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What Washington law says about negligent driving

A car crashed into you on I-5 and caused serious injuries that sent you to a Washington hospital. There could have been a number of factors that led to the crash, and it could be negligent driving. We at Elk & Elk Co., Ltd., understand how state law defines negligent driving in the first and second degree, and what is necessary to prove it.

Was the other driver exercising reasonable care? This is a factor in determining negligence, so it is something a judge or jury would need to know. Reasonable care as it applies to driving includes following all traffic laws and paying full attention to the task of driving.

According to Washington state law RCW 46.61.525, if the driver was doing something that a reasonably careful driver would not, then it could constitute negligence. For example, a reasonably careful driver would not be looking at a cellphone while behind the wheel because this is an activity that is known to endanger other people. Alternately, the other driver could be negligent by failing to follow traffic laws, such as speeding in a work zone. 

Negligent driving in the second degree could result in a $250 traffic citation for the driver who hit you, but it excludes any actions of a person who is driving under the influence. If the driver who hit you was intoxicated or otherwise impaired, it is negligent driving in the first degree, which is a misdemeanor. That driver would face criminal charges in addition to a possible civil lawsuit, should you file one.

More information about the dangers of distracted driving and other negligent behaviors is available on our webpage.