While some car accidents are entirely caused by the negligence or recklessness of one of the drivers involved in the crash, in other accidents multiple drivers involved in the crash all bear some share of fault for causing the accident.
If you were injured in a car accident and the other party is claiming that you are partly responsible, you need to understand how that could impact your case and what your legal rights and options are. A knowledgeable Seattle car accident lawyer from Banks Law Office can help, so call us at (206) 497-HELP or reach out to us online right away.
How Partial Fault Is Determined?
Fault for a car accident may be determined by the insurance company during settlement negotiations, or it may be determined by a judge or a jury if a car accident claim ends up going to trial. Insurance adjusters and juries assign fault for a car crash depending on the circumstances of the accident and the state traffic laws that may apply to the accident.
If a driver broke the law in an accident, or where the evidence tends to show that a driver’s actions caused the crash, they will be held to some level of responsibility for any losses that result from the accident.
Contributory and Comparative Negligence
Traditionally, car accident claims were evaluated under a contributory negligence rule. This rule states that if an injured victim bears any share of fault for an accident and the injuries they have suffered, that victim was barred from recovering any compensation, even if they are assigned only one percent of the fault for the accident.
Given the potential for harsh outcomes from the contributory negligence rule, many states have since adopted a different rule, known as the comparative negligence rule. In comparative negligence systems, an injured victim is not automatically barred from pursuing compensation just because they have some fault for the accident.
However, any compensation the victim is entitled to will be reduced in proportion to their share of fault. For example, someone who might be entitled to recover $100,000 for their injuries from an accident they bear 30 percent responsibility for will have their recovery reduced by $30,000 to reflect their share of fault.
States that use the comparative negligence system either use the “pure” comparative negligence rule, in which an injured victim can have any share of fault and still be entitled to pursue a legal claim, or the “modified” comparative negligence rule, in which an injured victim’s share of fault usually cannot exceed 49 or 50 percent. Washington uses the pure comparative negligence rule, under which an injured party’s contributory fault does not preclude them from pursuing a claim for compensation.
What to Do After an Accident If You Were Partially at Fault
If you may have been partially responsible for causing a car accident, steps you should take to protect your rights and interests include:
- Take photos or video of the accident scene, including damage to the vehicles involved, skid marks and debris on the road, traffic controls at the scene, weather and lighting conditions at the time of the accident, or any visual obstructions for any drivers
- Obtain a copy of the police accident report if law enforcement reported to the scene of the crash.
- See a doctor as soon as possible after the accident for a physical exam to diagnose any injuries you may have suffered. Follow all your treatment instructions.
- Finally, speak to a car accident lawyer about the details of the accident and get help in preparing a persuasive case to minimize your share of fault for the crash and your injuries.
Contact a Seattle Car Accident Lawyer
If you were injured in a collision in Seattle, contact Banks Law Office right away, even if you think your actions might have contributed to it. Our Seattle car accident attorneys will provide you with a thorough and honest case evaluation and could help you seek compensation for the harm you’ve suffered. Call us today at (296) 497-HELP today.