Reminder: You Have 3 Years to File a Car Accident Claim in Washington State
Car accidents are a hassle at the least and deadly at the worst. When a person is injured in a car accident, they are entitled to a car accident settlement that provides compensation for property damage to the vehicle, medical expenses and pain and suffering. Depending on the circumstances and consequences of the injury, some are also entitled to compensation for lost wages, loss of consortium, and disability. Injured parties are also legally entitled to a length of time within which to bring a claim.
You may still be entitled to a settlement even if your car accident happened a while ago. Not everyone pursues a car accident settlement right after they are injured in the crash.
Here are some reasons that you may have not settled your car accident claim a year or longer after the date of the accident:
- You were badly injured and were so overwhelmed with medical treatments and trauma from the accident that you couldn’t bring yourself to deal with the settlement.
- You didn’t feel any immediate symptoms from the soft-tissue injury you incurred from the car accident but a year has passed and you are now dealing with symptoms.
- You have been trying to negotiate a reasonable pain and suffering settlement with the at-fault insurance agency and aren’t getting anywhere. You would now like to proceed with negotiations with the help of a car accident attorney.
- You didn’t know that you are entitled to a pain and injury settlement because you were partially at fault for the accident.
Note that Washington State is a comparative fault state, which means that fault can be shared in a personal injury case. Damages are awarded based on contributory fault law which says that you may only be awarded damages proportionate to the percentage of fault contributed by the defendant and nothing for the amount of fault that you contributed. This does mean that you are entitled to compensation for the portion of the car crash that was the other driver’s fault.
Why do I have 3 years to file a car accident claim in Washington State?
An injured person has a limited amount of time to file a personal injury claim; this is called a statute of limitations. In Washington State, most personal injury claims must be filed within three years of the injury or from the date the person should reasonably have known about the injury. The reason that injured people are given three years to file a personal injury claim is to ensure that they have time to discover the injury and/or to know the true impact of the pain and suffering, necessary treatment and medical expenses associated with the injury. It is also a way to prevent claims from cropping up against defendant’s several years past the accident.
If you were injured because of another driver’s negligent driving, and you have not exceeded the time limit (statute of limitations), you may still be able to recover damages. It’s important to get your claim going as soon as possible, though. It isn’t advisable to wait until a few days before the statute expires in case of any issues that arise.
Seek the help of a car accident attorney
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 car 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!