You know you should seek legal advice after suffering a personal injury, but perhaps you are hesitant to call a lawyer because you believe it was your fault. You doubt you will receive legal representation, let alone damages for the incident. Before you write off speaking to a personal injury attorney, learn how Washington state handles joint fault for most personal injury cases and how it affects the financial compensation you can receive. You may realize that you can pursue legal action after all.
Washington law on dividing fault
The good news is that in Washington you can be partially at fault for the accident that caused your injury and still be eligible for seeking damages as long as one or more other parties were also at fault. If the court awards you compensation, the law requires that the percentage for which you are responsible be deducted from the total to determine the final amount you have the right to recover. For example, if your damages equal $25,000 and you were 20 percent accountable, your end amount would be $20,000 (80 percent). This rule is called pure comparative negligence.
Seeking the damages you deserve
You may be worried that because your percentage of responsibility is high, you will not recover much money, so it would not be worth the effort to get it. However, Washington does not have a cap on how much compensation you can receive. This means that you can seek as much damages as possible for your circumstances, and it may be higher than you expected. Furthermore, there are many categories for which you can claim damages:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Current and future lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
All of these can add up to a large recovery sum worth fighting for.
The importance of legal assistance
With financial awards depending on the part you played in the accident, it is vital that you have a personal injury attorney to help prevent the other responsible parties from putting too much blame on you. An attorney can investigate and review the details of the incident to build a strong case that limits your fault percentage and highlights the other party's negligence, thus allowing you to receive a higher amount of compensation.
Because the strength of your claim depends on proof, you need to act promptly so a Washington lawyer can gather information and documentation immediately. The longer you wait, the less reliable evidence may become.