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Every Case Is Different and Must Be Handled Accordingly

Every case is different. Have you ever heard of that one lawyer who got a guy $100,000 for a “nail in the foot?” It makes us chuckle around here. If it sounds too good to be true—it is. That nail caused a massive infection, leading to debridement surgeries or maybe an amputation of some portion of the foot. Or, it never happened to begin with.

Years of Experience and Careful Research Matter

Rumors and anecdotes are not the tools we use to help you receive just compensation for your loss. Instead, we stick to years of experience, research, and the histories of past settlements and verdicts across the country.

That scrupulous analysis helped the following people.

Dog Bite $100K

This Article Rehearses the Facts of a Case Involving a Dog Biting a Child.

It’s Good to Reach Out

This story involves a darling 3-year-old little girl. Her cuteness is not a mere overstatement for the sake of storytelling. It’s an undisputed fact in the case and was one of the reasons the insurance company did not feel much pressure to pay up.

In 2014, while visiting some family friends, this child was bitten on the face by a small Welsh Corgi/Labrador mix. Her parents leaped into action. She was taken to the hospital and received quality care. You should know that the dog is still alive and well, though much more guarded.

The bite caused multiple tooth-sized lacerations on her face. They were located along the nasolabial fold with punctures in the lip trailing up to the corner of the eye. There were no sutures, given how small they were. Later, cellulitis formed in the eye, and she was hospitalized at Seattle Children’s Hospital for three days. She healed fully with no further complications.

As is typical, scars formed, flecking the contours of her little face. There were five scars ranging from 4-5mm long by 1-2mm wide to 12 mm long by 3 mm wide. They are noticeable to the casual observer and are permanent. With this scarring, the Claimant will have to grow up and pass through adolescence.

She underwent therapy for PTSD to help her feel comfortable around dogs again. But more importantly, this alteration to her face is permanent. She will spend somewhere in the realm of eighty-plus years with her scars. She will have to go through adolescence with her scarred face. She will have to field questions from children, teens, and adults about her spots. She will think of dogs every time she looks in the mirror, applies makeup, considers her appearance and determines her self-esteem. Her entire memory of herself will involve a scarred face.

I am a young attorney. I didn’t feel like I had the experience to determine adequate damages under the circumstances. As a father to a little girl, I tried to consider my daughter’s feelings if this had happened to her. I thought about the future she would have in her school and community.

I knew young women who suffered injuries throughout my youth and considered their varied stories and backgrounds. Each was so different; it was hard to come to universal conclusions.

Ultimately, I concluded that other attorneys had posed similar questions before with similar cases. I looked into past verdicts and settlements in Washington. I took the liberty of calling up attorneys who had previously reached settlements with facial scarring. This is how I became acquainted with Ms. Jody K. Reich, a partner at Dethlefs Sparwasser in Edmonds, who had settled a similar case in 2014.

When a young attorney calls another attorney for guidance, you can rest assured that the young attorney is uncomfortable doing the cold call and bugging somebody who has little time to spare being bothered. Fortunately for my client, Ms. Reich was just the kind of friend we need in the world. She provided me with a copy of her settlement letter and the collection of case settlements and verdicts she had used to settle her case. She talked to me about my client and considered my approach to addressing this little girl’s feelings and future. She offered clear guidance and encouragement.

That experience helped me frame my argument, strengthen the language of my demand, and substantially raise the figure I had initially been considered. I felt like I had a team in my corner and was ready to work.

The initial insurance adjuster handling the matter at American Modern Insurance argued that the Claimant was “too cute” to merit the demand. She felt that, if anything, the minor marks on this little girl’s cheeks only added to her character. She pointed to Royse v. Nieto (settled before trial). In that case, Plaintiff had suffered a 1.5cm laceration to her chin by a dog. That Plaintiff settled for $75,000. The adjuster in our little girl’s story felt that the scar in the Royse case was much more severe than our little girl’s flecks across her cheek. So, she offered to settle for $47,000 and claimed this was near the highest she would go.

The differences in these cases are apparent, though. The Plaintiff in Royse was an adult woman in her mid-forties. While she may have to live another forty or so years with her scar, our little girl will essentially spend all her life with her scars. More dramatically, though, she will have to undergo the volatile transitions of adolescence, accommodating her scars. In truth, she likely will pass through adolescence peaceably because these scars are not severe, and she has a strong team of family and friends around her. Even so, her experience is different from that found in other cases.

In the end, a new adjuster took over and agreed to settle the matter for $100,000. The adjuster also agreed to fund the obligatory settlement guardian ad litem procedures in court (SPR Rule 98.16W).

Along the way, I learned the value of reaching out to other attorneys. Most seem plenty willing to help. As a man, I felt that I must listen carefully to what a woman feels about the situation and the scars this little girl has suffered. It was essential to talk to the child’s mother, the adjuster, other women, the doctor, and other attorneys to grasp the big picture. Settlement is much easier when a team is behind you with a wealth of information.

Our 3-year-old little friend has a healthy settlement waiting for her until she turns eighteen. She will have a future as bright and promising as anyone. I hope she will recognize that her settlement signifies how much other people cared for her, including her attorney.

Collision and Assault $50K

Drunk Driver Collision and Assault Settlement
Standley v. Trousseau – Drunk Driver Collision & Assault – $50,000 settlement

The defendant was a drunk driver who collided with a line of cars on a city residential road at about two in the morning. Mr. Standley ran outside to check on the situation.

He saw the defendant spinning out on his lawn, trying to escape. He reached into the open window and pulled out the defendant’s keys. He received a long and deep laceration up his shin in that process.

Then the defendant came out of the vehicle and began choking and beating Mr. Standley.
Mr. Standley was an avid kickboxer. In addition to permanent scarring, his injury will affect his ability to kickbox in the future.

Negligence $180K

Negligence Causing Injury Settlement
Albert Graham, a 73-year-old veteran, struggled with various physical and health problems. He had a leg amputated below the knee and required regular clinic and hospital visits for other physical ailments.

On the incident date, Mr. Graham visited the local VA clinic. The Clallam Paratransit driver came into the clinic to help Mr. Graham back to the paratransit bus. Rather than remove him by the ADA accessible front doors, the driver conducted Mr. Graham by the back door, which exited onto the rear parking lot. That lot sloped sharply downward.

The driver let go of the wheelchair, and Mr. Graham free-fell down the lot where one of the wheels of his chair rolled up the descended ramp leading onto the bus causing the chair to overturn and high speed; thus, throwing Mr. Graham under the bus, and into a large puddle of water.

Mr. Graham suffered an injury to his head and jaw and required immediate surgery for his broken hip. Though he was in great pain, cold and wet, the driver took Mr. Graham home rather than the hospital across the street from the VA clinic. His wife and caretaker called an ambulance to take him to the hospital from his home.

From there, he was transferred to the VA hospital for surgery. Months of recuperating care were required.

Al Graham was a poet. He published a book titled My Mistress the Sea. One of his poems, “Fires Yet Burning,” is presented as a sample. He passed away last year. He is survived by his lovely wife, Marlene, and several friends and family who loved him.