If you are injured in a car accident in Washington, you may be entitled to receive compensation from insurance companies even if you were partly at fault. Washington is a pure comparative negligence state, meaning that a percentage of fault is assigned in a motor vehicle accident and compensation is awarded proportionately.
The idea of comparative negligence
Traffic accidents are an example of what is known as “negligent torts,” which deals with the harm done when there is not a reasonable standard of care exercised. While pure comparative negligence is the law in 13 states, it differs in other states. In some states, you may not be able to recover damages if it is determined that you are at least 50% or 51% at fault. In a few other states, if you are even slightly responsible for an accident, you would be unable to collect any compensation.
How it works
An example of how pure comparative negligence might play out is if you were in an accident in which you were driving a few miles above the speed limit. You might have a collision with a drunk driver. It is difficult to predict exactly what percentage of the accident would be attributed to you and what percentage to the drunk driver since this would be particular to the situation and the methods used by insurance companies or courts to determine fault. However, even if the drunk driver was assigned a greater percentage of fault, they might still get part of the compensation since your speed might be considered a contributing factor in the accident.
There may be additional complications involved in obtaining compensation following a motor vehicle accident. The other driver may be uninsured or underinsured. There could be a dispute about what actually happened and therefore who is at fault. An attorney may help you navigate these situations.