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What Is the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

In Washington State, the statute of limitations for fling a personal injury lawsuit is three years.

Washington state statute RCW 4.16.080 Actions limited to three years provides:

An action for taking, detaining, or injuring personal property, including an action for the specific recovery thereof, or for any other injury to the person or rights of another not hereinafter enumerated

However, if you were injured in a Washington injury accident, we do not recommend that you wait until just before the statute of limitations expires before filing your claim. Waiting until the 11th hour can damage your claim in the following ways:

  • Notification. Failing to provide prompt notification to the liable party of your injury , even if you do not plan civil action, may nullify your claim in the future. For example, some states have statutes which require you to notify a government of a slip, trip or fall accident within 30, 60 or 90 days. If you fail to do so, you may not be able to file a civil suit.
  • Lost Evidence. Failing to contact an attorney early on may mean that evidence is lost. In many cases, a personal injury attorney works with an investigator who will take accident scene photos and in the case of car accidents, photos of the damaged vehicles. If one waits too long, then the chance may be lost to photograph damaged cars. If too much time passes, the investigator may not be able to photograph skid marks, poorly marked signage, etc.
  • Witness Problems. Failing to work with an attorney on your case may mean that you lose witnesses. Witnesses, over time, forget, move or even die.
  • Memory Fades with time. With time, your memory may fade. Later on, this can hurt your case because you will not be able to answer questions or "interrogatories" posed to you. Depositions require the knowledge of many facts and having a clear memory of all of the information of your case will help you. Saying, "I don't remember." or, "I forget." will hurt your case.
  • Multiple Injury Cases. In a case where there are several people injured, if the negligent person has limits to their insurance, the first injured persons to file claims may be covered but subsequent claims may not be covered by insurance.
  • Documenting Treatment. A personal injury attorney will advise you on how to document your treatment and keep medical records for use in your case.
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