Accident & Injury, Car Accident, Personal Injury, Health Care, Motor Vehicle
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Practice Areas 2017-07-05T20:59:04+00:00

Car accidents. Slip-and-falls. Medical malpractice. These calamities can blindside you and quickly become all-consuming, leaving you buried in medical bills, unable to work, contribute to your family or enjoy many of the things you once did.

An experienced Washington state personal injury attorney is crucial if you are hurt and trying to recover financial compensation from those who were negligent.

At CLT & Associates, Tacoma injury lawyer Christopher L. Thompson is committed to ensuring your rights are protected and seeking the best possible outcome in your case.

Our Practice Areas

Practice areas at our injury law firm include:

  • Car Accidents
  • Personal Injury
  • Construction Accidents
  • Premises Liability
  • Product Liability
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Workers’ Compensation
  • Wrongful Death

You should know that insurance companies – despite all their saccharine slogans – do NOT prioritize your well-being. You can bet that auto insurance companies, doctors and big businesses are going to have top-notch legal defense teams fighting your claim to minimize the payout. You need an experienced advocate to represent you in settlement negotiations and, if necessary, in the courtroom.

Washington Car Accident Claims

Auto accidents are jarring, traumatic and unexpected. Although you buy the required auto insurance just in case, no one really plans for a crash. At CLT & Associates, we know the law. We know your rights. We know how the insurance companies work. Almost without exception, the involvement of a good car accident attorney in Tacoma will improve the outcome of your case.

Some of the car accident cases we handle include:

  • Drunk Driving Accidents
  • Distracted Driving Accidents
  • Motorcycle Accidents
  • Pedestrian Accidents
  • Bicycle Accidents
  • Truck Accidents

Washington is an at-fault state when it comes to auto insurance. This simply means you are not responsible to purchase your own personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. Instead, the person(s) who caused the crash and therefore your injuries is responsible to pay the damages. But don’t expect them (or more specifically, their insurers) to do so without a fight.

RCW 46.30.020 requires anyone who operates a motor vehicle in this state to be insured by the limits as outlined in RCW 46.29.090, which is $25,000 per person for bodily injury/ death and $50,000 per accident. This may sound like a lot, but it often doesn’t go as far as you might think in cases involving serious injury or death. An injury attorney can help you prove causation/ fault in a crash, as well as damages. This means proving your injuries/ losses are as severe as you say.

Many car accidents in Seattle, Tacoma and the surrounding areas involve more than one defendant. This is especially true in multi-vehicle collisions, truck accidents and drunk driving accidents. If an at-fault driver was on-the-job at the time of the crash, his/ her employer may be deemed vicariously liable via the legal doctrine of respondeat superior. Same goes for volunteers of nonprofit or governmental agencies, per RCW 4.24.670. Car owners may also be liable for injuries caused with that vehicle, even if they weren’t driving, so long as the driver who was negligent had permission. There is also the possibility of dram shop litigation, per RCW 66.44.200, which prohibits sales to or consumption of alcohol by someone who is already “apparently under the influence of liquor.” If this provision is violated and the driver hurts someone, the victim may be able to sue the bar for damages.

We will also want to explore the extent of your uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage in the event the insurance available from defendant is non-existent or is insufficient to cover your damages.

Every crash is different. With CLT & Associates, you will not get cookie cutter legal advice. Our commitment is to bolster your bottom line.

Washington Personal Injury Claims

Personal injury lawsuits in Washington state run the gamut, from slip-and-falls to defective vehicles to unsafe conditions on another’s property.

CLT & Associates will work with Tacoma personal injury claimants to identify all possible defendants and work toward a fair resolution. Sometimes, these claims can be resolved in a negotiated settlement. Other times, it requires a lawsuit and a trial. Injury Lawyer Christopher Thompson is prepared for either scenario.

In general, you have the legal right to recover compensation if your injuries were caused by someone else’s negligence. Washington state defines negligence as the failure to use ordinary care, which is care a reasonably prudent person would use under the same or similar circumstances. To win your personal injury lawsuit, you need to show:

  • Defendant owed you a duty of care;
  • Defendant failed to use ordinary care;
  • Plaintiff suffered damages;
  • Plaintiff’s damages were caused by defendant;
  • Injury was foreseeable.

A classic example would be a puddle on the floor of a grocery store. As a business open to the public, stores owe a duty of care to patrons to keep the site in reasonably safe condition (see Washington Pattern Jury Instructions 120.07). That can mean regularly inspecting walkways for possible hazards – including puddles. If employees fail to do this or don’t warn unsuspecting passersby, that could be a lack of ordinary care, with the risk of a fall being foreseeable. If someone slips and falls and suffers injury under these circumstances, he or she would likely have a viable claim.

There are various elements that must be proven, depending on whether your claim is rooted in premises liability (such as a slip-and-fall or negligent security) or product liability (such as a defective vehicle or dangerous toy).

Note that comparative negligence can proportionately reduce one’s percentage of available compensation. Waivers of liability/ assumption of risk can also complicate your claim.

An experienced injury lawyer can help you formulate the best legal strategy for your circumstances.

Washington Medical Malpractice Claims

Claims for Tacoma medical malpractice arise when a health care provider’s action or omission did not meet the standard of care for that specialty and resulted in injury or death to a patient. This can include:

  • Missed-diagnosis, misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis;
  • Surgical negligence;
  • Anesthesia errors;
  • Failure to order appropriate tests/ communicate test results;
  • Failure to respond appropriately to a medical emergency.

Washington state medical malpractice claims are handled very differently than other types of injury lawsuits.  Some of the differences include:

  • Mandatory mediation. Mediation has been mandatory in Washington medical malpractice cases since 1993, per RCW 7.70.100. Mediation is not required in car accident or other personal injury litigation.
  • Certificate of merit. Per RCW 7.70.150, an action against an individual health care provider for personal injury or wrongful death requires plaintiff to file a certificate of merit, executed by a healthcare provider who meets the qualifications of an expert in that practice area.
  • Medical expert witnesses. Washington state does not require expert testimony in all medical malpractice litigation, but usually expert witness testimony is necessary to show a healthcare provider deviated from the medical standard of care. The only time it’s not needed is when negligence is obvious (i.e., surgical instrument left inside a patient). Even then, it can be useful in establishing damages. While expert witness testimony might sometimes be used in other injury or wrongful death claims, it’s the norm in medical malpractice claims.
  • Statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is 3 years, just as it is for personal injury claims. However, plaintiffs may also have up to one year upon discovering the cause of action in a medical malpractice claim, or a maximum of eight years from the date of injury, per RCW 4.6.350.

If you have reason to believe your doctor or health care provider’s negligence caused you injury, illness or a poorer health outcome, we can help you explore your legal options.

Proving Damages

Sometimes there is no question as to the negligence of the defendant. It all comes down to how much they should be compelled to pay. There are many considerations when it comes to proving client damages.

These include:

  • Medical bills;
  • Testimony pertaining to future medical needs;
  • Pay stubs/ evidence of lost wages;
  • Evidence of future loss of earning potential;
  • Evidence of diminished quality of life;
  • Evidence of physical and emotional pain and suffering;
  • Funeral expense evidence;
  • Loss of consortium/ companionship evidence;
  • Disputing evidence of comparative negligence, which may proportionately reduce your damages.

Such determinations may be subjective, which is why the skill and experience of your injury attorney counts. If you win, you may be entitled to collect compensation for attorney’s fees in addition to your damage award.

Tacoma injury attorney Christopher L. Thompson is committed to fighting for the rights and best interests of our clients.

Contact Tacoma personal injury law firm CLT & Associates at (425) 553-8708 or by sending us an email.

Serving Tacoma, Seattle, Kirkland, Bellevue, Redmond, Puyallup and Gig Harbor.  

PRACTICE AREAS

Car Accidents

CAR ACCIDENTS

A license to drive a motor vehicle in Washington state is a privilege, not a right. Yet many people do not treat it as the great responsibility it is.

Car accidents in Tacoma, Seattle and surrounding areas are a huge problem, and continue to be a leading cause of serious personal injury and wrongful death. Injury attorney Christopher L. Thompson, founder of CLT & Associates, works tirelessly to advocate on behalf of those who have suffered injuries and lost loved ones due to the careless, reckless actions of other drivers.

Some of the cases he handles include:

  • Drunk Driving Accidents
  • Distracted Driving Accidents
  • Motorcycle Accidents
  • Pedestrian Accidents
  • Bicycle Accidents
  • Truck Accidents

Wrangling with auto insurance companies can be stressful. Without the help of an attorney, it’s often a fruitless endeavor. Thompson’s experience working directly for insurers for years gives him unique insight into how best to approach these cases, resolving them expediently in favor of his clients.

Washington State Car Accident Statistics

The Washington Department of Transportation (WDOT) reports a crash occurs every five minutes in the Evergreen State. Every 11 minutes, someone is injured in one of those crashes. A motorcyclist is involved in a crash every four hours, and someone dies every 19 hours.

We have 5.3 million licensed drivers in the state, more than 6.2 million registered vehicles and an estimated 58 billion vehicle miles are traveled within these borders annually.

An estimated 108,000 car accidents are reported each year. A significant portion of these crashes included motorists who were:

  • Speeding;
  • Distracted/ inattentive;
  • Impaired.

Pierce County and King County specifically have some of the highest motor vehicle accident rates, with King County counting more than 38,000 in a single year and Pierce County tallying 12,000. And it’s not just that these locations were larger. The collision rate in King County per 100 million vehicle miles traveled was 236 – higher than anywhere else in the state by far. Both King County and Pierce County were among just five in the state that had collision rates over 180 per 100 M VMT. Both counties also had the highest serious injury and fatality rates stemming from crashes statewide.

Establishing Fault in a Tacoma Car Accident

Washington is an at-fault state when it comes to auto accidents. That means drivers are not required to carry personal injury protection coverage for their own injuries, but are instead free to pursue compensation from at-fault drivers.

To prove “fault,” injury attorneys look to RCW 4.22.015, which defines fault as any act or omission that are in any measure negligent or reckless toward the person or property of other or that subject one to strict tort liability.

It should be noted that just because someone violates an ordinance or statute, it is not necessarily proof of negligence per se (i.e., negligence as a matter of law), unless as noted in RCW 5.40.050, we’re talking about driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Still, violation of traffic safety laws can be strong evidence of liability.

Also in DUI cases, we may assert liability on the part of the establishment that served the driver alcohol, if servers did so in violation of RCW 66.44.200, which prohibits sales of alcohol to a person apparently under the influence. Sales of alcohol to minors (under 21) may also trigger a dram shop liability lawsuit if that underage drinker then gets behind the wheel and hurts someone.

But what if you both were partly to blame? In Washington, we follow a system of pure comparative fault, which according to RCW 4.22.005, holds that while a plaintiff’s own negligence in causing the accident won’t prohibit pursuit of damages against other at-fault parties, it will proportionately affect their damage awards. For example, if you are injured in a crash and suffer $100,000 in damages but a jury finds you 40 percent at-fault and defendant 60 percent at-fault, you would only be entitled to $60,000 in damages.

Finally, there are some instances wherein third parties may be at-fault, even if they weren’t the ones driving. For example, the doctrine of respondeat superior allows employers to be vicariously liable for the negligent actions of employees acting in the course and scope of employment. This claim is asserted often in trucking accident cases where the carrier is held liable for the negligence of its driver. These same entities could be held directly liable if there is proof of negligent hiring, negligent supervision or negligent maintenance of the vehicle.

Other third parties that could be liable, depending on the circumstances:

  • Government agency responsible for poor road design or maintenance contributing to crash;
  • Vehicle manufacturer(s) for faulty parts/ vehicles that caused or contributed to crash (product liability lawsuit);
  • Construction companies that failed to post appropriate signage or allowed unsafe pavement or road conditions to exist unabated;
  • Private property owner if the crash occurs on private property or if some condition on site contributed to danger on the roadway (i.e., obstructive landscaping).

Proving Damages in a Car Accident

Many plaintiffs want to know right away what their Tacoma car accident case is worth. The truth is that is there is no quick answer, as it dependent on numerous factors, including:

  • Severity of your injuries;
  • Degree of physical pain and suffering that resulted from crash;
  • Whether you were forced to take time off work;
  • Whether you’ll be able to return to work/ in the same capacity;
  • Whether you will likely need ongoing treatment/ surgery/ medication;
  • Valuation of damage to your property;
  • Loss of life enjoyment;
  • Your family’s loss of your companionship/ services.

We may also be able to secure damages from your own insurance companies via uninsured/ underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. This provides compensation in the event you are injured by another driver who lacks auto insurance, is not identified (i.e., hit-and-run) or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your damages.

Injury attorney Christopher L. Thompson will work to either negotiate a fair settlement, or else press to take your case to trial to ensure you receive full compensation for losses you suffered in the auto accident.

Contact Tacoma personal injury law firm CLT & Associates at (425) 553-8708 or by sending us an email.

Serving Tacoma, Seattle, Kirkland, Bellevue, Redmond, Puyallup and Gig Harbor.

DRUNK DRIVING ACCIDENTS

Time and again, DUI accidents – caused by drivers who are drunk or under the influence of drugs – cause devastating losses on Washington roadways.

At CLT & Associates, DUI accident attorney Christopher L. Thompson works tirelessly to hold accountable intoxicated drivers, as well as irresponsible bars, restaurants and social hosts for the damage they inflict.

There is much at stake in these cases for several reasons, including:

  • Losses in DUI accidents tend to be quite high, due to the recklessness of the impaired driver;
  • A DUI offense is considered a form of “negligence per se” meaning violation of DUI statutes in and of itself is evidence of negligence;
  • With dram shop and social host liability claims, we’re often dealing with more than one defendant;
  • Civil cases often run concurrently to criminal matters. Although they are separate, evidence gleaned in one may be used in the other. It also means families are under a great deal of stress.

Unfortunately, Washington state is one of few states that does not allow punitive damages – even in cases of gross negligence by DUI offenders who cause significant and lasting harm. Nonetheless, because so many of these cases tragically result in lifelong personal injuries or death, settlements and verdicts are often substantial.

Understanding Impaired Driving Problem in Washington State

The Washington Department of Transportation (WDOT) reports every 1.5 days in this state, a person is killed by an impaired driver. In a single year, there were more than 31,000 cases of DUI involving drugs and/ or alcohol in Washington courts. When you bear in mind these were only the people who were caught, you begin to just how widespread this problem is – and how hazardous our roads truly are.

Exacerbating this issue in recent years was the passage of Washington Initiative 502 on marijuana reform, which in 2012 legalized marijuana for recreational use by those over 21. As the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety notes, fatal crashes involving drivers who recently used marijuana doubled in Washington state after the drug was legalized. But even the traffic safety organization notes that per se limits on marijuana are arbitrary and unsupported by science. That can make civil liability cases involving marijuana more challenging.

An experienced DUI injury attorney is imperative if you want fair results.

Liability in Tacoma DUI Crash Cases

Most crashes are the direct result of negligence by one or more drivers. In these instances, negligence means the driver owed a duty of care (to operate the vehicle in a safe manner), that duty was breached and the breach proximately caused plaintiff’s injuries.

DUI cases are a bit different in that they constitute negligence per se, meaning violation of RCW 46.61.502, Washington state’s impaired driving law, is negligence as a matter of law, according to RCW 5.40.050(4). Proving the other driver was drunk, however, does not mean you automatically win your case. You must still prove with substantial evidence that the violation of law proximately caused or contributed to the accident.

In addition to the drunk/ impaired driver, you may have several other avenues for compensation. Those include:

  • Dram shop liability. RCW 66.44.200 prohibits sales of alcohol by licensed vendors to individuals who are apparently under the influence of alcohol. A defendant’s own intoxication is not a defense. For this, a vendor could be deemed liable for the drunk driver’s negligence under dram shop liability.
  • Social host liability. RCW 66.44.270 makes it illegal to sell, give, furnish or otherwise supply alcohol to someone under 21 or allow that minor to consume alcohol on the premises. If someone knowingly serves, furnishes or sells alcohol to a minor who later causes a crash, the individual who provided the alcohol could be liable.
  • Vehicle Owner Liability. This could come about via a claim of negligent entrustment when there is evidence the vehicle owner knew or should have known someone was unable or unlikely to drive safely.
  • Vicarious liability. There are a few different ways vicarious liability could come into play in DUI tort cases. The most common is employer liability, as set forth in the doctrine of respondeat superior (Latin for “let the master answer), when the negligent driver was acting in the course and scope of employment. This may not be a clear-cut issue, but if the impaired driver was operating a company vehicle or was acting in a manner that furthered the employer’s business, this provision could apply.

In some Tacoma DUI injury cases, there could be instances when vehicle/ vehicle product manufacturers are responsible too. Even if they don’t cause the crash, the defect could exacerbate injuries. In cases where roads were poorly designed or maintained, the dangerous road condition could be a proximate cause of the crash worth considering.

If you are injured in a DUI accident in Tacoma, Seattle or surrounding areas, trust injury attorney Christopher L. Thompson of CLT & Associates to help recover damages.

Contact Tacoma personal injury law firm CLT & Associates at (425) 553-8708 or by sending us an email. Serving Tacoma, Seattle, Kirkland, Bellevue, Redmond, Puyallup and Gig Harbor.

DISTRACTED DRIVING ACCIDENTS

Distracted driving is blamed for one-third of all Washington car accidents fatalities. This makes sense when you consider that:

  • Distracted driving impairs motorists as much as alcohol;
  • More than three-quarters of Americans have a smartphone;
  • Cell phones aren’t even the only driver distraction.

At CLT & Associates, Tacoma car accident attorney Christopher L. Thompson is committed to securing full compensation to victims of distracted driving accidents in Washington state, many of whom suffer significant and lifelong injuries.

Distracted driving, as defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is any activity that diverts attention away from driving. That usually means talking or texting on your phone. It could also be eating and drinking, engaging with people in your car, changing the radio station or fiddling with the GPS navigation or entertainment system.

It has been proven time-and-again drivers are not able to operate a vehicle safely unless their full attention is on the road. Humans are not the amazing multi-taskers we sometimes pride ourselves on being. Any non-driving task in which you engage is a possible distraction that raises your risk of an auto accident.

Distracted driving is tougher to prove than drunk driving, but it is similarly a form of negligence, and a breach of one’s duty to other road users to use reasonable care in operating a vehicle. That means distracted drivers are often deemed at-fault for collisions, and victims may be entitled to damages for:

  • Medical bills;
  • Lost wages;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Property damage;
  • Loss of consortium;
  • Wrongful death.  

It’s estimated that in a single year, nearly 3,500 people died and another 400,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers nationally. In Washington state, 200 people reportedly died in a single year in distracted driving accidents. Keep in mind: These figures likely understate the problem, as it’s difficult to definitively prove distraction absent a confession from the at-fault driver, strong eyewitness testimony or thorough analysis of electronic records.

Distracted Driving Law in Washington

Driving while distracted is illegal in Washington, and a law that went into effect in 2017 expanded prohibited acts and raised fines.

The Driving Under the Influence of Electronics (DUIE) Act was originally slated to be delayed until 2019, but Gov. Jay Inslee fast-tracked the measure to go into effect nearly two years ahead of schedule.

As Tacoma car accident lawyers understand it, the urgency partly rested on a statewide survey by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission revealing more than 70 percent of distracted drivers engage with their phones and nearly 1 in every 10 drivers in Washington state are distracted behind the wheel.  Additionally, between 2014 and 2015, the number of distracted driving fatalities in Washington spiked by 32 percent.

Prior to DUIE, texting while driving was already illegal, as was holding a cellphone at the ear. However, drivers routinely skirted those rules by holding the phone just under their chin or between their legs.

The DUIE law bans:

  • Handheld uses of any electronic device, including phones, tablets, laptop computers and gaming devices while driving;
  • Handheld use, including writing or reading a message, picture or information. Photography while driving is also prohibited;
  • Motorists cannot use devices while at a red-light signal or stop sign.

Failure to abide the statute is a primary offense, meaning an officer can pull someone over if they observe a distracted driving violation. Not only will it result in a $136 fine (or $235 for a second offense), citations will be reported to auto insurers, which could mean higher insurance rates.

Hands-free systems, such as those calling and mapping, are still allowed, and drivers can use handheld devices if they pull off the road.

Liability for Tacoma Distracted Driving Accidents

In addition to these added penalties for traffic citations, distracted drivers may also face civil liability if they cause a car accident in Tacoma, Seattle or surrounding areas that results in injury or death. In fact, civil liability may apply regardless of criminal charges. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you weigh your legal options if you were the one harmed.

Washington is an at-fault state when it comes to traffic crashes, which means the party at-fault is responsible for covering the damages. RCW 4.22.015 defines “fault” as acts or omissions that are in any measure negligent or reckless toward another person. Claimants in personal injury claims must prove not only fault, but causation, meaning defendant’s actions caused the car accident that resulted in plaintiff’s injuries. This establishes liability.

Even in cases where claimant may have been partially to blame, Washington’s contributory fault law, RCW 4.22.005 does not prohibit recovery of damages. However, it will proportionately reduce the amount payable by the percentage of claimant’s fault. In other words, if you are 40 percent at fault, you will only be allowed to collect up to 60 percent of the damages to which you would have otherwise been entitled.

In distracted driving cases, the Tacoma injury law team at CLT & Associates will explore the possibility of vicarious liability or direct liability of the driver’s employer, if he or she was engaged in electronic communication for work purposes (as is often the case).

If you have been injured in a distracted driving car accident, we can help you examine your legal options.

Contact Tacoma personal injury law firm CLT & Associates at (425) 553-8708 or by sending us an email.

Serving Tacoma, Seattle, Kirkland, Bellevue, Redmond, Puyallup and Gig Harbor.  

MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENTS

Motorcycle enthusiasts love the scenic routes in the Tacoma/ Seattle region, winding through the Northern Cascades and into the bustling inner-city streets. The rain and cold can be challenging for less experienced riders, but people increasingly rely on motorcycles for their work commute, or just for an enjoyable respite from the daily grind.

At CLT & Associates, we understand motorcycle riders are some of the most vulnerable on our streets. Tacoma motorcycle accident attorney Christopher L. Thompson offers free consultations to those who have been injured in motorcycle crashes, helping them map out their legal strategy to obtain fair compensation.

Motorcycle injuries can be especially devastating because even with a helmet, the body is largely unprotected when it meets the pavement, vehicle or some other fixed object.  Common motorcycle accident injuries in non-fatal crashes (according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) include:

  • Legs and feet (30 percent of all injuries)
  • Head and Neck (22 percent of all injuries)
  • Upper trunk (chest, shoulder and back)
  • Arms and hands
  • Lower trunk (hips and pelvis)

Helmeted riders generally suffer less severe injuries. Helmets are required for motorcyclists in Washington, per RCW 46.37.530, and failure to do so can be construed as contributory negligence, which may reduce the damages to which you are entitled. It is nonetheless worthwhile to speak to an injury attorney, as it may not greatly affect the outcome in your case.

Many motorcycle accidents in West and Central Washington are the result of carelessness by other drivers. So many times, we’ve heard the refrain, “I just didn’t see (the motorcycle)” or “he came out of nowhere.” Usually, that boils down to the other driver’s inattention or carelessness.

Motorists are required to use reasonable care in the operation of a vehicle, and that means watching for motorcyclists and giving them adequate space and respect.

In cases involving single-vehicle motorcycle accidents, passengers may be able to recover damages from the operator’s insurer, or possibly their own.

Motorcycle Accidents in Washington

An estimated 5,000 people die in the U.S. every year in motorcycle accidents, and another 88,000 are injured. That’s according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Just in Washington, more than 75 are killed each year. Motorcycle accidents consistently account for 15 percent of the total number of accidents in Washington. Additionally, there are 400 to 500 people seriously injured in these collisions and another 1,500 who suffer relatively minor injuries.

Motorcycle accident attorneys in Tacoma recognize many crash victims suffer major injuries. Obtaining compensation from at-fault drivers is necessary to helping you regain your financial footing.

Even in cases where you may have been partially at-fault, RCW 4.22.005, the state’s contributory negligence law, still allows you to collect damages from the other at-fault party, though your compensation will be proportionately reduced.

Washington Motorcycle Laws and Insurance

A “motorcycle” in Washington state is defined in RCW 46.04.330 as a motor vehicle designed to travel on not more than three wheels, on which the driver either rides on a seat or saddle and steers with a handle bar or else rides in a seat partially or completely enclosed and equipped with seat belts and steers with a steering wheel. (The former is more common.)

All motorcyclists are required to follow the rules of the road, and no motorcycle should transport a child under the age of 5. Riders have to keep one foot on either side, may not attach the bike to another vehicle and are required to wear a USDOT certified helmet as outlined in 49 CFR 571.218.

Motorcycles are required to be properly licensed, though they do not technically require insurance. Bear in mind, however, that insurance is required if you ride in Oregon, Idaho and Canada. You will be expected to follow the laws of any state to which you travel, or else you could be facing a ticket. If you don’t own the bike outright, the lender may require insurance.

Even if you aren’t required to secure motorcycle liability insurance, it’s still a good idea. If a crash is your fault and you don’t have motorcycle insurance, you could find yourself personally liable for damages.

If the crash was someone else’s fault, you are free in Washington to pursue a claim against them for damages. State law requires most motorists to maintain a minimum of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per crash to cover injuries, wage loss and non-economic damages.

Lots of drivers carry over and above this amount, which is good because it doesn’t go far when there is a serious injury. In the event the tortfeasor’s (wrongdoer’s) liability insurance is insufficient to cover your damages, we can examine your underinsured motorist policy for additional compensation, as well as possible third-party liability claims.

At CLT & Associates, we understand the unique challenges Tacoma and Seattle motorcycle accident victims face. We’re prepared to fight for you to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

Contact Tacoma personal injury law firm CLT & Associates at (425) 553-8708 or by sending us an email.

Serving Tacoma, Seattle, Kirkland, Bellevue, Redmond, Puyallup and Gig Harbor.

PEDESTRIAN ACCIDENTS

Everyone is a pedestrian, at least at some point or another. Even if we use our vehicle to get to-and-from work, school or personal errands, we still need to walk from our car to our destination. We walk our pets, jog around the neighborhood or stroll down the sidewalks.

Seattle pedestrian accident attorney Christopher L. Thompson, founder of CLT & Associates, knows communities – including this one, as well as Tacoma and Kirkland – are prioritizing cleaner transportation and safety for vulnerable road users.

For example, the Seattle Vision Zero plan, which seeks to end all serious and fatal crashes by 2030, focuses on making streets more walkable and bike-friendly. One phase of that plan was reduction of speed limits on 2,400 miles of residential roads and 80 miles of arterial streets. Pedestrian crossings have been improved throughout the city, and a Safe Routes to School action plan is underway.

Still, pedestrian accidents in Washington continue to be a serious issue, one that disproportionately affects those over 55 and is worsening as drivers are more distracted than ever.

Pedestrian injuries, we find, are often quite severe because, unlike those in cars, pedestrians don’t have the protection of seat belts, helmets or airbags. There is nothing to keep their bodies from directly striking the pavement or fixed objects. Some examples of pedestrian injuries include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Lacerations/ contusions and abrasions (particularly about the hands and face)
  • Fractures (particularly to the tibia, fibula and femur)

Pedestrian accident lawsuits in Washington also tend to be a bit more complex. In addition to severity of injuries, pedestrians may or may not have their own auto insurance. Although Washington is an at-fault state when it comes to collisions, severe injuries often require reliance on underinsured motorist coverage, on top of what victims may collect from the at-fault driver. Plus, because pedestrians are disproportionately victims in hit-and-run accidents, they often must turn to their own uninsured motorist coverage.

Washington Pedestrian Accident Statistics

Every year, approximately 5,400 pedestrian deaths are reported nationally. Another 70,000 are seriously injured. That’s according to the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA), which also reports that in Washington state, there are 85 pedestrian accident deaths annually.

Another analysis by the city looked at pedestrian accidents in Seattle from 2007 to 2014. In that time, there were 3,726 pedestrian crashes reported, with 445 of those being serious or fatal.

While pedestrian accidents only comprise about 3.4 percent of the total accidents, they represent a much larger percentage of serious crashes (38.2 percent) and fatal crashes (25.4 percent).

Most Seattle pedestrian accidents occur at intersections, and most of those at intersections with traffic signals. The majority occurred at arterial streets where there were higher traffic volumes and higher speed limits. We see many cases wherein the driver:

  • Failed to yield the right-of-way;
  • Failed to stop at an unmarked crosswalk;
  • Failed to stop before turning right on red;
  • Failed to complete to a complete stop at an intersection;
  • Failed to provide sufficient room for pedestrians to cross;
  • Failed to keep a proper lookout;
  • Was drunk/ high/ impaired;
  • Was distracted;
  • Was speeding.

Speed is the No. 1 critical factor in the severity of pedestrian accidents in Seattle. Nine out of 10 pedestrians will survive being struck by a vehicle at 20 mph. However, only half will survive being struck by a vehicle traveling 30 mph. Only 1 in 10 will survive being hit by a vehicle traveling 40 mph.

Any one of these constitutes failure to use reasonable care, which is the basis for a finding of negligence. As pedestrian accident attorney Christopher L. Thompson can explain, this is the first step in recovering damages for your injuries.

Recovering Damages for Washington Pedestrian Accidents

Just like in a car accident case, those who were victims in a pedestrian accident can recover damages for the costs they incurred for:

  • Medical bills;
  • Lost earnings;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Physical disfigurement/ scarring;
  • Physical impairment/ disability;
  • Mental anguish;
  • Diminished quality of life.

An experienced injury attorney can help identify possible defendants and explain your legal options. For instance, if the driver who struck you was at-fault, you may pursue a claim for damages against them. Generally, that means seeking compensation under their bodily injury liability policy. Minimum limits in Washington are $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident.

Although it is not required by state law, some drivers also carry personal injury protection (PIP) benefits. If so, as a pedestrian, you may be entitled to PIP coverage to help pay your medical bills.

If the driver did not have insurance or lacks enough insurance to fully cover your damages, you may file a claim with your own auto insurance company for uninsured/ underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. This will apply even though you weren’t driving and weren’t in a vehicle. It can also be used in cases where you are struck by a hit-and-run driver who is not identified.

At CLT & Associates, our legal team will also examine whether the roadway was poorly lit or defectively-designed or ill-maintained. This could be grounds for a claim against the city or other governmental agency. Recent maintenance on the vehicle that proved faulty could be grounds for a claim against the repair shop.

We should note that even if you as a pedestrian were not obeying the rules of the road, you may still be entitled to damages. Washington does not prohibit claims for compensation for those who are partially to blame. However, the degree of your own blame could proportionately reduce the amount of damages you are entitled to receive.

Contact Tacoma personal injury law firm CLT & Associates at (425) 553-8708 or by sending us an email.

Serving Tacoma, Seattle, Kirkland, Bellevue, Redmond, Puyallup and Gig Harbor.

BICYCLE ACCIDENTS

As transportation modes go, bicycling is inexpensive, healthy, efficient and better for the environment than driving a car or taking the bus. Cities across Washington state, including Tacoma and Seattle, are working to forge a more bike-friendly culture with bicycle paths, facilities and safety features to encourage more people to bike to work, school or for recreation.

Tacoma bicycle accident attorney Christopher L. Thompson of CLT & Associates recognizes better infrastructure will mean safer streets. Ultimately, though, many of these crashes come down to careless drivers.

The Washington Department of Transportation (WDOT) reports more than 1,600 bicycle accidents a year. The top five contributing factors (in cases where it was known):

  • Inattention/ Driver Distraction;
  • Failure to Yield Right -of-Way;
  • Disregard Signal;
  • Excessive Speed;
  • Under the Influence of Alcohol and/ or Drugs.

If you have been injured in a bicycle accident in Tacoma or surrounding areas, our experienced team can help you explore your legal options to recover damages. Bicycle accident injuries tend to be more severe than what we might see in many other crashes because cyclists are more vulnerable. They are more likely to suffer a direct hit to the pavement, the vehicle or some other fixed object.

Common Types of Bicycle Crashes

Statewide, WDOT reports nearly 1,200 cyclists suffer some type of minor injury each year, while 100 suffer serious injuries and half a dozen or so are killed. Nationally, some 45,000 cyclists are injured each year, according to the U.S. DOT.

Many bicycle accidents in Washington follow similar fact patterns.

As noted by The City of Seattle’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Analysis, the top bicycle crash types in this region are:

  • Left Hooks. This is when a left-turning vehicle fails to yield to the oncoming cyclist in the opposite lane, either running the cyclist down outright or striking the cyclist with the right front fender. This accounts for 14 percent of the total number of bicycle accidents, and 21.5 percent of those that were serious or fatal.
  • Angle Crashes. Sometimes referred to as a “T-bone” crash. This occurs either when the cyclist rides out into the road from a driveway or cross street and fails to yield to traffic or when the driver crashes into a cyclist who is lawfully crossing an intersection perpendicular to the vehicle. This accounts for 9.4 percent of total bicycle crashes and 9.9 percent of those that are fata.
  • Right Hooks. This occurs when a driver passes a bicyclist on the left and then makes a right turn directly into the cyclist’s path without signaling or otherwise checking the mirror to ensure it’s safe to do so. This accounts for 7.1 percent of total bicycle accidents in Seattle and 2.7 percent of those that are serious or fatal.
  • Dooring. This occurs when a person in a parked car opens the door into the path of the cyclist. It is the fourth most common type of crash, but accounts for the third-highest number of serious and fatal bicycle crashes.

In many of these scenarios, it is the driver of the motor vehicle who is at-fault for the collision. Even in situations where the cyclist may be partially at-fault, RCW 4.22.005, Washington state’s contributory fault law, does not bar recovery of damages for victims who may share the blame. Instead, their total damages award may be proportionately reduced.

Washington Bicycle Laws

One factor that can contribute to bicycle vs. car accidents in Washington is lack of understanding about traffic safety laws.

Some of those that pertain directly to bicyclists – and those with whom they share the road – include:

  • Riding on the road. Per RCW 46.61.755, bicyclists who ride on the roadway have all the rights and responsibilities of vehicle drivers. That means per RCW 46.61.750, bicyclists who violate traffic laws can also be ticketed.
  • Riding side-by-side. Bicyclists may ride side-by-side per RCW 461.61.770. However, they are not permitted to ride more than two abreast.
  • Riding at night. RCW 46.61.780 requires riders at night to use a white front light (not a reflector) that is visible for at least 500 feet, as well as a rear reflector.
  • Bicycle helmets. Helmets aren’t required by state statute, but numerous cities and counties require them – including Pierce County (unincorporated), King County, Tacoma, Seattle, Puyallup and Gig Harbor. Each of these requires bicycle helmets for those of all ages.

Recovering Damages for Bicycle Accidents in Washington

Bicyclists aren’t required to carry any kind of insurance. However, if a cyclist is struck by a motor vehicle, he/she may recover damages through their own auto insurance policy for uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage. This would apply if the at-fault driver didn’t have insurance, lacked enough insurance to cover the full cost of damages or committed a hit-and-run and was not identified.

An increasing number of insurers are offering bicycle insurance as part of a separate, standalone policy.

These plans will often cover:

  • Physical damage to your bicycle;
  • Liability (if you injured someone else);
  • Medical payments to you;
  • UM/ UIM benefits;
  • Bike rental reimbursement;
  • Competitive event fee reimbursement.

Unless you have these types of insurance, though, you will likely be filing a claim for damages against the at-fault driver. You may recover damages for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and more. An experienced Tacoma injury lawyer can help you explore your legal options.

Contact Tacoma personal injury law firm CLT & Associates at (425) 553-8708 or by sending us an email.

Serving Tacoma, Seattle, Kirkland, Bellevue, Redmond, Puyallup and Gig Harbor.

TRUCK ACCIDENTS

Any motor vehicle accident can be traumatic. Truck accidents, though, are especially devastating due to the severity of injuries so often caused by these oversized vehicles.

Seattle truck accident attorney Christopher L. Thompson, founder of CLT & Associates, recognizes the complexity these cases often present, due to crashes caused by multiple factors. Claims often involve numerous defendants, and injuries are often severe, meaning the stakes are high.

With extensive experience both in settlement negotiations and in the courtroom, Thompson is committed to ensuring trucking accident clients of CLT & Associates in Seattle, Tacoma and surrounding areas receive the compensation they deserve.

Large Truck Accidents in Washington

Any vehicle over 10,000 pounds is considered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to be a “large truck.” The FMCSA notes that due to their sheer size, large trucks are more likely to cause major injuries and deaths when they are involved in crashes.

The Washington Department of Transportation (WDOT) reports of the approximately 200,000 total vehicle collisions in the state every year, around 6,000 involve commercial vehicles and heavy trucks. These include not just semi-trailers and big rigs, but commercial buses, cement trucks, garbage trucks and construction vehicles.

Of those 6,000 crashes, an estimated 4,300 result in property-damage-only. Another 1,340 result in minor injuries and about 100 result in serious injuries. About 5 percent are fatal.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports 116,000 people are injured nationally in trucking accidents, and an estimated 5,000 are killed.

FMCSA data on large truck accidents reveals:

  • Large trucks are more likely than passenger cars to be involved in multiple-vehicle collisions;
  • In fatal truck accidents, approximately 2 percent of drivers are over the legal alcohol limit;
  • In 3.5 percent of fatal crashes, truckers have some amount of alcohol in their blood;
  • Fatal crashes involving large trucks are on the rise.

Although trucking accidents have declined substantially since the FMCSA began tracking them in the mid-1970s, they continue to be a serious problem for motorists in Seattle, Tacoma and surrounding areas.

Why Large Truck Accidents Happen

As with any motor vehicle accident, cause can be a difficult thing to pinpoint. Crashes are often the result of several different factors, some related others not. For example, inclement weather might play a role, but all motorists owe a duty of care to drive at a reasonable speed given the conditions. Failure to do so is negligent, and if it results in a crash, the driver who failed to slow down may be liable.

Truck crashes often stem from failures by truck drivers and trucking companies to use appropriate care and caution. The trucking industry as a whole is high-pressure. Drivers are under enormous stress to complete more deliveries in less time. Our injury lawyers in Seattle have too often seen cases involving trucking companies that cut corners to meet ever-increasing demand and keep costs down – at the expense of safety. That means trucks may be overloaded, equipment isn’t properly maintained or drivers aren’t vetted or supervised.

Some common causes of truck accidents in Washington include:

  • Truck driver fatigue/ sleep deprivation
  • Truck driver distraction
  • Poorly-maintained trucking equipment
  • Drug/ alcohol impairment of trucker
  • Lack of truck driver training
  • Speeding trucker/ reckless driving
  • Distracted truck driver
  • Unsecured cargo/ overloaded cargo
  • Defective truck parts/ mechanical failure

Both state and federal regulations govern the trucking industry. Carriers are required to keep track of driving hours and maintenance information. This information can be helpful, but it needs to be scrutinized. Far too many trucking carriers flout regulations and put profits before people, placing innocent lives in danger.

Critical injuries often result in truck accidents, some of which may include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Skull fractures
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Severe facial/ dental injuries
  • Back and neck injuries
  • Burns

Any one of these could result in serious, lifelong and potentially fatal consequences. Victims should not be expected to carry this burden themselves when injuries were the direct result of someone else’s negligence.

Liability in Trucking Accidents

In crashes involving commercial trucks, even when it’s clear the trucker was at-fault, determining liability isn’t always so cut-and-dried.

In cases where the truck driver is an employee of the carrier, we can hold the carrier liable for the trucker’s negligence with the primary theory of liability called respondeat superior, which is Latin for “let the master answer.” Employers may be held vicariously liable for the negligent actions of employees, even if the company didn’t directly do anything wrong. However, many trucking companies create a degree of separation by working with drivers only on an independent contractor status. In those cases, respondeat superior would not apply. However, misclassification of workers is not unheard of in the trucking industry, so this would be an element at which we would look closely.

Beyond that, we would look carefully at what contracts existed between the carrier, the driver, the truck owner and others. These contracts may spell out who is responsible for carrying liability insurance and what degree of control each entity had over the operation.

The FMCSA requires freight carriers to carry between $750,000 and $5 million in liability insurance, depending on the commodities imported. Non-hazardous freight moved only in vehicles weighing under 10,001 pounds may carry $300,000 in liability insurance. Those carrying passengers need to maintain a minimum of $5 million in liability insurance. Those that carry 15 or fewer passengers at a time can carry $1.5 million in coverage.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident in Washington, injury attorney Christopher L. Thompson of CLT & Associates can help.

Contact Tacoma personal injury law firm CLT & Associates at (425) 553-8708 or by sending us an email.

Serving Tacoma, Seattle, Kirkland, Bellevue, Redmond, Puyallup and Gig Harbor.  

Personal Injury

PERSONAL INJURY

Personal injury resulting from someone’s negligence can upend your whole life, leaving you physically, emotionally and financially reeling.

At CLT & Associates, Tacoma personal injury attorney Christopher L. Thompson is committed to fighting for fair compensation for those whose lives have been directly and deeply affected by another’s careless or reckless actions – or failure to act.

Negligence, as it is understood in Washington state statutory and common law, is the failure to exercise reasonable care when there was a duty to do so, resulting in injuries to another. “Fault” is defined in RCW 4.22.015. In most torts (i.e., a wrongful act leading to civil liability), those who have been harmed need to prove negligence to win their case. In general, the basic elements to proving negligence are:

  • Duty. Defendant (alleged wrongdoer) owed plaintiff (person wronged) the duty to either act or refrain from acting in a certain way, as would be expected of a reasonable person in the same or similar situation.
  • Breach of duty. Defendant acted contrary to his/ her duty.
  • Cause in Fact. Defendant’s breach caused plaintiff’s injuries. Here we ask, “Would plaintiff’s injuries have occurred absent negligence of defendant?”
  • Proximate cause. Defendants actions/ inactions were within the scope of known risk. In other words, defendant knew or should have known injury could result.
  • Damages. Plaintiff suffered some degree of damages – physical or otherwise – due to defendant’s negligence.

There are many circumstances under which negligence may be proved and compensation won.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Car accidents in Washington generally involve claims against the at-fault driver, as Washington is an at-fault state when it comes to liability for collisions.

These crashes result in personal injury, property damage and death. It’s important if you have been injured or lost a loved one in a crash to have an experienced injury lawyer review the facts of your case to determine whether you have any viable claims against the other driver, vehicle owner, vehicle manufacturer, city/ county/ state responsible for road maintenance or bar owner who may have served alcohol to the driver.

These cases may include truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents and more.

Dog Bites/ Animal Attacks

If you have suffered a dog bite in Tacoma or Seattle or surrounding areas in Washington state, you may be entitled to recover damages per RCW 16.08.040, which spells out dog bite liability. The statute holds that the owner of any dog that bites another while in a public place or while that personal is lawfully in a private place (including on the property of the dog’s owner) is liable for damages suffered by the person bitten. This is true regardless of whether the dog had previously demonstrated any propensity for viciousness or whether the owner knew about that. This is referred to as “strict liability.”

The statute doesn’t apply to lawful applications of police canine units.

In this case, “owner” can mean also keeper or harborer of the dog too. Courts have held that landlords have no duty to protect third parties from dangerous animals lawfully owned by tenants – even if the landlord knows the animal is present on the property unless, as noted in the Restatement (Second) of torts §379A (1965) that landlord knew or had reason to know it involved an unreasonable risk.

An injury attorney can help explain further if you have a viable case after suffering a bite.

Premises Liability

When injuries occur on someone else’s property, you may be entitled to damages. This is known as a premises liability claim.

Examples of premises liability claims include:

  • Slip-and-fall accidents;
  • Negligent security (leading to criminal assault);
  • Amusement park accidents;
  • Playground injuries;
  • Injuries at school;
  • Swimming pool accidents;
  • Parking lot trip-and-falls;
  • Defective/ dangerous conditions on site.

In the state of Washington, personal injury claims stemming from unsafe or defective conditions on another person’s property require consideration of the injured person’s status on site. Here, we rely on the traditional classifications of the injured party as:

  • Invitee – Someone invited on site for the benefit (particularly financial) of property owner.
  • Licensee – Someone who is on site with permission or tolerance, but who is not invited for business-related purposes or for the benefit of the property owner.
  • Trespasser – Someone who enters or remains on site without permission or invitation.

Invitees are afforded the most protection under premises liability laws, while trespassers are afforded the least.

The one exception is when children trespass on a site where there is something called an “attractive nuisance,” as spelled out in WPI 120.04. Examples might be a swimming pool or old appliances – anything that would be attractive or enticing to young children who would be incapable due to their age of comprehending the danger involved. In those cases, property owners have a duty to secure those conditions on site and make them inaccessible to child trespassers.

Wrongful Death

If you have lost a loved one due to the wrongful act of another, you know the grief is crushing, and so too is the concern for how your family will fare financially. Not only have you lost the wages and/ or potential earnings of the person you lost, but there are medical expenses, funeral costs and other bills to keep up.

In these cases, financial compensation is important, but so too is justice. Although the civil justice system seeks to “make whole” those who have been affected, we know no amount of money is going to bring back the person you love. What we can do is hold accountable those whose actions led to this.

Wrongful death claims can only be filed by certain individuals per RCW 4.2.020, with priority given first to surviving spouses/ state-registered domestic partners, and continuing with children, parents and siblings or others who may have relied on decedent for support.

Unlike many states, Washington does not have damage caps for certain types of injury. Further, even if plaintiff/ decedent is partially to blame for the incident, comparative negligence rules still allow claims for compensation, though it will proportionally reduce the award.

If you have been injured or a loved one killed due to the wrongful action or inaction of another, we can help.

Contact Tacoma personal injury law firm CLT & Associates at (425) 553-8708 or by sending us an email.

Serving Tacoma, Seattle, Kirkland, Bellevue, Redmond, Puyallup and Gig Harbor.  

MEDICAL MALPRACTICE

MEDICAL MALPRACTICE

So much trust is given to surgeons, doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health care providers. These are professionals who have taken an oath to do no harm. It’s a helping profession, and many pride themselves on always rising to the challenge of being held to the highest standard.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case, as Tacoma medical malpractice attorney Christopher L. Thompson has seen time and again. At CLT & Associates, we work closely with victims of medical malpractice to hold health care professionals accountable and help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

As an experienced trial lawyer, Thompson will not back down in settlement negotiations. If a trial is necessary to obtain fair compensation, we will be prepared to go to court.

Each case is different and available damages will vary, but each client matters to us. We approach every medical malpractice case with skill, compassion and dedication.

If you have suffered injury due to negligence by your doctor, surgeon, pharmacist, nurse or other health care provider, you may be entitled to recover compensation for those losses. With a free consultation, we can give you a better sense of what your legal options are and what strategies may be most effective.

What is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is unique from other types of negligence claims in Washington. Unlike strict liability cases, it’s not enough that you suffered a poor outcome from surgery or treatment. It’s also not like ordinary negligence in that it’s not enough to show the doctor failed to use reasonable care.

What must be shown in medical malpractice cases is that the doctor or other health care provider failed to abide the standard of care for that specialty in that region.

RCW 7.70.010 – RCW 7.70.160 explains more of what medical malpractice is and what requirements plaintiffs must have to meet their proof burden. No damages will be paid unless plaintiff can prove one or more of the following:

  • Injury was the result of failure by health care provider to follow accepted standard of care;
  • Health care provider promised patient/ representative that the injury suffered would not occur;
  • Injury resulted from health care to which patient/ representative did not consent.

Those who may be liable are those licensed by the state to provide health care or related services, including (but not limited to):

  • Physicians
  • Dentists
  • Nurses
  • Optometrists
  • Podiatric physicians/ surgeons
  • Chiropractors
  • Physical therapists
  • Psychologists
  • Pharmacists
  • Midwives
  • Physician’s assistant;
  • Nurse practitioner;
  • Any employee/ agent of one of these if acting in the course and scope of employment;
  • Any entity, facility or institution employing one or more of these individuals (i.e., hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, etc.).

To prove that one of these individuals failed to follow the accepted standard of care, we turn to RCW 7.70.040. Under this section of the law, plaintiffs must show:

  • Health care provider failed to exercise the degree of care, skill and learning expected of a reasonably prudent health care provider at that time in that profession/ class in the state of Washington in those same or similar circumstances AND
  • Such failure was the proximate cause of injuries as described in the complaint.

Some examples of common medical malpractice claims in Tacoma would be:

  • Error in anesthesia.
  • Birth injuries/ mistakes during childbirth.
  • Failure to diagnose.
  • Misdiagnosis.
  • Delayed diagnosis.
  • Failure to treat.
  • Surgery errors.

Because medical malpractice cases are more complex than most injury lawsuits and wrongful death claims, you should only trust your case to an attorney with proven experience in these matters.

Mandatory Mediation in Washington Medical Malpractice Litigation

Unlike in most Tacoma personal injury cases, those seeking damages for medical malpractice are first required to submit a certificate of merit (if asserting the health care provider violated the accepted standard of care). That means you must have an expert in that same field – someone who meets the same qualifications as defendant – who will attest that defendant’s actions failed to meet the accepted level of care.

Then, plaintiffs must submit to the process of mandatory mediation. This process, as spelled out in RCW 7.70.100, involves having a qualified mediator (i.e., a retired judge/ member of the state bar association for at least five years or having experience relating to such causes of action) oversee the procedure.

It is only if this mediation fails that the medical malpractice case would proceed to a trial phase.

At CLT & Associates, we will be prepared to see your case through each phase and work toward securing you the most favorable outcome.

Contact Tacoma personal injury law firm CLT & Associates at (425) 553-8708 or by sending us an email.

Serving Tacoma, Seattle, Kirkland, Bellevue, Redmond, Puyallup and Gig Harbor.

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