Mar 22, 2023 | Car Accident

Comparative Negligence in Washington Car Accident Cases

Motor vehicle accidents often take place in Washington where one driver is clearly at fault for causing the entire incident. But there are situations in which an injured driver helps cause or contributes to an accident. In this scenario, the injured motorist can still receive compensation for any injuries, but that compensation will likely decrease under Washington’s comparative negligence laws.

How Does Comparative Fault Affect a WA Automobile Accident Injury Claim?

Comparative fault laws apply in situations in which more than one motorist is responsible for causing an accident. Consider, for example, the scenario where Joe and Lisa are approaching an intersection with a 4-way stop. Lisa slows at the intersection but does not come to a full stop. Meanwhile, Joe speeds through the intersection without stopping at all. The cars collide and Lisa suffers a neck and shoulder injury.

While Lisa was clearly injured in the accident, her failure to fully stop helped cause the incident. Here, Washington’s comparative fault laws still allow Lisa to recover compensation from Joe for her injuries. But these laws work by assigning both Joe and Lisa a percentage of fault for causing the accident. Lisa’s final payout will get reduced by her percent of total responsibility for the collision.

Let’s go back to our example. Assume a court or jury considers the facts of the case and decides the following:

  • Joe was 80% to blame for the accident,
  • Lisa was 20% to blame for the accident, and
  • Lisa is entitled to a court award of $100,000 for her injuries.

Given the comparative fault percentages, Lisa would receive a final court award of $80,000. This is 20% less than the full award of $100,000. Lisa would lose out on $20,000 because she was 20% to blame for causing the accident.

Will Comparative Fault Laws Ever Result in No Recovery?

Typically, not in Washington State. Some states have comparative laws in place that say a car accident victim can only recover compensation if a defendant was at least 50% or 51% responsible for a motor collision. But this is not the case under Washington law.

Injury victims can still receive a payout provided that they were not 100% to blame for an accident. Yes, you can still receive compensation for a car accident even if you were 99% to blame for causing it. Please note that such car accident cases can be difficult, and it’s wise to seek the assistance from a skilled auto accident attorney.

Contact The Premier Injury Law Firm for Help

If you or a loved one was injured in a car or rideshare accident, please know that the Premier Injury Law Firm is here to help. Our legal team is skilled, experienced, and passionate in their representation. Let us shoulder the burden of an injury claim or lawsuit while you focus on healing from your injuries. Contact us today for the quality legal help you deserve.