Personal Injury Claims in Washington: Understanding the Concept of “Avoidable Consequences”
March 28, 2022 – Matt Albrecht
Were you seriously injured in an accident in Washington? If your injuries were caused by the negligence of another party, you have the right to hold them liable for the full amount of your damages. You can seek compensation for both economic and non-economic losses, including for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Following an accident, injured victims have a responsibility to get proper medical care and to avoid additional harm. Failure to do so could undermine their personal injury claim. Here, our Spokane personal injury lawyer discusses the most important things to know about so-called avoidable consequences in tort claims in Washington State.
Washington Law: No Liability for Avoidable Consequences
Washington law is clear: A defendant is only liable for their “share” of a victim’s injuries. As explained in the Washington Civil Jury Instructions (WPI 33.01), any party who has been found legally liable for another person’s injuries is “not liable for any damages” after the original accident “that are proximately caused by failure of the injured person to exercise ordinary care to avoid or minimize such new or increased damage.” In other words, a person’s failure to act in a safe manner after an accident could render them responsible for an exacerbated injury.
As an example, imagine that you were hurt in a crash with a distracted driver in Downtown Spokane. You suffered a serious knee injury in the accident. Beyond emergency medical care, a doctor recommended physical therapy and eight weeks of rest. If you ignored your doctor’s order and played a tackle football game a few weeks after the crash, the distracted driver would not be liable for any “new” or “increased” damage that you did to your knee. An exacerbated injury under these circumstances would likely be labeled an avoidable consequence under Washington law.
Protect Yourself and Your Claim: Get Proper Medical Care
Following a serious accident in Spokane, you need money to pay your bills and care for yourself and your family. The best thing you can do to protect your health, safety, and legal claim is to seek professional medical care and to follow your doctor’s order. Remember, you cannot bring a personal injury claim in Washington state unless you have seen a doctor.
Beyond that, it is important to understand that defendants and insurance carriers are notoriously aggressive. They may raise any number of defenses, including trying to blame an injured victim on the grounds of avoidable consequences. Be prepared: Always work with an opposing insurance company through an experienced Spokane personal injury lawyer.
Schedule a Free Personal Injury Consultation in Spokane, Washington
At Albrecht Law PLLC, our Spokane personal injury attorneys are relentless, results-driven advocates for injured victims. If you have questions about personal injury claims, we are here as a legal resource. Contact us today for your free, no commitment initial consultation. Our personal injury law firm represents injured victims all around Eastern Washington, including in Spokane, Airway Heights, Spokane Valley, Town and Country, Medical Lake, Dishman, and Glenrose.
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