What does it mean to find somebody to be 100% liable (“at-fault”) for a car accident?
Immediately following a car accident the first issue the insurance companies decide is “who is at fault.” We need the other insurance company to “accept liability” and we accomplish this in a number of ways. Typically, police reports are ordered and the insurance company will get a statement from their policyholder/driver. We obtain witness affidavits quickly if there are varying accounts of what happened in the accident.
Typically, our office is much more diligent and obtain the police reports and witness statements much quicker than the insurance company. Once the initial “investigation” takes place, the issue of, “who is at-fault” can be determined. The analysis of how to determine this issue is as follows:
Every car accident case can be boiled down to one thing-negligence. Negligence is a breach of a duty of care that causes damages. This is what needs to be proven on your case:
- A duty is owed and breached by the other party (Example, a driver has a duty of care to avoid causing a collision)
- The driver breached their duty of care and caused a collision (Example, they rear-ended your vehicle)
- The rear-end car accident caused damages (Example, your bumper is cracked, you are taken to the hospital by ambulance. You have now incurred multiple types of “damages”)
- Damages must be identifiable and “more likely than not” caused by the breach of duty of care:
- Property Damage is easily identifiable by getting a repair shop to write an estimate of the damage to your vehicle.
- Medical Bills
- Wage Loss
- General damages/Pain and Suffering-I discuss this issue in great detail on another blog https://waaccidentlaw.com/advice/pain-and-suffering/
Essentially, the above-noted example is just one example of a breach of duty of care and Washington State drivers have many duties of care they must abide by when driving on the roads of the State of Washington. RCW 46.61, Rules of the Road, discuss all of the pertinent laws as it relates to drivers and their duties of care. The entire statute can be read here: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=46.61
If you have been involved in a car accident and have questions, our Tacoma Personal Injury office, Bremerton Personal Injury office, and Poulsbo Personal Injury office all offer free consultations. Feel free to contact us at (360) 377-7100 or (253) 761-1000 to schedule a consultation. You can also visit our homepage at www.waaccidentlaw.com to learn more about our firm.