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What Is Comparative Fault in Washington?

Colburn Law

Car accidents can be life-altering events, leaving victims with physical, emotional, and financial burdens. While some accidents may seem clear-cut, with one party clearly at fault, the reality is that determining liability can be a complex process. In many cases, multiple parties may share responsibility for the collision—and this situation can have a major impact on the outcome of an insurance claim or lawsuit.

Who Pays for a Car Accident in Washington?

Washington is a fault state, meaning that the party responsible for causing the accident is also liable for paying damages to the injured party. This differs from no-fault states, where each driver’s insurance company covers their own losses, regardless of who caused the accident.

In Washington, if you are injured in a car accident caused by another driver, you have the right to pursue compensation from the at-fault party’s insurance company or through a personal injury lawsuit. Your settlement can help cover:

  • Medical expenses
  • Property damage
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Disability accommodations
  • Loss of future earnings

comparative fault

How Does Comparative Fault Work in Washington State?

Comparative fault, also known as comparative negligence or contributory fault, is a legal doctrine that comes into play when multiple parties share responsibility for an accident. Under this principle, the amount of compensation an injured party can recover is reduced by the percentage of fault they are assigned for the accident.

Washington follows a pure comparative fault rule, which means that an injured party can seek compensation even if they are found to be 99% at fault for the accident. However, their settlement will be reduced by the percentage of fault they are assigned. For example, if a plaintiff is awarded $100,000 in damages but is found to be 30% at fault for the accident, their settlement will be reduced by 30%, resulting in a final award of $70,000.

RCW 4.22.005. Effect of contributory fault.

In an action based on fault seeking to recover damages for injury or death to person or harm to property, any contributory fault chargeable to the claimant diminishes proportionately the amount awarded as compensatory damages for an injury attributable to the claimant’s contributory fault, but does not bar recovery. This rule applies whether or not under prior law the claimant’s contributory fault constituted a defense or was disregarded under applicable legal doctrines, such as last clear chance.

How Can You Defend Yourself Against Comparative Fault?

If you have been injured in a car accident and the other party is claiming that you share responsibility for the collision, it is essential to fight against these allegations. You deserve fair compensation for your losses, and a car accident lawyer can help you obtain it.

An injury attorney can help you gather evidence, such as police reports, witness statements, and expert testimony, to demonstrate that the other party was primarily or entirely at fault for the accident. Your lawyer can also negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf to ensure that you receive a fair settlement that accurately reflects your level of responsibility for the collision.

By working with the best Seattle car accident attorney, you can protect your rights, defend yourself against allegations of fault, and pursue the compensation you are entitled to. If you have been involved in a car accident, contact a lawyer as soon as possible and begin your legal journey.