In personal injury cases, such as auto accidents, the law says the at-fault party must pay. But who is the at-fault party? In some cases, it’s easy to determine whom to blame. The person who is responsible for the accident is the person who irresponsibly caused it: the motorist who ran the red light or the stop sign, who failed to yield or made an illegal U-turn. The victim is the innocent driver, passenger or pedestrian, minding their own business and following the law.
Unfortunately, accidents are not always so clear cut. What happens when two drivers make unsafe maneuvers that contribute to an accident? Suppose Driver A makes an illegal U-turn, but Driver B couldn’t react in time, because his eyes were down as he was sending a text message. In such cases both drivers contributed to the accident, so who is legally at fault?
State laws on contributory fault vary — Washington and 12 other states use a system known as pure comparative negligence. This means that the judge or jury assigns a percentage of the total fault to each party, and each can recover that percentage of their total losses from the other. In the example above, the jury might assign 70 percent of the fault to Driver A, who made the illegal U-turn and 30 percent to Driver B, who was texting while driving. If Driver B sues Driver A, he can recover 70 percent of his total losses from Driver A. Of course, Driver A can countersue, and may be able to get as much as 30 percent of his losses from Driver B.
In some states, Driver A would be unable to recover any damages because he bears more than 50 percent of the blame for the crash. But Washington does not have the bar at 50 percent or 51 percent that many other states use.
If you’ve been in a car accident, how fault gets apportioned will be a critical issue in your case. Experienced legal representation is crucial if you are to recover the compensation you truly deserve. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation, call Rush, Hannula, Harkins & Kyler, LLP today at 253-383-5388 or contact our office online.
"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. "
"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."
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"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. "
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"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. "
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"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. "