Being involved in a car accident is bad enough without the prospect of being sued as a result. Unfortunately, the reality is that someone can definitely be sued for a car accident in Seattle, WA. Car accident lawsuits can be filed by anyone who seeks to recover damages from the party they believe to be at fault.
Damages can be both economic and non-economic. Some examples of car accident damages include car repairs, medical expenses, loss of earnings, emotional distress, injury to reputation and humiliation, loss of consortium, and others.
Washington’s Statute of Limitations and Arbitration Program
While car accident lawsuits can definitely occur, there are some limits to these cases and procedures.
Particularly, the state of Washington’s statute of limitations for car accident lawsuits (which also applies to the majority of personal injury lawsuits filed) is three years. This means that any car accident injury claim brought forth must be done within three years of the damages occurring. Lawsuits filed after the time limit has passed will often be dismissed.
Also, Seattle lawsuits claiming less than $50,000 are subject to Washington’s mandatory arbitration program, where binding decisions can be made by a third party without the case even going to trial. In fact, even lawsuits claiming more than $50,000 in damages are likely to go through an alternate dispute resolution procedure before reaching trial. Overall, there is a good chance that, with most car accident lawsuits, the parties will choose to go through mediation, rather than arbitration, since it is non-binding.
Washington’s “At Fault” and “Pure Comparative Negligence” Laws
If a car accident lawsuit does make it to Washington court, the results are subject to the state’s “at fault” and “pure comparative negligence laws.”
In order for a party to recover damages, they must prove that the other driver was “at fault” for the car accident.
Luckily, for anyone at risk of being sued, Washington is a “pure comparative negligence” state, which considers each party’s share of negligence when determining recovery. So, for example, if John sued Peter for $100,000 in damages, but John was found to have been 10% responsible for the accident, then John’s compensation would be reduced by 10% to $90,000.
At the end of the day, though, car accident lawsuits can be complicated. If you find yourself involved in one, don’t hesitate to reach out to an expert car crash attorney that can advise you on the best actions to take to protect yourself in this situation. Our legal experts at Gosanko, O’Halloran, Lepore PLLC have plenty of experience in dealing with car crash cases in Seattle, so give us a call soon at 206-275-0700.