- March 17, 2023
- Jed Strong
- Personal Injury
“What is the statute of limitations for personal injury in Washington?” This question is commonly posed to personal injury lawyers in Washington. Suffering a personal injury can be traumatic. By the time you have recovered, you may wonder how much time you have left to file your personal injury lawsuit. Most states set a statute of limitations of several years on personal injury actions; however, it varies by state. Most states have different statutes of limitations, depending on the details of the lawsuit. If you are considering filing a lawsuit, knowing the deadline you are working within and whether your case may be eligible for exceptions is essential. A Washington personal injury lawyer can advise you on these issues.
Statute of Limitations Defined
A statute of limitations is a deadline set by Washington state. This deadline tells potential claimants how long they have to file a lawsuit against the party who injured them. A state’s statute of limitations can vary depending on the issue.
Once your statute of limitations has expired, your chances of recovering damages decrease dramatically. You can file a lawsuit, but the court will likely dismiss it because you did not file it promptly. However, sometimes courts make exceptions regarding your statute of limitations. The best way to learn more about your statute of limitations is to speak with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer in Washington.
What Can a Personal Injury and Accident Attorney Do For You?
After a personal injury in Washington, it is normal for you to take time to recover physically and emotionally. Sometimes the recovery period is longer than the statute of limitations. This can be problematic, as it can increase the challenge of filing a lawsuit while you are still recovering. However, a Washington personal injury lawyer can help.
The right personal injury attorneys will understand the legalities surrounding personal injury statutes of limitations in Washington State. If there is an exception to your expired statute of limitations, they should be familiar with it and probably have worked with it.
It is not a rule that a court must automatically dismiss a case that has missed its statute of limitations. A good lawyer will know the local court systems and when a particular case may receive leniency from the court. Your attorney can never guarantee results, but they can guide you through the legal process.
Your lawyer should be honest and upfront about the merits of your case. They should also be clear in their pricing. You may want to hire a lawyer who works on a contingency fee basis, as this can help offset your risk and immediate costs. A contingency fee basis means that you pay nothing until you win. If you lose your case, you will owe your attorney nothing. If you win your case, your attorney will take their fees as a percentage of your monetary awards.
A contingency fee basis offers several benefits, including:
- It ensures that you do not waste your time pursuing a case that is unlikely to prevail. If a lawyer won’t accept your case on a contingency fee basis, it means they do not believe your case is likely to win.
- You can be confident that your case has merit if your lawyer offers to represent you on a contingency fee basis.
- It allows clients to pursue the justice they otherwise could not afford.
- It removes your risk of filing a lawsuit.
The most significant benefit of a contingency fee arrangement is that it removes loss from your equation. Either you win and enjoy the majority of your damages award, or your case does not win but you are no worse off than before your lawsuit.
Washington Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury
Washington’s statute of limitations for personal injury is detailed in the Revised Code of Washington (RCV) 4.16.080. It states that specific actions have a statute of limitations of three years, including an action for injuring a person or their property.
Some factors can change the statute of limitations and shorten or lengthen the time you have to file a personal injury claim. Speaking to an experienced lawyer who understands Washington’s personal injury statute of limitations is the best way to ensure you are well informed about your case’s deadlines and your lawsuit is filed on time.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Washington’s Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury
Our personal injury attorneys work with clients throughout Washington within their statute of limitations. These are some of the most commonly asked questions regarding Washington State’s personal injury statute of limitations and our lawyers’ generalized responses.
What is the statute of limitations for personal injury in Washington?
Washington state has a three-year statute of limitations for personal injury cases. While three years is the deadline in most cases, there are a few exceptions to this rule, including if the victim was under the age of 18 at the time of the accident, if the defendant intentionally attempts to evade justice, and if you did not discover your injuries immediately after the accident.
How long after an accident can you sue in Washington State?
Most personal injury cases must be filed within three years to meet the Washington State statute of limitations. The courts are usually stringent on these deadlines but can make an exception if they feel the choice is justified.
What is it called when it’s too late to sue someone?
If you wait too long to sue the negligent party, your statute of limitations has expired. You have missed the state’s deadline when it expires, and the court will most likely dismiss your lawsuit.
Is there any way around a statute of limitations?
Yes, sometimes there are exceptions to Washington’s statute of limitations. An experienced personal injury attorney can determine whether your case qualifies for an exception. Common exceptions relate to an underage victim, an evasion of justice, and the discovery rule. Additionally, if the court feels an exception is justified, they may grant it, although this is rare.
What counts as a personal injury?
Different categories of law have different statutes of limitations. Personal injury often includes issues such as the following:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Nursing home abuse
- Emotional distress
- Dog bites
- Premises liability
- Medical malpractice
- Wrongful death
- Rideshare accidents.
These questions have been answered in the most general manner to apply to the average situation. Each personal injury case is unique, and you may have questions like those addressed here that warrant a unique answer. For the most accurate information relating to your case, consult the personal injury attorneys at Strong Law.
Exceptions to Washington State’s Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
Three commonly recognized exceptions exist to the state’s personal injury three-year statute of limitations.
Evasion of Justice Exception
If the party who harmed you intentionally evades justice, Washington state can choose to pause the clock on the statute of limitations. For example, the person who injured you may leave the state for three years to avoid being served. If the court believes the defendant was intentionally evading justice, they can make an exception for your claim.
Underage Victim Exception
The statutory deadline works differently if you were under 18 when the negligent party harmed you. Your statute of limitations deadline will not begin on the date of your accident. Instead, it starts on your 18th birthday. Sometimes, underage victims can be granted even more time, beyond their 21st birthday. If this exception may apply to you, it is crucial to speak with a personal injury lawyer in Washington as soon as possible.
Discovery Rule Exception
Most injuries, such as a broken bone, are readily apparent following an accident. However, some types of injuries may not be easy to recognize. Some injuries are latent, as they are invisible to the untrained eye and can show up weeks after an accident. If you cannot reasonably know about your damages within the statute of limitations, the court may pause the clock until you discover your injuries.
The court uses the discovery rule more often in personal injury cases involving cancer or other diseases you were unaware of. Most physical injuries from car wrecks and similar accidents should appear within a few weeks of the accident.
Contact Strong Law For Help
At Strong Law, we believe that each case is unique. We take the time to investigate the circumstances surrounding your claim. We are in touch with the human aspect of each case.
When we accept you as a client, we pledge to provide you with the following:
- Compassion and understanding throughout our professional relationship
- Aggressive representation to secure fair compensation for your injuries
- The resources your case needs to prevail
- Timely responses to your questions and concerns.
When you contact us to arrange your free, no-obligation consultation and case evaluation, we will find a time that works for you. We will actively listen to your story during our meeting and ask follow-up questions. We will answer your questions and explain why we can or cannot accept your case. We will outline your possible legal options for pursuing compensation and justice and explain what those options entail.
If we decide to accept your case, you can be sure that we will aggressively pursue the maximum compensation you deserve. We will keep your needs in mind throughout the entire legal process. We will guide and advise you throughout your lawsuit. However, you will ultimately control whether to accept or reject any settlement offers.
Considering the zero risk associated with our contingency fee basis in conjunction with our 98 percent win rate, you can rest easy knowing that your case is in good hands. We are proud to have recovered more than $3.5 million in damage awards and settlements for our personal injury clients.
Contact us today at 206-741-1053 to arrange a free consultation with one of our Washington personal injury statute of limitations lawyers.