Washington is not a no-fault state. When a car accident happens, there needs to be a determination for who was at fault for the accident.
In some cases, this can only be determined by context. In other cases, fault is assumed by the kind of accident that occurred.
In addition, Washington is a comparative fault state. That means some of the fault can be assigned to both drivers.
To understand comparative fault, let’s take this example for instance. An individual sustained $10,000 worth of damages but is only 20% at fault for the accident. That means the other driver is 80% at fault. The other driver would owe $8,000 or 80% of $10,000.
Proving Fault or Negligence in Washington Auto Accident Cases
Most personal injury claims rest on the question of negligence. In a traffic accident claim, the other driver’s insurance company has an incentive to evaluate their client’s negligence as lower than it probably should be. The majority of cases are settled before litigation occurs, but sometimes, if the insurance company thinks it has a case, they will allow the process to go into litigation or even to trial.
In order to prove negligence, a plaintiff must show the following:
- The defendant had a legal duty to exercise a standard of care
- The defendant failed to exercise this standard of care
- That failure led to injuries
There are some types of accidents in which the court will often assume one driver is at fault regardless of what the circumstances are. One of those accidents is a rear end collision. In this case, the court may assume a driver took their eyes off the road or was tailing the other driver too closely.
The driver who is assumed to be at fault has a right to rebut the presumption that they were negligent. In the majority of cases, the best this driver can do is claim that the other driver was partially at fault. One instance where a comparative fault claim is likely is when the leading driver’s brake lights aren’t working.
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In the majority of cases, the driver who was changing lanes is responsible for the accident.
The most common causes of a lane change accident are:
- Distracted driving
- Failure to look before leaving a lane
- Driver impairment
- Low visibility caused by weather
There are, however, some instances in which the driver in the other lane may be partially at fault. For instance, a driver has a responsibility to slow down to avoid an accident if they see someone changing lanes.
T-bone accidents are commonly found at intersections where one driver was attempting to beat a red light or did not notice that the light was red. In all instances, the driver who violated traffic law will be responsible for the accident.
Have You Been Injured in a Washington Car Accident?
If so, call the skilled Yakima, Washington auto accident attorneys of Kapuza Lighty PLLC at (509) 866-4166 or contact us online today for a free consultation. We will get the evidence you need to ensure that you’re not short-changed by the insurance adjuster.