Law Office of Matthew R. Kiffin

Q. Do I need a lawyer to represent me in my personal injury claim?

A. You are not legally required to have a lawyer represent you, but because the law and the legal system are complex, it is never a good idea to try to represent yourself. Hire a lawyer to represent you and protect your rights. The Courts are legally required to hold even non-lawyers to the same standard of knowledge of the law and of legal procedure as lawyers are held to. So, if you represent yourself and you make a mistake, the Court cannot give you a break and let you hit the “reset button” and try to proceed again just because you don't have a lawyer.

If you have a personal injury claim, there is another very commonsense reason why you should have a personal injury lawyer represent you—the insurance company for the person who caused your injuries has no legal duty to pay you full and fair compensation for your claim.  In fact, the insurance company for the person who caused your injuries is legally allowed to try to convince you to accept the lowest possible amount of money to settle your claim and to forever release your right to further pursue that claim against that insurance company and its insured (the person who caused your injuries). Don’t let this happen to you. Don’t shortchange yourself. Hire a lawyer. If you hire me to represent you, I will be honored to put my 37 years of personal injury law experience to work for you and get you the full and fair compensation you're entitled to.

Q. What kinds of things am I entitled to be compensated for in my personal injury claim?

In Washington State, people who have been injured by the negligent, reckless, or intentional acts of another person  are legally entitled to recover monetary compensation (generally referred to as “legal damages”) for the following things related to their injuries: 

  • The usual and customary cost of medical treatment reasonably necessary to treat the accident injuries.
  • The usual and customary cost of future medical treatment that the injured person is likely to need for their accident injuries
  • Income loss sustained as the result of the accident injuries.
  • Future income loss that the injured person is likely to experience.
  • All other out-of-pocket expenses sustained as a result of the accident injuries.
  • All future out-of-pocket expenses that the injured person is likely to sustain as the result of the accident injuries. 
  • The effects that the accident injuries have had on the injured person’s life and activities including but not limited to compensation for physical pain, discomfort, and disability—all generally referred to as “pain and suffering.”
  • The future effects, including pain and suffering, that the accident injuries are likely to continue to have on the injured person’s life and activities.Because each person is an individual with his or her own unique life situation, the kinds of legal damages that each person can legally recover will vary depending on the facts of that person’s claim. A person can recover a particular kind of legal damages only when the facts of their claim support the proposition that, on a more likely than not basis, the injured person has experienced that particular kind of legal damages.

Because insurance companies have lawyers to protect them against an injured person’s claim, the injured person should always have a lawyer to protect their own legal interest. When the injured person is represented by a lawyer, this levels the playing field against the insurance company and its lawyers and gives the injured person the best possible opportunity to recover the full and fair compensation that the injured person is legally entitled to recover and that they deserve as a person.

Q. What happens if the insurance company won’t settle my claim?

Although most well-presented and well-documented claims settle, occasionally agreement cannot be reached with the insurance company as to the amount of compensation that an injured person is entitled to. When this happens, I file a lawsuit on behalf of my client and, if necessary, to proceed to a trial of the case before a jury. The jury will decide the type and amount of damages that my client is entitled to.

I continue to work as hard for my client after a lawsuit is filed as I did before suit was filed. I continue to negotiate with the insurance company to get it to agree to pay full and fair monetary compensation to my client. In the vast majority of cases, I reach that goal and am able to settle the case for a full and fair amount of compensation to my client well before the case gets to its trial date.

If the insurance company is not willing to settle the claim for a full and fair amount of compensation to my client, then I proceed to a jury trial with the confidence that my well-prepared and well-presented case will make it easy for the jury to do the right thing and award my client the full and fair compensation to which my client is legally entitled and deserves as a person.

Q. Do I decide what monetary amount to settle my claim for, or does my lawyer decide that amount?

A. Under the law, this decision is yours alone because you are the client and it is your life that is affected by your accident injuries. When I represent you, I'll explain to you the dollar value range of monetary compensation that I believe (based on the facts of your case) will fully and fairly compensate you for your injuries, for your pain and suffering, medical bills, lost income, other out-of-pocket expenses, and also for all of the effects that your injuries have had, and may continue to have, on your life and activities.

I will be honored to put my 37 years of personal injury law experience to work for you and get you the full and fair compensation you're entitled to. In every case, my objective is to  obtain full and fair compensation for my client. When I represent you, I stay the course until I reach that goal.

frequently asked questions