Is a driver who violated a traffic law automatically at fault?

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While we expect all drivers to treat us with care and obey all traffic laws, some drivers break laws and cause accidents. While some states consider breaking traffic laws in an accident “negligence per se,” Washington State law says that just because the other driver was speeding, ran a stop sign, ignored a traffic signal, failed to yield, or violated another traffic law does not mean he is always automatically at fault.

Even though this seems unfair, traffic laws still play an important role in establishing duty of care, and you can submit these violations as proof that will support the driver’s breach of that duty.

Are there exceptions to the law?

Washington State still follows negligence per se when the at-fault driver broke a law relating to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This includes all local ordinances, county statutes, state laws, or even administrative rules.

In short, this means that a driver automatically breached his duty of care and acted negligently if he received a citation for drunk driving or a related violation. You will, however, still have to prove this caused the accident that led to your injuries in order to claim compensation.

Let us consider an example: if the driver ran a red light and hit you while you were driving through the intersection, the other driver is not automatically at fault for the accident. However, if you are able to prove that the driver passed out and ran the red light, you will be eligible to receive compensation for your injuries.

Note: Do not think that just because the driver was intoxicated that he was 100 percent at fault. If the driver can prove that you were speeding through the intersection, you may be partially at fault which would reduce your compensation amount, e.g., if you are 10 percent at fault, you compensation would be 10 percent less.

Can attorney Max Meyers help me win the compensation I need?

Max Meyers Law PLLC is a Washington State personal injury firm that helps car accident victims get the compensation they deserve to cover crash-related damages. If you need help getting money to pay for medical bills, rehabilitation, ongoing healthcare costs, lost wages and other expenses, call one of our Kirkland car accident attorneys.

Contact us today for a free, no obligation case evaluation: 425-399-7000. We can file a claim, gather evidence, manage communications and negotiations with the at-fault driver’s insurer, and even file a lawsuit if necessary.
Max Meyers
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Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.