Car accidents can be a traumatic experience that causes harm to a person's financial interests and their emotional or physical wellbeing. Injured parties and their families often have to make many changes in their lives as a result of the accident.
Luckily, Kirkland residents do not have to suffer unjustly when they are harmed by the irresponsible actions of others. Generally, there are legal options that injured parties and/or their families can take, although these options are not guarantees of recovery, and families should take steps to protect their rights.
Learn Your Legal Options after a Car Accident
Your legal options after an accident revolve around the legal doctrine of negligence, which is broadly defined as failing to use reasonable care to prevent injuries to others. Injured parties can file personal injury lawsuits, where they combine the idea of negligence with proof that negligence lead to their injuries and proof of their injuries.
In the unfortunate event that a loved one dies as a result of his or her injuries, the family can file a wrongful death suit to recover damages. Survival actions are like personal injury lawsuits in that the decedent's estate files for the damages the decedent suffered.
A wrongful death suit can recover compensation for close family members of the decedent – spouses, parents and children – and is meant to compensate these people for the pain and economic loss they suffer because of their loved one's passing.
Negligence in Washington State
Negligence per se is a legal doctrine that generally holds that parties are negligent if they commit an illegal action during the accident. For example, if someone is speeding in a car accident, she is negligent per se because she broke the speeding laws.
In Washington, however, the state legislature has restricted the scope of negligence per se: "a breach of a duty imposed by statute, ordinance, or administrative rule shall not be considered negligence per se but may be considered by the trier of fact as evidence of negligence" (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. Sec. 5.40.050). This applies to car accident cases except ones where controlled substances are involved.
Accident victims in Kirkland must also consider Washington’s comparative negligence laws. These state that the defendant is liable for the plaintiff’s damages equal to the defendant’s proportion of fault. If the plaintiff is partially at fault, he can still recover damages but they are reduced by the his proportion of fault. So if 10 percent liable, the plaintiff’s damages reduce by 10 percent, for example.
Crash Reports in Washington and Other Evidence
To establish another party’s negligence, accident victims must have proper evidence and documentation. Drivers are required to file a crash report with the state or local police for crashes involving bodily harm or more than $700 in property damages (Wash Rev. Code Ann. Sec. 446.85.010).
Crash reports can be used to prove negligence in your claim and detail things like:
- roadway surface conditions;
- vehicle actions;
- direction vehicles were traveling; and
- level of driver intoxication.
Other forms of evidence that can establish negligence include:
- photographs of the accident scene;
- progress photos of injuries;
- medical records;
- eyewitness testimony; and
- expert testimony.
Car accident lawyer Max Meyers helps individuals in Kirkland file their claims, collect the proper evidence, and present a valid case to help them recover compensation. Call 425-399-7000 or contact us online to set up your free initial consultation.