Dedicated Bellingham Personal Injury Attorneys Ready To Help Injured Victims
When you’ve suffered from a serious accident in Bellingham, you and your family may be at a loss for what to do next. Luckily, our trusted Bellingham injury attorneys – Paula, Dave, Matt, Scott, and Dean – have served the Bellingham community and its victims for many years. We are here for you and your family in your time of hardship. As you move toward recovery, here is a compilation of resources and helpful information to review while you begin the physical, mental, and financial healing process.
What We Can Do for You
Whenever you are hurt as a consequence of the misconduct of someone else, a personal injury claim arises under Washington state law. The problem is these personal injury claims do not enforce themselves – they must be enforced by the victim, preferably with the help of a legal representative, using diligence and a thorough understanding of the Washington personal injury law. The following are some of the ways our trusted Bellingham personal injury lawyers can help you win your claim:
- Conducting an investigation and assembling admissible evidence. The word “admissible” trips up many people trying to handle their own personal injury claims because the Rules of Evidence sometimes exclude evidence that is relevant. For instance, you are not allowed to introduce evidence that the defendant repaired the dangerous condition (a stairway, for example) that injured you to prove that the condition was dangerous in the first place.
- Combine (i) the assembled evidence (ii) recognized legal principles and (iii) the specific facts of your individual case into a coherent whole to generate a specific legal claim on your behalf, along with arguments to support it.
- Calculate the real value of your claim. Your accident claim might be worth more than you think it is. Accurately calculating your claim is always important, but it is absolutely critical (and can be quite difficult) if you suffered long-term injuries that will cost you medical expenses, lost earnings, and pain and suffering in the future.
- Negotiate a settlement of your claim with the insurance company. Although insurance companies are notoriously tricky negotiators, fear not – we know all their tricks by heart, and they know better than to even try most of them on us.
- If a settlement is reached, draft an airtight settlement agreement that contains no loopholes and thoroughly protects your interests. A settlement agreement is enforceable in court just like any other contract. Remember: We cannot agree to any settlement without your consent.
- File a personal injury lawsuit in Washington state court. Just because a lawsuit is filed doesn’t necessarily mean that you are going to trial – most personal injury claims that reach the lawsuit stage are settled before trial. Filing a lawsuit, however, lets the defendant and the insurance company know you mean business, and it can also help you gather evidence.
- Litigate at your trial. Actually, far fewer than 10 percent of all cases ever get to the trial stage, because insurance companies would rather settle than fight – especially if their opponent is Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner PLLC.
- Appeal your case if the trial court reaches an adverse decision. Very, very few claims get to this point.
An Overview of Our Practice Areas
Our Bellingham personal injury attorneys have an unparalleled breadth of knowledge and experience in a variety of types of injuries. We protect the rights of Washington accident victims who have been injured in:
Car Crash Accidents
Washington is an at-fault car insurance state, meaning that, after checking on the safety of the persons involved in the accident, the next step is about showing who is at fault for the accident. It is important to document the accident scene as best you can by reporting it, taking pictures of the scene, and collecting witness information. Then, contact an experienced Bellingham personal injury attorney who can get to work immediately. Your lawyer will work to show the other driver was negligent in your auto accident case, such as due to drunk driving, speeding, distracted driving, failing to yield, or other causes.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Motor vehicle accidents often result in serious injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, back, and spinal cord injuries, internal injuries, and broken bone injuries. There may be a bias toward motorcyclists, but the truth is that many accidents are the result of careless behavior on the part of the passenger vehicle driver. The lawyers at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner work diligently to protect your claim against the pure comparative negligence system, which can reduce your level of damages based on your own degree of negligence. We will work diligently to establish that the other driver was solely responsible for your damages.
Although the federal government has passed several rules to make the roadways safer, trucking companies and truck drivers have continued to violate these laws in the interest of hauling more loads and increasing their profits. Our experienced semi-truck accident attorneys will work diligently to establish that the defendant violated important rules like the hours of service rules or mandatory drug and alcohol testing rules. We will also get to work quickly to preserve important evidence in your claim, such as the truck’s “black box” data.
Bicycle and Pedestrian Accidents
Washington is known as a great place to bike and walk and readily encourages residents to enjoy the great outdoors. However, motorists or other cyclists may not be cautious and can injure you in a bike accident or pedestrian accident. Our compassionate legal advocates will explore all possible avenues of recovery to seek maximum compensation for your injuries.
Mass Transit Accidents
Our knowledgeable lawyers also assist clients who have been injured in mass transit accidents, including railroad accidents, bus accidents, and airplane accidents. These cases require extensive knowledge of the complex laws for these highly regulated industries. Our attorneys can expertly help you navigate this process to pursue just compensation for your claim.
While many people enjoy the open waters surrounding Washington, boaters must still be cautious to avoid boating accidents. Our injury attorneys will quickly get to work on your claim to avoid any issues with the statute of limitations.
Medical malpractice is a lot more common than most people realize. If the injury is caused by a physician or other health care provider then a malpractice claim arises. Our Bellingham injury attorneys can provide you with the help that you deserve.
Wrongful Death Cases
Washington’s wrongful death statute allows the personal representative of the deceased to bring forth a wrongful death claim on behalf of the surviving spouse, children, parents, or siblings of a victim who died because of the wrongful acts of another. While no amount of compensation can ever bring your loved one back, our compassionate legal advocates can help you ease the financial burden of the loss through zealous legal representation.
The First Responders of Bellingham Help You – and Help Reduce the Damage
As you would expect, the aim of first responders is always to respond quickly and efficiently to decrease the seriousness of an accident in any way they can. Our own Bellingham Police Department will report to the scene of the accident, if it occurs within city limits, and document everything via a traffic collision report.
For all accidents that happen outside of Bellingham city limits but inside county lines, the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Department responds to the accident with the same care and attention as Bellingham police. If you are involved in an accident while traveling on Washington’s interstates, you’ll likely be aided by the Washington State Patrol (WSP). Should you need a copy of any traffic collision reports, it’s best to consult the WSP database, which holds all traffic records statewide.
Bellingham’s Healthcare Providers Take Over Your Treatment after an Accident
Immediately following an accident, it is likely that one of your first experiences includes treatment at a hospital. Physically, this is the first step. If you’re receiving medical care in Bellingham, you’re probably being supported by the PeaceHealth St. Joseph Hospital.
Often, the second step in the recovery process is addressing your emotional support needs – particularly if you lost a loved one in an accident. When someone you love has passed away in an auto accident, it can be essential for the grieving family to work with a grief support organization or therapist who can provide guidance. To learn more about possible grief support options available to you in Bellingham, click here.
Bellingham and Whatcom County Court Systems Handle the Criminal and Legal Sides of Your Accident
Concerning minor criminal matters, civil suits (involving small amounts), and traffic tickets, you’ll likely work with the Bellingham Municipal Court. When felony or larger civil cases are on the table, they will be handled by the Whatcom County Superior Court. Our established and highly skilled Bellingham personal injury lawyers are very familiar with these court systems.
Depending on Your Situation, There May Be No Avoiding the Insurance Company
Even though the specifics of your case will vary, nearly everyone has to deal with an insurance claim after an accident occurs. Fortunately, the Washington State Insurance Commissioner protects insurance consumers and provides information on how insurance policies generally work. While minor accidents can often be handled directly with an insurance adjuster, major accidents usually require more time and attention.
Calling All Bicyclists and Motorcyclists of Bellingham, WA
Sometimes, there can be nothing better than riding your motorcycle or bicycle here in our lovely city. But unfortunately, bicyclists and motorcyclists face an especially heightened level of risk when traveling on the roadways. Luckily, these risks don’t stop our fellow Washingtonians from still taking to the roads on less than four wheels. To learn more about biking and motorcycling in our area, check out Washington Bikes and the Washington State Department of Licensing Motorcycle Safety Program.
The Washington State Department of Transportation: Your Source for Everything Bellingham
Well, maybe not everything about Bellingham, but the Washington State Department of Transportation (DOT) can certainly be consulted for travel and weather conditions, traffic, and general road information. Also, the Washington State 511 phone system can provide drivers with up-to-date information regarding travel, weather, road-construction projects, mountain pass conditions, and other important information.
Drunk Driving Accidents in Bellingham: An Ongoing Problem
Every day, we Bellingham personal injury attorneys hear about tragic accidents taking place in our community. We understand just how prevalent – and unjust – drunk driving and drugged driving accidents are. In an effort to decrease these accidents, one organization called Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is doing much toward prevention and reduction. If you’re interested in learning more about their organization and how you can help fight the battle against drunk driving, here’s a link to the MADD site.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Your Bellingham Injury or Accident
What Are 'Pain and Suffering' Damages?
Pain and suffering damages compensate you for the pain and suffering that result from a physical injury. For this reason, some medical conditions can command higher pain and suffering damages than others, regardless of how expensive they are to treat. In many cases, pain and suffering damages add up to over 50 percent of the entire amount of damages awarded. If you need help estimating pain and suffering damages for your accident, consult with an experienced Bellingham injury lawyer by calling us today.
What Is 'Maximum Medical Improvement' and Why Is It Important?
A patient is said to reach maximum medical improvement (MMI) when medical treatment has helped that individual recover as much as it is ever going to. That being said, you may still suffer from long-term disability and/or chronic pain. Since MMI is often extremely important for calculating damages, it may be difficult to resolve your claim until you reach MMI. Contact our Bellingham personal injury attorneys to find out more about MMI.
Can I Sue the Owner of a Dog That Bit Me?
Yes, you can. And according to the Washington dog bite statute, even if the owner was not at fault and the dog has never before exhibited aggressive tendencies, you may still be able to win your case. Homeowners’ insurance can typically make payouts for dog bite claims. However, certain defenses (such as trespassing or provoking the animal) may apply and could hinder your dog bite claim.
What Happens If I Miss the Statute of Limitations Deadline?
The statute of limitations is the deadline by which you must file a lawsuit in order to keep your claim alive. The Washington State statute of limitations is three years after the accident for a personal injury claim or three years after the victim’s death in a wrongful death claim. If you have any questions about the relevance of the statute of limitations for your case, please contact us right away. Hiring proven and knowledgeable Bellingham injury attorneys is a vital decision that can mean the difference between winning or losing your case.
The Other Driver's Insurance Company Wants Me to Sign Something or Issue a Statement. Should I Do It?
No, not unless your injury lawyers approve it first. When you have a claim against the insurance company, that company is considered an opposing party; as such, they can and will try to find any excuse to deny or minimize your claim. If you are claiming against your own insurance company, you may be required to give a statement at some point. But, always remember to consult with your Bellingham personal injury lawyer before signing or issuing anything.
Brett is seriously injured in an on-duty construction accident and is hospitalized for several months. His doctor fears that he may suffer permanent disability. An investigation reveals that the cause of the accident was a defectively manufactured backhoe. Brett sidesteps the workers’ compensation system and instead files a personal injury claim against the manufacturer of the backhoe. The manufacturer offers Brett $80,000 in compensation.
Brett’s lawyer is certain that this is not enough, but he advises Brett to wait until he reaches Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) before issuing a counteroffer, because it will be difficult to calculate Brett’s future damages until he reaches MMI. Brett reaches MMI three months after the accident, and the doctor concludes that he can return to his previous job in about a year. However, Brett will have to undergo rehabilitation therapy and will experience severe muscle pain.
Brett’s medical bills are $120,000, and his estimated future medical expenses add up to another $60,000. His past and future lost wages add up to $48,000. Brett’s lawyer demands five times his medical expenses for pain and suffering for a total of $900,000 in pain and suffering damages and $1,128,000 in total damages. Brett eventually ends up settling for $768,000.
Contact Our Bellingham Injury Lawyers
Following your accident, do the physical pain and emotional stress of the situation have you worried? Are you concerned about handling your insurance claim by yourself? Luckily, our Bellingham personal injury lawyers Paula, Dave, Matt, Scott, and Dean are here to offer you support and advice. Contact our Bellingham office today and tell us about your case.