Required Proof of Fault
The State of Washington has established certain elements of fault that a claimant must prove. If he or she fails to prove any one of the elements, a case can fail in its entirety. Those elements follow:
- That the claimant was owed a duty of reasonable care by the defendant.
- The person who the personal injury claim is being asserted against breached that duty. A breach of duty might in an auto crash might include speeding, following too closely, talking on a cell phone or texting while driving, driving too fast for traffic or weather conditions or even driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or both.
- The breach of a duty to use reasonable care caused the crash and directly and proximately caused the claimant’s injuries.
- The claimant suffered economic damages, non-economic damages or both.
Our Investigation Into Fault
The facts and circumstances surrounding just about every personal injury case are different. A close examination of them will operate to prove or disprove a claimant’s personal injury claim. Here’s what we look at:
- If you were injured in a motor vehicle crash, the police report that was written by the police officer who investigated the accident.
- Statements of any eyewitnesses including the parties and anybody else listed in the police report.
- Any traffic or security camera footage showing the crash.
- Any plea of guilty to a traffic offense like failure to yield, driving too fast for weather or traffic conditions or following too closely.
- Photos of the vehicles, conditions or instrumentalities that were involved in the accident.
- Copies of appropriate medical records, reports and bills
In the State of Washington, a person can be awarded damages in a claim, even if he or she was partially at fault for the accident. What happens is that any settlement or verdict award is reduced by the percentage of negligence that is attributable to the claimant. For example, if the gross settlement or award is $100,000, and the claimant was determined to be 25 percent at fault, his or her award is reduced down to $75,000. That’s the law of comparative fault.
Pure Comparative Fault
Washington is what’s known as a pure comparative fault state. That means a person can be compensated for damages suffered in an accident, even if he or she was more than 50 percent at fault. For example, let’s look at an accident that occurred in Spokane last week when a 56-year-old man on a bicycle was killed when he rear-ended a turning truck in a construction zone. The bicyclist rode past a series of cones and a sign advising that the road was closed. The truck had been waved into a parking lot by a flagger. When the truck driver began his right turn, the bicyclist rear-ended the truck. Under these circumstances, the bicyclist’s estate might have a chance of recovering at least some damages, even though the accident appears to be primarily the fault of the bicyclist. That’s how pure comparative fault operates. A person can be 90 percent at fault for an accident, but still recover 10 percent of the total damages.
Contact a Spokane Personal Injury Lawyer
Proving fault in any accident case can be a difficult task. Don’t ever give any kind of a written or oral statement to an opposing insurance company without an attorney being present to protect you. That insurance company will only try to shift some or all of the fault for the accident over onto you by using your own words against you in the future. Be polite, refuse to give that statement and call us. Anything that you say to us is privileged and confidential. We’ll answer your questions and advise you of all of your legal options. Remember that proof of fault is a difficult endeavor.