If a car crashes into me, can they blame someone else for cutting them off?

The short answer is yes. The long answer is probably, if it was an emergency, but they are still likely liable for all damages under Washington law.  The Washington Pattern Jury Instruction (WPI) 12.02 clearly states Washington’s Emergency Doctrine: "A person who is suddenly confronted by an emergency through no negligence of his or her own and who is compelled to decide instantly how to avoid injury and who makes such a choice as a reasonably careful person placed in such a position might make, is not negligent even though it is not the wisest choice." However, in 1981 the Washington State Legislature made pure contributory negligence the law in 1981 under RCW 4.22.005. This means that a judge or jury can decide how the liability is divided between the parties, and the driver that was cut off would have to pay for damages even if they were only 10% liable. Additionally, RCW 4.22.070 states that "If the trier of fact determines that the claimant or party suffering bodily injury or incurring property damages was not at fault, the defendants against whom judgment is entered shall be jointly and severally liable for the sum of their proportionate shares of the claimants [claimant’s] total damages." In other words, the driver that is only 10% liable for swerving into a car after avoiding another could be responsible to pay for 100% of the damages. 

Call Anderson Law today if you have a question about whether another driver is liable for your injuries.

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