Tacoma Personal Injury Lawyer

Tacoma Personal Injury Lawyers

Personal injury is one of the largest, if not the largest, legal claims litigated in the United States today. On any given day, the average person can interact with hundreds of different people, places, and things. From pedestrians, co-workers, pets, cars, trucks, buildings, elevators, businesses, and the list goes on. Anyone of these interactions can result in a person being injured through no fault of their own. When someone is harmed as a result of an accident, they may be entitled to compensation.

What is Personal Injury?


The question seems simple enough. A personal injury is simply when two or more persons or entities interact with one another resulting in a bodily injury.  Personal injury can cause harm to a person’s body, mental status, reputation, financial interests, and property. Although a personal injury can seem straightforward, many injuries can be complicated by the damage suffered by one or more parties, the legal relationship and expectations of the parties involved, and the facts of each event that caused the injury. Only an experienced personal injury attorney can truly understand the implications of these interactions and sort through the complexity.

At the Puget Law Group, our experienced Tacoma personal injury attorneys understand this complexity and work tirelessly to ensure the best possible outcomes for our clients. 

Types of Personal Injury 

Tort law (commonly referred to as personal injury law) contains numerous forms of injuries that could lead to an actionable personal injury claim. The most common forms of personal injury claims can be categorized into one of the following types: negligence, strict liability, or intentional acts. 


In most personal injury claims, negligence caused harm. Under a simple negligence theory, the party that caused the injury failed to adhere to a reasonable standard of care when performing an action or set of actions that led to the injury. All negligence claims arise out of a standard set of facts that must adhere to a four-factor test established by law. If the facts do coincide with the four-factor test, then the offending party (defendant) did not commit negligence resulting in harm to the damaged party (plaintiff). This test includes the following factors: 

  • Duty: did the defendant owe the plaintiff a duty of care?
  • Breach: did the defendant breach their prescribed duty of care? 
  • Causation: did the actions of the defendant cause the plaintiff to suffer harm? 
  • Damages: did the plaintiff actually suffer any harm? 

Strict Liability 

Under a theory of strict liability, parties accused of causing personal injury will be held liable regardless of whether or not their actions were negligent or intentional. Unlike negligence, where the plaintiff must determine whether the defendant owed them a duty of reasonable care, strict liability assumes the party that caused harm is already assigned a duty to the plaintiff. Virtually all strict liability personal offenses are created by statute. For example, a manufacturer of goods is strictly liable for the harm caused by any defects in their products. 

Intentional Acts

Lastly, some personal injury claims can result from intentional acts where the defendant intended to cause harm. Although less common than negligence, intentional acts encompass many claims, including the following: 

  • Battery: battery occurs when a defendant causes harmful or offensive physical contact with the plaintiff. 
  • Assault: assault occurs when the defendant’s actions cause the plaintiff to believe the plaintiff is in reasonable apprehension (“belief”) of imminent harm. Physical contact is not required for a defendant to assault a plaintiff. 
  • False Imprisonment: confining or restraining a person to a restricted area without reasonable means for the person being confined to leave or escape. 
  • Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED): under an IIED claim, the plaintiff must show that the defendant’s actions intentionally or recklessly caused them to suffer severe emotional distress by outrageous conduct. IIED is challenging to prove because defining “outrageous conduct” and “severe emotional distress” are considered subjective standards. 
  • Trespass to Land: a person trespasses on another person’s land when they physically invade it, thereby violating the owner’s private property rights. 
  • Trespass to Chattel: trespass to chattel occurs when a defendant interferes with another’s private property, which is anything but physical land. A chattel is usually a physical and moveable object but is often used as a catch-all for property other than land or a physical space like a dwelling. 
  • Conversion: similar to trespass to chattel, conversion occurs when a person intentionally trespasses against someone’s chattel but intends to deprive them of ownership of their chattel. 
  • Defamation: defamation occurs when one party intends to harm another person’s character by using written statements (libel) or spoken statements (slander). 

Common Types of Personal Injury Claims

No two personal injury claims are the same. Every personal injury claim is different, whether it is the type of injury suffered, the circumstances that led to the injury, or the parties involved. Below are the most common types of personal injury claims attorneys often tackle when representing their clients.

Automobile Accidents

Likely the single most common personal injury is an automobile accident. These occur when one or more vehicles are involved in an event or series of events that led to a driver, passenger, or pedestrian’s harm. Automobile accidents can occur between cars, trucks, vans, buses, utility vehicles, driveable construction equipment, and bicycles. Some of the most traumatic accidents can cause injuries like whiplash, traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord and back injuries, broken limbs, paralysis, and death. 

Child-Related Injuries

A child-related injury can result in harm to a child or any harm caused by a child. These cases can be tricky to address because the parent or guardian of a child may be held personally liable for their child’s actions and well-being. Some negligence theories, like the attractive nuisance theory, arise when a person or entity creates certain conditions causing a child to be reasonably attracted to the condition. For example, when a next-door neighbor fails to teardown a broken and dangerous trampoline easily accessible by passersby. 

Medical Malpractice 

Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or medical professional causes a patient injury. The cause of the injury could be related to a failure to diagnose an illness or condition, harmful conduct during treatment, failure to reasonably inform the patient of complications post-treatment, or side effects arising out of poor treatment. Most medical malpractice cases arise from the theory that the medical professional acted negligently. These cases hinge on whether the medical professional adhered to their prescribed duty of care as a medical professional. Because many medical professionals undergo a combination of education, residency, licensure, and continuing education, their actions during medical treatment rise to a higher standard. According to the annual medical malpractice report in Washington State, claimants won or settled more than 100 medical malpractice claims in the last reporting year. 

Product Defects 

Product defects fall under the theory of strict liability. Because the producer of a product is in the best possible position to understand how their products may adversely impact others, they have a heightened duty to prevent harm. Products liability can fall under one of three categories, depending on the product’s defect: 

  1. Design Defect: design defects are caused by issues with the overall design or engineering of the product, which makes the product unreasonably hazardous for the average consumer. 
  2. Manufacturing Defect: these defects occur during the manufacturing process. This usually includes using hazardous materials in product production or improper assembly. 
  3. Marketing Defect:  marketing defects occur when producers fail to warn consumers of possible dangers related to the use or operation of the product. For example, many children’s toys have choking hazard labels to inform consumers of small pieces easily swallowed by children. 

The actual harm caused by a product can vary among the parties involved and the nature of the product. For example, one of the most common product defects occurs in pharmaceutical medication where certain active ingredients cause diseases or conditions like cancer, or the pharmaceutical company fails to adequately warn users of specific side effects caused by the consumption of the drug.

Dog Bites and Other Animal-Related Injuries

Virtually all injuries caused by animals fall under a theory of strict liability. Here, the theory is that the owner of an animal can reasonably foresee the animal causing harm to another. Pets of any kind risk harming any person they contact. The animal’s owner is strictly liable for that animal’s actions–regardless of the circumstances that led to the animal harming another. For example, if a person kept a significant and harmful dog in their backyard, and the dog escaped and bit someone, the owner would be liable. 

Abnormally Dangerous Activities

Like animal-related injuries, people involved in abnormally dangerous activities are strictly liable for their actions. Because these activities involve a heightened level of risk, any injury caused by the person engaged in those activities can be held strictly liable. Under most circumstances, for example, a standard commercial vehicle like a Honda Civic being operated on a public roadway would not be considered an abnormally dangerous activity. However, operating a dirt bike inside a mall would be considered an abnormally dangerous activity. This type of personal injury can be complicated if a child is engaged in the activity. 

Proving Fault for my Tacoma, Washington Personal Injury Claim 

Unlike criminal cases where the prosecution has the burden of proof to show that the criminal defendant has committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, civil cases are different. Instead, the person the plaintiff must show the defendant caused the harm. In most civil cases involving personal injury, the plaintiff only has to show that the defendant is liable for the harm inflicted on the plaintiff by a preponderance of the evidence–reasonable likelihood. The defendant can offer defenses based on the evidence produced throughout civil proceedings and trial to mitigate their liability, or disprove it altogether. 

Every personal injury offense, from negligence to strict liability and intentional tort, uses a series of tests to determine liability, also known as the prima facia case. During civil proceedings, the plaintiff must identify the offense, establish the prima facia case, and provide evidence of the facts to show the defendant’s actions met the prima facia case. Like most states, Washington has a series of statutes and regulations that establishes tests for each notable personal injury offense. 

Finally, when addressing negligence claims, Washington state adheres to a pure comparative fault theory for negligence. For negligence cases, a plaintiff may be liable for their actions regarding the event that led to their injury if an Aer may determine the actual percentage if a plaintiff is found liable. Whatever percentage of fault is assigned to the plaintiff is the amount of monetary damage subtracted from their overall damage calculation. Thus, if a plaintiff is 25% at fault for $100,000 in damages, they are only entitled to $75,000.  

Understanding Damages for a Tacoma, Washington Personal Injury Claim

Unfortunately, plaintiffs seeking apologies, a law or policy change, or criminal punishment should not expect much from a civil lawsuit. The result of a successful personal injury claim revolves around the payment of monetary compensation to address the financial hardship caused by the injury. Below are the damages a plaintiff can expect from the successful litigation or settlement of a personal injury claim. 

Compensatory Damages 

Compensatory damages are designed to compensate a plaintiff by making them financially whole. In all cases, damage calculations will consider an actual or perceived loss incurred by the plaintiff due to their injury. Compensatory damages are generally divided into two distinct forms of compensation: economic and non-economic. 

Economic compensatory damages address the calculable economic loss suffered by the plaintiff. These types of damages can include: 

  • Current and future medical expenses
  • Treatment expenses like physical, occupational, and psychological 
  • Loss in actual and future wages 
  • Property damage
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Travel expenses incurred during litigation

Non-economic compensatory damages can be considered a catch-all for certain damages that may not be easily calculated but can still significantly impact a plaintiff’s life. These types of damages can include:

  • Pain and suffering (general physical discomfort and emotional distress and anguish caused directly by the personal injury)
  • Disability and disfigurement 
  • Loss of life enjoyment 
  • Loss of consortium (inability of an injured person to engage in intimate or social activity with their spouse and the family)

Punitive Damages

Like many states, Washington prohibits punitive damages in most civil actions. Punitive damages are designed to force a person or entity to alter their behavior or practice to conform with society and the law. In rare circumstances, specific statutes allow a plaintiff to seek punitive damages, but a judge can cap punitive damages by statute or discretion. An experienced Tacoma, Washington personal injury attorney can help determine how best to assess damage calculations and determine if punitive damages are possible to pursue. 

Services Provided by a Tacoma, Washington Personal Injury Attorney

Pop culture has dramatically diminished the public’s perception of the endless hours of work personal injury attorneys put in to build, negotiate, litigate, and settle legal cases–personal injury cases included. Unlike many courtroom dramas, personal injury cases rarely go to trial because of the work attorneys do before trial. Below are some of the services a personal injury attorney provides. 


Believe it or not, personal injury claims create a heap of paperwork. From police reports, medical bills, insurance policies, photographs, and forms, even attorneys can sometimes feel overwhelmed. However, attorneys are experts at sifting through all the paperwork to determine whether a personal injury case is viable and how best to craft a legal strategy to provide the best possible outcome for their clients. This can include obtaining and understanding relevant documents, obtaining witness and relevant party statements, and compiling expert opinions on the nature of the accident. 


Litigation is the actual process of pursuing legal action against another party. During litigation, a personal injury attorney files the initial lawsuit (called a complaint), files and responds to legal motions attends regular court calls to address motions, provides updates to the judge overseeing the cases, and engages the other side in discovery. Discovery encompasses an established exchange of communication and information where both sides provide relevant documents and conduct depositions of relevant persons related to the case.  


As stated above, most civil cases (notably personal injury lawsuits) settle before trial. The common misconception is that attorneys are not interested in going to trial because of laziness or greed. Nothing can be further from the truth. In reality, many personal injury cases will not have a “smoking gun” piece of evidence to make a significant difference in the case. Even after a personal injury has zealously advocated for their client, a fact finder (a judge or jury) still has to determine whether the defendant is at fault. Although the burden of proof in civil cases is much lower than in criminal cases, a jury may still be swayed by a particular set of facts, not in the plaintiff’s favor. Thus, a trial can often be a gamble. 

Further, personal injury cases often take at least a year or more to litigate. During that time, plaintiffs will have to address their costs or face hefty insurance deductibles and premiums, making it incredibly difficult to sustain themselves financially before obtaining any money from the defendant. 

Contact Us Today

If you have recently been involved in an accident resulting in a personal injury, please contact the Puget Law Group for a consultation with our Tacoma, Washington, personal injury attorney team member. Our team of legal professionals has handled numerous personal injury matters and can provide exemplary representation for various claims.

Get Help Now

Most requests receive a response within 10 minutes.

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

I absolutely loved working this firm. PLG and Dan helped me with so much and got my DUI reduced to a Negligent Driving and my fine reduced significantly. They were very persistent and easy to contact with multiple contact methods, they made sure I was up to date so I wasn’t left wondering what was happening. Not to mention they are reasonably priced and are extremely flexible with payments and payment plans. They made this process so much less stressful for me and I can’t express how grateful I was to have PLG and Dan by my side through this experience. I would definitely recommend either of them to handle your case.”

Katrina (DUI Client)