Understanding how fault is determined in a Washington car accident case can be important after a serious wreck that involves injuries. If you were hurt in a crash, you are entitled to fair compensation, but you must be able to prove someone else was at least partially at fault to recover the damages you deserve.
Experienced car accident lawyer Marya Fuller is a specialist in accident and injury law. For more than 50 years, Fuller & Fuller, Attorneys PLLC has helped clients throughout Washington in a range of personal injury claims. We know how to effectively pursue the justice and compensation you deserve after a serious accident.
Five Steps for Determining Fault in a Washington Car Accident
Determining fault in a Washington car accident case requires a comprehensive assessment of the facts involved. Depending on the circumstances, this will generally mean taking some (or all) of the following steps:
1. Conduct an On-Scene Investigation
In some cases, your attorney can send an investigator to the scene immediately after the accident to document any evidence of fault that may be available. Some examples of evidence that may be available at the scene of the accident include:
- Skid marks
- Road debris
- Damaged signs, posts, or guardrails
- Potholes, crumbling shoulders, or other issues with the road
- Evidence of the weather conditions at the time of the accident
At the scene of the accident, your law firm’s investigator can also examine traffic patterns, traffic signal patterns, any curves or bends in the road, any visual obstructions, and any other potential causal factors.
2. Examine the Police Report
The police report from your accident can provide key insights that help establish fault. For example, if the responding officer wrote that the other driver was distracted or observed a cell phone in the other driver’s footwell, it shows the other driver was not paying attention prior to the wreck. Or, if the responding officer cited the other driver for driving under the influence, it makes it much more difficult for the other driver to claim they are not at fault.
3. Gather Evidence from Other Sources
Your lawyer may need to gather evidence from various other sources. These sources could include traffic cameras, surveillance cameras, and eyewitnesses, among others. Increasingly, social media is playing a key role in car accident cases as well. If the other driver posted about your car accident on social media, your lawyer may be able to use the driver’s posts as evidence of fault in your claim.
4. Engage an Accident Reconstructionist
In some cases, engaging an accident reconstructionist can be an effective way of determining fault in a car accident. An accident reconstructionist can use the available evidence to create a computer simulation of your crash. The software used to create these simulations is highly sophisticated, and these simulations can serve as strong evidence in court. Accident reconstructionists can piece together the events leading up to a crash, determine the sequence of events, and demonstrate step-by-step how another driver’s mistake led to your accident-related losses.
5. Evaluate All Potential Causal Factors
After gathering as much information as possible, your lawyer will evaluate all potential causal factors in order to determine who was at fault in your car accident. Determining fault requires an in-depth understanding of the relevant facts and Washington law. Your lawyer will examine all possibilities, determine if one party is responsible or multiple parties share responsibility for your losses, and determine if the insurance companies may have grounds to argue for a reduced settlement based on comparative fault.
The Next Step After Determining Fault: Determining What Company Is Responsible for Your Losses
As we said in the introduction, determining fault is the first step toward asserting your legal rights after a car accident in Washington. The next step is determining what company is responsible for your accident-related losses.
In most cases involving driver negligence, recovering just compensation involves filing a claim against the negligent driver’s insurance company. But employers can be held liable for their employees’ negligence in some cases, and car accident victims in Washington can have other claims as well. For example, if a vehicle defect (i.e., a tire or brake failure) played a role in your car accident, then you may have a claim against the vehicle’s manufacturer.
If you have been injured in a crash, it is important that you engage a law firm to investigate the accident as soon as possible. The Washington car accident lawyers at Fuller & Fuller, Attorneys PLLC have substantial experience representing clients throughout Washington. We work tirelessly to ensure our clients achieve fair outcomes in their cases.
To get started with a FREE consultation, call (800) 570-4878 or tell us how we can reach you online now.