Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What should I do after a motor vehicle collision?
A: We are glad that you are reading this answer because you need to protect your rights after a motor vehicle collision. On the back of our business cards we have the following instructions:
- Call 911 for police and ambulance aid
- Write down the name, address, and insurance company of the owner of the other car(s) involved
- Write down the name, address, phone number, and driver’s license of the other driver(s)
- Take pictures of the vehicles and scene
- Call (253) 472-7777 for legal help!
Q: Will my initial meeting with you be free?
A: Absolutely! For some, deciding to make an appointment with an accident attorney can be a stressful task. We want to assure you that there are no hidden fees to worry about. Just call us at (253) 472-7777 to set up an appointment, risk-free.
Q: What if I can’t make it to your office for an appointment?
A: We work hard. Thus, we are available to meet evenings and weekends, at your home or hospital.
Q: What should I expect during the initial meeting?
A: During the initial meeting, you will speak with one or more of our accident attorneys and tell us what happened. We will ask questions and take notes to establish a legal foundation for your case. Keep in mind that as attorneys, we are required to keep your information confidential under the attorney-client privilege. Please bring all documentation that you can obtain that relates to your case (e.g. police report, insurance coverage, claim numbers, witness statements, photos, etc.) We will explain the legal process, answer all questions, and welcome you to the Cochran Douglas family.
Q: What about parking at your office?
A: Attached to our offices is a large parking area where you can park free of charge without having to check in.
Q: What is your fee agreement?
A: The Cochran Douglas law firm uses a contingency fee which is customary in personal injury law. A contingency fee means that we only take a fee if you receive money for your case (33 1/3%). So if for some reason, which is unlikely, you do not recover money from your case, we do not charge you a fee. We like contingency fees because it incentivizes us to work hard on your case – if you don’t get paid neither do we. Also, our contingency is the same no matter the value of your case. Unlike some firms, our contingency fee does not change if your case goes into litigation. For example, some firms will charge you 33 1/3% if your case settles before filing a suit but the percentage will increase to 40% if you decide to go to trial. We don’t like this approach because it essentially penalizes you for taking your case to trial because a higher fee is charged and it will make you question the lawyer’s loyalty between what is in your best interest and what makes the firm more money. Our fee is always 33 1/3%, regardless if you settle early in the process or extend to a trial. You are the client. You should be in control of how far through the judicial process your case goes based on its merits, not based on the attorney’s fee.
Q: How much is my case worth?
A: No case is the same, but as a starting point, the greater the amount of your “reasonable and necessary” medical bills due to the injury, the potential higher value of your case. Adding to your medical bills and other related costs (e.g. wage loss, property damage, etc.) you are entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering caused by the accident. Additionally under Washington State case law, if you hire an attorney, you will be entitled to reduce a portion of your costs and Personal Injury Protection (PIP) reimbursement. The reasoning is that because you went through the trouble of hiring an attorney, you should be entitled to a reduction in the fees that you would otherwise have to pay your PIP insurance. We can explain this in more detail during the initial meeting.
Q: How long do I have to pursue my claim after the accident?
A: Typically, you will have three years from the date of the accident to pursue your claim in Washington State. This is referred to as the Statute of Limitations. If your claim is not settled after three years you are barred from recovery! Don’t hesitate to set-up an initial meeting at Cochran Douglas.
Q: How long will it take to settle my case?
A: The most significant factor is the duration of your treatment. Before we can pursue settling your case, we must know the final cost of your medical bills. After reviewing your medical bills and records we start the settlement process. From initial meeting to settlement, the expected time to settle a client’s case is approximately 3 to 6 months.