Washington is not a no-fault state when it comes to liability and the pursuit of damages following an auto accident. Instead, Washington is an at-fault or tort state that allows injured motorists to demand compensation and/or damage coverage from the driver or drivers who caused their crash and injuries.
In an ideal situation, the auto insurance provider of an at-fault driver in Washington will provide the appropriate amount of coverage to the other affected parties based on how liable their policyholder was found to be. Of course, car accident claims do not always pan out this way, and liability disputes between insurers and motorists are common.
Washington Rules Divide Fault Fairly
At-fault rules in Washington are actually “pure comparative negligence” rules. This system allows you to demand fair compensation from another driver regardless of your own liability. The amount that you are given will be reduced by your percentage of liability, which means the more you are liable, the less you stand to recover.
Filing When You are 99% Liable
You can even file a claim against another driver if you are found to be 99% at fault for the crash. While this might seem ridiculous, it is actually an incredibly important liability rule for some injured motorists who were significantly more injured than the other driver.
For example, you are found to be 99% at fault for your car accident and your total damages are $1,000,000. The other driver who is 1% at fault suffered no injuries and their car only needed a $500 bumper fix. You would still want to sue that driver because you could potentially recover $10,000 – or 1% of $1,000,000 – from their insurance provider. Technically, you would be able to recover $9,505 because you would be found liable for $495 – or 99% – of their $500 repair.
What If You Have PIP or Medpay Coverage?
Although Washington is not a no-fault state, you can still buy insurance policies most often used in such states. Both personal injury protection (PIP) and Medpay coverage can be offered by auto insurance companies in Washington, and you can elect to add them both to your insurance policy. In the event of a car accident, your PIP and Medpay coverage will immediately pay for some of your medical bills, lost wages, and auto repairs before fault is even brought into question.
If you use PIP and/or Medpay, then you can still file a claim against the at-fault driver. However, the damages you receive could be reduced by whatever you already recovered from your own insurer. For example, if your Medpay policy covered $5,000 for ambulatory care, then you might not be able to get $5,000 from the other insurance company for the exact same treatments. The situation can change from case-to-case, though, so it is always important to work closely with a local auto accident attorney to make certain you are making the right moves and doing what you can to get as much compensation as possible.
Should You Hire a Lawyer for an At-Fault Car Accident Case?
The important thing to remember about at-fault car accident cases is that you and the other driver can try to pin liability on the other for the crash. Even though you might be confident that you did not cause your accident, the other driver could still intentionally or inadvertently blame you when speaking with their insurer. If you are not ready for the challenges that the insurer will bring, then you could seriously jeopardize how much compensation you get by the time the case closes.
To prepare your claim for anything, you should hire a car accident lawyer right away. At the Law Offices of Harold D. Carr, we offer comprehensive and compassionate legal services to injured drivers throughout Washington. Over the last 25 years, we have handled thousands of injury cases that ended with successes for our clients. See how we can help you by calling (800) 520-6617 and scheduling a free case evaluation to begin.