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Washington Negligence Laws

Tacoma Injury Attorneys Explain Washington State Negligence Laws

What you need to know about your right to compensation for an accident

It’s a very old legal principle that people have a duty under most circumstances to act carefully so as not to harm others. If a person acts carelessly and injures someone as a direct result of that carelessness, the careless party must pay compensation to the injured party. “Negligence” is the legal term for carelessness that causes injury. Negligence creates liability, which is the legal responsibility to make amends for the harm. Since 1959, the personal injury attorneys at Rush, Hannula, Harkins & Kyler, L.L.P. have helped injured parties understand their rights under Washington’s negligence laws and fight to obtain the compensation to which they are entitled.

Proving the legal elements necessary to establish negligence and liability

The basic elements an injured plaintiff must prove to prevail in a personal injury or wrongful death claim are as follows:

  • Duty — The defendant in the legal action owed the injured party a duty to act with care. This is obvious under many circumstances, such as the relationship between a surgeon and a patient, but it is less certain in the relationship between a landowner and a trespasser. The relationship of the injured party to the party who allegedly caused the injury is the key to establishing whether a duty existed.
  • Breach of duty — The person who had a duty to act with care was careless, sloppy, hasty or incompetent. Attorneys for plaintiffs establish that a breach occurred by comparing the performance of the defendant to the establish standards of performance for a particular industry, or by applying a reasonable person standard. A defendant who did not perform up to the standards of the profession or act as a reasonable person would have under the circumstances is negligent. It is worth noting that a court might also find that a defendant was reckless, malicious or strictly liable.
  • Causation — The defendant’s negligent act caused injury to the plaintiff. Often, a defendant acts negligently but another intervening event causes the injury. For instance, a surgeon may make an incision error, but the patient may die from a reaction to anesthesia. In some cases, the plaintiff’s own negligence can cause or contribute to an accident. This is known as contributory fault or comparative negligence, which may lessen the amount of compensation the plaintiff receives.
  • Damages — The plaintiff must have suffered real harm. This harm can be economic or noneconomic and often includes lost wages, medical bills, physical pain and emotional suffering.

When your personal injury attorney builds a persuasive case for each of these elements, you have an excellent chance of settling your injury lawsuit or prevailing at trial.

Contact our Tacoma attorneys with questions about Washington negligence laws

If someone’s negligence has harmed you or a loved one, you have a right to seek compensation. A seasoned trial attorney at Rush, Hannula, Harkins & Kyler, L.L.P. can explain how negligence laws operate in Washington. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation, call 253.250.4516 or contact our Tacoma office online.

Are You a Victim of the MultiCare-Good Samaritan Hospital Hepatitis C Exposure?
Our firm is actively taking on representation of clients who were patients at MultieCare-Good Samaritan Hospital and were exposed to Hepatitis C and perhaps other diseases. We are investigating the actions of MultiCare and its employees as well as the MultiCare system itself that led to this crisis occurring.

If you have information about this incident, or previous incidences of MultiCare employees misusing narcotic medications intended for patients, or if you have legal questions about this matter and your rights, our lawyers are available to assist you at 253-383-5388.
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Case Results
  • "Client was disabled from working in prior profession after sustaining a severe closed head injury and brain trauma in an automobile accident on Interstate 5. $7,845,000. "

  • "Pedestrian client was struck by semi-truck, and the trailer wheels rolled over client’s body causing severe injury. $1,145,000. "

  • "Client was involved in a head-on collision when a bus crossed the center line. Client suffered a severe closed head injury preventing him from returning to his previous employment. $884,998. "

  • "Client was involved in serious head-on collision with uninsured motorist while on-the-job, resulting in physical injury and posttraumatic stress disorder. Client can no longer work as a commercial truck driver. $708,000. "

  • "Client was a rear seat passenger in a vehicle that was involved in an automobile accident. Client was severely injured as the result of a defective seatbelt, while the other three occupants of the vehicle sustained only minor injuries. $650,000. "

  • "Client was killed in automobile accident caused by defendant’s failure to yield the right-of-way. $650,000. "

  • "Minor client was on his way to school and was struck by a vehicle while crossing the street in a marked crosswalk. Defendant driver had pulled into oncoming lane to pass another vehicle and struck client, causing serious injuries. $500,000. "

  • "Client was killed as a result of an in-cab fuel tank, which caught fire after an automobile accident. $350,000. "

  • "Client riding a bicycle was struck by a motorist who failed to yield the right-of-way. Client sustained numerous injuries, including a closed head injury. $120,000. "

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  • "I have been a client of Dan Kyler’s since 1996. Having had numerous car accidents, I rely upon Rush, Hannula, Harkins & Kyler to help me through them. The most obscure questions have been answered and help is given on all levels. Thanks."

  • "John Wilson demonstrated his professionalism by keeping us current on our case, explaining our options, giving us realistic expectations and demonstrating the highest level of ethics and integrity beyond reproach. We have the highest confidence that we were well represented."

  • "Dan Hannula’s hard work helped to settle my auto accident case. "

  • "Having a motorcycle accident was bad enough, let alone dealing with insurance companies. John Wilson and his staff made everything easy to understand and hassle free. "

  • "I am extremely satisfied with the service I experienced with this firm and I would recommend them to anyone that needs legal representation. Michael Fisher and his staff are great people. "

  • "Vern Harkins perseverance and hard work made it possible to get the maximum settlement from the insurance company. I know he had my interest in mind as demonstrated by his actions. "

  • "The office staff were courteous, pleasant and kept me informed as to what was going on throughout the whole ordeal. "

  • "Molly Crowley is a very professional and knowledgeable lawyer. I felt I was very well represented!! "

  • "Molly Crowley was knowledgeable, kept me informed every step of the way and just did a great job! "

  • "We got a fair settlement and were treated with respect and dignity throughout the whole process. -Blake W. "

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