Can I Make a Personal Injury Claim if Multiple Parties Were at Fault?
Personal injuries occur in many different ways in the state of Washington. In many cases, injuries occur as a result of a negligent action by one individual. However, it is not uncommon for injuries to occur due to the actions of more than one person or entity. In these cases, it may be necessary for an injury victim to file a personal injury claim against multiple parties. Here, we wanted to discuss how these claims would work and the steps an individual would need to take to ensure their claim is successful.
Understanding Comparative Negligence in Washington
The state of Washington operates under what is called a “pure comparative negligence” system. This means that individuals who sustain an injury can recover compensation even if they are up to 99% at fault for the incident. This is different from how most other states around the country handle comparative negligence. In other states, individuals are barred from recovering compensation if they are 50% or 51% or more at fault. That is simply not the case in Washington.
However, individuals will receive reduced compensation based on their apportionment of fault for an incident. In order to demonstrate how this may look in a real-life scenario, let us look at this theoretical situation:
Suppose Kathy is walking through a grocery store and slips on a broken jar of vinegar that the store employees and manager knew about but failed to promptly clean up. Let us suppose for this scenario that Kathy sustains $10,000 worth of medical bills. If the store owners and operators failed their duty of care by not cleaning up the spill that they knew about, Kathy should be able to recover the full $10,000.
However, let us suppose that, during the course of the investigation, a jury finds that Kathy was 30% at fault for the car accident because she was texting on her phone when the incident occurred, and they think she maybe could have avoided the incident had she not been doing so. In this theoretical scenario, Kathy would receive $7,000 instead of the full $10,000. The $3000 is subtracted out of the total to account for her 30% of fault.
Yes, you can recover compensation if you are partially at fault for an incident. You can be sure that insurance carriers will try to use any instance of thought against you, and they may even try to deny the claim. However, thanks to Washington’s pure comparative negligence system, injury victims are able to recover compensation in situations when they otherwise would not be able to.
Why Do You Need an Attorney in These Cases?
The reality is that recovering compensation when multiple parties are at fault can be challenging. Insurance carriers and attorneys for both sides will push against one another to try and shift blame to the other side. You need to have an advocate by your side with the resources necessary to conduct a full investigation. When you have an attorney, you will have a person who can engage in negotiations with the other side to ensure that you are treated fairly throughout the entire process.