General Personal Injury FAQs
In addition to coping with a lot of stress and frustration, personal injury cases also come with a lot of questions. Here are some of the questions we hear the most at Max Meyers Law.
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What Is Restitution?
Restitution is a penalty a judge can order a defendant to pay in a criminal case for hurting a victim when committing a crime. Restitution is not the same as compensation in a personal injury lawsuit.
Civil Cases vs. Criminal Cases
There are two types of cases in America — civil cases and criminal cases.
In a civil case, people or companies sue each other, trying to get an award of money or other civil damages.
In a criminal case, the government brings charges against someone (a defendant) for an alleged violation of a criminal law. If the judge finds the defendant guilty, the judge can impose a monetary fine and/or incarceration on the defendant. The judge can also order that the defendant pay money (restitution) to the crime victim, the victim’s family, or the state victim’s compensation fund.
How Restitution Works in Different Cases
Judges tailor restitution orders to the facts of each case. Traditionally, judges tend to order restitution when the defendant behaved outrageously, willfully, or with reckless disregard for the safety of others. For example:
- If a jury finds the defendant guilty of his fourth DUI, in which he demolished a food truck and caused severe burns to the victim when a fuel tank on the food truck exploded, the judge might order the defendant to do jail time and pay restitution to the victim for his medical bills and the loss of the food truck.
- The court could order convicted defendants to pay the funeral bills of a hate crime victim as restitution.
- If a jilted romantic partner keyed the ex’s car and busted the headlights with a baseball bat, the restitution could be paying for the repairs to the vehicle.
- A person convicted of defrauding seniors out of their life savings could have to pay restitution to restore some or all of their money to them.
Criminal defendants who plea bargain to a lesser included offense may also have to pay restitution. The judge has to order restitution if the victim is eligible for crime victim’s compensation fund benefits. The victim or the state can enforce court-ordered restitution just as they would a civil judgment.
When Victims Do Not Receive the Restitution Money
Sometimes, even when a judge in a criminal case orders the defendant to pay restitution, the money (or a portion of the money) does not go directly to the victim of the crime. This result can happen when:
- Someone else paid the victim’s bills, such as the victim’s health insurance paid the victim’s medical bills.
- The state’s victim compensation fund collects all restitution payments and distributes them to many victims across the state.
- The victim received compensation through a personal injury claim. To receive full compensation for one’s damages in a personal injury claim and get restitution would be “double dipping.” For example, if the victim of a car accident reached a settlement with the defendant’s auto insurance company and the amount paid the victim’s damages in full, the victim cannot get paid twice for the same damages.
How Restitution Works in Washington State
Usually, the court must order the restitution at the sentencing hearing or within 180 days of that hearing. The judge determines how much the offender has to pay every month in restitution toward the total amount ordered. The offender must accept employment offers while incarcerated to earn funds to make the monthly payments.
What Restitution Can and Cannot Cover
In Washington State, the court can calculate restitution using the damages for:
- Injury to or loss of property
- Medical bills for treatment of injuries
- Lost wages from the injury
- Counseling reasonably related to the crime
The court cannot include these items when determining the amount of restitution:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Other intangible losses
The limit of restitution is two times the amount of what the offender gained or the victim lost from the crime.
Restitution Does Not Prevent Civil Liability Claims
You should not wait to see if the criminal court will order the defendant to pay restitution if your injury resulted from a criminal act.
Under Washington law, there is a time limit on pursuing civil action. The deadline (statute of limitations) could expire on your civil personal injury case before the criminal case is final. If you wait too long, the law will bar you from ever filing a lawsuit to collect damages for your injuries.
At Max Meyers Law, we help you make sense of what happens when you get hurt when someone else committed a crime. We will not charge you any legal fees to evaluate your case and explain your legal rights.Please call us today at 425-399-7000, and we will line up your free case evaluation.
How Do I Treat Road Rash From a Motorcycle Accident?
Knowing how to treat road rash after a motorcycle accident can save you from infection, scarring, and disability. The best way to treat road rash from a motorcycle accident is to get immediate medical attention. For a more in-depth discussion of how to treat the different types of road rash, read on.
How do Doctors Classify Road Rash?
Doctors categorize road rash as first-degree, second-degree and third-degree, similar to the way they group burns. In fact, some medical experts call road rash “friction burns.” Road rash can range from relatively minor scrapes to severe, life-threatening injuries.
What Kind of Road Rash Can You Treat at Home?
If you do not have other injuries, you can usually treat a first-degree road rash injury yourself at home. A first-degree road rash, also called a “raspberry,” is a minor abrasion of the outer layer of skin (i.e., epidermis) that does not go into the deeper tissue beneath the skin.
Treating First-Degree Road Rash at Home
If you decide to treat your first-degree road rash at home, perform the following steps:
- Wash your hands well with plenty of soap and water. Bacteria on your hands can create an infection in your wound.
- Rinse the injury by holding it under lukewarm, clean running water for several minutes. Although it is fine to gently try to remove foreign bodies, like grit, from the wound, do not scrub the injury. If you cannot remove all the dirt, grime, and foreign bodies from the wound without scrubbing, seek medical attention.
- Cover the scrape with a thin layer of antibiotic salve or petroleum jelly and then apply a dressing. The coating will keep the wound hydrated and the dressing will provide a barrier against infection.
- Get prompt medical attention if you see any signs of infection or if the wound is not healing properly.
Be sure to change your dressing at least once a day. If the dressing gets wet or dirty, replace it at once.
You should contact your doctor to get a tetanus shot if you have not had one in the last ten years. If you have any doubt about whether you can properly treat your road rash yourself, go to your doctor or to an urgent care center for treatment.
What Treatment Do I Need for Second-Degree Road Rash?
Second-degree road rash goes through both the outer layers and deeper layers of the skin (epidermis and dermis) but not through muscles and other tissue beneath the skin. This is not an injury you should treat at home. Seek treatment at an urgent care center or emergency room.
At the urgent care center or emergency room, doctors will clean the wound and remove any debris or foreign objects. Depending on the severity of your injury, they may give you pain medication before they clean the wound. After doctors clean the road rash, they will likely apply an antibiotic ointment and a sterile dressing.
They will give you written instructions on how to care for your wound at home. They may recommend that you take either an over-the-counter or prescription pain medication before you change the dressings at home.
What Does Third-Degree Road Rash Treatment Entail?
Third-degree road rashes are severe injuries that can be fatal without immediate medical care. Go to the emergency room at once for a third-degree road rash. These injuries go through the epidermis and dermis, and damage tissue below the skin, which can include muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, veins, arteries, bones, and internal organs.
Note: Do not assume your injury is not severe if you feel no pain. Third-degree road rash can damage nerve endings, causing a loss of sensation. If your wound is painless, go to the hospital immediately.
The hospital personnel will clean the wound and repair the damage to the tissue beneath the skin. You may need to go to the hospital for surgical treatment, which can involve skin grafts. Follow the discharge instructions carefully to maximize your healing process.
Get Help From Max Meyers Law, PLLCRoad rash treatment can be expensive. If you sustained road rash injuries in a motorcycle accident that was not your fault, contact the personal injury team at Max Meyers Law for help with your injury compensation claim. Call us today at 425-399-7000 to set up your free consultation.
Can I file a motorcycle accident claim if I have no insurance?
Yes, because Washington is a fault state, you can file a motorcycle accident claim with no insurance, as long as the other driver caused the accident.
What if I do not have insurance and I was at fault in the motorcycle accident?
Since Washington is an at-fault state, if you were at fault, you could only make a claim with your own insurer. If you do not have insurance, you cannot make a claim.
This could leave you paying tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket.
What if the other driver and I were both partially at fault?
This can be complicated. In this situation, you can make a claim against the other driver. However, any contribution you made to the accident will reduce the potential compensation you can recover. This is called comparative negligence.
For example, Bill was riding his motorcycle through an intersection when Ted’s car struck him while turning left. The investigation found Bill to be 20 percent at fault for speeding. Ted was 80 percent at fault for failure to look before turning. Bill's damages are $10,000. He can make a claim against Ted for his damages, but he will only recover $8,000 because his negligence will reduce his damages by 20 percent.
It is important to note that because Washington is a pure comparative negligence state, either party can be up to 99 percent at fault and still recover compensation. This means that you are open to a lawsuit if the other party suffered injuries.
In our example above, Ted could sue Bill for 20 percent of his damages. If Ted suffered $5,000 in accident-related costs, Bill would be on the hook for $1,000. If you were mostly at-fault, you would be responsible for most of the other driver’s injuries as well as most of your own.
How can I prove who was at fault in the accident?
The police accident report will be one of the strongest pieces of evidence to establish who was at fault in causing the accident. If you disagree with the accident report, you should talk with a motorcycle accident lawyer on how to correct the report. Sometimes an officer will file a supplemental report that corrects errors in the original report.
Eyewitness testimony can also be helpful in establishing fault. While officers will rely on your testimony and the other driver’s testimony, an unbiased third party will help establish exactly how the accident happened.
If necessary, an accident reconstruction expert can establish what led up to and caused the accident. This is useful when the police accident report is incorrect, when the other driver is not telling the truth, or when there is no police accident report.
We will work with accident experts to determine how each party contributed to the accident.
What damages can I recover?
If the other driver was at fault, you could get compensation for your damages even if you had no insurance. There are two categories of damages: economic and noneconomic damages.
Economic damages have an easily determined financial value. Your economic damages can include:
- Medical bills
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Future medical expenses
- Impaired function or disability
- Loss of earning potential
Your noneconomic damages are difficult to measure in dollars. These are things like the pain and suffering you endured as a result of your injuries, disfigurement, and loss of consortium for your spouse or significant other.
Call Max Meyers Law PLLC to schedule a free consultation today.
At Max Meyers Law PLLC, we fight for the rights of motorcyclists. We know how difficult an accident can be, especially if you do not know how you will pay for your serious injuries. That is why we work tirelessly to get you the compensation you need and do not charge until you win your case.
Call 425-399-7000 to set up your free, no-obligation consultation with Max Meyers and his team today.
Should I sign a medical release from the insurance company?
Your medical records are likely to be key evidence in your Kirkland accident case, so it is no surprise that the insurance company wants to see them. You can expect both your own insurer and the other driver’s insurance company to ask for them soon after filing a claim. Before you share them, though, you should consider discussing your case with an attorney who is well-versed in Washington State personal injury claims. Signing a medical release form can hurt your case, so you must handle it carefully.
If you need help with a medical release or have other questions about your Kirkland accident claim, let the staff at Max Meyers Law PLLC go to work for you. Call us today at 425-399-7000 to schedule a time to discuss your case with Max.
What is a medical release form?
There are federal and state laws in place to keep your medical records private, so the insurance company cannot simply call your doctor and ask for them. Instead, it must request that you make them available by signing a medical release.
It is important to note that this release will likely not specify which records the insurance company can access. Instead, this release is usually a standard form that grants the insurance company access to your full medical history and any associated documents in your file. While the insurer will eventually need access to your medical records related to treatment for any accident injuries, giving it access to all your health history and other records is rarely a good idea.
How could signing a medical release hurt my case?
Allowing the insurance company access to your complete health history will never increase the compensation available for your claim. The insurer’s investigators will pore over your files and look for any possible way to reduce your payout or deny your claim.
For example, a high school football injury suffered more than a decade ago might come back to haunt you if it affects the same body part as your recent car accident injury. One of the most common reasons that insurance companies deny claims after seeing medical records is because of “pre-existing injuries.”
In some cases, not providing access to your medical records may also hurt your case. When it comes to your own insurance company, your policy is a contract between you and the insurer. You must uphold your end of the deal to get what it promises to pay out. The fine print of your policy may say you have to offer access by a certain time or provide medical records for a specific number of years before the accident.
How should I respond to a request for a signed medical release?
The best way to handle a request for a medical release is to give us a call. Our staff has extensive experience with the insurance industry. We review each client’s insurance policy to determine exactly what his/her obligations are and when. Once we have this information, we can ensure the insurance adjustor receives the records required while still protecting our client’s right to privacy.
We can also help with requests from the at-fault party’s insurer. There are a number of different methods we can use to limit the records available. Options include drafting a medical release that strictly limits access to the records. In a best case scenario, this gives the insurer a short period of time to look at records that pertain to treatment of accident-related injuries only.
Our preferred method is to request the records ourselves. We then provide copies of any pertinent documents to the insurance company, along with any other evidence to support the claim. This allows us to control the insurance company’s access directly.
Max Meyers Law: Kirkland Personal Injury Attorney
Washington State personal injury lawyer Max Meyers and his staff have a history of taking on insurance companies. We fight for our clients, getting them the compensation they deserve for their injury damages.
Call Max Meyers Law, PLLC today at 425-399-7000 to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
Do I need a lawyer for my motorcycle accident?
As a motorcyclist in Washington, you must follow state law and local ordinances regulating the operation of motorcycles, required protective gear, insurance guidelines, and more. Given the complexity of these cases and the serious injuries bikers often sustain in accidents, you owe it to yourself to hire a Washington motorcycle accident lawyer who not only is familiar with these laws, but has a track record of getting results for clients.
Injury Risk, Allegations of Contributory Negligence Highlight Need for Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Motorcycling can be a thrilling and adventurous way to travel, but also more dangerous in general than auto travel. Because little stands between you and an impact in the event of a collision, severe injuries such as brain damage, road rash and spinal cord injuries can result.
That creates significant financial burden for accident victims and their families. Attorney Max Meyers will account for all of the damages you sustained and will fight to obtain the greatest financial recovery for you. Failure to account for all your short and long-term damages can leave you struggling to pay your medical bills and make up for time lost from work.
There is also the matter of contributory negligence to consider [RCW 4.22.005]. This is a common challenge that motorcyclists encounter in the claims process.
Under Washington law, your financial recovery can be limited or denied according to your own degree of fault (your contributory negligence) for the accident. Motorcyclists often face allegations of blame for not wearing a motorcycle helmet or defendants may make false, stereotypical claims that the motorcyclist was driving recklessly.
Whether you were partially or totally (or not at all) at fault in an accident is a question of fact – meaning, the insurer, court or jury will review the evidence and testimony and make a decision based on that. Make sure you have an attorney who can help counter allegations of contributory negligence and demonstrate that the defendant is to blame for all or most of your damages.
What Makes a Good Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
So what qualities should you look for in choosing the right motorcycle accident attorneys? He should of course be familiar with local and state motorcycle laws.
But this is not enough – he should have experience applying and working with those laws in actual cases like yours and using those laws to gain results. Your attorneys must be familiar with motorcycle accidents, ranging from minor to catastrophic injuries. He needs to have the required knowledge and resources to thoroughly investigate your accident and identify all your damages, both present and future.
Furthermore, your attorney should be familiar with the local courts and procedures. Even better, he should be familiar with the local judges, as the judge assigned to your case can also have an impact on your chances for success and it is important for your attorney to be familiar with that judge’s likes and dislikes.
Some Questions to Ask When Selecting an Attorney
So what sort of questions could you ask to see if an attorney is right for you? Just a few suggestions:
- How long have you been an attorney?
- How long have you been handling motorcycle accident cases?
- Will I have to pay you during my case, or do I only pay you if I get a financial recovery?
- What resources do you have to thoroughly investigate my accident and identify all of my damages?
- How long do these cases usually take?
- What kind of results have you been able to obtain in cases like mine?
- Do you have any references from past clients?
- Are you familiar with the local courts and judges?
The legal system is complex and it is best not to gamble with your legal rights or opportunity to obtain financial recovery for your injuries. Contact Max Meyers to set up a consultation with a personal injury attorney with experience dealing with local and statewide motorcycle laws. Call us now at 425-399-7000 or fill out our contact form.
In the meantime, check out our free eBook, Motorcycle Accident Secrets Unlocked.
Car Insurance Buying Tip: How much UM/UIM should you buy in WA?
Review your own automobile insurance policy. You will find a "Declarations page" which lists the various insurance coverages you have along with the premiums you are paying for each. If you cannot find your declarations page, call your agent and get a copy sent to you.
Most important coverages:
The two most important items on that page are the limits of the liability coverage and the uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM / UIM) coverage. For both it will usually say something like:
These two numbers mean the amount available per person and per accident. If there is only one person injured in a car accident then the lower amount is the limit. If there are four people injured in an accident then they have to divide the larger amount between them, but no one person can get more than the smaller limit.
Liability coverage is that amount of money your insurance company would pay in the event that you caused a car accident which resulted in an injury to another person. This coverage protects your personal assets. I strongly recommend that your liability coverage be at least $300,000. In today's world of soaring medical costs, a serious collision can cause injuries with medical bills in excess of $100,000 which is the policy limit many people tend to carry.
In hard financial times, some people carry insurance in amounts less than $100,000. Call your insurance agent. You may be surprised to learn that the cost of increasing your coverage to $300,000 or even $500,000 is not that much.
UM/UIM is the most important car insurance you can have!!
When it comes to uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM / UIM) insurance companies often require your liability limit to match your UM/UIM limit. So you can't buy 25K in liability coverage and then buy 500K in UM/UIM. Why? Good question for your insurance agent. Mostly because UM/UIM is not a good deal for insurance companies and they don't like to sell it unless you've purchased a better liability policy on top of that.
If you ride a motorcycle or bicycle having a high UM/UIM limit is critical. Here's an example of why UM/UIM is critical:
A motorcycle accident client suffered multiple broken bones that required surgeries and a hospital stay exceeding ten days. A truck turned left in front of him and he slammed in the side of the truck. The hospital bills alone exceeded 100K. With missed work for many months and rehab treatment the client's out of pocket expenses exceeded 150,000. You can see why if most WA driver's have 100K or less in car insurance there could be a big problem if he didn't have good UM/UIM.
Financial stress or ruin is a real possibility in an accident with serious injuries like this when there isn't adequate car or motorcycle insurance available.
If you're buying or renewing your auto insurance and not sure what to do, order my free book Car Insurance Buying Secrets Unlocked. The book is loaded with lots of good tips and explanations on what the various coverage you can buy do for you.
Is car insurance required in Washington State?
Washington state requires vehicle owners to have automobile insurance on their vehicles. Drivers are only required to have $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in liability insurance. Liability coverage pays for damages associated with injuries to another vehicle's passengers.
Driver's are also required to have $10,000 in property damage coverage to pay for repairs to a vehicle.