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Contributory negligence in Washington

Seattle's streets are a busy place. There are cars, commercial trucks, bikes and buses. With all this traffic, accidents are almost guaranteed. However, these accidents don't just occur between two vehicles. Pedestrians are also at risk of injuries while in or near Seattle streets.

Pedestrian accidents can occur for a variety of reasons. They may occur because of a driver's negligence. For example, a distracted driver may fail to notice a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Or a drunk driver may swerve onto the sidewalk. On the other hand, a pedestrian may also be responsible for an accident by walking into the street without looking. Or, an accident might happen for a combination of these reasons.

When a pedestrian is at least partially responsible for an accident, contributory negligence laws will apply. Under Washington law, contributory fault can reduce a person's eventual personal injury recovery.

If a negligent driver is responsible for the accident, then that driver can be held responsible for the costs of the accident. This includes compensation for a person's medical expenses, lost wages, rehabilitation costs and other expenses caused by the accident. In a contributory negligence case, however, the victim's recovery is reduced proportionally to the amount that person was responsible for the accident.

For example, if a pedestrian was not in a crosswalk when hit by a drunk driver, the person's compensation in a personal injury suit could be reduced. If it was determined the person was 10 percent at fault, then the person would be responsible for 10 percent of the cost of the accident.

An attorney can help people determine when contributory negligence applies and how it could affect their ability to receive compensation for a pedestrian accident.

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