Washington Car Accident Laws

Washington residents spend a lot of time on the road. Regular commuters and travelers on Washington roads are often involved in traffic accidents. Car accidents in Washington have laws to protect drivers and passengers and hold the responsible party accountable. 

Washington State’s Fault-Based System

Washington state uses a fault-based system to determine responsibility for paying for damages and injuries when car accidents occur. A fault-based system means that the at-fault person is responsible for paying for the damages caused by the auto accident. When multiple parties are in a car accident, depending on the circumstances, there can be shared fault. 

According to requirements of Washington state law, drivers must carry a set minimum amount of liability coverage. This covers the other parties involved if the driver happens to be the at-fault party. Washington’s minimum coverage is as follows: 

  • $25,000 in liability coverage for bodily injury or the death of one person 
  • $50,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more people involved in the accident
  • $10,000 to cover property that is damaged in the accident

Drivers may choose to have more coverage so that they cover more than the minimum requirements. This serves to protect them if they are the at-fault driver and an accident occurs that entails damages greater than the minimum amounts required by law. If the cost of damages exceeds the liability coverage, the driver will be personally responsible for the additional costs.

Washington Laws for Behavior at the Scene of an Accident

Washington state law dictates driver conduct at the scene of an accident. The following actions are mandated by the state: 

  • Drivers must stop if they are involved in an accident
  • At the scene, drivers are required to exchange contact information with the others involved
  • They must provide their name, contact information, insurance information, and their driver’s license number.
  • If there are injuries, drivers must call for emergency help 
  • Drivers must render aid if necessary
  • Drivers who have been in an accident must report the accident to the Washington State Patrol or to local law enforcement no more than four days following the accident if the accident caused an injury or death or if it caused property damage of over $1,000

What to do Following a Car Accident in Washington State

If you have been in an accident, even if you do not believe you are injured, it is critical that you seek medical attention immediately. Many injuries are not immediately evident, and seeking the opinion of a healthcare professional can ensure that if there are injuries that they are identified and treated. 

There are several steps that drivers involved in Washington car accidents should follow. These actions will ensure that your rights are protected and that if you are owed compensation, you can receive it. These steps are as follows:  

  • Call 911 and seek medical attention. Check on others involved in the accident if you can, so you may describe the condition to the emergency services operator so they will understand how to respond to the call. 
  • If you are physically able and safe, take photographs and video from the scene, show the vehicles, the road, the road conditions, and anything else that can demonstrate what happened.
  • Keep communication brief. Even if you are tempted, refrain from apologizing or taking the blame. 
  • Answer questions from law enforcement, but only volunteer what is asked. 
  • Alert your insurance company of the accident.
  • Seek legal counsel. An experienced car accident lawyer understands the complicated legal process and will work to ensure you are fairly compensated for the damages you suffered. 

Car accidents are frightening, traumatic, and even catastrophic experiences. It is natural to feel stress and anxiety as a result, as well as physical pain from injuries. If you or someone you love has been injured in a Washington state automobile accident, it is important that you speak to a qualified attorney with Elk & Elk as soon as possible. 

Our Seattle personal injury attorneys will work diligently to ensure you receive the compensation you are due following a car accident. 

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