Car accidents aren’t pretty even in the best case scenario but even after it is over, you will fighting for an insurance settlement. If you are unable to reach a settlement you will be facing the choice to file a lawsuit. The statute of limitations varies from state to state; seeking the help of an experienced car accident attorney right away is the best way to ensure that your case will be handled effectively. If you were at fault in a car accident you may also be wondering how long the other party has to bring a lawsuit against you.
What is the Statute of Limitations for a Car Accident Lawsuit in Washington State?
Statute of Limitations Defined: The statute of limitations is the legal rule that limits the time for a person/party to file a lawsuit. If you have a lawsuit to file, you must bring it within a certain amount of time, or you forfeit the right to bring the lawsuit. The statute of limitations can start running from the time that the injury is discovered or from the time of the incident that caused the injury, depending on the nature of the lawsuit and the state in which the injury occurred.
The type of lawsuit can have an impact of the statute of limitations. A civil lawsuit involving property damage or a minor personal injury falls under a general civil lawsuit in most states. If the car accident caused a death then the lawsuit may actually be filed for wrongful death and will have its own statute of limitations. A lawsuit against the car maker would fall under product liability and also have its own statute of limitations.
Washington State Car Accident Laws
The statute of limitations for a civil suit brought for a car accident depends on which state you live in and the type of lawsuit you are filing. In many states, you have two years to bring a basic car accident lawsuit but the actual rules can be complicated as they are based on many factors. In Washington State, the statute of limitations to file a personal injury or vehicle damage case for car accidents is three years. Read the full text of this law at Revised Code of Washington section 4.16.080.
If you miss the deadline to file a lawsuit, the court will refuse to hear your case. Even if you are trying to settle out of court, it is important to keep your deadline in mind just in case the settlement fails and you decide to file a lawsuit.
Special Note: Comparative Fault Rules in Washington
If an injured person is partially to blame for their injury, you can still file a lawsuit against the other party. In Washington State a system called the “pure comparative negligence” approach is used to determine the amount of damages that will be paid. This means that whatever amount of damages you recover, they will be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to you.
If you or a loved one were injured in an accident, you have enough to deal with. 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 bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys 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!