When a car accident occurs, finding out who or what caused the accident is often a priority for police officers on the scene, as well as the parties involved in the accident.
If you decide to file a civil claim to recover damages for your accident-related medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other costs, the judge or jury assigned to your case will have to determine who was at fault for the car accident. In some cases, only one party is at fault, and therefore will be liable for all damages. However, in many cases, more than one party is at fault and the judge or jury will have to decide what percentage of fault should be attributed to each party.
How can both drivers be at fault?
Here is an example: Let us say that your vehicle and another vehicle collided at an intersection. It is possible that the accident was caused by the other driver’s negligence, your own negligence, or a combination of both. Driver negligence can include any irresponsible behavior behind the wheel, from drunk driving to a minor traffic infraction.
In the above example, you may have negligently failed to keep a proper lookout at the intersection or failed to reduce your rate of speed, while the other driver may also have been partially responsible for the accident by negligently failing to stop at the intersection stop sign. As a result, you are both partially responsible for the accident that occurred.
What happens if I am partially responsible for my accident?
In Washington, a pure comparative negligence state, even parties who are found 99 percent responsible for an accident can recover damages from party who was 1 percent responsible. However, the damages will be reduced based on the percentage of fault assigned to them.
In the above example, if you were found 40 percent liable and the other driver was found 60 percent liable, your damages would be reduced by 40 percent. If you were awarded $100,000, you would only recover $60,000.
Even drivers who are partially liable for an accident are entitled to damages in the state of Washington. A personal injury attorney can review your case and give you an idea of how much you can expect to recover after an accident.