Don’t Face Personal Injury Cases Alone
Many people attempt to represent themselves in personal injury cases only to find the defendant – possibly a large corporation, insurance company or seasoned defense attorney – better equipped to handle the suit. Fury Duarte PS offers more than 90 years of combined experience practicing law, specifically practicing personal injury cases.
Emphasizing strong attorney-client relationships, curbing injustice and fighting for victims of personal injury accidents, our firm has established itself as an upper-echelon law firm known for making positive changes in the Pacific Northwest. Our goal is to secure full and complete recovery for the harm and losses one has suffered because of someone’s failure to care and respect their well-being.
We will put our experience, innovation, and know-how to work for you. Our trial lawyers can confidently fight for your well-being throughout Washington. We welcome the opportunity to discuss your case, and we encourage you to call us for a complimentary consultation at 425-643-1606.
- Wrongful Death
- Vehicle Accidents
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Medical Malpractice
- Electrical Injuries
- Construction Injuries
- Maritime/Admiralty Injuries
- Aviation Injury
Understand your rights and the law by exploring our Knowledge Center:
The Civil Case Process
Injuries are often accompanied by high-economic losses (like medical bills and lost wages) and devastating human costs (like never-ending pain, depression, anger, frustration, reduced brain function, lost relationships, etc.). Our goal is to help our clients every step of the way and secure civil justice.
- Initial Intake/Investigation
- Pre-Lawsuit Negotiations
- Filing a Lawsuit
- Discovery Process
1. Initial Intake/Investigation
Our first step in any potential civil case is to conduct a thorough investigation and claim evaluation. A civil case is an involved process that is often expensive and can take years to resolve. Thus, we want to ensure, as best as we can, that it makes financial and emotional sense for you to engage in the process. This includes determining whether the claim will have merit in court and that it is likely to result in a recovery of damages that is sufficient for you to proceed with the case.
To conduct our review, we need to gather as much information as we can. This may, but does not always, include interviewing potential witnesses, obtaining medical records, consulting experts, and conducting literary research. In certain cases, this process can take a lengthy period. Therefore, it is important to contact us well in advance of any time limitation or statute of limitation that may be applicable to your claim.
2. Pre-Lawsuit Negotiations
Once we have taken responsibility for your case, we will notify your insurer, the at-fault entities’ various insurers, and any other potentially involved insurers, that we represent you and that all further communications should come through our office only. This will relieve you of having to field any calls from, or engage in any conversations with, adjusters.
At this point, we determine whether to engage in pre-lawsuit negotiations or to simply file a lawsuit. If we determine pre-lawsuit negotiations are prudent, we will continue to gather all the information relevant to your claim, e.g., medical bills, medical records, payroll records, police reports, ambulance records, and any other similar records. We also will continue to monitor your progress through medical treatment. We do not want to attempt to settle a case before we know the entire medical picture and what medical treatment you will ultimately require. This can mean we will wait until you have completed medical treatment before we attempt to settle the case.
Once you have completed your medical treatment—or we otherwise feel there is enough information to begin settlement negotiations—we will compile the information we have collected and send it to the appropriate insurance adjusters with demands for settlement. We will then see if it is possible to reach an amicable resolution prior to filing a lawsuit.
3. Filing a Lawsuit
If pre-lawsuit negotiations fail—or we determine it makes the most sense to proceed directly to filing a lawsuit—the next step is to file a complaint. The complaint, which is the document that commences the lawsuit, provides the defendants and court with a description of the incident, the basis for liability, and the damages sought. The complaint is filed in the proper court, and we serve it on the defendant.
If the defendant has insurance, the defendant’s insurance company will retain an attorney for the defendant. If the defendant does not have insurance, the defendant will either need to hire their own attorney or represent themselves. The defendant’s attorney or the defendant will then file and send to us an answer to the complaint that gives the reasons the defendant claims it is not liable for the claimed damages. From the time the lawsuit is filed to the time of the actual trial depends upon the county where the lawsuit is filed. Currently, in King County, it generally takes at least 14 months from the time the case is filed to the time it proceeds to trial, assuming the parties do not reach a settlement in the intervening period. In other counties, it can take more or less time.
4. Discovery Process
After we file the lawsuit, the parties engage in an investigatory process called discovery. The parties use this process to discover all facts pertinent to their claims and/or defenses. The law permits several different methods of discovery. These include (1) interrogatories (written questions a party sends to an opponent that the opponent must answer in writing); (2) requests for production of documents (written demands for relevant documents in an opponent’s possession; (3) requests for admission (written statements of fact that an opponent either must admit or deny); (4) defense medical exams (medical exams conducted by doctors or other experts an opponent selects); and depositions (oral questions that a person must answer under oath). The discovery process continues throughout the time between lawsuit filing and trial.
It is possible a settlement may occur at any time. However, we always continue to prepare as though a case will go to trial. Settlement may occur through informal discussions between the parties, arbitration (in which an arbitrator will hear the case and reach a decision), or mediation (where a third-party will attempt to help the sides reach a resolution).
If the parties do not reach a resolution, the case will proceed to trial (assuming the inevitable myriad of defense requests to the court to dismiss the case pre-trial are not successful). The typical trial will involve jury selection; opening statements; witness presentation; instructions to the jury; and verdict. As the party that has filed the lawsuit, we carry the burden of demonstrating the defendants are liable, and we will present our witnesses before the defendants.
Following a trial, any party that lost on an issue can file an appeal. The appeals court will only consider the records of the proceedings in the trial court. There will be no further witness presentation, and generally there is no submission of additional evidence, on appeal. The appeals court largely will consider whether there were any legal errors in the trial proceedings, but it can review, on a limited basis, whether factual errors occurred. After the parties have submitted their written and oral arguments to the appeals court, the court will either affirm the trial court’s proceedings (leaving the results undisturbed) or reverse the proceedings (in which case the proceedings will return to the trial court for further litigation).