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The impact that fault has on your personal injury claim hinges on the degree of that fault. Washington applies a principle known as contributory negligence, which implies that if you contributed to your injury, you bear responsibility to that extent.
If liability is clear-cut, you may not have to deal with issues of contributory negligence. However, if you were partially at fault—such as if both drivers were racing a light or turning left into each other—liability becomes a relevant factor.
Keep in mind that your overall recovery might be reduced according to your contributory negligence, and if you were primarily at fault, you might not receive any compensation. In any case, this potential impact on your claim needs to be considered in your legal strategy.
Yes, you can file a claim and even proceed with a lawsuit if you were in an accident with an underinsured driver. However, the likelihood of success diminishes if the at-fault party lacks insurance. Typically, in such instances, we explore the possibility of pursuing a claim against your own uninsured/underinsured motorist (UI/UIM) coverage, if available.
UM/UIM coverage is not always available because Washington state law permits the rejection of UI/UIM coverage, but this must be done in writing. In some cases where the insurance rejection was not properly documented, we've been able to reinstate coverage and seek recovery.
Additionally, the outcome of a case of this nature also depends on whether the at-fault party has substantial assets. On rare occasions, when assets are present, we may work on protecting or disposing of those assets to settle the claim. However, if the at-fault party's assets and insurance coverage are too limited to cover your claim in full, the options for recourse may be limited unless you have UIM insurance.
If your injuries are severe, hiring an experienced attorney is highly advisable. They can help determine the true value of your claim and navigate other complex issues, such as the subrogation of insurance providers that covered your medical treatment. An experienced attorney can negotiate these amounts down, which could prove challenging for an average person. However, if your injuries are minor and you've fully recovered without complications, you may be capable of handling the matter yourself.
Engaging an attorney for complex or severe cases can likely lead to a more favorable resolution and provide assurance that your case is being managed correctly. An attorney can steer clear of potential pitfalls that may otherwise obstruct your recovery. For more information on Filing An Auto Accident Injury Claim In WA, an initial consultation is your next best step.