How Do I File a Personal Injury Claim Against a Government Entity in Seattle?

Most accidents are caused by momentary lapses in judgment or temporary distraction. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving claimed 3,308 lives in 2022. Drivers who were too busy reading or responding to a text message were not able to focus on the road, increasing the risk of colliding with another vehicle, pedestrian, or cyclist. Washington state allows individuals who sustained injuries because of another party’s negligence to file a personal injury claim in order to recover compensation that assists with the varied costs associated with the accident. For example, the compensation you receive can help pay down the medical bills, physical therapy costs, lost wages, and other expenses incurred by the accident.

While most personal injury claims concern an individual motorist or an insurance company, there are cases that involve injuries resulting from Washington state government negligence or a government entity. However, these claims tend to be more complex and nuanced, as there are specific rules and guidelines that govern such claims. If you need help pursuing and securing compensation for personal injuries caused by government negligence in the Seattle area, consider enlisting the guidance and support of a knowledgeable and highly qualified personal injury attorney who can help you negotiate with government entities and advocate for your best interests at every opportunity. 

The Personal Injury Claim Process in Washington State

If this is your first time navigating the personal injury claims process, it’s natural to feel confused and even somewhat intimidated by the process. As you cope with your injuries and focus on your recovery, the thought of filing paperwork and keeping track of deadlines can be overwhelming. Many people find it useful to hire an experienced Seattle personal injury lawyer to help them prepare, file, and pursue a claim that maximizes their chances of obtaining a fair and favorable settlement. Let’s take a look at some of the personal injury claim basics you can expect to move through along the road to securing the compensation you need to support your recovery.

Accident Personal Injury Claim Basics

If you suffered an injury in a collision with a car, truck, motorcycle, or bicycle, you have the right to file a claim to recover compensation from the party responsible for the incident. While the details of every accident differ, injured parties may pursue compensatory damages for the medical bills, treatment costs, and lost wages stemming from the incident. In some cases, the plaintiff (the injured party who filed the claim) may seek non-economic damages that account for the pain and suffering, loss of ability to enjoy life, disfigurement, or disability they sustained—outcomes that are harder to quantify. Enlisting the assistance of a seasoned personal injury lawyer can help you determine the worth of your claim and empower you to move forward with greater certainty and confidence.

Personal Injury Insurance Claim Negotiations

One of the most challenging aspects of the personal injury claims process is dealing with insurance companies during negotiations. Although the insurance adjustor may tell you that they are “on your side,” it’s essential to recognize that their loyalty lies with saving the insurance company as much money as possible. Unfortunately, this often means that the insurance adjuster will use several tactics to deny, reduce, or undermine your claim. Moreover, the insurance company’s initial settlement offer will likely be a lowball offer, as the company hopes that injured parties will agree to a smaller amount of compensation out of an eagerness to receive it as quickly as possible. With a dedicated personal injury lawyer by your side, you can trust this seasoned legal advocate to push back against the insurer’s negotiating tactics and secure you the compensation you need to start putting your life back together after the accident. Insurance companies count on attrition in claims to help their bottom line. They assume people will eventually give up. This is where hiring an attorney is key. 

Personal Injury Claims Against Governmental Entities

If the accident involved a government agency in Washington state, such as the Washington State Department of Transportation, the City of Seattle, King County Metro, the Washington State Department of Corrections, or other government-related entities, there are several additional considerations to navigate when filing a claim seeking compensation. There are certain requirements that you must meet in order to file a claim against the state of Washington or a government agency. Under the Washington State Tort Claims Act, the plaintiff must complete and file a tort claim form that asks for specific information, such as the claimant’s name, a description of the injury, a description of the circumstances that led to the injury, and the amount of damages claimed, among other detailed information. Once you file this completed tort claim form, you must wait a minimum of 60 days before filing a lawsuit against the negligent party. Washington’s Office of Risk Management will investigate the accident and attempt to reach a settlement with the injured claimant within the 60-day period. However, the claimant can proceed with a lawsuit after the 60 days have passed without a settlement agreement.   

Making a Personal Injury Claim in Washington State

As you are sorting through the aftermath of the accident, the primary question on your mind is likely: how do I file a personal injury lawsuit? Hiring an experienced Seattle personal injury lawyer can significantly enhance your chances of winning your case. A highly qualified attorney can leverage their knowledge of relevant laws, conduct thorough investigations into the details of the accident, gather compelling evidence in support of your claim, and navigate legal proceedings to negotiate effectively with government entities and advocate for fair compensation on your behalf. As overwhelmed as you may feel right now, it’s essential to understand that you do not have to go through this process on your own. When you trust your attorney to handle the legal complexities and negotiation strategies associated with your claim, you can devote your attention to what matters most—your physical recovery.  If you need help collecting compensation for a personal injury you suffered at the hands of a negligent party, the dedicated legal team at Scott & Scott, PLLC, is ready to advocate for your best interests. Call our Seattle office today at (206) 622-2200 to get started.

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