Washington Personal Injury Law & Settlements

Miller & Zois is a national personal injury law firm. Although we are based in Maryland, our firm routinely handles severe personal injury cases nationwide, including Washington state. Our firm has helped injury victims in Washington get compensation in various types of cases across the state, including medical malpractice, birth injuries, major auto accidents, and everything else.

Washington Personal Injury Verdicts & Settlements

$304,500 Verdict (King County 2023): The defendant was found liable for rear-ending the plaintiff’s vehicle. This incident resulted in severe neck and back injuries for one of the plaintiffs, including herniated discs in the cervical and lumbar regions. Furthermore, his spouse was awarded $4,500 for a loss of consortium claim. (Was this a wise claim to bring in a case like this?  Our accident lawyers would argue no in almost any herniated disc injury lawsuit.)

$60,000 Verdict (King County 2023): A Waste Management garbage truck struck the plaintiff from the side after the defendant driver failed to yield at a stop sign. The plaintiff alleged that she suffered a fractured ring finger, fractured clavicle, and continuing shoulder pain with limited range of motion. The jury awarded $60,000.

$128,238 Verdict (King County 2023): A 44-year-old plaintiff claimed to suffer injuries to his knee, shoulder, cervical, thoracic, and lumbar strains; anterior chest, shin, and bilateral flank contusions after being rear-ended by another driver. After settling with the at-fault driver, the plaintiff sought further damages under her uninsured motorist coverage.

$3,600,000 Verdict (Snohomish County 2023): The plaintiff was a pedestrian crossing a street in Edmonds, Washington, when struck by the defendant’s vehicle. The plaintiff claimed that she suffered injuries to the left leg and ankle, resulting in left ankle joint instability with a rupture of the ligament at the left ankle requiring surgery. Neck and shoulder pain and headaches were also alleged. The award only included $65,000 in economic damages.

$25,550 Verdict (King County 2023): The plaintiff was stopped at a red light on Pacific Hwy South near Dash Point Road South in Federal Way, Washington, when the defendant rear-ended her. The plaintiff claimed hand, head, neck, mid and low-back injuries.

$319,509 Verdict (Snohomish County 2023): The decedent was standing behind a commercial waste truck when it ran him over and crushed him to death. His family brought a wrongful death lawsuit. The jury awarded $3 million but found that the decedent himself was 90% at fault for standing in a dangerous location behind the truck. Under Washington’s pure comparative fault rule, the plaintiff could still recover, but damages were reduced to $319,000

washington personal injury settlements

What Drives Settlement Amounts in Washington Injury Cases?

The settlement value of personal injury cases in Washington is driven by several different factors, which often tend to be very case-specific. Below are some of the main driving forces behind the settlement valuation of Washington tort cases.

  • A Case You Can Win: It always begins with your chances of proving the defendant is responsible.
  • Severity of Injury: The severity of the plaintiff’s injury is always the most significant factor impacting the case’s settlement value. The more serious the injury, the higher the settlement amount
  • Defendant: Another major factor is who the defendant(s) in the case is and how much money or insurance coverage they have. In an auto accident case, the settlement value will often be limited by how much insurance coverage the defendant has. Big corporations, however, have deep pockets to cover larger settlements.
  • Jurisdiction: Certain jurisdictions in Washington are much more plaintiff-friendly. Plaintiffs fare better in more urban areas like Seattle than in, say, Pend Oreille County.  Lawsuits in large population centers are likely to have a higher settlement value because the plaintiff has a higher chance of success at trial. These three jurisdictions are considered among the best in Washington:
    • King County (Seattle): The jury pool is large and varied in this densely populated region, often showing openness to significant damages awards. The courts in King County are generally more liberal, which can be advantageous for plaintiffs.
    • Pierce County (Tacoma): Like King County, Pierce County also boasts a substantial population and a record of granting high verdicts in personal injury lawsuits.
    • Spokane County (Spokane): While not as populous as King and Pierce Counties, Spokane County has witnessed notable personal injury cases with considerable verdicts. The county tends to hold defendants liable when they should be held accountable and provides just compensation to those injured or lost a loved one.

3-Year Statute of Limitations for Washington Injury Cases

All states have statutes of limitation that impose time limits or deadlines for how long a victim can wait before bringing a civil lawsuit in personal injury and other types of cases. The plaintiff is legally barred from suing if the lawsuit is not filed before the applicable statute of limitations (SOL) deadline expires.

Washington has a general 3-year statute of limitations applies to all personal injury lawsuits. Rev. Wash. Code § 14.16.080. This law requires any personal injury or negligence lawsuit to be filed within 3-years of the date when the cause of action accrues. In most cases, the cause of action accrues, and the three-year SOL period begins to run on the date of the accident/injury. This is always true in auto accident cases. However, in more complex cases, such as medical malpractice, the date when the cause of action accrues is unclear.

Discovery Rule

Like most states, Washington courts apply the so-called discovery rule for determining when a cause of action accrues for SOL purposes. Under this rule, the SOL clock begins running when the plaintiff discovers or should have reasonably discovered that they had an injury caused by negligence.

Washington Follows Pure Comparative Fault

In cases where the plaintiff or injured party is deemed partly responsible for their own injuries, Washington courts follow the doctrine of pure comparative fault. Under the comparative fault rule, a plaintiff’s damages are reduced by their percentage share of fault. For example, if a plaintiff is found to be 20% at fault and the defendant is 80% at fault, the plaintiff’s damages would be reduced by 20%. So if the plaintiff was awarded $100,000, they would only get $80,000.

Washing Has Strict Liability for Dog Bite Cases

Washington is among those states that have enacted laws imposing strict liability on dog owners if their dog bites or attacks and injures someone. Under Wash. Rev. Code § 16.08.040, a dog owner is automatically liable for injuries caused by the dog regardless of whether the dog has a known history of aggression.

No Cap on Damages in Washington Personal Injury Cases

Unlike many other states, Washington does not have laws imposing a maximum cap on the damages a plaintiff can be awarded in a personal injury case. The courts have struck down previous attempts by the state legislature to impose damage caps as violating the state constitution. This means there is no limit to how much money a plaintiff can get in a personal injury case.

Suing the Washington State Government

If you want to file a personal injury lawsuit against the state government in Washington or a local government, special notice rules apply. Before filing suit, a notice of claim must be sent to the relevant government department or agency. This must be submitted within the 3-year statute of limitation period. Once the notice of claim is submitted, the plaintiff must wait 60 days before filing a lawsuit.

The process is governed by the Washington State Tort Claims Act (RCW 4.92.100), which waives the state’s sovereign immunity to a certain extent, allowing it to be sued for damages arising from its employees’ negligent acts or omissions within the scope of their employment.

Before filing a lawsuit, claimants must submit a Notice of Claim to the Office of Risk Management. This notice must include detailed information about the claim, such as the claimant’s contact information, the date and circumstances of the incident, a description of the damages and injuries, and the amount of damages being claimed. There is a mandatory waiting period after submitting the notice before a lawsuit can be filed, typically 60 days, which allows the state to investigate the claim and possibly settle before litigation.

Washington Medical Malpractice Laws

Below is a summary of Washington’s critical laws and procedural rules that apply to medical malpractice cases.

Washington Statute of Limitations in Medical Malpractice Cases

Medical malpractice cases in Washington are subject to a slightly different statute of limitations than other tort claims. Malpractice lawsuits in Washington must be filed within three years of the medical negligence that caused the injury OR 1 year after the plaintiff discovered or should have discovered that medical negligence caused the injury.

Statute of Repose for Medical Malpractice Claims in Washington

Washington had a statute of repose that sets a maximum time cap on all medical malpractice cases that applies over and above the statute of limitations. The Washington statute of repose required all malpractice cases to be filed within eight years of the alleged medical negligence. Wash. Rev. Code § 4.16.350

In December 2023, the Washington State Supreme Court reviewed this state’s eight-year statute of repose for medical malpractice lawsuits in Washington.  The court found in a 7-2 decision that the statute of repose violates the privileges and immunities clause because it does not apply equally to all citizens and lacks a reasonable justification, considering its exceptions and tolling provisions.

What Is Required to Sue for Malpractice?

RCW 7.70.110 is part of the Revised Code of Washington regarding healthcare claims for injury or death. This section deals with the requirements for filing a claim related to health care, including the necessity for a claimant to provide a notice of intent to sue to the potential defendant(s) before filing a lawsuit.

Critical aspects of RCW 7.70.110 include a notice of intent to sue.

  • Purpose: The statute requires that before initiating a lawsuit for medical malpractice, the claimant must deliver a notice of intent to the health care provider(s) they intend to sue. This notice is meant to allow the health care provider(s) to prepare for a potential lawsuit and possibly to settle the claim out of court.
  • Content Requirements: The notice must include information about the claim’s legal basis, the type of loss sustained, and the nature of the injuries suffered.
  • Timeframe: There is a specific period within which this notice must be sent before filing the lawsuit, usually at least 60 days prior.

Mandatory Mediation for Washington Medical Malpractice Cases

Washington law requires all plaintiffs to undergo a mandatory mediation process before filing a civil lawsuit for medical malpractice. So following the notice of intent, there is a requirement for the parties to engage in a period of mediation in an attempt to resolve the issue without going to court. This is intended to reduce the number of cases that proceed to trial and to encourage a more amicable resolution between healthcare providers and patients. The mediation must be completed before the malpractice lawsuit can be filed. However, the mediation is non-binding, so the outcome or decision (if there is one) does not impact either party. Wash. Rev. Code §§ 7.70.100.

The implicit goal of RCW 7.70.110, though not explicitly mentioned, is to encourage the resolution of disputes through mediation by extending the deadline for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit by one year, provided that the plaintiff submits a timely and sincere written request for mediation. This extension inherently assumes that the defendant is duly notified of the mediation request, aiming to foster a settlement outside of court proceedings.

No Expert Certification Required for Washington Medical Malpractice Cases

Washington law does not require plaintiffs to obtain a certificate or affidavit of merit from a medical expert before filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases will still need to present expert witness testimony to prove their case.

Washington Product Liability and Mass Tort Cases

Under Washington law, a manufacturer or seller of a product can be held liable if that product is defective and that defect causes injuries or harm. Washington law acknowledges the three basic types of product defects identified in the Restatement of Torts: manufacturing, design, and failure to warn.

There are several national mass torts or “class actions” that involve Washington plaintiffs, including claims our law firm is handling across the country:

  • Hair relaxer lawsuit: recent evidence has shown that long-term use of chemical hair relaxer products (most commonly used by African American women) can cause uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine fibroids, and other conditions. This has prompted hundreds of women to file hair relaxer lawsuits.
  • Suboxone lawsuit: The Suboxone dental injury lawsuit centers around allegations that the use of Suboxone, a medication commonly prescribed for opioid addiction treatment, has led to dental issues among patients. Plaintiffs claim that the drug’s side effects, including dry mouth, have contributed to significant dental problems such as tooth decay, loss, and gum disease. The lawsuit targets the manufacturers for failing to adequately warn patients and healthcare providers about these potential dental side effects, seeking compensation for the dental injuries sustained by users. A surprising number of plaintiffs our law firm has signed up are from Washington.
  • Camp Lejeune lawsuit: A new law allowed individuals exposed to the toxic water at the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps base in North Carolina to file compensation claims.

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 your lawyers out of our attorneys’ fees. So you pay absolutely no additional contingency fees, and you have two law firms instead of one. Also important: you only pay nothing unless you get settlement compensation or a jury payout.

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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