Driving requires that you constantly screen your surroundings and make a series of decisions about the best way to reach your destination safely. The average person probably makes a few minor mistakes during their commute every day, and most of those mistakes will result in few, if any, consequences.
However, occasionally drivers make mistakes that contribute to a crash. If someone ran a red light at an intersection and hit you and you did not have your blinker on while turning, the crash is not your fault because you had the right of way. However, the driver who ran the red light might try to claim that you are partially at fault for the wreck.
Will those claims affect your right to compensation after a crash?
Minor mistakes likely won’t affect insurance claims
When a police officer must make sense of a crash scene and determine who is at fault, they try to determine who has primary responsibility for the wreck. When someone else breaks traffic laws or does something obviously negligent, the police officer responding to the scene of your crash may very well ticket the other party.
Provided that law enforcement reports affirm your claim that the other party is to blame, minor contributory mistakes on your part will typically have no impact on your right to file an insurance claim. However, your mistake at the wheel could affect the outcome of a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver.
Contributory fault can diminish compensation from a lawsuit
Washington state law permits defendants in personal injury claims to defend themselves by claiming contributory fault on the part of the plaintiff. The defendant will have the burden of proof, which means they will have to show that you also broke a traffic law or did something negligent.
If the courts agree with the defendant, they will assign you a percentage of fault for the crash. At the end of the lawsuit, the courts will reduce how much you receive in compensation according to your percentage of fault for the crash. Even if you play a minor role in causing a car crash, you still have a right to hold the other driver accountable and to file an insurance claim.
Knowing the rules that apply to car crash compensation will help you navigate a claim after a wreck.