Fault is the most critical element in any car accident claim
Who was to blame for the incident? Do I need a lawyer after a car accident? That is the question insurance companies always ask before settling a claim. The person at fault is the one whose negligence or wrongdoing caused the wreck. Typically, in the state of Washington, the person at fault is the one who will be held liable or financially responsible for the resulting injuries and damages.
In cases where it is clear that one person was at fault, there is no real issue. However, if liability is not entirely clear, or if there is shared fault, then the insurer will determine the relative applicable percentages of fault in making a settlement offer. Generally, figuring out who is to blame is a matter of determining who was careless or negligent.
In many cases, you can use your common sense to determine that a driver was at fault, but you may not know exactly which law was violated. In almost every case, legal advice is essential to decide if the offered insurance settlement is fair, or if greater damages should be sought. Qualified attorneys know how to use or to interpret the following factors that may affect the satisfactory resolution of your claim:
If the police responded to your car accident, you can rest assured that there is an accident or incident report. You may obtain this report by approaching the police department that serves the area where the incident occurred. The investigating agency may be the city police department or a county entity such as the sheriff’s department. Regardless, the accident report is public information, and you have a right to request and to be supplied with a copy. The report may well cite a specific traffic law violation committed by one party who caused the accident, and will further indicate if any citation was issued. This is valuable information for your claim.
The state’s vehicle code is comprised of the rules of the road for the state in which the accident occurred. While copies of these laws are readily available in public libraries or online, a qualified attorney will be intimately familiar with the statutes and more able to judge how they come into play in regard to your claim.
In the state of Washington, comparative negligence means that victims of an accident will be compensated depending on the level of their contribution to the incident. This essentially means that if you were 50 percent responsible for an accident, the damages awarded to you will simply be reduced to 50 percent. Again, an experienced lawyer is in the best position to advise you about the merits and potential value of your claim.
If someone hits you from behind, almost always, it is considered the other person’s fault. A basic rule of the road requires that a motorist be able to stop safely if traffic is stopped ahead. If the driver is unable to stop in time to avoid a collision, it is understood or believed that the driver is not driving as safely as the person ahead. That said, if you rear-end someone, you may have a claim against someone who caused you to stop suddenly or against another car that rear-ended you and triggered a chain reaction crash.
A car making a left turn is almost always liable for a collision when it strikes an oncoming vehicle. That is because, under Washington law, the car turning left is required to yield right-of-way to the oncoming vehicle. The only exceptions are when the oncoming vehicle was speeding or ran a red light.
Determining fault or negligence is not easy. It takes an experienced personal injury lawyer with experience and a thorough knowledge of the law to help determine such negligence or wrongdoing. This determination could make or break your auto accident case. If you have been injured in a Washington car accident, please contact the experienced Seattle car accident lawyers at The Bernard Law Group to find out more information about your legal rights and options.