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4701 S 19th Street, Suite 300 | Tacoma, WA 98405
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Pure Comparative Negligence

How Pure Comparative Negligence Operates in Washington State

Tacoma attorneys explain the effect of contributory fault on your case

While personal injury cases usually pit an injured plaintiff against an allegedly negligent defendant, it’s sometimes true that the plaintiff has also been careless and must share some responsibility. For this reason, the state of Washington recognizes contributory fault in injury cases. A finding of contributory fault can severely limit the amount of compensation an injured party can collect. Since 1959, personal injury attorneys at Rush, Hannula, Harkins & Kyler, L.L.P. have protected our clients against charges of contributory fault to help ensure they receive the full benefits of their injury claims.

How does comparative fault impact a plaintiff’s recovery in Washington?

Under comparative fault, a judge or jury assesses the percentage of total responsibility each party must assume. Imagine this motor vehicle accident: Motorist A entering freeway traffic fails to yield to Motorist B traveling in the far-right lane. Motorist A violated a safety regulation and is liable for the collision. But evidence reveals that Motorist B was entering data into a GPS device and, if not for that driving distraction, might have maneuvered to avoid Motorist A. So, Motorist B is also negligent.

The judge or jury must then determine how much responsibility each driver has for the accident. Suppose 80 percent of the blame is assigned to Motorist A and 20 percent to Motorist B. If Motorist B sustained $200,000 in losses due to the crash, Motorist B can collect $160,000 but must absorb $40,000 in losses.

Does comparative fault in Washington ever bar a plaintiff from recovering?

In some states that practice comparative fault, a plaintiff must prove that one or more defendants are at least 50 or 51 percent liable or the plaintiff cannot recover anything. That is not the case with Washington’s pure comparative fault. A plaintiff can recover damages even if the defendant is 20 percent or even 10 percent liable. There is no limit, other than zero, that would disprove liability entirely.

Ask our Tacoma attorneys about comparative negligence in your injury lawsuit

Even if you prove someone else caused your accident, you can lose most of your potential recovery if that defendant shows you were also at fault. Talk to a seasoned trial attorney at Rush, Hannula, Harkins & Kyler, L.L.P. about trial strategies that address the threat of comparative negligence. To schedule a free consultation, call 253.250.4516 or contact our Tacoma office online.

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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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Testimonials
  • "“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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