Is There a Time Limit on Personal Injury Claims?
A “personal injury” is a legal term typically used in civil court settings to refer to any type of injury including physical, financial, or psychological that affects an individual. When a person or group of people experiences a personal injury because of the intentional, negligent, or reckless behavior of another, a personal injury claim may be an appropriate way to recover damages. Is there a time limit on personal injury claims? Yes, every state has a time limit on the amount of time an injured person has to seek compensation for their injuries through a personal injury claim. Some states are more generous than others with time limits ranging from one to six years.
What is a statute of limitations?
A statute of limitations is a type of federal or state law enacted by the legislature that restricts or extends the time within which legal proceedings may be brought after a personal injury occurs. Typically, the statute of limitations is used by the defense team to try and defeat an action from a plaintiff after the state’s statute of limitation has passed.
Washington State statute of limitations on personal injury claim
In Washington State, people injured in accidents because of the negligent actions of another generally have three years from the date of the accident or the date that they reasonably should have known about their injuries to file a personal injury claim.
The three-year time limit to file a personal injury claim is relevant for:
- Car/truck/boat/motorcycle/bike accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Toxic torts (exposure to chemical or other dangerous substance)
- Wrongful death
- Defective product (products liability)
- Nursing home neglect
- A medical malpractice case has a three-year statute of limitations from the date of the act or omission or a one-year statute from the date the injury should have been discovered (the Discovery Rule), whichever is later. Under no circumstances may a medical malpractice claim be brought more than eight years after the act or omission.
- If the injured party is a minor child, the child may have three years from their 18th birthday to file a claim.
- An assault or battery case has a two-year statute of limitations.
- A defamation case has a two-year statute of limitations.
Don’t wait until the last minute
It is not a good idea to wait until the last minute to file a personal injury claim for several reasons:
- Failure to notify a liable party of your injury within a reasonable or set timeline may nullify a claim you file in the future.
- The longer you wait after an injury has occurred to hire an attorney and file a suit, the more risk you have that important evidence will be lost such as skid marks at the scene.
- If you wait too long to contact a personal injury lawyer, the more likely that witnesses may be lost as they move, forget the incident, or even pass away.
- Your own memory of the incident will fade over time.
- If the accident involves more than one injured party, the first person to file a suit may be the only one eligible for damages due to limits on the defendant’s insurance coverage.
- Missing out on guidance from a personal injury lawyer. A personal injury attorney will advise you on how to document your treatment and keep medical records in order to help support your claim.
Contacting a personal injury lawyer to start a personal injury claim is only the start of the process. It may take two to three years to resolve the claim but getting the ball rolling as soon as possible is in a plaintiff’s (injured party’s) interest.
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!