Severe auto accidents are messy, painful and costly. As a Renton personal injury attorney I have seen the lifelong damage an auto accident can have on a person’s body and livelihood. With Washington State facing a 5 Billion dollar deficit the government has been searching for new ways to modify and reform the state budget. The last few years have seen some substantial cuts to our education, police services and transportation and the state’s newest way to cut costs is by limiting the state’s liability and payout in lawsuits.
According to the Attorney General Rob Mckenna, Washington State is the only state without caps on lawsuits and because of this, it pays a considerable amount more every year in lawsuits than other similarly sized states.
For the state, which has been decreasing spending on some of our most important expenses such as education and safety, this cap may seem like a no-brainer. But for those who have suffered serious injury for which the state is liable this raises some concern.
For example, in July of 2007 Koti Hu was rear-ended by a painting truck on I-405 onramp. The accident was so severe Hu’s neck broke and he suffered permanent paralyzing injuries which have confined him to a wheel chair. Before the accident Hu was a musician with the band Cody Who and he was both a vocalist and instrumentalist playing piano, violin and guitar. All of his music goals and aspirations were destroyed by this accident. The jury awarded Hu $30 million between the truck driver and the state as the on-ramp was deemed dangerous and held partially accountable for the accident. $30 million may seem like a lot, but when you consider all that Hu lost in the accident- his ability to walk and take care of himself, his livelihood and facing significant medical bills- the verdict doesn’t seem so high.
With this proposed cap on lawsuit payouts, victims who suffer serious permanent injury that destroys their livelihood would be lucky to be awarded enough money to cover their hospital bills let alone compensate for the permanent loss of income and dramatic change in lifestyle.