Every state has its own state laws around auto accidents, which means the way they handle them is all different. One of the biggest differences is probably between “at fault states” and “no fault states.” This difference will determine who is at fault, how liability is handled in an accident, and how the insurance policies work:
- In no fault states, the insurance company for each driver pays for their own costs, including the costs for any harm to the passengers in their car. It doesn’t matter who caused the accident.
- In at fault states, the driver who is deemed at fault for the accident is liable to cover damages, and their insurance will pay for it—for everyone involved.
Washington, like most states in the US, is an at-fault state for car accidents. In at-fault states, the cost for auto insurance tends to be lower, and often there are fewer insurance scams. Drivers are also more incentivized to drive safely. However, since you have to prove exactly what happened in the accident, this tends to make insurance claims more difficult.
What counts as being “at fault”?
In some cases it is obvious who’s at fault. For example, if someone doesn’t stop at a stop sign and hits another driver, there is no arguing that they are liable for the costs.
Other cases however are not as clear. In Washington state, a driver can be at fault simply through negligence—which means if they were more careful, they could have avoided causing the accident. Imagine someone making a turn at a red light, for example. They use their signal and wait for a break in traffic, but they don’t look to their right and they end up hitting a parked car as they turn. Technically the person did not break any laws, but they were negligent or careless. They are at fault for the accident.
In an at-fault state, who determines who’s at fault?
Insurance companies will in most cases work out the liability in an auto accident. Insurance companies have developed complex rules to adjudicate responsibility in a car accident. They may consider the police report or other factors, but they can make their own final decision—they do not have to follow the police’s opinion.
Because of this, you won’t always agree with the decision the insurance companies make. That’s why it’s so important to have a good car accident lawyer on your side for any claim. Your lawyer can help gather evidence that proves you are not at fault and negotiate with the insurance company.
If you’ve been in an accident, Premier Law Group offers a free consultation with some of the most experienced and respected personal injury lawyers in Washington. Fill out the form to your right or call us at 206-285-1743 to get your FREE consultation today.