What Are My Legal Rights Following A Crash That Wasn’t My Fault?
Washington state car accident lawyer explains your rights
In the State of Washington, people involved in a car accident caused by another driver have certain rights.
Assuming the at-fault driver has adequate insurance to cover the expense of all claims related to the crash, these rights may include:
- The right to choose the auto body shop where your vehicle is repaired.
- The right to have your vehicle returned to “pre-accident” condition.
- The right to be compensated for the “loss of use” of your vehicle.
- The right to be reimbursed for any personal property that was damaged.
- The right to be reimbursed for reasonable towing and storage fees.
- The right to be compensated for the diminished value of your vehicle.
- The right to be compensated for the fair market value of your totaled vehicle.
How fault is determined after a car accident
Fault for your accident might seem clear to you, but proving fault in a legal sense requires evidence. Some of the key evidence in a car accident claim includes:
- Witness testimony
- Pictures of the crash scene
- The official police accident report
- Video footage of the crash (if available)
Unfortunately, some of this evidence can disappear quickly after a crash. That’s why, after making sure the scene is safe and calling 911, you need to start gathering evidence at the scene. Take pictures of the area, any skid marks, and any visible injuries. Get names and contact information for any witnesses. If there are any security cameras nearby, talk to the owners and make sure the footage is preserved.
The insurance company has every incentive to dispute fault for an accident to pay you less. To win your case, you need documentation on your side.
Is Washington a no-fault car accident state?
Washington is an at-fault car insurance system. That means the at-fault driver – and by extension, their insurance company (assuming the other driver has adequate insurance) – must pay for damage to your vehicle and any other accident-related expenses.
Some states have a no-fault car accident insurance system. This means that people involved in car accidents file an accident claim with their own insurance company, regardless of who was at fault, and they can only file a “third-party” claim or lawsuit under certain circumstances. But Washington isn’t one of those states – in most situations you are free to file a third-party claim or take legal action against the at-fault driver.
Note that if you have collision coverage, you can also choose to file a claim with your own insurance company, regardless of fault. If the other driver is found at fault for the accident, then your insurance company will be reimbursed by their insurance company (and you should be reimbursed for your deductible as well).
If you have additional questions about your legal rights, we can help
Click here to access our step-by-step guide to resolving property damage claims in Washington.
Web content is not legal advice. Using this website does not establish an attorney-client relationship. If you have questions about a legal matter, you should consult with an attorney who is licensed to practice law in the appropriate jurisdiction and is familiar with the facts in your situation. To learn more about how The Scott Law Firm, PLLC can assist you with a personal injury related matter, contact our office today for a free consultation: (360) 718-3640.