Through a personal injury claim, an injured victim can hold the at-fault party legally responsible for their damages, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. To prove fault in a personal injury claim in Washington State, you generally need to establish that your accident was caused by negligence on the part of the defendant(s).
Negligence is an important, but often misunderstood concept in personal injury law. Broadly defined, negligence is the failure to take proper care. What constitutes a “negligent act” is highly dependent on the specific circumstances of the case. In this article, our Spokane injury lawyer offers a guide to negligence in Washington.
Negligence is the Basis of Liability in Most Personal Injury Claims
Negligence is the standard of liability in most personal injury cases, including auto accidents, truck accidents, slip and falls, and other premises liability claims. The Washington Pattern Jury Instructions (WPI 10.01) states that negligence is “doing of some act that a reasonably careful person would not do under the same or similar circumstances or the failure to do some act that a reasonably careful person would have done under the same or similar circumstances.”
Who Decides What a “Reasonably Careful Person” Would Have Done?
Washington’s civil definition of negligence raises an important question: Who gets to decide what counts as negligence? The short answer is that it is an issue for the jury in a disputed personal injury claim. There is a well-developed body of case law in Washington to help jury members determine what constitutes negligence in any given circumstance. Personal injury claims are always highly fact-intensive legal cases. There will be close attention paid to what the parties did (and did not) do immediately preceding and during the accident.
Washington is a Comparative Negligence Jurisdiction
An accident is not always caused by one person. Quite the contrary, several parties, including the victim, could have potentially acted in a negligent manner. Washington State uses a comparative negligence system to apportion liability for a personal injury. Each party to a case will be held responsible for their legally-determined share of the “negligence.”
For example, imagine that you were hurt in a slip and fall at a hotel in Spokane. You suffered $25,000 in total damages. The jury determines that the restaurant is 90 percent at fault. As a consequence, they can be held liable for 90 percent of your damages, or $22,500 in personal injury compensation. If you are held liable for the remaining 10 percent—perhaps because you were “running” through the lobby—you will bear liability for 10 percent of your own damages, or $2,500.
Call Our Spokane Personal Injury Lawyer Today for a Free Review of Your Case
At Albrecht Law PLLC, we fight aggressively to protect the legal rights of victims and their families. If you have any questions about negligence or the personal injury claims process, our legal team can help. Contact us today to set up a free review of your personal injury claim. Our attorneys represent injured victims in Spokane County and all around the wider region.