Frequently Asked Questions

Personal Injury Cases

We’re betting you have several burning questions you want answered, which is why we created this page. Here you’ll find simple and straightforward answers to the questions that really matter to you right now.
W&W Law Office

General/Insurance FAQ's

We’ll keep this answer simple: Yes, you need an attorney if you want to maximize your recovery. It’s just one of those things that is best left to the experts.

Insurance companies want to pay out the minimums, close your file, and move on. Attorneys get in the way of that.

This question will get you a very lawyer-like answer: it depends. We need to know a lot more about your injury and get deep into the case before we can fully answer this question.

The word “win” also means different things to different people. For instance, if an insurance adjustor offers you $500 to settle your case and then after we get involved the offer goes up to $20,000, many people would consider that a win. In some cases, we would agree with this. In others, we may believe that more money is deserved and will urge you to keep fighting.

What we can tell you is this. We will put you in the best position to maximize your recovery, whether that is through a settlement or trial.

Similar answer here to the question above about whether you will “win” your case. While this is another great question, it’s not one that can be answered until many things happen first. Fault and seriousness of the injury, are a couple of the main factors at play.

The two primary types of damages that can be recovered are economic/special damages, and non-economic/general damages.

Economic damages are for out-of-pocket costs that are incurred due to the injury.  For example:

  • Medical costs, including unreimbursed bills, long-term/chronic care costs, medical devices, home modifications, physical therapy, etc.
  • Property damages;
  • Lost wages or employment opportunity

 

General damages are for other harms that you have suffered but are more difficult to calculate, such as:

  • Enjoyment/Quality of life
  • Pain & suffering
  • Loss of consortium/companionship
No. There is no cap on either economic (out of pocket) or general damages in Washington State. However, Washington does not allow you to recover punitive damages.
The deadline to file a claim, also called the statute of limitations, is 3 years for most personal injury cases in Washington State. The clock starts ticking on the same day of your accident/injury.
The vast majority of cases get resolved through a settlement prior to trial. That said, there are some cases where trial is the only way to get the compensation you deserve.
It varies quite a lot. It can be a few months to a couple of years (and occasionally even longer in serious injury cases). To get the biggest settlement, we typically want to wait until treatment finished, and you have reached what is referred to as maximum medical improvement. It’s important to remember that you also have some say in how long your case will go on for, meaning that if a settlement offer is made, you can decide whether or not to accept it/
Yes. Nothing is more important than your health and physical recovery. It’s important to reach out to an attorney as well, but don’t feel like you must speak to an attorney before visiting the doctor. Just make sure to document everything about your medical visits and care.

It’s not uncommon for injury victims to be partially at fault for an accident. This does not mean you are completely responsible and you very well may still be entitled to compensation for your injuries.

Washington State uses a “pure comparative negligence” calculation, where the amount of money you recover gets reduced by the percentage you are considered to be at fault. For example, Let’s say you recover $100,000 but are determined to be 25% at fault, your total recovery would then be $75,000.

If you have Personal Injury Protection, then you can recover economic damages for medical bills, etc. However ,you will not be able to recover any general/non-economic damages (such as pain & suffering).
Once the settlement is finalized, you can typically get a check within 30 days, but this is not a requirement under Washington law. There are a number of circumstances that could cause it to take longer.

Our Firm & Fees

When we say “no fees unless we win,” that is exactly what we mean. You do not pay our fee unless/until a settlement is reached or we win at trial. This is referred to as a Contingency Fee. Costs may either be billed as incurred or taken out of a settlement.

A contingency fee simply means that we get paid a percentage of what you recover. We do not charge a retainer fee or hourly fees, or anything like that. We don’t get paid until you do. The percentage we are paid can vary but it is typically 33.33% but can go to 40% if your case goes to trial.

When injured, you unfortunately still would need to pay any medical bills that are not covered by your insurance, even if you are not at fault. We can work with insurance providers to assist you if it becomes too difficult to pay medical bills that are not covered.

Further, you are also responsible for for legal costs. Washington State Rules of Professional Responsibility requires that Clients be responsible for all costs and expenses incurred in the prosecution of the claim, regardless of the final outcome.

Definitely not. Hiring an attorney is not like buying a car…there are no guarantees in the law when it comes to the outcome of a case. If an attorney ever makes you a guarantee, our best advice is to run out of his/her office as fast as you can because it means they are not being truthful with you. What we can promise you is that we will put forth our finest effort on your case and will achieve the best possible outcome for you as a result.

We keep our caseload small so we can focus on your case. Many attorneys cannot say this, and to be completely up front, we could not always say this either. When we first started gaining a high amount of success, we occasionally had a difficult time turning clients away.

Lesson learned – we now always keep a highly manageable caseload. If you happen to catch us when we are at capacity, we will gladly refer your case out to a highly skilled and trusted colleague.

No. This is for two reasons.

  1. We must keep a manageable caseload so we can dedicate the necessary time to each and every client.

  2. Not every injury is going to make for a strong legal case, unfortunately. Because we are investing significant time and financial resources into all of our Personal Injury cases, we must also have some modicum of selectivity. If we take on every single case, it would not be a financially viable strategy in the long term.

Yes, when it will be beneficial for the client. There are times when a case is either highly specialized or just a “big” case in general with thousands upon thousands of documents to get through and more depositions than you can count. In these situations, it can often benefit the client for us to coordinate efforts with another law firm to maximize recovery for you.

Too many law firms try to take on more than they can reasonably handle, even if it is ultimately to the detriment of the client, simply because they want to either “prove to themselves” they can do it and/or they do not want to share their fee. Neither of these are good reasons.

Rest assured, we are happy to partner up with a trusted colleague when the situation calls for it. The best part about this from your perspective is that you are essentially getting two law firms for the price of one, so to speak, meaning you do not pay a higher contingency fee when we collaborate with another firm.

W&W Law Office

General Legal Questions

Your Rights. Protected.

Your constitutional rights are inalienable and we pride ourselves in protecting them every step of the way. Are you aware of what those rights are? Familiarize yourself by reading the information below.

Presumption of Innocence

While it may not feel like it once you have been arrested and charged with a crime, our constitution demands that you are to be presumed innocent of the crime you have been accused of until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

As a criminal defendant, the prosecutor must prove the charges against you “Beyond a reasonable doubt.” This is the highest standard of evidence that exists in the law, and is a very heavy burden. In a civil case, for instance, the standard is typically only a “preponderance of evidence.” For instance, a jury in a civil matter can return a verdict in favor of an injured plaintiff for millions of dollars if they are just ever so slightly convinced that the respondent is responsible for the injury.

Burden of Proof

Click to enlarge the chart.

The burden of proof in a criminal case rests 100% with the prosecution. A defendant does not have to prove his/her innocence. For example, the prosecution could present 10 witnesses and enter 30 exhibits into evidence while the defense sits in silence and ultimately just tells the judge and jury that we have no evidence to present. If the prosecution failed to meet their burden, then the case would be dismissed despite the fact that the defense didn’t present a case.  Obviously, this is not usually how things play out.

Right Against Unreasonable Searches and Seizures

In Washington State, you are protected against unreasonable searches and seizures by both the Fourth Amendment and by Article 1, Section 7 of the Washington State Constitution. If evidence is collected in violation of your rights, we will file a motion seeking to exclude the evidence from being admitted in court.

Right Against Self-Incrimination

We’ve all heard the phrase, “I plead the Fifth!” People say this when they are invoking their Fifth Amendment right against self -incrimination. No one can force you to make a statement that incriminates yourself, and this right extends to the witness stand. You should never talk to the police or anyone else about your case without your attorney present.

Miranda Warning/Rights

Anyone who has seen an episode of COPS has heard the police read someone the Miranda warning: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?” Here’s a free tip: The answer to the last question is always, “NO, I want an attorney!”

You must be read your Miranda rights when the police wish to interrogate you while you are in custody; also referred to as “custodial interrogation.” Failure of the police to read these rights to you and/or their failure to stop questioning you once you invoke your rights results in a violation of your 5th Amendment rights. A skilled attorney will then move to have any statements you made in violation of your rights excluded as inadmissible.

NOTE: Any police questions that you answer pre-custody are not required to under Miranda and are admissible so be careful!

Right to an Attorney

Both the Fifth and Sixth Amendments give defendants in criminal cases the right to an attorney for most proceedings. You should always exercise this right!

Right to a Speedy Trial

You have the right to a Speedy Trial guaranteed to you by the Sixth Amendment. However, this is not always a right you will want to exercise. There are many instances when having additional time works in the favor of the defense. In order to get this additional time, you would have to waive your right to a speedy trial. On the other hand, there are also many scenarios when you would want to exercise your right to a speedy trial. Every case is different and we would need to know everything about your particular situation before we could advise you one way or another on this issue. Further, if you feel as though your rights to a speedy trial have been violated, give us a call for a free consultation.

Right to Confront Witnesses Against You

The Sixth Amendment states in part, “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to…be confronted with the witnesses against him.” In other words, this guarantees your attorney the chance to cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses and dispute their testimony. Further, the guarantee applies to both statements made in court AND to statements made out of court that are offered as evidence in trial.

Court and Michelle Will of Will & Will, PLLC have a combined 30 years of experience and can help you today. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.

Our Firm & Fees



Definitely not. Hiring an attorney is not like buying a car…there are no guarantees in the law when it comes to the outcome of a case. If an attorney ever makes you a guarantee, our best advice is to run out of his/her office as fast as you can because it means they are not being truthful with you. What we can promise you is that we will put forth our finest effort on your case and will achieve the best possible outcome for you as a result.

We keep our caseload small so we can focus on your case. Many attorneys cannot say this, and to be completely up front, we could not always say this either. When we first started gaining a high amount of success, we occasionally had a difficult time turning clients away. Lesson learned – we now always keep a highly manageable caseload. If you happen to catch us when we are at capacity, we will gladly refer your case out to a highly skilled and trusted colleague.

Yes, we personally handle every case from beginning to end. We also typically personally appear at all court appearances. On a rare occasion when we are both unavailable on a particular court date (due to being in trial on another case or a last minute hearing we are retained for) we will have another attorney stand-in for us. However, unlike other some other law firms, when this occurs we do not send strangers to stand in for us. Rather, we only work with a very limited number of trusted colleagues to step in when need be. These attorneys will be fully informed about what is happening on your case and can always call us anytime if something were to occur that they needed our assistance on. Usually the only thing a stand-in attorney would do is put your case over to another date when we can be personally present.

We charge flat fees for representation. We have two primary types of agreements for pending cases: a pre-trial retainer, and then when needed, a trial retainer. The reason we break it up like this is due to the fact that the vast majority of cases do not end up going to trial; thus the trial retainer is often not even needed. We also have separate retainers for other matters such as pre-filing services if you have been arrested or are under investigation but no formal charges have been filed yet. If experts and/or investigators need to be hired, then this is a separate fee that our clients pay directly to the third party.

No, but the vast majority of the time, our clients come out far ahead of the game with flat fee agreements when compared to hourly agreements. The reason for this is simple. If we were to charge an hourly rate, it would be in the hundreds of dollars and we would literally have to charge you for every single minute we spend working on your case. This would include commuting time, time sitting around in court waiting for your case to be called, the time it takes to write motions/prepare an argument…the list goes on an on; before you know it, you are paying thousands more than you would have under a flat fee agreement. Flat fees also make things clearer for our clients. You never have to worry about getting an unexpected legal bill in the mail; rather, you know up front what the charges are going to be. Lastly, it’s easier for us…rather than “watching the clock,” we can simply focus on your defense.

Yes. We do not require you to pay the entire retainer up front. That said, we do not extend payment plans out for months on end. Typical payment plans would require a minimum of 50% down with the other 50% due over the course of 2-3 months. Upon request of our clients, we will sometimes allow payments to be broken up over a longer period of time. One thing we do not do, however, is enter into a payment plan where a client will pay us “upon the conclusion of the case” or “depending upon the outcome.”

When we say “no fees unless we win,” that is exactly what we mean. You do not pay our fee unless/until a settlement is reached or we win at trial. This is referred to as a Contingency Fee. Costs may either be billed as incurred or taken out of a settlement.

A contingency fee simply means that we get paid a percentage of what you recover. We do not charge a retainer fee or hourly fees, or anything like that. We don’t get paid until you do. The percentage we are paid can vary but it is typically 33.33% but can go to 40% if your case goes to trial.

When injured, you unfortunately still would need to pay any medical bills that are not covered by your insurance, even if you are not at fault. We can work with insurance providers to assist you if it becomes too difficult to pay medical bills that are not covered.

Further, you are also responsible for for legal costs. Washington State Rules of Professional Responsibility requires that Clients be responsible for all costs and expenses incurred in the prosecution of the claim, regardless of the final outcome.

Definitely not. Hiring an attorney is not like buying a car…there are no guarantees in the law when it comes to the outcome of a case. If an attorney ever makes you a guarantee, our best advice is to run out of his/her office as fast as you can because it means they are not being truthful with you. What we can promise you is that we will put forth our finest effort on your case and will achieve the best possible outcome for you as a result.

We keep our caseload small so we can focus on your case. Many attorneys cannot say this, and to be completely up front, we could not always say this either. When we first started gaining a high amount of success, we occasionally had a difficult time turning clients away.

Lesson learned – we now always keep a highly manageable caseload. If you happen to catch us when we are at capacity, we will gladly refer your case out to a highly skilled and trusted colleague.

No. This is for two reasons.

  1. We must keep a manageable caseload so we can dedicate the necessary time to each and every client.

  2. Not every injury is going to make for a strong legal case, unfortunately. Because we are investing significant time and financial resources into all of our Personal Injury cases, we must also have some modicum of selectivity. If we take on every single case, it would not be a financially viable strategy in the long term.

Yes, when it will be beneficial for the client. There are times when a case is either highly specialized or just a “big” case in general with thousands upon thousands of documents to get through and more depositions than you can count. In these situations, it can often benefit the client for us to coordinate efforts with another law firm to maximize recovery for you.

Too many law firms try to take on more than they can reasonably handle, even if it is ultimately to the detriment of the client, simply because they want to either “prove to themselves” they can do it and/or they do not want to share their fee. Neither of these are good reasons.

Rest assured, we are happy to partner up with a trusted colleague when the situation calls for it. The best part about this from your perspective is that you are essentially getting two law firms for the price of one, so to speak, meaning you do not pay a higher contingency fee when we collaborate with another firm.

COVID-19 Notice: We want to reassure you that we are OPEN for both consultations & representation. We know this pandemic is extremely difficult for everyone, and facing a criminal charge or suffering an injury on top of it only makes things that much worse. We’re here to help.