Types of Personal Injury Claims: Washington State
Personal Injury claims cover a broad range of injuries and legal definitions. Some personal injuries involve an accident in the workplace, a slip on an icy driveway, a physical assault, or even defamation of character. The way that the case is handled and resolved will depend on the particulars of your case.
Types of Personal Injury Claims: Who Is Liable?
Negligence (Unintentional Torts)
A tort is a negligent act that is committed by one party that ends up causing harm to another. Although the act is unintentional, the person or company who was negligent may still be liable for damages. In Washington State, a legal doctrine called “pure comparative negligence” is used to assign fault appropriately. This legal doctrine allows juries to take into account any negligence by the injured party and subtract that amount from the damages awarded. For example, a person is injured in a car accident where they were hit by a driver who ran a red light but they were speeding at the time of the accident. A jury can decide that running the red light is 80 percent negligent and the speeding was 20 percent negligent, which means that the plaintiff would only be awarded 80 percent of the total damages.
Assault or Battery (Intentional Torts)
An intentional tort is a type of tort that results from an intentional act such as assault and battery. The person who deliberately caused the injury is liable for damages.
Defamation is defined as any intentional false communication, either written (libel) or spoken (slander) that harms the reputation of another person. The person who writes or speaks the negative statement and anyone who repeats that statement is liable.
Strict liability is a type of tort law that imposes liability on a person or organization without finding fault such as negligence or intentional tort. Examples of strict liability include suing a person or company that engaged in a dangerous activity that caused an accident, a person or company who created, or manufactured a defective product, or the owner of a pet involved in a personal injury. A claimant only needs to prove that the injury occurred and that the defendant was responsible.
Products liability is the liability incurred by any party involved in the manufacture or sale of a product that causes an injury. Often, however, the person or company held responsible for a defective product must be involved in the marketing and sale of the product during their normal course of business.
When a death occurs in a personal injury accident, the person that performed the act or neglected to perform the act that caused the wrongful death is liable. Note that Washington statutes are drafted in such a way that only “dependent” adults and minor children may recover; not all heirs as in many states. If it is a child pursuing the claim on behalf of a deceased parent, Washington law tolls the statute of limitations until the child reaches the age of majority, or 18.
Slip and Fall
When a person slips and falls on the premises of another person or business, the owner of the premises or business may be liable.
When an individual is injured as a result of the negligence of a driver, the negligent driver will be responsible for the other party’s damages. This however, will be reduced by the degree of fault (if any) of the injured party.
When a personal injury occurs as a result of the negligence of a medical professional, the individual medical professional may be liable.
The Washington Products Liability Act follows a two step approach to products liability. The first step answers whether the product meets the ordinary expectations of the consumer. The next step is a walkthrough of the risk/utility test determining the likelihood of injury and the existence of warnings.
If an employee is injured during the course and within the scope of his employment, the employer is then responsible for compensating the injured party for his injury. Washington State has a compulsory system meaning that employers are required to carry insurance for coverage in the event of workplace injury.
Should I Pursue a Personal Injury Claim?
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, you may be wondering whether you should pursue a personal injury claim. The only way to know for sure that you have a case is to meet with a personal injury lawyer for a free case evaluation. The lawyer will fully evaluate your situation and advise you on your legal rights.
If you are thinking that you can save money by negotiating directly with the insurance company you should note that people who have hired personal injury attorneys often receive 3-5 times the settlement than if they negotiate alone. If you feel that the insurance company has offered you a fair settlement, it is still in your best interest to get an opinion from an accident attorney. During the free consultation, you can determine the best way to proceed.
Disclaimer: State and federal laws in the United States change on a regular basis. Any information provided in this guide is meant solely for informational purposes and should not take the place of the advice of a lawyer. Only a qualified attorney can assess the merits of your case and provide an effective plan for counsel.
If you or a loved one is dealing with an accident or injury, you have enough on your plate. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County and surrounding areas since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!