical doctor, who answers questions how you would expect Dr. Bays, Dr. Ghidella, Dr. Blue, and the other usual suspects we encounter on a regular basis. Watching the practical application of the Rules of the Road methods aided in my understanding of the concepts and made them more digestible, leaving me with feelings that “I can do this!” and “I can’t wait to do this, this looks fun!” This momentum carried throughout the entire 7.8 hours of content. The methods are brilliant in their simplicity and have the power to transform difficult cases in to winnable cases that are fun to litigate and take to trial.

Moe Levine

The Summation, by Moe Levine

Moe Levine (1908-1974) is one of the greatest trial lawyers of all time. Moe’s ideas are timeless and are more relevant today than ever. According to Trial Guides, only two videos of Moe Levine are known to exist, and The Summation (filmed in 1966) has been secretly handed around by the nation’s leading trial lawyers on old VHS tapes for decades. In The Summation, Moe talks about the philosophical approach to closing argument in personal injury cases. He addresses how to talk with the jury about both liability and damages. The Summation beautifully blends inspiration with practical advice and you will find yourself listening to the audio CD in your car and watching the DVD over and over again. My review below covers just a few of the concepts Moe talks about in The Summation.

Moe begins with the idea that advocacy is an art, not a science, and he gives his reflections on the nature of advocacy: it’s purposes, it’s goals, and some of the methods of expressing and fulfilling the art.

A Meaningful Verdict – The Jury as the Voice of the Conscience of the Community:

In considering the nature of a jury, Moe suggests understanding the philosophy and motivations of the jury.  Lawyers should begin with the presumption that the jury is not there willingly. Forget telling them what a great honor it is for them to serve as a juror because for them it is not. They have been taken from their lives, taken from their work, taken from their families, and forced to come to a courtroom to listen to the problems with which they are relatively unconcerned. Jurors would prefer not to be involved in this type of nonsense. So Moe teaches us to presume that the very least a jury may wish will be that the verdict which they will eventually render will have been a meaningful verdict.

What is a meaningful verdict? For Moe, a meaningful verdict is a verdict in which the juror, when he is allowed to talk about the case after he has decided it, can go back home and say to his wife, children, neighbors, ‘Neighbors, I was just on a case. These were the facts. This is the decision I made,’ with the expectation that the decision he rendered upon the facts and arguments that he will present will be acceptable to his community.

So how do we talk with the jury about finding a meaningful verdict? One of the most powerful ideas Moe presents in The Summation is that the jury is “the voice of the conscience of the community.” An example Moe provides to illustrate this concept is a slip and fall case, and he would say to the jury in closing argument: “You tell all the people in this town who run stores of this kind what you expect their conduct to be. Because you, the voices of the conscience of this community, will determine what the standard is.”

Can you see what Moe has done? He allows the jury to become personally involved in the case. He empowers the jury to make a decision on behalf of the community. And he tells the jury that they have the power to influence the community through its verdict. The jury is subjectively involved because their decision will have an impact on the community in which they live. Moe goes on to explain that when the jury can express the conscience of the community then indeed they will have expressed a meaningful verdict, which is a verdict they can go home and report upon with pride.

The necessity of reframing issues has exploded in recent years with the progress of concepts like “Rules of the Road” and “Reptile” style of trial advocacy. An oversimplification of the technique is to frame the issues in your case so each juror feels personally involved with enforcing the community’s rules the defendant violated. As you will see in The Summation, Moe was reframing issues for the jury over 40 years ago.

It’s Not What They Take From You, It’s What They Leave You:

Moe’s approaches to damages are as brilliant and timeless as his ideas on liability. He explains what he feels is the most important concept in damages: “It isn’t what they take from you that constitutes damages, it’s what they leave you.” Moe’s idea is that rather than calculate what the plaintiff has lost, the analysis focuses on where the plaintiff is left after his injury. Moe provides a number of examples to illustrate. He asks, “Suppose you had a million dollars, and I took five hundred thousand dollars away. I would have taken a great deal of money from you but I would have left you with a half million dollars. And when you think of it that isn’t too bad and you are not left really resource-less. But suppose you had one dollar, and I took the dollar away from you. You didn’t have very much, but I took it all. I left you with nothing.” In another example, he states that “in the darkest night the smallest candle makes the darkness tolerable. You blow out the candle, and you are left with the abysmal fear of blackness: no light left. You have taken it all.”

Moe teaches that it is not necessary to make your client look worse or more damaged than he really is through the use of excessive stretching of before and after. Instead, consider showing that before the injury causing incident, your client didn’t have much, and focus on what your client is left with, because when you don’t have much, losing even a little means a lot.

Throughout The Summation, Moe goes in and out of delivering a closing argument as if the audience is the jury. Then he explains the concepts and nuances of the arguments. This presentation format is helpful because the listener gets to hear how the arguments are delivered, with the pauses, pace, and tone that are essential for communicating these messages.

The Summation is both inspiring and practical. After listening, I think you will find yourself excited about the opportunities your jury trials provide to make our community a better place. I believe Moe will motivate you to think in a new way, a better way, about how you will present your case to the jury.

Personal Injury Lawyer In Seattle

Putting the “Personal” Back in “Personal Injury Lawyer”

Protecting the community. Enforcing safety rules. Holding wrongdoers accountable. Fighting for justice: the life of a personal injury lawyer.

Accepting the responsibility of helping injured people is gratifying: we uphold the values of the community and make a difference in people’s lives.

What We Are up Against

In today’s economic and legal climate, obtaining fair compensation for people injured by the wrongful conduct of others requires many skills not taught in law school. Personal injury lawyers need to understand how and why ordinary people make decisions. For decades, citizens (our jury pool) have been “tainted” by a media blitz that has created a bias against injured people who are forced to sue because the insurance company won’t pay fair compensation.

Insurance companies are tight-fisted with settlement money. The latest tactic by big insurance companies is to force injured people to either accept far less than fair compensation or file a lawsuit. Thus, personal injury lawyers must prepare every part of the case with the mindset of going to trial. Because personal injury attorneys go to trial often, they must be passionate about trial practice.

Personal injury lawyers face a formidable opponent. Insurance company lawyers are highly skilled. They are more experienced and better financed by rich and powerful corporations. They have one job: to defeat us. Thus, personal injury lawyers must never underestimate the forces we are up against. This fight is a battle of David v. Goliath. But the most powerful army does not always win.

Getting to Know Your Clients

Representing injured people at trial requires skillful advocacy. People put their life and well-being in your hands. It is up to you, as their lawyer, to obtain money damages for medical expenses, lost earnings, and the critically important “human” damages also known as general damages. As a trial lawyer, your job is to show 12 members of the jury that the defendant must be held accountable and that your client is entitled to a certain amount of compensation.

Successful personal injury lawyers understand the emotional content of their clients’ injuries. They know how to humanize their clients to the jury. The story of the case is not just about a person who was injured in a car crash and suffered damages. When our clients suffer a physical injury at the hands of another person, there is more to the injury than just physical pain. This understanding begins with learning about the client and developing a relationship based on security and trust. This allows the client to share his feelings and experiences with the jury in a way that the jury can relate to.

Yes, we are lawyers, but we are people first. We are real people, with real feelings and real emotions, and we represent ordinary folks who have suffered a traumatic event in their lives. Law school taught us that reasoning and logic win cases. But people make decisions first based on how they feel, and then rationalize their decision with logic, like building a house and then propping it up on stilts.

Before we meet with our clients, we should reflect on the larger sociological issues involved. We need to understand that societal norms create barriers to communication. For example, American males are conditioned from a young age to suppress their feelings and shut down their emotions. Asking a male client how the injury makes him “feel” will likely elicit a non-responsive answer because many men feel uncomfortable expressing their feelings.

We also need to be sensitive to cultural issues. I have more success connecting on a gut level with ethnically diverse clients when I’m aware of the cultural issues at work. Only then am I able to break down walls and get my clients to express their true feelings about how their injuries have affected their lives. Everyone is uncomfortable on some level expressing their feelings. Do not expect clients to open up on the first meeting. Rather, this process takes time. Expect to spend several meetings, over several hours, with your clients, especially clients of diverse backgrounds, before they open up and fully express how their injuries have impacted their lives.

Techniques to Connect on a Deeper Level

Lawyers should learn interviewing techniques based on concepts employed by psychologists, psychotherapists, and psychodramatists. Meet your clients at their home. It is not enough to merely obtain the facts from your client as you sit in your office asking questions from across your desk. People are more comfortable expressing their feelings in a safe, comfortable place. Your client’s living room is a perfect place to have a conversation. Shed the attorney façade. Leave your suit and tie at home. Look your client in the eye. Be real. Be sincere. When your client is done talking, let silence fill the room and feel the connection.

Learn to use open-ended questions. Open-ended questions require more than a yes or no answer and generally begin with, “who, what, when, where, why, or how.” If your question doesn’t start with one of these words, it’s probably not an open-ended question. Use follow-up statements like, “Tell me more about that,” to keep the person talking.

An effective technique to get your client to open up is “psychodrama.” This technique involves reenacting scenes from your client’s life. It is like a short, spontaneous play. Rather than having your client tell you what happened, have your client show you. This gets your client into the present tense by reliving the experience, making his emotions more accessible. When this occurs, we can get to the heart of the emotions experienced by our client.

We should invest our time meeting our clients’ family and friends, accompanying clients on activities, and experiencing how the injuries impact their lives. We don’t learn our case by spending time in the office pouring over transcripts and medical records. We learn our case by understanding how the client experiences life with his injury, and this can only be accomplished by spending time with our clients outside the office. We don’t know our client’s story until we’ve lived it and felt it within the deepest place of our gut. This is the place where we learn the details that make our client human and the stories that resonate with a jury.

Credibility is necessary to be a successful trial lawyer. Credibility originates with feelings. To credibly tell a jury about our client’s injuries and the impact that these injuries have on his life, we must feel what our clients feel. We must experience the emotions that our clients experience. Only then are we able to tell our client’s story to a jury in a way that will move them to award a verdict that fairly compensates the client.

Seattle Injury Law Firm

How to prove your injuries were caused by the accident?

After an accident, the insurance companies and their paid opinion doctors will allege one of three things: (1) You were not injured in the collision, or (2) You did not suffer all of the injuries you claim, or (3) The injuries aren’t as bad as you say. You must be ready with your own doctors’ opinions to support your case.

In order to recover damages and money from the insurance company for the injuries you’ve suffered in a car accident, your doctor must say that in his medical opinion your injuries were caused by the accident.

But how do doctors determine if you injuries were caused by the accident?

Your doctors may use the Three Step Causation Methodology. This framework is accepted in the medical community, by the courts, and is based on a valid scientific method.To determine if your injuries are related to the accident, follow this step-by-step process:

  1. General causation: Is it biologically possible for the type of injury you suffered to have been caused by the type of collision you were in?
  2. Timing: did your symptoms of injury show up shortly after the accident?
  3. Lack of a more probable alternative explanation: does another event better explain your injuries and symptoms?

Your doctor can use this three-step analysis to form their opinion about whether your injuries were caused by the accident. Your injuries and symptoms are related to the accident if it is physically possible that the accident can cause that type of injury, the symptoms started shortly after the accident, and there is no other explanation for what you are feeling. This method was developed by Michael D. Freeman, Christopher J. Centeno & Sean S. Kohles, A Systematic Approach to Clinical Determinations of Causation in Symptomatic Spinal Disk Injury Following Motor Vehicle Crash Trauma, 1 Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation 951 (October 2009).

The three steps are discussed in more detail below:

First, general causation: could your injury have been caused by the collision? Is this possible? This is usually a fairly low hurdle and it’s usually fairly simple.  Doctors will rely on medical literature and peer reviewed journals to determine the answer to this question. For example, there is as lot of literature that shows very specifically if you get rear-ended, you injure your back, including whiplash, sprains / strains, disc herniations and facet joint injuries.

Insurance companies and their lawyers often argue that the speed of vehicles and force on your body was not sufficient to cause your injuries. If photos of your vehicle after an accident show little damage, the insurance companies love to argue that the small amount of damage to your vehicle proves you could not have been injured. However, the medical literature says that speed and velocity is not a reliable predictor of injury, and damage to a vehicle is not a reliable predictor of injury. Your doctor only has to determine if it is plausible that a collision caused your injury.

The second step is timing: also known as the temporal relationship. How soon after the collision did your symptoms begin? The closer in time to the collision, the more likely the injury was caused by the collision. If too much time passes between the accident, then it is unlikely your injuries are related to the accident. This is a very important factor, so you must report ALL your symptoms and injuries to your doctor as soon as possible.

The third and final step is Alternative Explanation: Is something else more likely that we can attribute to this? This is also known as a differential diagnosis, which is the process by which the doctor ‘rules in’ all scientifically plausible causes of the injury. The doctor then ‘rules out’ the least plausible causes of injury until the most likely cause remains. Doctors rely on medical literature, a physical examination, diagnostic testing, and your pre-existing medical history. Essentially, the doctor is looking for anything else that would be a more likely cause of your injury, other than the accident. Still, the doctor does not have to eliminate all other possible causes of the injury.

Ultimately, this injury causation method is accepted in the medical community, by the courts, and is based on a valid scientific method. When you try to face an insurance company by yourself after being injured in a car accident, the insurance companies and their paid opinion doctors will allege that you were not injured in the collision, or that you did not suffer all of the injuries you claim, or that the injuries aren’t as bad as you say.

When you hire Banks Law Office, we work directly with your doctors to ensure that their opinions are strong enough to withstand scrutiny in Court. And we ensure that all of the injuries you suffered in the accident are supported by reliable medical testimony so that we can overcome the insurance companies defenses and obtain a full and fair money verdict or settlement for your injuries.

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