Washington Personal Injury Verdicts and Settlements

This page examines settlement amounts and jury awards in personal injury cases in the state of Washington. Our attorneys also provide a general overview of Washington personal injury law.

As a personal injury plaintiff in Washington, it’s natural to want to understand the potential range of settlement payouts for your claim. After all, money is ultimately the goal of a personal injury or wrongful death claim.

This page aims to explore how personal injury cases have been resolved in Washington, allowing you to compare your claim with Washington personal injury settlement statistics and examples of settlements and jury awards.

Keep in mind that no two cases are identical, and sometimes the factors that drive the settlement payout of a case are not always apparent in a case summary. That’s why we present this information and why you visited this page, even considering all the warnings about the limited value of statistics, sample settlements, and verdicts.

Washington Personal Injury Verdicts and Settlements

  • 2023, Washington: $110,388 Verdict. The plaintiff was operating his tow truck proceeding thru the the intersection of Boren Avenue and Pine Street in Seattle, when the defendant ran a red light and struck him from the side at high speed. The plaintiff’s alleged injuries included a lumbar facet joint injury requiring injections and radiofrequency ablation. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); anxiety while driving and panic attack requiring counseling.
  • 2023, Washington: $3,723,723 Settlement. Wrongful death case in which the decedent, 79-year-old adult male with a wife a 2 adult children, was killed from blunt force trauma caused when commercial truck operator failed to stop at a red light, striking the decedent’s vehicle in a “T-bone” collision.
  • 2022, Washington: $1,850,000 Verdict. A pedestrian was struck at an intersection. She suffered a concussion, cerebral contusions, a right arm degloving injury, skin lacerations and tears, a right leg fracture, and a lacerated liver. The woman sustained post-traumatic stress disorder. She alleged that the at-fault driver’s negligence caused her injuries. The King County jury awarded $1,850,000.
  • 2022, Washington: $441,090 Verdict. A 45-year-old cyclist was struck. He suffered a SLAP tear, a concussion, and an ankle injury. He underwent multiple surgeries. The man alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. He claimed she failed to yield to a pedestrian and maintain an appropriate lookout. The jury awarded $441,090.
  • 2022, Washington: $97,772 Verdict. A 30-something cyclist was struck at an intersection. She suffered facial fractures, facial numbness, jaw pain, spinal sprains and strains, muscle spasms, and right hip, left ankle, and wrist sprains. The woman also sustained facial deformities, muscle spasms, limited mobility, and radiculopathy. She alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. The woman claimed he failed to watch the road. Following arbitration, she received $97,772.
  • 2022, Washington: $350,000 Verdict. A 48-year-old woman was involved in two collisions. The first was a head-on collision in a parking lot. The woman injured her neck, back, and knee. She also sustained a traumatic brain injury. The second collision was a rear-ender on the highway. The woman suffered the aggravation of her sustained injuries from the first collision. She alleged negligence against the two at-fault drivers. The woman claimed they failed to maintain an appropriate lookout. A King County jury awarded $350,000.
  • 2021, Washington: $361,125 Verdict. A man was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer. He sustained cervical and lumbar injuries. The man alleged negligence against the truck driver. He claimed he failed to slow down, control his vehicle, and maintain an appropriate lookout. The jury awarded $361,125.
  • 2021, Washington: $6,044,287 Verdict. A baby boy experienced breathing difficulties at birth. He underwent intubation. The boy suffered multiple airway injuries, including a vocal cord tear. He underwent a tracheotomy. The boy was hospitalized for 21 months. He experienced emotional and cognitive delays. The boy’s parents alleged negligence against the hospital. They claimed its staff failed to properly intubate him and receive their informed consent. The jury awarded $6,044,287.
  • 2021, Washington: $168,000 Verdict. A 33-year-old man was T-boned in a chain-reaction collision. He suffered a concussion, cervical bulges and protrusions, a right elbow contusion, and sprains and strains to his right ankle, right shoulder, left hip, and lower back. The man alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. He claimed she failed to safely operate her vehicle and yield the right-of-way. The man received $168,000.
  • 2021, Washington: $93,794 Verdict. A 58-year-old woman was T-boned. She fractured her right hand. She also sustained soft-tissue spinal injuries. The woman’s injuries did not require surgery. She alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. The woman claimed he failed to safely turn left and yield the right-of-way. A jury awarded her $93,794.
  • 2020, Washington: $2,500,000 Settlement. A 68-year-old woman underwent a spinal revision. Following the procedure, the woman experienced severe blood loss. She underwent intubation. The woman suffered an epidural hematoma in her spine. She developed cord compression. The woman sustained permanent neurological impairments. She also developed bilateral leg sensation loss, neurogenic bladder, and bowel. The woman now uses a motorized wheelchair. She alleged negligence against the hospital. Her Washington personal injury lawyer claimed its staff failed to timely address the hematoma and poorly communicated amongst themselves. This case settled for $2,500,000.
  • 2020, Washington: $8,250,000 Settlement. A 28-year-old woman underwent a C-section. She lost over three liters of blood. The woman underwent a large transfusion. She received a Bakari balloon that dislodged. The hospital staff replaced it. The woman underwent an emergency hysterectomy. During the procedure, the woman suffered cardiac arrest. She died hours later. The woman’s family alleged negligence against the hospital. Her attorney filed a malpractice lawsuit claiming the hospital staff provided substandard care and failure to provide timely treatment. This case settled for $8,250,000.
  • 2019, Washington: $67,000 Verdict. A woman was involved in three separate collisions. She was T-boned in the first and rear-ended in the second and third collisions. The woman sustained a traumatic brain injury, a trapezius strain, a separated right acromioclavicular joint, spinal strains, a strained right shoulder, a strained left hip, and a strained left hand. She alleged negligence against the at-fault drivers. The woman claimed the at-fault driver in the first collision neglected to yield the right-of-way, while the at-fault drivers in the second and third collisions tailgated her. A jury awarded $67,000.
  • 2019, Washington: $23,900,000 Verdict. A newborn girl experienced a nuchal cord. She was also unresponsive. The girl was resuscitated thirty minutes later. She suffered hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. The girl sustained permanent brain damage. She was left with motor function and cognitive impairments. The now four-year-old girl was non-verbal, not potty trained, and frequently stumbled and fell. Her parents alleged negligence against the hospital. They claimed its staff failed to properly track their daughter’s heart rate, timely address fetal distress, and perform an emergency C-section. The jury awarded $23,900,000.

Washington Medical Malpractice Statistics (2022 Update)

In October 2021, Washington State’s Insurance Commissioner’s Office released their 2021 Medical Malpractice Annual Report. It reported the following:

  • Attorneys reported that plaintiffs received $151 million in total compensation for 120 claims. The average compensation per settlement was around $1.3 million. Attorney fees totaled $56 million. The average attorney fee amount was $467,352 per settlement. Attorney fees accounted for 37.1 percent of the total plaintiff compensation.
  • Lawsuits that settled had the highest average payout at $1.4 million. The average jury verdict payout was lower at $730,000.
  • Male plaintiff settlements were much higher than female plaintiffs. The average indemnity payments for male plaintiffs were 2.4 times higher, while the average legal expenses were 2.7 times higher.
  • Plaintiffs between 41 and 50 years old had the highest settlements at $1.7 million.
  • Between 2016 and 2020, insurers and self-insurers paid $754 million on over 1,700 claims. They paid an average of $437,040 per claim.
  • Medical malpractice cases primarily involved minor and temporary injuries. However, they only comprised 3.5 percent of total paid indemnity and 9.1 percent of total defense costs. Grave permanent injuries had the highest average paid indemnity and defense costs at $2.4 million and $176,135, respectively. Major permanent injuries had the second-highest at $1.2 million and $143,068.

Washington State Malpractice Law

Washington malpractice law encompasses the legal principles and procedures that govern the liability of healthcare professionals, such as doctors, nurses, and hospitals, for harm caused by negligence or other misconduct in the course of providing medical care. Medical malpractice cases in Washington State are primarily governed by the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) and the Washington Administrative Code (WAC), as well as common law principles developed by the state’s courts. This page aims to give you an overview that examines key aspects of Washington State’s malpractice law, including the standard of care, the statute of limitations, damage caps, and other procedural requirements. If you bookmark this page and use it as a resource, we will have done our job.

Standard of Care

A crucial component of any medical malpractice case is establishing the appropriate standard of care that the healthcare professional owed to the patient. In Washington State, the standard of care is defined as the degree of skill, care, and learning expected of a reasonably prudent healthcare provider in the same or similar circumstances. The standard of care varies depending on the specific medical field, procedure, and the patient’s individual circumstances. Expert testimony is usually required to establish the standard of care and whether the healthcare provider’s actions deviated from that standard, resulting in the patient’s harm.

Healthcare providers in Washington include physicians, dentists, nurses, optometrists, podiatric physicians and surgeons, chiropractors, physical therapists, psychologists, pharmacists, opticians, physician’s assistants, osteopathic physician’s assistants, nurse practitioners, and physician-trained mobile intensive care paramedics.

Breach of Standard of Care and Causation

To prevail in a medical malpractice case under Washington law, a plaintiff has the burden of proof to show that the healthcare provider breached the standard of care and that the breach was the proximate cause of the patient’s harm. Proximate cause requires a showing of both cause-in-fact (i.e., the harm would not have occurred but for the provider’s breach) and legal causation (i.e., the harm was a reasonably foreseeable result of the provider’s breach). Establishing causation can be challenging and typically involves expert testimony to demonstrate the connection between the healthcare provider’s actions and the patient’s injuries.

You need an expert in virtually all medical malpractice lawsuits in Washington. But there are exceptions, such as the doctrine of res judicata, which Washington courts are willing to use in the right circumstances.

Washington Malpractice Statute of Limitations

Washington State imposes a statute of limitations on medical malpractice claims to ensure that cases are brought within a reasonable time after the injury occurs. Under RCW 4.16.350, a medical malpractice lawsuit in Washington must be filed within three years of the act or omission that caused the injury or within one year of when the patient or their representative discovered or should have reasonably discovered the cause, whichever is later. However, no case can be filed more than eight years after the act or omission.

There are exceptions for cases involving fraud, intentional concealment, or foreign objects in the body that were not intended for treatment or diagnosis. In these cases, the time limit is extended, and the patient or their representative has one year from the date they become aware of the issue to file a lawsuit.

One harsh rule in Washington is that for minors, the knowledge of their parent or guardian is considered the same as the minor’s knowledge.

Malpractice Damage Caps in Washington

Washington State does not impose caps on damages in medical malpractice cases. In 1989, the Washington Supreme Court declared damage caps to be unconstitutional under the state constitution, as they violate the right to trial by jury. Consequently, plaintiffs in Washington State may recover the full extent of their economic and non-economic damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related losses.

Certificate of Merit Requirement

To help reduce the number of meritless medical malpractice claims, Washington State requires plaintiffs to obtain a certificate of merit before filing their case. According to RCW 7.70.150, the certificate of merit must be prepared by a qualified expert who has reviewed the relevant medical records and determined that there is a reasonable probability that the defendant’s conduct fell below the applicable standard of care and caused the plaintiff’s harm. The certificate of merit must be filed with the complaint or within 90 days after filing if the plaintiff can show good cause for the delay.

Joint and Several Liability

Washington State follows a modified rule of joint and several liability in medical malpractice cases. Under RCW 4.22.070, a defendant is only liable for their proportionate share of the plaintiff’s total damages, based on the defendant’s percentage of fault. However, joint and several liability may still apply if the defendants acted in concert, intentionally caused the harm, or if the court finds that the plaintiff is unable to collect from one of the defendants. In such cases, a defendant may be responsible for the full amount of the plaintiff’s damages, even if they are only partially at fault.

Vicarious Liability

In some situations, a hospital or other healthcare facility may be held vicariously liable for the negligence of its employees or independent contractors. Washington State follows the doctrine of respondeat superior, which holds employers responsible for the actions of their employees if the employee was acting within the scope of their employment when the harm occurred. Hospitals may also be held directly liable for their own negligence, such as failing to properly train or supervise staff or maintain a safe environment for patients.

Informed Consent in Washington

Doctors and other healthcare providers in Washington must share important information about the patient’s condition and suggested treatment plan. This helps the patient make an educated decision about their healthcare, as is based on their right to have the final say over what happens to their body.

So, under Washington State law, healthcare providers have a duty to obtain informed consent from their patients before performing any medical treatment, procedure, or surgery. Informed consent requires the provider to explain the risks, benefits, and alternatives of the proposed treatment, as well as the consequences of not receiving the treatment. Failure to obtain informed consent can give rise to a separate cause of action for medical malpractice, even if the treatment itself was not negligently performed.

RCW 7.70.030(3) codified that common law informed consent claim by stating that a patient can assert a claim when an “injury resulted from health care to which the patient or his or her representative did not consent.” RCW 7.70.050(1) then codified the elements required to prove such a claim:

(a) That the health care provider failed to inform the patient of a material fact or facts relating to the treatment;

(b) That the patient consented to the treatment without being aware of or fully informed of such material fact or facts;

(c) That a reasonably prudent patient under similar circumstances would not have consented to the treatment if informed of such material fact or facts;

(d) That the treatment in question proximately caused injury to the patient.

Expert Witness Requirements

Expert witnesses play a crucial role in medical malpractice cases in Washington State, as they help establish the standard of care, whether the healthcare provider’s actions deviated from that standard, and causation. An expert witness in a medical malpractice case must have knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education in the same or substantially similar healthcare profession as the defendant. The expert must also be actively engaged in clinical practice or teaching within the five years preceding the alleged act or omission, or be able to demonstrate that they have special expertise in the relevant subject matter.

Hiring a Washington Personal Injury Lawyer

Our firm handles serious injury and wrongful death lawsuits in Washington, working with trusted colleagues in Washington who also have a history of maximizing how much personal injury claims are worth. Our law firm compensates our local partners out of our own attorneys’ fees. So you pay absolutely nothing extra, and you have two law firms instead of one. If you were hurt and believe you have a potential claim and you want justice, click here for a free no-obligation consultation or call us today at 800-553-8082.

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