Being in an auto accident is something most people don’t want to think about. However, the chances of a collision are higher than expected, and these crashes often carry devastating, life-altering effects. Compensation helps victims move on with their lives, but gaining it is often complicated. Below are several important things to know about filing a claim and working with an Auto Accident Injury Lawyer in Bellingham WA.
Washington’s Comparative Negligence Rules
Under the doctrine of comparative negligence, any victim may recover damages. Each party to an accident is assigned a share of responsibility, and the settlement received is based on that percentage. For instance, if someone is found to be 20% at fault for a crash, the settlement they get will be 20% less than their damages. All factors contributing to an accident are analyzed before fault is assigned, which means that if a person engaged in behaviors that caused or worsened the collision, they’re likely to hold some responsibility.
The State’s Insurance Requirements
Washington’s laws require all drivers to have auto insurance that protects others in at-fault accidents and to have proof of coverage at all times. The state’s minimum requirements are:
• $25,000 per person injured in an accident
• $50,000 per person when multiple people are injured
• $10,000 per collision to cover property damage
Drivers can purchase a $60,000 insurance certificate, deposit that amount with the Treasurer, or purchase a liability bond if they do not want to follow the state minimum.
What Insurance Covers
Washington car insurance policies cover liability, but drivers have the option to buy additional coverage. Because a serious auto accident’s costs can quickly exceed the state minimum, it’s a good idea for drivers to review their coverage to ensure they’re protected.
• Personal injury protection or PIP helps drivers with medical bills related to the accident, as well as lost income. If a driver wants to reject such coverage, they must do it in writing.
• Collision coverage is required when financing or leasing a vehicle. It pays for the damage a car suffers in an accident up to the coverage limit.
• Comprehensive coverage pays for non-accident related vehicle damage.
• Under- or uninsured motorist coverage provides protection if someone is hit by a driver with little or no insurance.
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