Jennifer Witt

Jennifer Witt

After decades of over-criminalization of behavior, the United States now has more Americans with a criminal record than were present in the country when it was founded. In fact, according to the Department of Justice, one in four Americans has an arrest or conviction record that shows up on a basic background check. Half of the children in the United States have at least one parent with a criminal record. Additionally, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, reported that one in three men will be arrested by the age of 23. And, for those of you who are visual, picture that if you took all of the Americans who have a criminal record and made them their own country, it would be larger than Canada. With these statistics, it isn’t much of a surprise that some rather overwhelming consequences flow from this reality.

Have You Missed Work Due To Your Accident? If you have missed work as a result of injuries you sustained in an accident, you are entitled to compensation.

 

There are several methods for collecting lost wages and several types of earnings that you can claim.

 

First and foremost, document your injuries. You need to have a doctor’s note that indicates you need to take time off or work in a limited capacity. This information must be provided to your employer. Additionally, you should collect pay stubs or other forms of documentation that can be used to establish the income you have lost due to your injuries. This can include sick leave or vacation pay that you used while you were recovering.

 

Determining how much money you are entitled to for your lost income depends on your unique situation. It’s fairly straight forward if you are employed with an hourly wage. You can calculate the loss fairly easily unless you also have commission that you likely would have earned during that shift. Perhaps you collect “tips” on top of your hourly rate. All of those factors must be considered and documented. Your assertion that you lost a certain amount of money won’t work.

 

If you are a salaried employee, your calculations will vary from the hourly wage employee. Perhaps you also missed out on bonuses or a promotion. That loss should be compensated but it is different than “lost wages” as provided in your demand to the insurance company. Your lost promotion, interrupted career path, and loss of financial benefits are calculated separately.

 

Additionally, if you are self-employed, you are not seeking wages but rather loss of income. You will also want to establish any impact on profits that you could have made or projects you lost due to your injuries. Regardless of the type of employment, to claim any loss, you must document that loss. Whether you are seeking lost wages, lost compensation, or lost earning capacity, documentation is key. Insurance adjusters will never “take your word for it” when it comes to compensation.

 

Finally, don’t forget to check on your own insurance policy! While collecting for income loss under PIP won’t typically provide a tremendous financial benefit, it might make the different in “getting by” while your personal injury case proceeds.

Do you have questions about lost wages? 

 

If you have questions regarding this article or your personal injury case in general, you can contact our office for a free consultation. There are important time lines when it comes to personal injury cases. The law does not differentiate those who represent themselves versus those who are represented by legal counsel. You are presumed to know the law and the risks. It is best to get informed before deciding to handle your own personal injury case. If you would like the assistance of the Witt Law Group PS, we can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for questions or to schedule a consultation. We have offices in Gig Harbor and Bremerton for your convenience. You can contact us at 360.792.1000 or 253.312.3838 or through our “contact us” link.

 

When potential clients call our office, they generally know what “crime” they’ve been charged with but they don’t always know what that means.

Life is full of knock down moments. The loss of a loved one. The loss of a job. The loss of a marriage or a terminal illness. When it happens, you can get lost in the feelings of despair or fear. For most, your friends or family help lift you up and carry you until you see that this terrible phase will pass. These knock down moments are rarely knock out moments—they just feel that way when you’re on the mat. 

In the State of Washington, trespassing can be either civil or criminal in nature. Basically, it depends on who is bringing the cause of action.

On Monday, we begin the “100 Deadliest Days of Driving” as accidents increase by 15% for teens from Memorial Day until Labor Day. While car accidents are the leading cause of death for teens, it becomes even worse for the summer months. According to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, for 16-17 year olds, every mile on the road means 4 x the risk of an accident and 3 x the likelihood of having a fatal crash. By having a passenger in the car, a teen driver is 44% more likely to have an accident and that number increases with each additional passenger. (Please see our blog on Intermediate License rules regarding when a teen is allowed to have a non-family member passenger).

 

In the Witt household, our 15 year old recently acquired his learner’s permit and it has us a little anxious. How did this day come so quickly? And, why does my heart skip a beat every time I read, “auto accidents are the number one cause of death for teens”? Surely, our child will be careful, right? I realize that many of the parents who lost teens in accidents probably thought the same thing. The truth is that the teen brain just isn’t all the way “cooked” yet when it comes to impulse control and other important neuro-cognitive developmental milestones.

 

As parents of a new driver, we want to remind all drivers in our community to be aware that we have more inexperienced drivers on the road this time of year. Be cautious. Be patient. Teen drivers are out driving to see friends and head to summer jobs. They are putting more miles on the road and trying to develop driving skills.

 

Discount Code For Defensive Driving Program

 

In an effort to increase the odds that all of our children make it home safely, the Witt Law Group PS asked an online defensive driving program to offer a discount to those people reading this article. The program is called teenSmart and can be found at teensmartdriving.com. They have offered us a discount code WLGTS (for Witt Law Group Teen Smart). We get nothing in return and receive no money if you elect to use their services. However, they did mention that there are many insurance companies offering discounts if you complete the program. You need to call your insurance company and ask if this program qualifies.

 

You can also take a look at teendriving.aaa.com for more suggestions on talking with your teen about their driving risks. They have yet to put out a teen-specific defensive driving course in Washington (hence, why we reached out to the online program teenSmart) but are pushing for more awareness of teens’ accident risk.

 

We love to help clients with auto accidents but we don’t want you to need us! We certainly don’t want to see a young person face such challenges. Please give us a call if you have any questions regarding this post or have trouble locating the referenced cites.

 

Stay safe and have a great summer!

What am I facing? Will I go to jail? If I spent the night in jail, will I go back to jail?

We frequently see our competition post advertising with statements like, "98% success rate" on DUIs. Needless to say, this becomes rather confusing for the general public as they search for legal counsel.

Putting Your Car Crash In The Rearview Mirror

We all make mistakes but not all mistakes are accidents. Law firms and insurance companies typically refer to your trauma as a motor vehicle accident. However, it doesn’t really feel like an accident. Someone crashed into you. Car crashes are tough on the body but they are also tough on the spirit. They involve lengthy medical care and annoying correspondence with numerous insurance companies—medical and auto. Most clients who come to our office want the pain of a “crash” to just end. While you must consult an attorney for legal advice on your specific case, here are some thoughts on putting the crash in the rearview mirror. 

#1 Follow through on your medical care. 

Following the accident, you just want life to return to normal. No one wants to work doctor visits into the schedule. Unfortunately, this is critical. If don’t follow doctor’s orders or you delay in follow up appointments for too long, the insurance company will likely claim that you had a “gap in treatment” and therefore you weren’t really hurt. 

#2 Be 100% honest about your injuries.

While you might feel terrible, it is not the time to be dramatic and make claims that are untrue. Any untruths will significantly damage your credibility and jeopardize the entire case. Be very detailed in how you feel, how any injuries are impacting your daily life, and whether you had injuries from the past. Just because you had a previous injury, it does not mean you won’t be entitled to some compensation for your current injuries. However, if you fail to disclose past injuries, it will appear as though you are making a false claim.

#3 Don’t sign medical release forms without consulting your attorney.

It is not unusual to receive medical authorization forms from the insurance company following an accident. It is very important you discuss any and all forms that you receive with an experience personal injury attorney. 

#4 Be aware of lien letters.

Lien letters or subrogation agreements (your insurance company wants you to repay them from the settlement for any bills they paid) might seem acceptable. Sometimes these arrangements are requested by an insurance company and sometimes medical service providers, or both. There are several issues that can arise with lien letters. In particular, it takes time and money to remove these liens once they are filed. Additionally, not all bills paid by the insurance company are required to be reimbursed. You need to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss these issues. Every case is unique.

#5 Keep paperwork.

Whether it’s a receipt for medical bills or police reports, all paperwork is critical! It is best to get a file to keep all of your receipts and any correspondence from insurance companies. You should also keep a file for correspondence with your attorney. You will likely receive a tremendous amount of paperwork or emails in the months following an accident, so be ready and organized with your information.

#6 ALL “evidence” is important!

You might not consider your totaled car “evidence” (assuming a police report is good enough), but your attorney does not want to see ANY evidence disappear! It is not unusual for one or both insurance companies involved to claim that the facts in the police report are incorrect. They might offer an alternative version with an eye witness. If an expert is needed to refute how the accident and damage occurred, it will be critical to have the car for an examine. 

If you are reading this information and you have been injured in a car crash, please don’t hesitate to contact our office. General information is no substitute for legal advice from an experienced attorney. Every consultation is free and you can ask questions that are specific to your unique situation. You can reach an attorney 24 hours a day 7 days a week. If we aren’t in the office, our calls our routed to our cell phones. So, don’t delay in having your questions answered. We are here to help. During business hours, you can reach our Bremerton office at 360-792-1000 or our Gig Harbor office at 253-312-3838. 

Learn the big D’s of insurance tricks and why Witt Law Group gives them an F!

It is not unusual to have clients walk through the door who tried handling their own personal injury case. They gave it a good try, took a few bruises, and realized that they want nothing to do with this kind of battle. 

If you’re still wondering whether to throw in the towel on self-representation, here are some insurance tactics you should consider. Are you ready to deal with these issues on a regular basis? We like to call the adjusters’ top moves the “Big D’s”—deceptive dialogue, distract, delay, dispute, distorted defense, and discounted offer.

#1 Deceptive Dialogue—

Do you have the sweetest Grandmother ever? Well, wait until you hear from your first insurance adjuster after an accident. You’d think they are just about ready to bring you a home made meal and deliver you to your next doctor appointment…their doctor, of course. Being nice is wonderful but be aware that this conversation is being recorded. First, everything you say will later be used to spin the case against you. Insurance companies make money by NOT paying claims and that includes yours. They also know (from studies they have conducted) that, if they are extremely friendly on those first few calls, you are much less likely to hire an attorney. Second, they know victims without lawyers settle claims for significantly less.

#2 Distract

You will be required to provide ridiculous amounts of information. Much of it will be irrelevant (your lawyer would tell them to pound sand). The process is meant to frustrate you and delay the process. They will tell you their file isn’t complete so they can’t make an offer. When you produce this random information, they will eventually spin it as the reason they would like to offer you more but just can’t. After so many months of waiting and digging up random paperwork, you’ll be ready to take whatever they offer.

#3 Delay

This tactic comes in many forms. First, it will be similar to distracting. They will claim they just don’t have all of your medical records. Then, they don’t have all of the bills. Next, they need more information from the other side. Awww….so sorry about the wait. Later in the case, they will claim you need to see one of their doctors. If you’re lucky enough to be offered a settlement, they’ll put the wrong name on the check, the wrong amount, or perhaps send it to the wrong address. Darn…sorry about the wait (but thanks for letting us rack up a bit more interest on that money we’re holding). Finally, if they don’t offer you a settlement and you must go to trial, they will refuse to work out any settlement until right before trial. The longer they hold onto your money, the better for the insurance company profits.

#4 Dispute

This is a game you can’t win. If you took your doctors advice and popped the ibuprofen and tried to rest for a week or two, they’ll claim you had a “gap in treatment” that is unreasonable. Clearly, you must not have been hurt. If you go right to treatment and work diligently to get better, they’ll claim you “over treated” and your medical care was unnecessary, therefore they aren’t paying for it (this can happen even with your own PIP). Remember those early phone conversations that were so sweet and concerned? You’ll notice a change of tone now.

#5 Distorted Defense

This is a subset of the “delay” tactic. The insurance company will claim that the police report is wrong. All along, everyone understood the accident was not your fault. Now, the insurance company no longer follows the police report. Most frustrating, the insurance company doesn’t have to be justified in it’s position, it can just take this hostile position. If you don’t want to go to trial, you might be out of luck.

#6 Discounted Offer

You’re nearing the end of the painful process. Unfortunately, the end might happen to coincide with the end of the year. This is when the insurance companies prey on your “holiday” vulnerabilities. You need a check to pay for gifts and they are happy to throw you a low ball and “get in the mail asap.” Don’t assume the check will actually get to you during the holidays. Refer to #3. However, they will lock down low settlement offers during this time when most people are desperate. This treatment isn’t just for people representing themselves. Adjusters know that attorneys have to present all offers to clients so they throw out lower offers during this time to everyone. The benefit of legal representation is that your attorney can discuss the realities of this tactic and whether it is better for you, long term, to pass on the discounted offer.

For obvious reasons, we give most insurance companies’ defense tactics an “F” when it comes to truly helping an injured person. Typically, these tactics come before making sure the accident victim is being treated fairly and justly. The insurance companies don’t make a profit if they can’t keep settlements low. It doesn’t matter if a low settlement is unjustified in your particular case—it’s justified in the name of profits.

If you are unsure whether to hire an attorney, contact our office for a free consultation so you can educate yourself about the specific challenges related to your case. Every case is unique and your representation should make sense for you. Our attorneys are available 24/7 to take your call and we can travel to you in the event your injuries limit your mobility. You can reach us in Gig Harbor at 253-312-3838 or Bremerton at 360-792-1000. You may also CLICK HERE to fill out our online contact form.  We are here to help at any stage of your case.