Contributory Negligence in Washington State

What is Contributory Negligence and does it affect us in Washington State.

As an attorney, about half of my casework consists of personal injury law. Personally, I enjoy helping clients faced with terrible and unexpected situations to get their lives back on track.

This casework isn’t cut-and-dry. In addition to the ordinary issues—causation, evidence, damages, etc.—fault is also relevant, since Washington State applies the rule of contributory negligence. Read more

Strategies Insurance Companies Use Against You

I don’t recall ever hearing from anyone that has been injured by a third-party that dealing with their insurance company was easy. Because of this anomaly is why so many injured people seek out attorneys. The reality is that insurance adjuster’s jobs are to make the process as difficult as possible within the boundaries of the law. Most people forget that Insurance companies are for-profit companies and their profits increase by maximizing premiums and minimizing payouts. I’ll demonstrate a several strategies you might expect from the insurance adjuster.

Making you feel like they are on your side

The insurance adjuster may be very nice at first and seem like your best friend. However, they will be researching behind your back and plotting to offer minimal value. Their goal will be to settle and close your case as soon as possible. Often they will attempt to settle right away, before you will even know how much pain and suffering you will experience and prior to you knowing how the medical attention will cost.

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Analysis of Washington State’s Per se Marijuana DUI Law

leaf-12_lAnalysis of Washington State’s Per se Marijuana DUI law

At the end of 2012, a new Washington legalized marijuana went into  effect. Part of the law that legalized marijuana use, also created a new marijuana driving under the influence (DUI) standard. Currently, RCW as amended to reflect the new Marijuana DU per se law states: “A person is guilty of driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor, marijuana, or any drug if the person drives a vehicle within this state: (b) The person has, within tow hours after driving, a THC concentration of 5.00 or higher as shown by analysis of the person’s blood made under RCW 46.61.506…” [The blood analysis of a person’s THC concentration shall be based upon nanograms per milliliter of whole blood].

This new per se law is causing  many problems for chronic marijuana users and medical marijuana users, since they may have 5.00 or higher THC in their blood at any time, but not be driving impaired. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has made it clear in the past that it is very hard to predict someone’s impairment simply from an arbitrary result of a blood test. Pharmacological effects of marijuana vary with dose, route of administration, experience of the user, vulnerability to psychoactive effects, and setting of use.

In November of 2014, the NHTSA the article Understanding the Limitations of Drug Test Information, Reporting, and Testing Practices in Fatal Crashes. NHTSA has been gathering data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) for nearly 40 years.  I reviewed the article and will highlight some interesting points below: Read more

Kirkland Holiday DUI Patrol

Kirkland, Washington is stepping up their DUI game for the upcoming holidays.  Kirkland Police are warning people that there is going to be an increased number of officers looking for drunk or drugged drivers between now and New Years Day.

Kirkland Police are paying special attention the drivers driving after using Marijuana. According to a recent study, many people believe the Marijuana doesn’t affect driving, and maybe even makes a person a better driver.

The bottom line is, if you are going to be celebrating the holidays with cocktails or Marijuana you better have a designated driver. If you get arrested for a DUI you may immediately face, incarceration, Ignition interlock device, costly bail, and attorney fees. Not to mention, if you are convicted, you will face up to 364 days in jail, $5,000 fine, license suspension, alcohol or drug education classes,  high insurance rates, and many other penalties. Read more

How to be prepared for a Washington State car accident

Loss Adjuster Inspecting Car Involved In AccidentThe unfortunate reality is that it’s not if you will be in a car accident it’s when. Excepting that reality will help you prepare for the inevitable. Below are some general tips. Please don’t allow this information to substitute the benefit of seeking out a qualified car accident attorney.

1. Have an auto accident plan

There are nearly 6 million car accidents per year, and the average driver is involved in an accident about once every 17 years. This means that by the time you are in your mid 30’s you would have been in at least one, accident and you should expect to be in 3-4 accidents in your lifetime. So, plan ahead, be prepared and know the steps to take when you are in a car accident.

2. Know your insurance

In Washington State, the minimum liability insurance one must carry $25,000/$50,000; it is probably wise to have more. For the purposes of this article I want to focus on the optional coverage, such as Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Underinsured/Uninsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM). Both these options should be purchased. If someone with minimal insurance hits you, your injuries will likely cost more than the minimal $25,000. It is wise to select these options to protect yourself.

3. Safety is number one

In the unlucky event you are in an accident, please make sure that everyone is alright, if there is any doubt call 911 emergency right away. Hopefully, there is no emergency, and both parties can simply move their cars to a safe spot to investigate and exchange information. It is probably still a good idea to report the accident to the police. Read more

Kirkland car accidents that demonstrate why we need to drive safer:

Woman Texting On Phone And Driving CarThe holidays are coming up, and that means more people are in a rush and paying less attention when driving from place to place. NHTSA conducted a study and determined that 41% of all drivers state that the pre-crash event that led to the accident was inattention and internal or external distractions.

What came as a surprise is that 8.4% related that excessive speeding caused the accident. The other leading pre-accident activities that caused collisions where, turning or crossing at an intersection, driving off the edge of the road.

I’m not sure I am necessarily on board with this study. Speeds too fast for conditions must be a larger contributor to accidents that this study suggests. Either, it is always better to be safe and maintain appropriate speeds for the conditions. I do agree that distracted driving is a serious problem. Cell phones are probably the most dangerous thing that can be brought into the car.

Again, I am just asking everyone to drive a little safer for not only the holidays but always. There is no where you need to go so fast or any call that is so important that it is worth putting yourself, your loved ones and others in danger.

Recent examples of Kirkland car accidents that demonstrate why we need to drive safer:  Read more

October is Washington State Domestic Violence Awareness Month

defenseOctober is domestic violence Month, and domestic violence assaults have been in our media more than ever in the last few months. We all heard about the Ray Rice incident, but what do we know about domestic violence? Seattle Seahawk Quarterback Russell Wilson has apparently declared himself the spokesperson for anti-domestic violence.

However, before we all start climbing on our soapboxes, let’s figure out what domestic violence is, and what are some of the misconceptions. I am going to focus on the misdemeanor domestic violence charges because they are harder to recognize. Also, I will be focusing this article on Washington State domestic violence laws.

What misdemeanor crimes can be tagged as Domestic Violence? The following are considered domestic violence when committed by one family or household member against another.

1. Assault in the fourth Degree: an intentional touching of another personis harmful or offensive regardless of whether any physical injury is done to the person. touching is offensive if the touching would offend an ordinary person who is not unduly sensitive.

2. Reckless endangerment: recklessly engages in conduct not amounting to drive-by shooting but that creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another person.

3. Coercion: by use of a threat he or she compels or induces a person to engage in conduct which the latter has a legal right to abstain from, or to abstain from conduct which he or she has a legal right to engage in.

4. Trespass in the first degree: knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in a building

5. Trespass in the second degree: knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in or upon premises of another under circumstances not constituting criminal trespass in the first degree.

6. Malicious mischief in the third degree: Knowingly and maliciously causes physical damage to the property of another, under circumstances not amounting to malicious mischief in the first or second degree.

And more… Read more

Michael Phelps Arrested for DUI


Not a picture of Michael Phelps DUI

Washington State Laws and Michael Phelps DUI

It has been reported that early morning Monday; Phelps was stopped for traveling 84 miles per hour in a 45 zone. Police were quoted saying, he “was unable to perform satisfactorily a series of standard field sobriety tests. Police also said that Phelps was cooperative, and some sources are suggesting that Phelps’ breath alcohol concentration was twice the legal limit. Apparently, Phelps was convicted of a prior DUI in 2004.

Obviously this case is going to be a highly publicized DUI arrest, but let’s apply the information we have to Washington DUI laws.

First, look at the stop. Speeding nearly 40 miles per hour over the posted speed limit will get you pulled over every time.  Clearly, drinking and driving was the first mistake, but speeding is just asking to be pulled over. However, according to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) there are 24 cues that are good predictors that someone is driving impaired.  Some will be surprised to learn that speeding is not one of them.

Second, we examine the arrest. Although, we have very little information; let’s focus on the “series of standard tests.” These tests are called Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs). They include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN, or eye) test, the Walk and Turn (WAT) test and the One Leg Stand test (OLS).  These tests are meant to be instructed and graded in a standardized manner and not following such standards will invalidate the tests. In Washington these tests, including the roadside breath test are voluntary and seldom should one agree to participate. The SFSTs are an opportunity for the police officer to gather evidence against you. Think about it, a world class multiple gold medal winning Olympic athlete was unable to perform them “satisfactorily.” One source even says he “bombed” them. So, how well do you think you would do, sober or not?   Read more

Ex Seattle Seahawk and LSU star arrested for DUI, again…


cup-and-keys-300x225LSU standout and former Seattle Seahawk Spencer Ware has been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI).  The DUI arrest occurred in Maple Valley, and it appears he was booked into the Kent Jail.

Apparently this was the running back’s second arrest in Washington in the last 9-months. Although, the previous DUI charge was dismissed by the judge because the prosecutor could not prove that the officer had reasonable suspicion to make a stop.

If Spencer Ware was facing a second offense DUI in Washington the potential consequences could be:

  • Pretrial ignition interlock device (IID)
  • Minimum of 30 days of jail up to 364 days
  • Electronic Home Monitoring (EHM)
  • Several $1,000 in fines and assessments
  • At least 2-years license revocation
  • DOL imposed IID/IIL
  • Alcohol and drug assessments
  • Treatment

Read more

“Drive sober or get pulled over” Snoqualmie is being targeted for DUI patrol over Labor Day weekend

Alcoholic Drink and a toy carDuring this holiday week extra officers will be out looking for impaired drivers. Drug Recognition “Experts” (DRE) will be on the lookout as well for drivers under the influence of marijuana or other drugs. So, if you are planning on a night at the casino and having a few drinks you better be prepared to find a safe ride home.

Washington State Patrol is suggesting that more people are using marijuana recreationally since it has been legalized. The WSP is also is reminding that anyone under the age of 21 will be arrested for DUI if they have any marijuana in their system or a blood alcohol concentrating over a .02. Read more