Each day, we interact with countless strangers — both directly and indirectly — without incident. As members of society, we each have a number of duties of care that we must uphold in order to prevent avoidable accidents and the injuries that come with them, and more often than not, we are successful in our duties. Depending on the context, this duty may be to drive safely, treat a patient with prudent and reasonable care, maintain a safe property for visitors, or obey pedestrian laws as to not injure someone traveling on foot. Of course, these are just a few of the many duties of care legally required of adults. Failure to uphold a duty of care can lead to dangerous accidents. The personal injury victims who are affected are legally entitled to seek compensation from the at-fault party in many instances. These situations are covered under tort law and are commonly handled through a claim with an insurance company or a personal injury lawsuit.
Personal injury claims can seem like a straightforward process when filed with an insurance company, but it is essential that the injured party realizes how much more complex a claim is than first meets the eye. When a personal injury victim files a claim with insurance companies, the adjuster assigned to the case is focusing on one primary goal: to pay as little as possible while still resolving all issues of liability for the insurer and their client. The true extent of your damages is secondary, and you will need to fight to ensure you get a fair settlement — all while trying to recover from your injuries. This is where a Washington DC personal injury attorney comes into play.
Read more about the importance of working with a Washington DC personal injury attorney, and contact our law firm now for a free consultation as soon as possible.
Contact Balkin & Mausner Injury Lawyers LLP For a Free Consultation Today
Knowing where to turn after a serious personal injury in the District of Columbia can be overwhelming, which is why it is so essential to partner with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Our law firm offers a free consultation for injury victims so we can discuss the specifics of their unique accident and give them peace of mind about how we can help them move forward. We encourage you to take advantage of this initial call as soon as possible so we can start working on your case immediately.
The days and weeks after an accident can be overwhelming as you endure the pain and suffering of your injury as you attempt to deal with the many responsibilities and obligations that come with this situation: your health, repairs after a car accident, managing your job as lost wages pile up alongside your medical bills — insurance companies leverage this anxiety to reach a low settlement as quickly as possible. When you are represented by the DC personal injury lawyers at our law firm, you can focus on what matters most while we take on the legal aspects of your accident. You deserve rest, quiet, and support as you prioritize your recovery, and we are here to help.
The Importance of Working WIth a Washington DC Personal Injury Lawyer
Since the personal injury claims process is relatively straightforward when working with insurers, many people believe that they do not need to work with a personal injury attorney to get fair compensation. Unfortunately, the process is designed to be as seamless as possible for a victim so that they don’t realize how important a lawyer is for a fair outcome. Victims can’t be expected to comprehensively manage their own personal injury claim while they are trying to get the rest of their lives back on track, and the unfortunate outcome is often a victim accepting a settlement that barely covers their medical bills, let alone the many other damages they have suffered because of the at-fault party’s negligence or recklessness. The following are a few of the many benefits of working with a Washington DC personal injury attorney every step of the way:
Stress is a major detractor from the recovery process. The less worry that victims take on about their personal injury cases, the better chance they have of a successful recovery. If you were trying to do the work of a Washington DC personal injury lawyer — tracking down damages, building a counter-case for higher compensation, educating yourself about personal injury law, and more — while trying to recover from your personal injuries, you might end up taking away from your chances of success in both areas. Personal injury attorneys have years of experience going through injury claims and managing negotiations for fair compensation, so leaving it to your attorney can help keep all of this added stress away from you and your family.
Personal injury law is complicated whether you were injured in Washington D.C., Virginia, Maryland, or anywhere else in the United States. If you don’t have years of experience working with personal injury law and actively managing injury cases, it’s likely that you do not have a clear understanding of your rights and options as the injured party. Understanding these specific laws are an important basis for recognizing the many different damages that personal injury victims are entitled to, and even more important when engaging in negotiations for an out-of-court settlement with an insurance company hoping to pay as little as possible.
When working directly with an insurance agency or adjuster, it can be difficult and overwhelming to keep faith in your right to fair compensation. Your personal injury attorney is working on your behalf and nobody else’s, meaning that you can be confident in their legal expertise and their dedication to your settlement. When you know that a proven personal injury law professional is fighting for your best interests, it can make your recovery process much easier to stay focused on without unnecessary anxiety. You deserve an advocate, especially when the insurer or responsible party nearly always has either an adjuster or attorney representing their side of the case.
Many people get very anxious, understandably, about things like repaying their medical bills as quickly as possible, which is a significant factor in them accepting a premature settlement; fortunately, you will be able to consult with your personal injury lawyers about a range of questions, including things that may be specific to the District of Columbia laws or your rights as an injured party in personal injury cases in general. Knowing that there is someone you can turn to in the DC area that is ready to answer your questions can help avoid anxiety and fears about unknowns and can help clarify complicated and confusing aspects of your personal injury claim.
A Washington DC personal injury attorney understands the complexities of calculating damages after an accident, and their most important job in the first phase of a personal injury claim is a twofold responsibility: identifying and calculating ALL damages their client has endured and then negotiating with the insurer to reach an out-of-court settlement agreement. If these negotiations fail, the next step will be to file a lawsuit in the District of Columbia courts, but many claims are fortunately settled without needing to involve the courts at all. If you need a personal injury lawyer, Washington DC is home to our law firm, and we are ready to fight for the money you deserve after any injury that someone else caused.
Determining Fault After a Personal Injury
Before you can even take the first step of filing a claim with your personal injury lawyer, Washington DC requires that the matter of fault is established. The District of Columbia is one of the few jurisdictions in the United States that still uses contributory negligence law for personal injury cases, which, as opposed to comparative negligence law in the other 46 states, bars a victim from filing a personal injury claim if they are more than 1% at fault for the accident. Your attorney will need to first establish the facts about the accident in order to prove that you have a right to compensation under this law.
If your accident was in the DC area but actually took place in Virginia or Maryland, you are still subject to contributory negligence law. The only two other jurisdictions in the United States that still utilize this type of legislation are Alabama and North Carolina. As such, it is essential that Washington DC personal injury attorneys are skilled at establishing fault to ensure that their clients can seek appropriate damages for an accident that they are not truly at fault for.
Ways of Proving Fault
No two personal injury cases are alike, and your accident will require specific treatment in order to move forward. That said, the following are a few ways that you can help support your case from day one, whether it is a car accident or different motor vehicle collision, medical malpractice, a slip and fall injury, or the many other common causes of personal injuries. Remember that your absolute top priority should be your health, and if you are unable to take any of these steps because of your medical needs, that is ok. Regardless of how you were injured, keep these steps in mind to maximize your chances of justice under Washington DC injury law:
After an accident, the responsible party may convince a victim to keep the incident between them and not involve the proper authorities. It can be uncomfortable to ignore these pleas, and many people find themselves wishing that they had simply called 911 instead of submitting to the other party’s appeals. Call 911 immediately, so the other party does not have the option to beg or coerce you to do otherwise. Doing so will put a police officer at the scene who will perform their own investigation and compile an accident report based on their findings. This report will be central to your case, but understand that your DC personal injury lawyers will be able to work with the officer to amend any errors if necessary. This step is extremely important to ensure that you get the medical care you need from EMTs at the scene and will be able to follow up on their advice to prioritize your medical needs above all else.
Never Admit or Suggest You Are At Fault
Something as simple as an apology at the scene can be interpreted as an admission of guilt. Remember that even partial guilt bars you from compensation under Washington DC contributory negligence law, so you mustn’t introduce any details to your case that an insurance adjuster may be able to construe as even partial fault. At the scene of the accident, stick with the facts and do not make any attempt to assuage anyone else’s emotions about the situation by offering condolences or apologies no matter how “polite” it may seem. This advice is less important in a situation like medical malpractice but is essential to recall following a car accident or other situation where you may be held accountable.
Take Pictures and Video
No matter how clear and vivid the memories of your Washington DC accident may be in the hours and days following, it is impossible for you to retain these details as time goes on. Memories are inconsistent and unreliable, but videos and pictures will tell the same story with every view. As you record a video, talk over the video to call out any specifics relevant to the situation in order to collect as many details into a single source as possible. After a car accident, a video including things like the direction(s) of travel for each party, a description of the events, and any other details will help paint a clearer picture for your DC personal injury attorney as well as anyone else involved.
Work with Eyewitnesses
Eyewitnesses are extremely helpful after a car accident or any other incident where others may have seen the events leading up to your injury. If you were injured from something like medical malpractice, this step is certainly not as relevant, but for a car accident, slip and fall, or anything else where there are uninvolved witnesses, be sure to speak with them and get their contact information. They may have seen the other driver engaging in dangerous behavior leading up to the car accident that you would not have seen on your own and can provide a different perspective of the situation that can shine a light on important information.
Hire a Lawyer Immediately
Once you have handled these initial steps, you will want to hire a Washington DC personal injury attorney as soon as possible. To get started, schedule a free consultation with our law firm. You will need to have your medical needs addressed immediately, and this should take priority over all else, but once you are ready to get started on the administrative steps, you will benefit from the support of personal injury lawyers from day one. From the moment you initiate a claim, the insurer or defense attorneys working with the at-fault party will be working to identify every possible reason to lower your compensation, and your personal injury lawyer will be able to counter these efforts with their own understanding of Washington DC injury law.
Contact Balkin & Mausner as soon as possible. For a personal injury lawyer, Washington DC can pose specific challenges, especially in terms of contributory negligence and ensuring that a victim has access to the damages that they truly deserve. Whether you are the victim of medical malpractice, a drunk driver, or any other åvoidable situation that someone else caused, we are here to help. During our free consultation, we will be able to go through all of these specifics and give you a clear understanding of the next steps once you are working with our Washington DC law firm.
In 2018, there were 68 fatal occupational injuries in Washington DC. This is one of many types of accidents that may result in a personal injury claim against the at-fault party.
Calculating Damages After a Personal Injury
Once fault has been clearly placed on the other party by your personal injury lawyer, Washington DC will allow you to move forward with your personal injury claim and begin calculating the multitude of damages you have suffered as a result of their reckless, negligent, or otherwise dangerous behavior. Many people confuse the issue of fault with the issue of damages and mistakenly believe that if the other party is clearly at fault that getting appropriate damages will be simple — this could not be farther from the truth. Negotiating fair compensation can be the most arduous and aggressive step of this entire process for your personal injury lawyer. Washington DC has unique laws that require an attorney’s specific understanding of this process. Your attorney will focus on the question of compensatory damages for negotiations, although a judge or jury may award punitive damages in very specific, rare instances as well. Compensatory damages are divided into two distinct parts discussed below.
Economic damages include all impacts of a Washington DC accident that have a measurable financial or economic value. This includes things like medical bills for treatment and care, as well as lost wages for time off or reductions to your earning capacity. In situations where there are long-term financial impacts, such as the loss of financial support in the event of the wrongful death of a loved one or a catastrophic injury that limits the victim’s ability to pursue meaningful work, these factors must be projected into the future to be accurately included in the compensation package.
While economic damages are easier to calculate because of their measurable values, it can still be exceptionally difficult to identify all of the damages that a victim has suffered. Washington DC personal injury lawyers have an extensive understanding of the many potential damages a victim may suffer and will go through each of these with attention to detail in order to ensure that every cost or financial loss is accounted for before going into negotiations. Insurers offer compensation for obvious economic damages but will avoid researching “minor” damages — all of which can add up to substantial amounts.
In cases with long-term economic damages such as wrongful death or permanent disabilities, your Washington DC personal injury lawyer will need to ensure that their long-term financial projections are accurate to ensure that you are not responsible for the economic impacts of someone else’s faults as the years go by.
Non-economic damages are the abstract or subjective damages a victim experiences after a Washington DC accident, such as the pain and suffering of their injuries. Any sort of accident is traumatic, and the experience can lead to many emotional or physiological responses such as depression, fear, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress. In wrongful death cases, non-economic damages include things like the loss of consortium and loss of companionship that the surviving family members and loved ones must endure. These are just a few of the many different non-economic damages that someone may suffer after a District of Columbia injury, and we will be able to go into greater detail about how these may impact your own case during our free consultation.
As you can imagine, there is no simple way to assign a dollar value to something as subjective and unique as “pain and suffering,” but luckily, your personal injury lawyer has a number of tools at their disposal to help them bring these very real impacts into a financial context. One of the common tools that an injury attorney may use to calculate Washington DC non-economic damages is the “multiplier” method, which considers all damages in aggregate and then assigns a number along a scale to indicate their severity. This number is then multiplied against the total economic damages in order to reach a dollar amount.
In some states, the law imposes “damage caps” that limit the amount a victim is able to seek after an accident. These caps are most commonly associated with medical malpractice cases. Fortunately, there is no law that imposes damage caps on non-economic damages in Washington DC for medical malpractice or any other type of personal injury case. Virginia law has a $2 million cap on medical malpractice damages, and Maryland has a limit of $845,000 for medical malpractice non-economic damages (or $1,056,250 for wrongful death).
Understanding Punitive Damages
If your case goes to trial in the Washington D.C. courts, a judge or jury may choose to award additional punitive damages that are intended to punish the at-fault party, whereas compensatory damages are entirely meant to compensate the victim. Since this is a punitive measure, your attorney will not be able to include these damages in settlement negotiations, nor will they be able to request them in your court filings. If your lawyer believes that the at-fault party acted in a particularly reprehensible or egregious manner leading up to your injury, they may choose to skip negotiations and go straight to the courts with the goal of additional punitive damages.
Washington DC Superior Court had a total of 46,786 new filings for the calendar year of 2017. This high volume is one of many reasons why a personal injury attorney may work to avoid the courts unless you have a good chance of being awarded punitive damages, or negotiations fail.
Contact Us Now To Speak With a Washington DC Personal Injury Attorney
Our free consultation will help you understand what to expect moving forward after a Washington DC injury, which can be extremely confusing and overwhelming to understand on your own. During your free consultation, we will be able to go through the many specifics of your accident, such as the cause, the steps you have already taken, the impacts on your life, and how we can help you move forward. This free consultation is an invaluable way for victims to understand that they are not alone and that there is a path forward to get the money they deserve. You do not deserve to take on the stress and emotional burden of your legal case, especially as you are working to get your life back on track after this challenging experience. Your top priority should be your recovery, and we will be happy to fight for the compensation you deserve as you get the care you need.