In a personal injury case, a statute of limitations is a legal time limit set by legislation that determines the maximum period after an event within which legal proceedings can be initiated. These time limits vary from state to state and the type of case. Once the statute of limitations has expired, the injured party loses the right to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for their injuries or damages.
The purpose of a statute of limitations is to ensure fairness and prevent the filing of lawsuits long after the events in question, when evidence may have been lost or deteriorated, and witnesses’ memories may have faded. It also provides a sense of finality and legal certainty to potential defendants, allowing them to move forward without the constant threat of litigation hanging over them indefinitely.
If you were injured because of the negligence of another, you may be wondering how much time you have to file a claim. A personal injury lawyer knows the injury laws in your state and is best equipped to make sure that your case is handled within the legal timeframe. So, what is the Statute of Limitations for Filing Personal Injury Claims in Washington State?
What is the Statute of Limitations for Filing Personal Injury Claims in Washington State?
In Washington State, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is generally three years but it can vary slightly, depending on the type of case and special circumstances:
- Negligence claims: Injuries caused by incidents such as a slip and fall, car accidents, or nursing home abuse, fall under the category of negligence. The statute of limitations is three years for negligence claims, except for injuries sustained by minors, who may have three years from their 18th birthday to file a claim.
- Medical malpractice cases: Victims have three years from the date of the act or omission, or one year from the date the injury should have been discovered (according to the Discovery Rule), whichever is later. Under no circumstances can a medical malpractice claim be filed more than eight years after the act or omission.
- Wrongful death cases: The statute of limitations is three years.
- Products liability cases: Three years.
- Strict liability cases: Three years.
- Assault or battery cases: Two years.
- Defamation cases: Two years.
Reasons to Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer Soon After an Accident
There are many benefits to contacting a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after an incident:
It is crucial not to delay filing a personal injury claim for several reasons:
- Prompt notification. Promptly notifying the responsible party of the injury is essential. Failure to do so within a reasonable timeframe might jeopardize future claims.
- Preservation of evidence. Delaying the hiring of an attorney increases the risk of losing critical evidence. Attorneys often work with investigators to capture accident scene details, which may fade over time.
- Witness issues. Witnesses’ availability and recollection fade with time, making it challenging to gather eyewitness accounts supporting the case.
- Fading memory. Over time, memories of the incident and subsequent injury become less reliable, making it harder to provide essential information during legal proceedings.
- Multiple injury cases. In accidents involving multiple injuries, sometimes only the first person to file a lawsuit may be eligible for damages when the negligent party’s insurance coverage is limited.
- Documenting treatment. Seeking immediate medical treatment after an injury is crucial. Early involvement of a personal injury attorney helps in documenting treatment and preserving medical records for legal use, strengthening the case. Waiting too long can compromise the effectiveness of these records in court.
- Peace of mind. Contacting a lawyer soon after your accident takes the burden of handling an injury claim off your shoulders so you can focus on healing.
Timely action is vital when pursuing a personal injury claim to ensure the preservation of evidence, witness accounts, and legal rights, which ultimately maximizes the chances of a successful outcome.
Seek the help of a personal injury lawyer
If you or a loved one was injured because of the negligence of another, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times larger with the help of a lawyer. Call the personal injury lawyers at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!