Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Handling Personal Injury Claims in the Seattle Area and Throughout Washington Since 1995

My name is Chris Thayer and I am a personal injury attorney practicing in downtown Seattle. I handle personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death claims throughout the greater Seattle area, including Issaquah, Mercer Island and Kirkland.

I am here to help you.

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What Happens When an Accident Victim Shares Liability for Injuries?

Posted Friday, October 23, 2020 by Chris Thayer

When someone is seriously hurt in a car accident, the at-fault party is legally responsible for paying for the damages they caused. However, not every case is so simple. Many times, multiple parties share some of the blame for causing an accident. This can apply to victims, too. Each state must determine how to deal with situations where a victim has done something that contributed to their own injuries. When there is even a slight chance that a severely injured victim may share some responsibility for an accident, a skilled personal injury lawyer is often needed just to get an insurance company to bring money to the table. So, what exactly happens in Washington State when an injured driver shares some liability for the crash?

*The Law Attempts to be Fair* First, it is important to keep in mind that every state deals with this situation differently. There are basically three ways that this situation can be handled. The terms “contributory negligence” or “comparative negligence” are often used interchangeably. But there are differences. The three basic ways of apportioning fault are as follows:

*Washington’s Approach* Washington State follows a pure approach, which is clearly outlined in Washington State law at RCW 4.22.005. Washington law refers to it as contributory fault, but the law dictates that each party is responsible for their share of liability and that a person who shares some of the blame for their own injuries will have their recovery reduced, but it will not “bar” their claim. In other words, even in situations where a person may be 50/50 responsible, it is theoretically possible to recover compensation.

*How Contributory Fault Affects Recovery* If a victim is injured and their claim is worth $50,000 but they were 10% liable for the accident, as determined through negotiations with the insurance carrier or by a jury at trial, then that 10% will be subtracted from the total value of the case, leaving the injured person to still recover, but only $45,000 ($50,000 minus 10% or $5,000).

Insurance companies will look very hard to find any evidence of shared responsibility. It is one of the easiest ways for an insurance company to reduce the risk of paying out claims. So, if you or a loved one believe you have a claim for injuries and are concerned that you may have done something to cause the injury, you should still talk to a lawyer right away. At Pivotal Law Group, our dedicated team of attorneys stand ready to fight to protect your rights. Give us a call or find us online right away and let us set up a free consultation today.