Fault is the most critical element in any car accident claim.
Who was to blame for the incident? 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 a seasoned personal injury lawyer with experience and a thorough, and deep knowledge of the law to help determine such negligence or wrongdoing. This determination could make or break your auto accident case.
Insurance Companies And Determining Fault After A Traffic Accident
If you were injured in a Seattle car accident, you might be wondering how insurance companies determine fault following a crash.
In Washington, state laws determine that when an accident takes place, the person who was “at-fault” will pay for the damages and personal injuries associated with the collision. That means that when an accident takes place, the driver’s car insurance will help cover injury and property damage claims.
But in Washington, it is also possible for fault to be shared by drivers thanks to comparative negligence laws, which dictates that drivers can only recover a percentage based on the other driver’s degree of responsibility. In other words, if you are injured in a Seattle car accident and the other driver was 75 percent at fault, their insurance company may pay up to 75 percent of your damages. The remaining 25 percent would be in your hands or the hands of the insurance company.
For that and other reasons, Washington state law requires that all drivers carry auto insurance.
What Are Washington State’s Insurance Requirements?
According to the Washington State Department of Licensing, anyone who drives a vehicle or a motorcycle must carry liability insurance with liability limits of at least $25,000 for personal injuries or death of another person, $50,000 for injury or death of all people involved, and $10,000 for damages to another person’s property. Alternatively, drivers might opt for applying for a certificate of deposit to pay for liability insurance through the Department of Licensing or choose to hold a liability bond of a minimum of $60,000 filed by a surety bond company that can legally do business in the state.
If the driver in question owns more than 26 vehicles, he or she may qualify for self-insurance. In this case, the driver must contact the Department of Licensing to obtain more information.
As you can see, things can get tricky for drivers when they are injured in car accidents as determining fault is essential when trying to get help from your insurance company. Unfortunately, victims of car accidents are often busy trying to recover from their injuries while suffering due to the stress and pain caused by the collision.
Thankfully, the expertise of a seasoned car accident attorney can come in handy when traffic accident victims are trying to determine who’s at fault.
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.