There are roughly 6 million car accidents in the United States every year. It’s very likely that you will one day experience a car accident in your life if you haven’t already.
Car accidents can be stressful, especially when you need to bring in legal help. There’s so much to consider.
How much will it cost to fix the car? Who can represent me legally? Who is at fault in a car accident?
Determining car accident fault is often the crux of the legal issues that will follow. We can’t tell you for sure who’s at fault in your future accident, but we can give you a guide so that you can get an idea on your own.
Keep reading to learn more.
What Is Fault?
When determining fault, you’re looking for the person who “caused” the accident. This can be a tricky area when things are unclear.
Washington is not a no-fault state. It’s a comparative fault state. This means that fault can be assigned to one or both parties depending on the situation. Damages are rewarded based on the percentage of fault that was done. If some percent was the fault of the plaintiff, they don’t receive the full amount.
Out of context, this can seem complicated. Imagine that you’re at a stop sign at an intersection and while you did stop for a moment, it was a brief stop (or a sliding stop on an icy road); too brief to see a drunk driver speeding towards you, not stopping at their own stop sign.
While that person will be found largely at fault due to their speed, neglect of the stop sign, and alcohol consumption, you may also have a percentage of fault for the poor stop. You may get 80% of the damages.
This is an example of comparative fault.
How is Fault Determined?
There are three main things that a plaintiff needs to prove when trying to establish that the defendant is at fault and that they are owed damages.
The first is that the defendant had a specific duty of care or a reasonable expectation of behavior in the eyes of the law.
When driving, this means that the driver is responsible for their own car and for respecting the rules of the road to protect the lives of others. They follow traffic laws and overall practice responsible driving.
Next, it needs to be proven that that duty wasn’t followed through. Basically, the defendant broke a law or acted in a way that could be considered unreasonable or unexpected for the situation.
Last, it needs to be proven that this neglect has lead to injuries of some kind. Injuries can be physical or they can be damage to personal property.
So when determining fault, consider whether or not the person in question did something wrong or unexpected and if that action resulted in some kind of damage to a person or property.
Who Is At Fault in a Car Accident? It Depends
With comparative fault, it can be difficult to truly figure out who is at fault in a car accident. This is why it’s helpful to have an experienced attorney who knows the laws and can help you get the damages that you deserve.
To learn more, or to hire an attorney for your Spokane car accident, visit our site.