Small Injuries, Big Cases: Legal Insights from Bridge Law Firm

If a latent injury has disrupted your life, you may have grounds for a much larger personal injury case than you initially expected.

Some injuries seem trivial yet develop into life-altering medical concerns.

We often meet accident victims who experienced little to no pain right after an auto collision, slip-and-fall incident, or even suspected medical malpractice. But as time passes, their health, happiness, and livelihood are turned upside down by pain and suffering.

Washington law generally limits the time you have to file a claim. It’s critical to act quickly and reach out to our personal injury specialists to discuss your options confidentially.

How minor injuries lead to major cases

There isn’t always an obvious link between current pain and a previous accident. Delayed injury symptoms may take months to emerge, so it can be surprisingly hard to attribute them to a specific event.

Unfortunately, many people are left with uncompensated medical bills, pain and suffering, and even disabilities.

  • Delayed symptoms are especially common with conditions like whiplash, concussions, or even internal injuries.
  • Complications like chronic pain or limited mobility often arise over time.
  • Cumulative health impact can be substantial, especially if you have a physically demanding job that worsens injury symptoms.
  • Financial implications build up over the course of years. They include not only direct treatment costs, but also lost wages, ongoing therapy/rehab, and so forth.

For example, it’s not uncommon to suffer a herniated disc in the neck or back. But if the disc doesn’t press on a nerve, then it’s probably not painful and therefore not diagnosed. The problem is that herniated discs rarely stop progressing—let alone heal on their own. They tend to worsen gradually until they eventually do press on a nerve, leading to debilitating pain, extensive treatment, a long road to recovery, and potentially lifelong consequences.

Another common situation is minor head/neck pain or migraines. You might have struggled with them for years due to poor posture, old sports injuries, unlucky genes, or any number of non-traumatic reasons. So, following a relatively small accident, it can be hard to tell new issues from a flare-up of old ones. But that’s exactly the sort of thing a doctor often can distinguish. For instance, clients are frequently surprised to learn that their pain or migraine is actually the result of a concussion sustained in an accident.

These are just a couple of the most common situations. Dozens of other types of injuries may emerge long after an accident.

We fully support all our cases with thorough medical review and analysis, so you can identify unnoticed injuries as soon as possible. That way, we can fight for fair compensation before you rack up years of medical expenses and life disruption.

Our experience makes the difference

Injury cases are often surrounded by mountains of tasks and technicalities.

How do you link your injury to an accident? How should you document its ongoing effects? What kinds of medical reports and analyses are helpful? How do you even begin to calculate the total financial burden?

There’s simply no substitute for our experience. And at Bridge Law, we have decades of combined experience handling these complexities to build rock-solid cases for maximum compensation.

If you’ve experienced any loss in quality of life following an accident or injury, then you may have more options than you realize.

We’re in your corner. Reach out now to discuss your situation promptly and privately.

What A Passenger Injured In A Car Accident Needs To Know

If you suffered injuries as a passenger, while your friend or acquaintance was behind the wheel, you’re probably entitled to compensation from their insurer.

This is sometimes known as a “passenger vs. driver” case. And as with any other collision case, it takes proper planning to get maximum compensation for your injuries and treatment. We recommend that you consult an experienced attorney before negotiating with anybody.

Whose insurance will cover your injuries?

Generally, your compensation will come from the policy of the liable driver(s).

Washington law affirms that drivers owe due care to you, the passenger. That means they’re legally responsible for maintaining a safe speed, avoiding hazards, and doing whatever they reasonably can to keep you and others safe.

When a driver causes harm by breaching this duty, it leaves them liable to everyone who suffers as a result. Consequently, if your friend contributed to the car accident, then your friend’s policy is expected to cover your injuries. The same goes for any other driver who played a role in the collision, too.

Determining liability for passenger injuries

Determining liability can be complicated, since Washington law espouses comparative negligence. That means each driver’s liability is proportionate to their role in causing the accident.

Let’s say your friend was 30% responsible and another driver was 70% responsible. Theoretically, you would receive 30% of your due compensation from your friend’s insurer and the remaining 70% from the other driver’s insurer. Of course, this becomes more complex when multiple vehicles are involved, but the basic principle is the same.

(Note that Washington no longer recognizes the principle of last clear chance. If your friend and the other driver share responsibility, then it does not legally matter who had the last opportunity to avoid a collision. Compensation depends solely on their comparative negligence.)

All this means you will not receive compensation until fault is established. Sometimes it’s straightforward; other times it’s nuanced, and hotly contested. Our personal injury team can help you move toward compensation as quickly, smoothly, and fairly as possible.

Do you have to sue the driver?

If the collision hasn’t strained your friendship enough, then the prospect of suing the driver certainly could. Fortunately, you can receive compensation without suing your friend. Working with an attorney does not necessarily mean you’re suing.

That said, just because you needn’t sue your friend doesn’t mean you can’t. In fact, there are situations in which it’s helpful or even necessary.

The most common is if the driver’s policy is withholding your rightful compensation. We can limit the claim to the policy amount, so you’re not obligated to go after your friend’s personal assets. It’s often more of an administrative affair than an acrimonious, personal one. In fact, this sort of suit might serve everyone’s best interest by forcing a quick and final settlement.

Another scenario is if your injury expenses exceed your friend’s policy limits (or if they lacked a policy altogether). Some accidents entail months or years of delayed injuries, treatment expenses, ongoing therapy, and lost productivity. If the driver’s insurance and your medical coverage don’t suffice, then it may be worth exploring a lawsuit to recover further compensation. This requires particular care and planning to avoid forcing your friend into bankruptcy.

A far rarer situation is if you suspect the driver actually intended to harm you. This raises completely different legal matters from a standard accident-injury claim. It is not something to explore lightly. Still, if you suspect your (former) friend set out to harm you, then it’s essential to share that information with your legal team.

Whatever the details, our personal injury experts can help you decide whether a lawsuit is worth considering in your individual circumstances.

What if your friend was uninsured or underinsured?

If you carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, then your own policy may compensate you for your injuries. If you didn’t have such coverage at that time, then your options are limited. 

Compensation may still be available through other avenues, up to and including a suit, as discussed above. Your legal team will help you evaluate and pursue these options if necessary.

Can you be liable as a passenger?

It’s highly unlikely that you’d be found liable as a passenger. Within the bounds of normal, rational behavior, there is not much that could cause an accident without the driver breaching their duty of care.

However, it’s not impossible.

For instance, if the driver argues that your actions made them lose control or overlook a hazard, then you may be held at fault. This would require markedly aggressive or abnormal behavior, so it’s not a common scenario. But if you believe your own actions could have contributed, then it’s critical to discuss this with your legal team.

However, you may receive less or no compensation if you weren’t wearing a seat belt when the accident happened, or if you willingly rode with an impaired driver. Those factors do not make you legally responsible for the accident, but may still have a significant financial impact.

(Keep in mind that personal responsibility for seat belt use applies from age sixteen and up. If you were under sixteen, then the driver—not the passenger—is on the hook.)

Getting legal help for your injuries as a passenger

Bridge Law specializes in quickly obtaining rightful compensation for car accident injuries. 

Before talking to insurers, and before attempting to “take care of it” informally with your friend or any other parties, reach out to our legal team.

Accident claims are highly time-sensitive, so we encourage you to get in touch immediately.

View Article in PDF

Car Accidents with Electric Vehicles

If you’ve experienced an accident or injury involving an electric vehicle (EV), it might feel like there are more questions than answers.

Like all new technology, electric vehicles are at the frontiers of the law. From batteries to autonomous features, entirely new kinds of cases are emerging all the time.

Of course, that’s on top of all the usual questions and stress around fault, liability, insurance coverage, and so forth.

So, if you’re dealing with the aftermath of an EV collision, our legal team will help you fight for rightful compensation while navigating the complexities of this cutting-edge tech.

Electric vehicle incidents & concerns

In a few short years, electric vehicles evolved from far-fetched concept cars to in-demand production vehicles.

But wide adoption doesn’t mean they’re free of issues. In fact, their batteries and numerous “smart” features create new kinds of problems—sometimes with devastating consequences.

Remember: EV-related claims may have little precedent and therefore lots of ambiguity. Insurers and manufacturers may try to use this ambiguity in their favor. If you or your loved ones suffered harm related to an electric vehicle, then it’s as important as ever to consult an experienced accident and injury attorney.

Batteries can ignite or explode

We’ve all seen EV battery fires on the news. Smoke or sparks may give way to flames, which seem to come from nowhere and quickly consume the vehicle. Not only are these cases deeply alarming, but sadly, some have been fatal.

Most of today’s EVs use lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. Unfortunately, lithium is highly heat-sensitive and combustible. A severe temperature increase—whether from poor design, manufacturing errors, or extreme operating conditions—can ignite the battery and produce a frightening fire.

There are a couple of additional hazards beyond the obvious combustion risk.

For one thing, Li-ion batteries contain several substances that become volatile under heat. When exposed to fire, they may produce extremely harmful gases like carbon monoxide and hydrogen fluoride. These gases are potentially fatal on their own, let alone in combination with heat and smoke.

Consequently, rescuers may need to be especially cautious. The unique risks of EV batteries may mean slower aid and, potentially, worse outcomes for everyone involved.

Doors have trapped people inside

In rare but particularly tragic cases, the vehicle’s own doors have trapped drivers or passengers inside a burning vehicle. This isn’t inherent to EVs, but is a risk of the novel, automated features that some EV makers have adopted.

Most notably, some popular models have self-retracting door handles. These are intended to extend when someone approaches and retract when not needed. However, if damage renders the software or mechanisms inoperable, rescuers may not be able to open the doors quickly (or at all) to extract the occupants.

To be clear, this is an extremely rare event. But in combination with battery-related fire hazards, it’s a dramatic and dangerous occurrence that current laws may not clearly address.

Self-driving EVs raise new liability questions

Collisions with autonomous EVs (or ones temporarily in auto-pilot mode) raise a slew of legal questions.

Engineering quality standards, the role of artificial intelligence in self-driving software, and the operator’s decision to relinquish control are mostly uncharted territory. These factors, plus the human element of most collisions, make it uniquely hard to disentangle liability.

If you were in an accident involving a self-driving EV, then we urge you to contact a legal professional as soon as possible.

Getting legal help after your EV accident

In the US, electric vehicle sales seem to hit new highs with every passing month. And as EVs form a growing share of all cars, they also form a growing share of all car collisions.

As a result, we’ve already seen new and complex legal situations. Some, like batteries combusting or autonomous features misbehaving, involve tricky matters of product liability that may involve manufacturers directly.

Electric vehicle or not, you still need an advocate. Even accidents that seem straightforward can have serious implications for your finances and well-being. No matter the cause of your EV-related incident, it’s critical to talk to an attorney before dealing with any insurers.

At Bridge Law, our team has spent years helping others just like you get fair treatment and just compensation. To confidentially discuss your situation with an expert, please reach out today.

View Article in PDF

The Baltimore Bridge Tragedy: A Legal Perspective by Bridge Personal Injury Law Firm

Around 1:30 am on Tuesday, March 26th, the cargo ship Dali hit a pylon that supported Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge. The collision caused the bridge to collapse, claiming the lives of six construction workers and sending shockwaves through the country.

The Dali, a 985-foot container ship leased by Maersk and traveling under the Singaporean flag, was leaving Baltimore Harbor en route to Sri Lanka. In footage of the incident, the Dali appears to lose power twice, just seconds before hitting the bridge’s support structure at a relatively brisk 8 knots (about 9 mph). Of the eight workers on the bridge at the time, only two were rescued alive from the water. The ship’s crew was unharmed.

In response, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has initiated an investigation of the Dali’s electronics and the bridge’s structural integrity. The Coast Guard disclosed that the Dali underwent routine engine maintenance not long before the accident. So far, there is no indication of outstanding mechanical issues at the time of the incident.

The federal government recently announced an initial round of emergency funding, although it may take years before traffic and shipping routes will operate normally.

Despite media sensationalism and political maneuvering, it is first and foremost a story of human tragedy. We offer our condolences and deepest sympathies to the families of those workers who died in this bizarre and frightening event.

Legally speaking, infrastructure incidents are as nuanced as they are devastating. This is complex legal territory at the intersection of personal injury law, maritime law, construction regulations, and so forth.

Personal injury claims due to infrastructure failures involve a web of stakeholders. Eventually, multiple insurance companies, local public authorities, and the shipping firm could all be held liable to varying degrees. Those findings will not only affect the amounts of claims due to the families of the deceased, but will determine who must pay and in what manner. There may be avenues for prompt compensation, but full legal proceedings and/or settlements are likely to take years. Until then, we can only speculate as to who is liable for what.

Here in the Seattle area, we observe and mourn this tragedy from a distance, but many in our own community have also suffered harm due to others’ actions.

If that’s you, or someone you love, then Bridge Personal Injury Law Firm offers hope and support.

You may be staring down a long path to recovery—physically, mentally, and financially. Even if your compensation claim sounds straightforward, you need the support of a veteran legal team who knows the system and will navigate it for you.

Navigating Compensation Claims: Understanding Your Rights & How We Can Help

At Bridge Law, we help people like you to get fair compensation for harm caused by others.

These cases—known as compensation claims—can involve anything from everyday negligence to egregious malpractice or wrongful death.

If you think you might deserve compensation, then here’s a general overview of what to expect.

We’ll show how your claim meets these criteria

To win a claim, you need to demonstrate that the other party harmed you by acting inappropriately.

More precisely, you (or rather your legal team) must show how:

  1. The other party was obligated to maintain a certain level of care.
  2. The other party failed to do so, either intentionally or negligently.
  3. You suffered objective harm.
  4. Your harm was the direct result of their lack of care (as opposed to some other event or coincidence).

More detailed criteria might apply to your specific situation. To give a few examples:

  • A workers’ compensation claim requires showing that harm occurred in the course of doing your actual job.
  • A product liability claim may depend on what safety guarantees the manufacturer made or implied.
  • A public liability claim might revolve around what you were doing on the premises in the first place.

Once the details are clear and legally sound, your attorney will figure out exactly what the claim is worth.

Three types of compensation may be awarded

If the incident hadn’t happened, what physical condition would you be in? How much money would you have? What opportunities would be available? What good or experiences would you enjoy, and what bad ones would you avoid?

Courts can’t turn back the clock, but they can come up with numbers (“damages”) that compensate you (“make you whole”) for factors like these.

In practice, we think of damages in three different categories, corresponding to the kind of harm they address.

  • Special damages cover monetary losses. They try to capture the expected lifelong cost of medical care, lost wages, property damage, and so forth.
  • General damages cover non-monetary losses. They’re extremely difficult to calculate, since they try to account for psychological and social losses.
  • Punitive damages are rarer. They’re primarily intended to punish the other party and to discourage them (or anyone else) from similar actions. Punitive damages are more arbitrary, but they’re typically capped at a certain multiple of special/general damages.

Your attorney might recommend outside experts who can explore and attest to the full extent of your harm. We understand how invasive and uncomfortable this can feel after a traumatic event. Even so, outside expertise is often the surest way to establish and win broader damages in complex cases.

Once damages are settled, the last major step is to negotiate payment terms.

You’ll be paid in one of two ways

If applicable, your insurer will directly pay expenses like medical and auto repair bills. These so-called “direct recovery” payments are deducted from the total compensation amount.

The remainder is subject to legal fees—conventionally 33%— after which the rest is paid out to you. It may come as either a lump sum (single payout) or a structured settlement (ongoing payments).

There are pros and cons to each.

Lump sums are simple. You get immediate resources to pay the bills, cover medical costs, and so forth. They often make sense for modest amounts.

Structured settlements, on the other hand, provide a steady income stream. But they’re more complicated to arrange, and they may not be enough to cover short-term expenses.

Both arrangements are usually tax-free, outside of unusual situations involving punitive damages.

For modest amounts, it’s often wise to settle for a lump sum. For larger damages, work closely with your legal team and with a financial planning professional. They’ll fight to ensure your needs are covered in a way that minimizes long-term financial worries.

Regardless, the most important part is to act quickly.

Do you still have time to file a claim?

The clock is ticking on your compensation claim.

Generally speaking, Washington State lets you file a compensation claim for three years after the event. This is known as the “statute of limitations.” Once that period elapses, you are usually not permitted to file a claim.

(There are a few exceptions. Most commonly, you may have more time if the harm didn’t appear for some time, or if it was so severe that you were left incapacitated.)

Three years may sound generous, but it passes more quickly than you’d think. Dealing with insurers, coordinating outside experts, navigating court proceedings, negotiating a settlement—each can take months or years.

Take the first step toward compensation

Money can’t make up for what you’ve been through.

But if you act quickly, it can help with the financial burden or lost opportunities you may be navigating.

Bridge Law has a track record of winning full, fair compensation for people who have suffered from another’s actions.

People like you.

Whether we’re assembling overwhelming evidence, uncovering additional insurance, contesting unfair settlements, or even going to court, we fight for you—period.

Reach out today to discuss your claim confidentially.

View Article in PDF