What Liability Means in Washington’s Personal Injury Law

Liability in WA Personal Injury LawOne of the most important elements of a personal injury case is determining liability. If you were recently injured and are considering filing a personal injury case, your attorney will most likely bring up the topic of liability early on in the process, making it crucial to understand what this important term means.

In simple terms, liability is basically defined as fault or responsibility. When a party is found liable in a personal injury case, they are typically held accountable and required to pay monetary compensation to the individual they harmed.

The factors that determine liability

To demonstrate liability, you will need to prove the following:

  1. Duty of care: The defendant owed you a duty of care, meaning that they had a responsibility to act (or refrain from acting) in a way that would cause foreseeable injury to you.
  2. Breach of duty: The defendant breached this duty by failing to exercise reasonable caution.
  3. Causation: As a result of this breach, the defendant directly caused your accident and injuries.
  4. Damages: You suffered damages from the accident and injuries, such as lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, property damage, and more.

If you cannot successfully prove all four of these elements, the defendant cannot be held liable for the accident, which means that they will not be required to compensate you.

Who is typically considered liable in a personal injury case?

In a personal injury case, there are a variety of different parties that may be considered liable, such as:

  • The negligent party: When a party acts carelessly or recklessly, they may be found liable for the accident and injuries.
  • The party’s employer: Sometimes, the negligent party’s employer is considered liable if they failed to properly train them, encouraged them to act negligently, or hired them knowing that they lacked the necessary skills to perform the job.
  • The manufacturer: Depending on the circumstances of the accident, a manufacturer might be held liable if, for example, a car’s braking system fails, a consumable product causes an illness, or a medical device does not work properly.

How can a Vancouver, WA personal injury attorney show that someone is liable for your injuries?

Evidence is key in holding someone liable for your injuries. Therefore, your lawyer will collect as much evidence as possible to support your argument and show that the at-fault party is responsible. Here are some examples of evidence that your attorney might use to prove liability:

  • Photographs and videos: If you can do so, take as many photos and videos of the accident scene and your injuries as possible. This might include photos and videos of the car, signs, roadway, machinery, equipment, and more. Your lawyer will also visit your accident scene to take photos and videos, and might also request surveillance video footage, if it exists.
  • Medical records: After being injured, you should seek medical attention right away. Your attorney will use your medical records to prove that you experienced injuries because of the accident and are following a medical treatment plan in hopes of recovering.
  • Eyewitness testimony: Regardless of what type of accident you were involved in, it is possible that someone saw your accident occur. Therefore, you should exchange contact information with anyone close to your accident scene–a coworker, bystander, or business owner. Your lawyer will contact them to provide testimony about what they saw happen the day of your accident.
  • Expert witness statements: An expert witness is someone experienced and skilled in a certain profession related to your accident or injuries who can clearly explain your injuries and why the at-fault party is liable to them.
  • Police reports: If you called 911 after your accident, the responding law enforcement officers likely created a police report that can serve as evidence showing what happened and how the defendant is responsible.
  • Documentation: Most lawyers will suggest that you keep a journal detailing your recovery, the extent of your injuries, and how they affect your everyday life.

At Philbrook Law Office, our personal injury lawyers in Vancouver and Battle Ground, WA are available to answer any questions or concerns that you may have about liability. We understand that every person’s case is unique and different, meaning you need assistance from our team to help you understand how liability affects your particular case. To get started, please call our office or submit our contact form to schedule your free case evaluation today. Our attorneys serve accident victims in Washington and Oregon and look forward to providing you with valuable feedback soon!