What You Need to Know about Car Accident Compensation in Washington State
If you or a loved one is suffering from serious injuries and other damages such as lost wages after a car accident, you deserve a fair settlement. Without compensation for your losses, it is very difficult to move forward with your life or to ever feel whole again. Each state has its own laws that affect car accident compensation. As personal injury attorneys in Bellingham, we are going to talk about car accident compensation in Washington State.
Washington State uses “comparative negligence” rules
Comparative negligence rules say that when an accident happens, the fault and/or negligence of each party involved will be based upon their respective contributions to the accident. Practically speaking, comparative negligence means that every person involved with the accident will be assigned a percentage of responsibility. All factors that led to the accident such as speeding and distracted driving will be reviewed before fault is assigned. Each person can recover damages up to their percentage of shared fault. For example, if you were found to be 15% at fault for an accident, whatever settlement you receive will be 15% less than the total amount.
Car accident damages in Washington State
Common personal injury damages:
- Reimbursement for medical treatment
- Reimbursement for lost wages
- Reimbursement for damage to or loss of use of property (vehicle) that occurred as a result of the injury
- Money for loss of consortium (loss of income, companionship, child care, etc. from your spouse due to their injury)
- Money for emotional distress and/or pain and suffering
Does Washington State allow punitive damages?
Punitive damages, sometimes called exemplary damages, are awarded by a court as a punishment to the wrongdoer. This type of damage is meant to serve as a deterrent to others from engaging in the same wrongful actions. Punitive damages are sometimes awarded in special cases when someone commits an act that is particularly wanton, malicious, evil, violent, or fraudulent. In Washington State, punitive damages are not typically awarded; however, there are numerous statutory exceptions where punitive damages may be allowed.
What you do after an accident can affect compensation
It’s normal to feel shaky and stressed after a collision but unless you are too injured to communicate, you will increase your chances of getting a fair settlement by taking the following steps:
- Call the police/report the accident. They can write up an accident report. If police are not called, each driver involved in the injury accident must file a report with the DMV within four days of the accident. https://www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/collision.html
- Exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver, including their driver’s license number.
- Ask for contact information of any witnesses.
- Take pictures of the scene and any damage to vehicles.
- File a claim with your own insurance company.
- DO NOT POST ANYTHING ABOUT THE ACCIDENT ON SOCIAL MEDIA.
- Report any injury accident
- Write down your description of the accident.
- Seek a medical assessment of any possible injuries caused by the accident.
- Contact a car accident attorney for help. You have three years from the date of the accident to file a legal claim but the sooner you get started, the better.
Seek the help of a car accident attorney
If you or a loved one was injured because of the negligence of another, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights. Let an experienced car 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 larger with the help of a lawyer. Call the personal injury lawyers at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!