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Andrew Bergh's Profile
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Andy began his legal career as a prosecutor and initially handled only criminal cases. Since leaving government work in 1983, he has handled personal injury cases almost exclusively – first as a defense lawyer, and as a plaintiff’s lawyer since 1993.

The phrase “personal injury” is broad and encompasses claims for both physical and emotional injuries, and also claims arising from either intentional or negligent conduct. Examples of physical injuries include the obvious like broken bones, scars, or the loss of a limb, and the not-so-obvious like a shortened life expectancy or a progressive condition that will occur in the future (e.g., traumatically induced arthritis). Emotional injury can take many forms, including depression, the loss of a loved one, or the loss of an occupation.

Generally, two types of damages are recoverable in a personal injury case: economic and non-economic. The first category includes out-of-pocket expenses like medical bills or costs of repairs (if the claim also involves damage to property), or other financial consequences like lost income or an impaired earning capacity. These are sometimes referred to as “special damages.” The second category consists of more subjective damages that cannot be readily measured by the amount of a bill or by consulting some reference book. Examples include compensation for pain and suffering (whether physical or emotional) or the loss of a parent or child. These are sometimes referred to as “general damages.”

The nature and amount of recoverable damages will vary from case to case. Relevant factors include the type of personal injury claim, the age of the claimant, the severity of the injuries, and the extent to which the claimant recovers from his or her injuries. If a given injury or condition is permanent, then damages for future losses, whether economic or non-economic, also may be recoverable.

The evaluation of personal injury claims by no means is a science. Put differently, there is no such thing as a Kelly Blue Book for personal injury claims. Evaluating such claims requires a proper mix of experience, knowledge of the relevant facts and law, sound analytical skills, common sense, and yes, maybe some educated guesswork now and then.

With the above in mind, here is a description of Andy’s major practice areas:

Motor vehicle accidents

Though no two motor vehicle accidents are alike, they commonly cause injuries to pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, drivers, or passengers. Andy has extensive experience handling claims arising from all sorts of collisions, and represents clients who suffer fractures, head trauma, herniated discs, and other significant injuries requiring hospitalization and/or surgery. Andy recently obtained a settlement exceeding $500,000 for clients who were seriously hurt in a crash involving a common carrier that was transporting them home from a nearby casino.

Construction site accidents

The construction industry, by its very nature, is fraught with occupational risks and dangers. Under certain circumstances, construction workers injured on the job may, in addition to their workers’ compensation remedy, pursue claims against jobsite owners, general contractors, subcontractors, or other entities. Well-versed in this area of the law, Andy selectively represents individuals who suffer significant injuries as the result of a construction site accident.

Premises liability

The phrase “premises liability” is a catch-all term referring to claims that arise from unreasonably dangerous conditions on either public or private property. It encompasses injuries occurring on residential or commercial property (e.g., a private dwelling or shopping mall), or on recreational land (e.g., a public pool or state park). Andy has broad experience with a variety of premises liability claims, which require thorough knowledge of the legal principles applicable to a particular case.

Professional liability

Medical malpractice claims against doctors, chiropractors, or other health care professionals are hotly defended and expensive to litigate, partly because they usually boil down to a “battle of the experts.” Given the “high-stakes” nature of this type of litigation, potential malpractice claims must be carefully screened and investigated, with accepted matters typically involving either substantial permanent injury or death. Because malpractice lawsuits are so work-intensive and require thorough preparation, Andy usually handles only a limited number of them at any given time. He also represents clients with malpractice claims against lawyers who financially harmed them in some way in the course of a prior legal representation.

Products liability

Under the Washington Products Liability Act, manufacturers are liable for injuries or damages resulting from products that are not “reasonably safe.” Andy’s prior law firm was co-counsel in a products liability class action that was filed on behalf of hundreds of Jack in the Box customers who became ill after eating hamburgers with contaminated beef. Andy played an instrumental role in the protracted discovery and settlement efforts, which included dozens of mediations and ultimately resulted in recoveries totaling tens of millions of dollars for the class action plaintiffs.

Claims against governmental entities

The phrase “governmental entities” includes the State of Washington, its agencies, and various political bodies like cities, counties, and school districts. As a general rule, these entities are liable for negligence to the same extent as a private person or corporation. Some personal injury claims can only be made against a governmental entity (e.g., unsafe roadway cases) – and thus require a different liability analysis. But for the most part, the legal principles used to analyze claims against governmental entities are the same as those used to analyze claims against other parties. Besides representing clients with claims against governmental entities, Andy has written articles about the claims presentation requirements that uniquely apply to such entities.

Wrongful death

A claim for “wrongful death” is not truly an independent category, since the fatality usually results from negligent (or intentional) conduct that falls into one of the above categories. For example, the victim may have died as the result of an auto accident, an unreasonably dangerous condition on someone else’s property, malpractice by a doctor, or a defective product. Under Washington law, wrongful death claims are purely a creature of statute. The relevant statutes are technical and should always be revisited when analyzing the proper beneficiaries of a wrongful death claim, as well as the recoverable damages. Andy has significant experience in death cases arising from auto accidents, medical malpractice, and other factual settings.

Insurance bad faith

One of the most important provisions in any insurance policy is the insurer’s promise – implied by law – to deal fairly and in good faith with its insured. This obligation means insurers must act reasonably and give equal consideration to the interests of their insureds. Andy has handled several bad faith cases resulting in seven-figure settlements with insurers who unreasonably failed to settle claims against their insureds within the applicable limit of their liability policy. In addition, Andy recently co-tried a bad faith case resulting in a $1.7 million judgment against an insurer who wrongly refused to defend his client in a medical malpractice suit.