Information on Washington Laws Regarding Personal Injury Claims

The state of Washington has specific laws regarding personal injury claims. These apply whether you go through an insurance company or file a lawsuit with the court. Here are a few details about personal injury law in Washington.

Statute of Limitations

Each state has a limit of time where you can file a lawsuit for personal injury. In Washington, that period, called the statute of limitations, is three years. In other words, you have within three years’ time to file your lawsuit or else it will not be heard by the court, and you will not be able to receive compensation for your injuries.

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Comparative Fault Rules

There are times when a person who isn’t is determined to share some percentage of the fault, which means they are partly to blame for their injuries. Washington is one of the states in the United States that has what is known as a “pure comparative negligence” rule. This means that the amount that you receive in compensation is reduced if you are found to be partially at fault for your injuries. For example, if you were involved in a car accident and were injured and sued was awarded $10,000 in compensation, but the judge or jury determined you were 10 percent at fault, you would only receive $9,000.

Anytime a personal injury suit goes to trial; the court must apply the comparative negligence rule when awarding damages to the plaintiff. Also, you can also face additional adjustments to your compensation for your injuries if an insurance adjuster is involved.

Strict Liability for Dog Bites

In the states of Washington, when it comes to dog bite personal injury cases, there is strict liability, which means that the owner is automatically responsible for their dog biting or attacking someone. This is in place in spite of the “one bite” rule, which only applies when the dog has a history of biting. In Washington, the owner is always responsible, even if their pet has never had a history of aggression. As a result, the dog owner must pay for personal injuries sustained by any person who is bitten or attacked by their dog.

No Damage Caps

In personal injury cases in Washington, there is no cap on the monetary amount of damage the plaintiff can collect. In fact, the state views damage caps as being unconstitutional.

If you have suffered a personal injury as a result of a car accident in the state of Washington, you need immediate legal assistance. Contact local personal injury attorneys in Vancouver, Washington to get the compensation you deserve for your injuries and other damages.

What is Willful Blindness?

Willful blindness is a concept in federal law that says you cannot make yourself willfully blind, that is, ignore, an obviously illegal situation you are involved in.  And if you do, you do so at your peril.  Consider the prosecution of Annette Bongiorno, the 66-year-old secretary of master Ponzi schemer and investment fraudster, Bernard Madoff.  Bongiorno was a high school graduate with no skills other than shorthand and typing. She handled the books for hundreds of investment advisory accounts, most of them fraudulent.  But, as she told a federal judge, she did what she was told by Madoff and didn’t know what was going on.

However, the judge determined that she should have known that her boss’s financial success was a sham. She was told to fabricate and backdate some fictitious trades, which she did on her boss’s orders.  She claimed that she never figured out the truth of what was going on.

While this may be true, one cannot escape criminal liability by simply being an ostrich with one’s head in the sand, as she was.  She was charged in federal court with conspiracy, securities fraud and other charges.  As a secretary, she received a six-figure salary and bonuses.  As the judge said, she was not a “coldly, calculating, knowing participant” in the fraud, but rather  “…a pampered, compliant and grossly overpaid clerical worker.”  She “willfully blinded herself” to the illegal acts she was being told to carry out.  As evidence that she was not a knowing participant, she preserved incriminating records for years that she might have destroyed, suggesting that she did not understand the fraud.

But because this was a staggering $17 billion fraud, she faced life in prison.   The prosecutors sought 20 years. However, a fair and thoughtful judge sentenced her to 6 years.  While this is a far cry from what the prosecutors wanted, it’s still serious time. But as the judge stated, “She relied on Madoff’s blessing, rather than apply her good sense and moral compass.”