Can I claim personal injury if I was at-fault in an accident?
Yes! You could make a personal injury claim in court even if you were partially at-fault in an accident in the state of Washington. That’s because Washington recognizes ‘contributory fault’.
The state of Washington and a dozen other states allow injured parties to make claims even if they were up to 99% responsible for their injuries.
Just remember, Washington State has a three-year statute of limitations for property damage and personal injury claims. So contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible if you’ve been involved in an accident.
As defined under the Revised Code of Washington, Chapter 4.22, contributory fault is the idea that both parties involved in an accident may be found responsible for a percentage of the injuries or damage sustained.
This means that the plaintiff in a case—the person initiating the lawsuit—may be partially, or even mostly, at fault for injuries sustained in an accident and still receive a payout.
Essentially, anyone who suffers damages in an accident in the state of Washington is entitled to sue for damages unless they were 100% responsible for that accident.
However, to win a contributory fault case, you need to prove negligence.
Proving negligence in an accident is a huge part of personal injury claims. The percentage at which the defendant is at fault is dependent on their negligence and is extremely important for the payout.
A plaintiff must prove they were 1) owed a duty of reasonable care, 2) the negligent party did not act reasonably or breached their duty of care, and 3) the breach was the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.
Common tools used to prove negligence include:
- Police and/or expert testimony
- Police reports
- Video or photo evidence
- Witness statements
A Contributory Fault Example Case
Sometimes understanding contributory fault can be difficult. With that in mind, we’ve included an example of a contributory fault case to help clear things up.
One day after work, Jane is driving north on I-5 in Seattle. All of a sudden, in a car to Jane’s right, Adam changes lanes without looking and is coming right for her. Before she can move out of the way and prevent an accident, Adam collides with Jane and pushes her into a car to her left.
Jane sustains a serious concussion and broken foot. Plus, there is considerable damage to the car. All of Jane’s damages together are worth $100,000.
The police investigate the crash and determine Adam is at fault because he failed to signal. However, a witness tells the police he saw Jane texting when the crash happened. As a result, the police issue Jane a citation for using a mobile device while driving.
Jane then sues Adam for $100,000, claiming he was 100% at fault for the accident because he did not signal. At trial, the jury finds Adam liable for failing to signal. However, the jury also finds Jane liable for using a mobile device while driving.
The verdict is that Adam’s negligence is responsible for 90% of the accident, and Jane’s is responsible for 10%. Thus Jane would be awarded $90,000 from Adam.
Of note, because both Jane and Adam weren’t 100% responsible for the accident, they could both legally claim personal injury damages. For example, if Jane’s damages were $50,000, she could recover $45,000 from Adam. And if Adam’s damages were $50,000, he could potentially recover $5,000 from Jane.
What to do if you’ve been injured in an accident?
What does all this mean for you? It means If you’ve been injured in an accident, you need to contact a personal injury attorney right away.
Timing can make a big difference in your case’s outcome. The right legal team can get you a settlement for injuries sustained in an accident, even if you were partially at-fault.
Contact the offices of Will & Will today for more information.