Slip and fall lawsuits are considered personal injury claims. Each state has its own set of rules governing how and when personal injury claims can be brought forth against an at-fault party.
In the State of Washington, an injured party has three years from the date of the accident. Courts will dismiss any claims that occur outside of this window.
In other words, claims filed outside the statute of limitations will not be heard.
Exceptions to the Washington Statute of Limitations on Slip and Fall Claims
There is only one exception to the statute of limitations on a personal injury claim. That is when the personal injury happens to a child who is under 18. In that case, the statute is tolled until the child turns 18. In other words, the child would have 3 years from their 18th birthday to file the lawsuit.
On the other hand, the parent would be better off bringing the lawsuit within the three-year statute anyway. In order to do this, the child would have to be appointed a guardian ad litem.
Usually, this is one of the parents in good legal standing with the court. Preferably, the guardian ad litem would be someone with no criminal record who has not filed a recent bankruptcy.
There may be other cases in which a defendant is not capable of filing a claim within the 3-year statute of limitations. It’s difficult to imagine any circumstances under which a victim of a slip and fall would have cause to say that they were not able to file a claim within 3 years, but if there were some extenuating circumstances, the court could make a decision in their favor.
For instance, let’s say that a person slips and falls on an icy parking lot. They hit their head and go into a coma for three years. They have no one to file the lawsuit for them during that period. If they wake up 3 years later, a court may rule that the statute of limitations doesn’t apply in their case. Or, the court would toll the statute of limitations upon their regaining consciousness.
Given the nature of slip and fall accidents, however, that is unlikely. Most tolling occurs in medical malpractice cases in which the period of discovery can take a very long time.
Slip and Fall Litigation in the State of Washington
Slip and fall claims are litigated on the premise that a property owner has a duty of care to maintain their premises in a safe manner. The majority of these claims either involve stores or other publicly accessible properties. In some cases, they involve private homes. In the case of private homes, claims are filed against the homeowner’s insurance.
In either case, your attorney will be going up against an attorney representing either a private business or an insurance company. If the lawsuit is not filed in a timely manner, that is, within the three-year statute of limitations, the defense will move to dismiss the case immediately, and that motion will be summarily granted. Your lawsuit will likely never see a jury or even a decent settlement.
Have You Been Injured by Unsafe Conditions?
If so, let Kapuza Lighty PLLC handle your claim. Our Yakima, Washington attorneys will fight tirelessly to see that you are compensated for your injuries. Give us a call and we can begin preparing your case immediately.