Understanding Insurance Disputes And How To Protect Your Interests

Personal injuries not only cause physical pain, but often emotional and financial hardship through loss of work, medical bills and stress placed upon families and loved ones. We often take our physical and mental well-being for granted until something goes wrong. When an accident happens lives are sometimes forever changed. Simple pleasures become chores. Daily routines are disrupted. Economic losses are often devastating. Whether caused by an automobile accident, a defective product, medical malpractice, or other negligence, injuries alter lives.

The attorneys at Reinig, Barber & Henry strive to meet and exceed client objectives and goals by focusing on the catastrophic personal toll caused by the negligence of others so that judges, juries and insurance adjusters alike understand the need to fully and fairly compensate personal injury victims for all aspects of their losses.

How Much Will It Cost?

We represent clients on a contingency fee basis which means that you pay only if we win a favorable verdict in court, or succeed in settling your claim for an amount which you wish to accept. The initial consultation is always free!

Is My Claim Worth Pursuing?

Every case must be evaluated on its own merits. This requires a careful history of the facts, review of the applicable medical records and analysis by experienced personnel having access to appropriate sources for research such as we have in our office. We can often evaluate your claim, and advise you as to the apparent risks, benefits and costs of pursuing your claim without any cost to you.

How Long Will It Take?

We can better estimate how much time it may take to resolve your claim after our initial evaluation. The large majority of cases we handle result in settlements, and fewer than 5 percent have to go to trial. However, cases are sometimes settled only after both sides have found out what evidence the other side is prepared to present at trial. Since the discovery process can take a long time in complex cases, and since the trial date may be a year and a half to two years, or even longer, some settlements are not reached much earlier than that. Many of our clients' claims, however, are resolved by settlement within one year.

Overview Of The Law Of Negligence

The general test of liability requires the plaintiff/claimant to prove that:

  • The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff
  • The defendant breached that duty of care
  • This breach caused a loss or damage to the plaintiff
  • The defendant should compensate the plaintiff for that loss or damage

Damages place a monetary value on the harm done and seek to place the injured party in the condition they would have been had the wrong not occurred.

Duty Of Care

A person owes a duty of care to another when the reasonable person would foresee that the other will be exposed to the risk of injury if the particular acts or omissions are continued. (i.e., a driver of an automobile owes a reasonable duty of care to all other drivers).

Breach Of Duty

Once it is established that the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff, the second question is whether the duty was breached. If the defendant actually realized that the plaintiff was being put at risk, taking the decision to continue that exposure to the risk of injury may result in a breach of that duty. If the defendant did not actually foresee that another might be put at risk, but a reasonable person in the same situation would have foreseen the possibility that another might be injured, there will be a breach.


For the defendant to be held liable for monetary damages, it must be shown that the particular acts or omissions were the cause of the loss or damage sustained. Inquiries into this include:

  • Was the defendant the actual cause of injuries sustained by the plaintiff? (A "but for" test is usually employed).
  • Was the defendant the "but for" cause of the resulting injury or damage?
  • Once a breach of duty of care has been established, and it is determined that the plaintiff was the "but for" cause of the damage to the plaintiff, the question is whether a defendant should be liable for all the loss or damage flowing naturally from that breach.

In many instances the resulting injury may lead to hospital bills, lost work and loss of enjoyment of life. With help from an attorney, the plaintiff will have to prove that the injury caused by the defendant proximately caused all of the resulting damages. (i.e., Did the automobile accident lead to the shoulder vascular necrosis or was it caused by a preexisting condition?).


The plaintiff must have suffered loss or damage flowing naturally from the breach of the duty of care if damages are to be awarded. Damages must be proven without speculation and may include loss for physical injury, lost wages, hospital bills, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, future wage loss, etc.

Why You Need An Attorney

The defendant and insurance company may have a complete or partial defense to the claim, and they will fight to ensure that they pay the least amount possible. Comparative negligence is a mitigatory defense that reduces the damages award according to the amount of negligence the plaintiff is proved to have committed. (i.e., if the plaintiff was 20 percent at fault, the defendant will only be liable for 80 percent of its damages).

Damages are compensatory and not punitive in nature. In Washington, punitive damages are rarely awarded. This means that the amount paid matches the claimant's actual loss, and does not punish the defendant for its wrongful conduct. The award should be sufficient so as to put the plaintiff in the position that he/she would have been before the tort was committed. Reinig, Barber & Henry has years of experience dealing with insurance companies and fighting to maximize your awarded compensation.

Put Our Experience On Your Side

For legal assistance regarding accident compensation, contact us online or by telephone at 509-735-0535 to speak with an experienced Pasco injury claims attorney. While we primarily handle cases in Washington and Oregon, we are prepared to serve the needs of clients nationwide.