To see an overview of the typical personal injury claim process, click here.
The following are situations in which it can be necessary to file a lawsuit. This list is not exhaustive and this list is not legal advice. To the extent you believe it is necessary for you to file a lawsuit, please contact our office and speak with an attorney in order to move your potential claims forward:
- If the other party or their insurance company is not accepting fault or taking responsibility. If the other party who you believe is at fault for causing injury to you or someone you know or their insurance company has stepped in and denied liability, then it is necessary to file a lawsuit. In instances where responsibility is not being taken, presumably the other party nor their insurance company will make any sort of settlement offer to resolve the claims the injured person has in the wake of an incident. Thus, those claims must be resolved in a lawsuit.
- To figure out who was at fault or other important facts or to discover important evidence. Sometimes it is not clear who specifically might be at fault for an incident. For example, if a drunk driver injures a person, a bar might share in some level of fault for having overserved that person when they were visibly intoxicated. In those cases, it is not always clear early on which bar overserved the driver. Filing a lawsuit might be necessary to use of “discovery” tools afforded to litigants to secure the identity of the bar from the at-fault driver or otherwise. In other cases, for example a slip and fall case, perhaps it is necessary to file a lawsuit early on to get access to evidence like a video of the fall occurring in the store. Under most circumstances where a lawsuit has not been filed a store will not hand over the video. In those circumstances, there is some concern that the video might not be preserved and that the evidence could be lost. Once a lawsuit is filed, in discovery, an injured person can request that evidence and secure it and eliminate that concern.
- If the other party or their insurance company responds to a settlement demand with an offer that the injured person believes is not fair value for the damages they have suffered. If the offer received either leaves the injured person owing money or doesn't fully compensate the person for the damages they suffered and the other party or their insurance company is unwilling to offer additional compensation—filing a lawsuit is necessary to seek fair compensation for the damages the injured party suffered.
- To preserve the statute of limitations. If a lawsuit is not properly filed and served on the at-fault party within a limited amount of time, the injured person loses their claims and any opportunity to pursue their damages forever. Typically, in Washington State, an injured person has three years to pursue their claims—but other considerations can affect or even shorten that time limitation (for example, claims against a government entity). Typically, in Oregon, an injured person has two years to pursue their claims—but, there are many other important time and notice considerations or limitations to be aware of (for example, where the at-fault person had been drinking at an Oregon bar). Potential time restrictions on claims of any type must be fully understood and complied with. If you have any concerns about time restrictions in connection with your own potential claims, it is important to contact an attorney immediately.
Filing a lawsuit—when necessary—should be done by an attorney to ensure all of the procedural requirements and other considerations are taken into account. To the extent you believe it is necessary for you to file a lawsuit, please contact our office and speak with an attorney today.