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Washington Car Accident Laws

If you have been injured in a car accident by a negligent party, you may be able to obtain financial compensation for all your losses (e.g., property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc.). Washington is considered a traditional “fault” state, which means the person who causes the crash is also liable for any resulting harm. 

The following are the three ways a car accident victim can recover compensation in Washington State: 

  1. Filing a claim with his/her own insurance company, especially if the loss if covered under the victim’s policy. The insurer will then file a subrogation claim against the negligent party’s carrier. 

  1. Directly filing a third-party claim with the negligent party’s insurance provider. 

  1. Directly filing a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent party in civil court. 

In a “no-fault” car accident state, on the other hand, a victim can only seek relief from their personal injury protection (PIP) coverage of his/her own insurance policy to obtain payment for hospital bills and other out-of-pocket expenses – no matter who is at fault for the collision. However, if a person’s injury is considered serious or permanent, then he/she can step outside of the no-fault threshold and file a claim against the at-fault driver directly. 

Keep in mind, if a car accident involves an injury or damages worth at least $1,000, then anyone involved in the collision is legally required to call police to the scene of the accident or complete a Motor Vehicle Collision Report. If you contact law enforcement officials, then you do not need to complete your own report because they will prepare a police report. 

But what if the at-fault driver either partially or completely blames you for causing the crash? If you are any way liable for the accident, then Washington courts follow a “pure comparative negligence” law, which means you can still obtain compensation, but your award is reduced by your percentage of fault. 

For example, if the jury awards you with $100,000 in damages. However, the jury also believes you were 20 percent responsible for the collision. In the end, your total damages will be reduced by 20 percent, which means you will take home only $80,000. 

Even if the jury thinks you were more to blame for causing the crash, you will still be able to collect damages. But remember, you and/or your insurer will be responsible for providing compensation to the other party. 

In Washington, the statute of limitations is three years. In other words, you have three years from the date of the collision to file a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent party. 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident in Tacoma, contact Hester Law Group today at (253) 300-3034 for a free initial consultation. Our legal team has more than 130 years of combined legal experience!