Online social networking sites, like Facebook and Twitter, are wonderful social tools for keeping up with friends and family. Yet for injured accident victims, they could become a real threat to your personal injury case. Insurance companies will often crawl social networking sites to uncover evidence to defeat your claim. Knowing what to post and what not to post on Facebook could make a real difference in the amount of money you are able to recover.

Anything you post on Facebook, Twitter or other online social networks, could fall into the hands of the insurance companies. Even a simple photo showing you having fun with your friends could be used as evidence to refute your claim. They will argue that if you are out having fun, you must not be seriously injured—and consequently do not need to be compensated as such.

Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. Even when accident victims are able to enjoy themselves momentarily, they often pay the price hours later. In order to attend a nephew’s birthday party, for example, they may take their pain medications and smile. Yet hours later, they are in constant debilitating pain from their day out.

Before you post anything on Facebook, it is wise to discuss your personal injury case with your attorney. Your attorney can advise you on how to avoid social networking sites during your injury—or even use them to your advantage.

  • Check your profile and privacy settings – be sure that your privacy settings are adjusted so that you have control over who sees your posts. Also, ensure that the pictures other people tag you in are set to an ultra private setting that you can monitor.
  • Avoid posting about your lawsuit—do not discuss your case, the status of your claim, or your injuries on a social network.
  • Do not post pictures—while your case is ongoing, do not post pictures of you engaged in any type of physical activity. Also, encourage your friends to avoid posting such pictures too.
  • Do not accept new invitations—try to avoid accepting new friends during this time. A new friend could be friends with the defendant or working with them to obtain evidence.
  • Remove some friends—if you don’t know someone well, consider removing them from your friend list. Also, if anyone works for or is related to the defendant, you might want to consider removing them from the list as well.

Before you make any changes to your Facebook profile or friend status, discuss your social networking plan with your attorney. He or she may advise you against posting anything to Facebook and may even ask that you refrain from all social networking while your injury case is pending.


The manner in which a claimant handles a pre-existing condition can greatly affect the outcome of an injury claim. It is imperative that clients disclose all previous injuries to their attorney at the beginning of any casework. Failure to disclose this information can discredit the plaintiff’s word and drastically reduce the value of the overall claim.

Most everyone has some pre-existing condition in his or her medical history, whether it is from an earlier car accident or an old college sporting injury. It is important to remember, however, that if the pre-existing condition was not causing you any discomfort prior to the car accident, the person at fault for the accident is still fully responsible for injuries you sustained in the accident, or to any degree the accident worsened your pre-existing condition.

If your pre-existing condition was causing you discomfort at the time of the accident, the insurance company does have the right to reduce the value of your settlement. However, you are still entitled to compensation equivalent to the difference in pain level before and after the accident.

Advantages to Pre-existing Injuries

Even though a pre-existing condition has the potential to complicate a personal injury claim, there are also distinct advantages. If the claimant has suffered a pre-existing injury, they may be in a weakened state, thus making them more prone to injury, and worsening the pre-existing condition. This, so-to-speak, “soft-shell” plaintiff argument is especially effective in a low-impact car accident where a jury may question how the accident could have caused the claimed injury.

The opportunity for a car accident attorney to compare past medical records with current ones to objectively substantiate how the accident aggravated the plaintiff’s pre-existing condition is another advantage. Based on diagnostic tests taken years apart, a medical expert can testify how the accident adversely affected the pre-existing condition. Clinical records can also be used to compare pain level, extent of necessary care, or disability before and after the accident. If a plaintiff has become permanently disabled, and at least a degree of that is attributable to the pre-existing injury, a medical expert can ascertain the extent to which the accident worsened the disability.

By using medical records, an attorney can use your pre-existing injury to your advantage. By showing that your weakened condition made you more susceptible to new or worsened injuries, they can assist you in recovering the appropriate amount of compensation to which you are entitled.


Many studies over the years have pointed to the potential dangers of using cell phones while driving. Now, a recent study confirms that texting, dialing, or reaching for a cell phone while driving significantly increases the likelihood of an accident.

Researchers installed video cameras, GPS devices, lane trackers, and tools to measure speed and acceleration, among other sensors, in vehicles and studied newly licensed drivers as well as those with twenty years of driving experience.

The study showed that among young drivers, the risk of crash or near-miss was 7x greater if drivers were dialing or reaching for a cell phone, and 4x greater if they were sending or receiving a text message.

However, young drivers need not bear all the blame for distracted driving. A recent AAA report has found that significant numbers of drivers across all age groups reported using cell phones, including texting, while behind the wheel. Even worse offenders than teens, were the adults aged 25-39.

The AAA study revealed that 82 percent of drivers aged 25-39 use their cell phone on some level while driving, and 43 percent confessed to doing so on a fairly regular basis. Seventy-two percent of people aged 19-24 admitted to using a cell phone while driving, and 27 percent of those said they do so regularly. Significantly fewer drivers, only 58 percent of people aged 16-18 said they use their cell phone while driving, and only 20 percent on a regular basis.

Adults aged 25-39 were also the worst about texting and emailing while driving. Forty-five percent of drivers in this age group confessed that they had done so recently, 10 percent of them on a regular basis. Only 42 percent of drivers aged 19-24, 11 percent regularly, admitted to texting while driving. Even fewer drivers aged 16-18 said they did- 31 percent recently and 7 percent commonly.

Because the survey relied on self-reporting, the numbers may be higher across all age groups. However, the study did make one point clear, drivers in all age groups are aware of the risks, and most believe distracted driving is a bigger problem now than it was three years ago.

Regardless of the drivers’ age, texting while driving is extremely dangerous, and according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,000 fatal car crashes are caused every year by distracted driving.


What is Liability?

Liability is one of the most significant words in the field of law. It means legal responsibility for one’s actions or omissions. If a person or entity fails to fulfill that responsibility, they have left themselves vulnerable to a lawsuit for the resulting damages or, as in a violation of statute or breach of contract, a court order to perform.

To win such a lawsuit, the plaintiff (suing party), must prove the legal liability of the defendant if the plaintiff’s actions are shown to be true. Proof requires evidence of the duty to act, failure to fulfill that duty, and the correlation of that failure to some injury or harm to the plaintiff.

How Liability is Determined?

Most accidents happen because someone was negligent; however, proving that someone was careless or negligent and therefore liable for an accident or injury can be complicated. Essentially, if one person involved in an accident was more careless than another, that person must pay for at least a portion of the damages suffered by the more careful person.

This is the primary rule of thumb for determining liability; however, one or more of the following may also apply;

  • If the injured person was someplace he or she was not supposed to be, or someplace he or she should have anticipated the type of activity that caused the accident, the person who caused the accident might not be liable because that person had no responsibility to the injured person
  • If the injured person was careless as well, compensation may be reduced to the degree that the carelessness contributed to the accident. This is known as comparative negligence
  • If a negligent person causes an accident while employed by someone else, the employer may be liable for the accident as well
  • If an accident occurs on property that is dangerous because it is improperly maintained, a property owner is liable for being careless in maintaining the property, even if he or she did not create the hazardous condition
  • If a defective product causes an accident, the manufacturer and the seller of the product are both liable regardless of whether the injured person knows which one was careless in creating or allowing the defect
  • When more than one person is responsible, most states’ law provides that any one of the careless parties is responsible for fully compensating you

A recently released study estimates that 24,000 children annually, 66 per day, require emergency room care for injuries sustained as a result of shopping cart-related accidents.

The study, carried out by Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, looked at shopping cart-related injuries to children from 1990 to 2011. Researchers noticed a significant increase in the number of injuries over the study period, despite the fact that shopping cart safety standards were established in 2004.

Researchers discovered that 70.4 percent of these injuries were from falls from the shopping carts. Collisions, cart tip overs, and limb entrapment were also common reasons for injury. The most likely type of injury, accounting for 78.1 percent of emergency room visits involving shopping carts, is a head injury.

Protect Your Child from Shopping Cart Injuries

Dr. Smith noted that since the implementation of shopping cart safety standards, not only have shopping cart-related injuries not declined in number, they have actually increased. Clearly, more effective shopping cart safety standards are needed to prevent tip overs and falls from shopping carts. Until that happens, these are some ways you can protect your child:

  • Always use the shopping cart safety straps, and be sure your child is snugly secured in the straps and that the child’s legs are placed through the leg openings.
  • If available, use a cart that has a child seat that is low to the ground
  • Make sure your child remains seated at all times
  • Stay with the cart and your child at all times
  • Avoid placing infant carriers on top of shopping carts
  • If parts of the cart restraint system are missing or not working properly, choose another cart
  • If your child is not old enough to sit upright by himself in the shopping cart seat, consider other options such as leaving your child at home with another adult, using in-store child care areas, using a front or back-pack carrier, or using a stroller
  • Whenever possible, choose alternatives to placing your child in a shopping cart

Like most states, Washington has its own laws specifically governing wrongful death claims. In Washington, a case qualifies under “wrongful death” statute when “the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another.”

One way to look at a wrongful death is as a personal injury lawsuit that is no longer possible because the person who died cannot serve as the plaintiff. Even though the deceased person cannot bring his or her own personal injury claim, certain other people may bring the wrongful death case to court on behalf of the deceased. Wrongful death claims allow family members to receive compensation for their personal losses stemming from the death of a loved one.

Even if the case is being tried in criminal court, a wrongful death claim can also be filed.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Washington?

The following parties are eligible to file a wrongful death claim in Washington State:

  • The personal representative of the deceased person’s estate
  • The spouse or registered domestic partner of the deceased person
  • The child, children, or stepchildren of the deceased

Sisters or brothers may file a wrongful death claim in situations where there are no spouse, registered domestic partner, children or stepchildren.

Available Damages in a Washington Wrongful Death Claim

In a Washington wrongful death claim, damages are paid to the estate of the deceased person or, if the deceased person was a minor, to the deceased minor’s parents. Damages may include:

  • Deceased person’s last medical bills
  • Lost wages and income the deceased would have likely earned if death had not occurred
  • Damages for pain and suffering the deceased experienced as a result of the final injury and death
  • Costs related to damaged property
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of care, companionship, and other intangible benefits by the deceased’s family

Specific damages available are dependent on the person pursuing the claim.

Statute of Limitations

A wrongful death claim in Washington must be filed within three years. Even if a separate criminal case is pursued by the state, the same statute of limitations applies. If you have lost a loved one due to accidental or wrongful death and wish to file a claim, it is advised that you speak with an attorney as soon as possible.


Helmet use has consistently been shown to reduce motorcycle crash-related deaths and injuries.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed 2008-2010 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), a census of fatal traffic crashes in the U.S. Economic data was also obtained from NHTSA to compare costs saved as a result of helmet use. The findings indicated that in states with universal helmet laws only 12% of fatally injured motorcyclists were not wearing a helmet, compared with 64% of riders in partial helmet law states, and 79% in states with no helmet law. In 2010, economic costs saved by society from helmet use in states with a universal helmet law averaged $725 per rider, nearly four times more savings than in states without such laws.

Despite the fact that researchers have cited helmet use as the single most effective countermeasure in reducing motorcyclist injuries and deaths, only 19 states currently have universal helmet laws, and no states have enacted helmet laws since 2004. In fact, new data from the Highway Loss Data Institute further indicates that motorcycle safety is going in the wrong direction.

Research has shown that when a state repeals its universal helmet law as Michigan did in 2012, motorcycle crash injuries increased substantially, as did the medical costs of injured motorcyclists. Six states have repealed their universal helmet laws since 1997.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) evaluated studies on motorcycle helmet laws, focusing on the effectiveness of helmets in preventing fatalities and serious injuries, the impact of helmet laws, and the societal costs of helmet nonuse. The studies they evaluated indicated that helmeted riders suffer fewer severe head injuries and lower fatality rates than non-helmeted riders. The evaluation also showed that helmet use ranged from 92-100 percent in states with universal helmet laws, compared with 42-59 percent use in states without. The data on cost of medical services rendered to motorcycle accident victims was somewhat unclear, but studies show that society pays for much of that care through tax-supported programs or insurance premiums. The long-term costs for victims of serious and critical head injuries could range from $100,000 to 300,000 per person.

If a negligent driver injures you or someone you love, an experienced Seattle motorcycle accident attorney at Phillips Law Firm can help.



Most of us will automatically set our clocks ahead one hour in observance of Daylight Saving Time (DST) and besides feeling a little sleepy the next morning, we won’t give it a second thought. However, adjusting your clock on Saturday night or Sunday morning could leave you with a 40-60 minute sleep deficit by Monday morning, and it’s this seemingly insignificant loss of sleep that can cause problems.

Research shows on Monday and Tuesday after the time change, our risk of having a car accident increases by about 6%. Groggy people waking and driving to work in the dark are more prone to accidents. Our chance of being in a workplace accident increases, too, as does the severity of those accidents. In the days following the shift to DST, workplace productivity traditionally plummets as well with a documented increase in “cyber-loafing.”

DST was enacted during World War I to decrease energy use. Benjamin Franklin first advocated for the practice in 1784 because he noticed people using candles at night and sleeping past dawn in the morning. By shifting time by an hour during the summer, they would burn fewer candles and not sleep through the morning sunlight.

However, some observers see nothing but downsides in their data to setting the clocks ahead, even going so far as to dub the Monday after the time change “Sleepy Monday” or “Risky Monday.” Tuesday and Wednesday are more dangerous than usual, as well. However, the risks begin to decrease as the week progresses.

Also, the time change does not save on energy either. By facilitating more outdoor time, it actually prompts us to spend more money at amusement parks and local sporting events, and spending longer evenings out sends us to the ATM and the gas pump more often.

The impacts of DST are likely related to our body’s internal circadian rhythm, our internal “clocks.” The problems with DST are worst in the spring, when we’ve all just lost one hour of sleep. The sun rises later, making it more difficult to wake in the morning. This is because we reset our body clocks using the light. When these clues change abruptly, it causes confusion. To help offset this confusion, try going to bed an hour earlier when you set your clock ahead.


The true costs of living every day with a spinal cord injury depends on many different factors including, the type and severity of your injury, your age and your prognosis for recovery.

There are many types of spinal cord injuries with different degrees of severity, and all of them requiring specialized care. Your age, too, affects the long-term financial impact your injury will have on your life.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The University of Alabama National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, someone suffering from High Tetraplegia, one of the most severe cases that involves damage to one of the eight cervical segments of the spinal cord, will require over $1 million in specialized care in the first year after suffering their injury. They will need approximately $170,000 per year after that, totaling well over $4 million over the course of the average lifetime if injured at age 25.

The same sources state that someone injured at age 25, suffering any level of incomplete motor function resulting from lesions in the thoracic, lumbar, or sacral regions of the spinal cord, may require nearly $2 million over the course of an average lifespan.

In addition to medical attention immediately following your injury, other costs you will incur may include;

  • Adaptions to your home, such as ramps, bath lifts, extensions, etc.
  • A special vehicle that you can drive/access easily
  • Lost wages
  • Private health care to insure you receive the best possible care in a timely manner
  • Pain and suffering
  • Out of pocket expenses, such as travel costs to and from doctors’ appointments
  • Rehabilitation and therapy to maximize your independence
  • Nursing home costs in a worst-case scenario

If your life has been impacted by a spinal cord injury, you already know how different things are going to be. Everyday tasks that you once took for granted, such as personal hygiene, shopping, and household chores have taken on a whole new level of difficulty. Money will not make everything like it was before the injury, but it will certainly help as you adjust to your new lifestyle. Spinal cord injury claims require an attorney who has expertise in this field, and a proven track record of getting clients the right amount of compensation for their injury. If you or someone you love has suffered a spinal cord injury through the actions of another person, an experienced personal injury attorney at Phillips Law Firm can help.


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental condition that develops after a terrifying ordeal that involved bodily harm or the threat of bodily harm, such as a car accident. The person who develops PTSD may have been the one harmed, the harm may have come to a loved one, or the person may have witnessed an event that brought harm to someone else.

Anyone can develop PTSD from a car crash. However, some studies suggest that people who have already experienced a traumatic event may be more at risk of suffering from PTSD after a car crash. Especially those who have already been in a car accident may be at a greater risk of developing PTSD after a second accident.

Signs of PTSD

One of the most common signs of PTSD is avoidance. Those suffering from PTSD after car accidents have disturbing memories of the crash and will often avoid any reminders of the accident. These reminders often act as triggers that cause a person to change his or her daily routine or lose interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past. Avoidance can also cause someone to feel emotionally numb or have overwhelming feelings of guilt, depression, and worry.

Another common sign of PTSD is flashbacks. Re-experiencing symptoms, or flashbacks, involve reliving the trauma over and over. This can include physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating, as well as emotional ones like bad dreams or frightening thoughts. Objects and situations that are reminders of the event can also trigger re-experiencing.

Hyper-arousal symptoms are also common. These are usually constant, instead of being brought on by triggers, and can make the person feel stressed and angry. Hyper-arousal symptoms make it difficult to do daily tasks, such as sleeping, eating, or concentrating.

It’s natural to have any of these symptoms after a dangerous event, and some victims may not show symptoms for weeks or months. However, if you are experiencing these symptoms and they become an ongoing problem, you could be diagnosed with PTSD.

A serious car crash can be enough to trigger PTSD, but there are real challenges for a claimant who is trying to get compensation for this type of injury. If you have been in a car accident and are suffering from PTSD, contact Phillips Law Firm today and let one of our experienced personal injury attorneys assist you in recovering damages for your psychological injury and associated medical costs.