A Look at Liability
Updated: Jul 5, 2022
One of the first thoughts that may run through your head when you get into an accident is likely to have something to do with fault. Was it me? Did they not see me turning? What did I do wrong? Oftentimes it isn’t clear what exactly happened in an accident, so the answers to these questions may not come until much later. In any case, it is always important to understand liability and the role it plays in accidents so you can feel confident that you are protected.
So what is liability?
Liability, at its simplest, refers to fault. In looking at liability in an accident, the question that is being asked is, “Who is liable for these damages and injuries?” In other words, who is responsible for the accident?
What is liability coverage?
The foundation of auto insurance is liability coverage. This is the coverage that is legally required. In Washington state, each driver is responsible for any damages or injuries they cause to others while on the road. Liability coverage transfers the financial burden of these damages and injuries from the driver to their insurance company. This protection is critical because it can protect you from being sued personally for your income or physical assets.
How do I make sure I have enough coverage?
The bare minimum liability limit required in Washington state is $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for injuries, and $10,000 per accident for property damages. It is often written as 25/50/10. This may sound like a lot of money, but when you consider the cost of medical expenses and car parts these days, these limits don’t go very far at all. Insurance agents often recommend a minimum of 100/300/100 instead to properly protect you, but depending on your personal assets, more coverage may be required. It is best to consult with your insurance agent or company to make sure that you don’t have any gaps.
How do I know if I am at fault or not?
Liability can be a difficult thing to determine right after the accident, especially if you were directly involved. It is always recommended to contact the police to come to the scene to officially report on the accident. It is also helpful to locate witnesses on the scene that may have seen what happened. Encourage them to wait for the police to provide their statement directly, and do your best not to influence your own bias when speaking with witnesses.
What happens once fault is determined?
Once evidence supports fault in an accident, the victim can file with the responsible party’s insurance. Their liability coverage will pay out up to their limits as a reimbursement for the damages and medical expenses incurred because of an accident. This is where a personal injury attorney can come in to help ensure you are justly compensated for your pain and suffering. Some of the effects of an accident may take weeks or months to fully show. As a car accident victim, you never want to settle before you have realized the full scope of your injuries. Having support from a legal expert can help give you confidence, clarity, and peace of mind as you navigate the claims process.
In the end, liability coverage is an important thing to consider on your auto insurance policy. It can protect you in the event you are deemed responsible for someone else’s injuries or damages in a car accident. If you find yourself the victim of an accident and are suffering from injuries, it may be time to seek the guidance and support of a trusted legal expert. Hohaia Law is ready to take your call and help you recover from your accident.