statute of limitations in washington for car accident

Car accidents leave countless people injured. In addition to damage to vehicles, car accidents can send someone to the hospital where they incur thousands of dollars in medical care.

Even worse, some motorists cannot return to work, losing out on badly needed income right when their expenses have exploded.

Fortunately, Washington law allows injured motorists to request compensation from the driver at fault for the collision. There are many reasons for car accidents, but by far the majority are caused by careless, negligent, and reckless drivers.

If you have been injured, you need to move quickly. Washington gives injured motorists a limited amount of time to sue for compensation. This deadline is found in the state’s statute of limitations.

What is the Statute of Limitations in Washington for a Car Accident?

You can find this statute in the Revised Code section 4.16.080. It states that injured motorists generally have 3 years to file a claim for compensation. If an accident took place on July 4, 2016, then the motorist has until July 4, 2019 to file suit.

There is also a different statute of limitations if a loved one died in the crash and you want to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. However, the limitations period is the same—you have 3 years to file suit from the date of your loved one’s death. The clock starts running from the date of death, not the date of the car accident, which could have happened months earlier.

What Happens if You Miss the Car Accident Statute of Limitations Deadline?

Unless an exception applies to you, missing the deadline can be disastrous. The defendant can ask the judge to throw the lawsuit out of court, and the judge will comply.

This means that you will not receive any compensation for your injuries and the at-fault driver will get away without having to pay any money.

Why Does Washington Have a Statute of Limitations?

Washington courts want to decide cases using fresh evidence. The more time that passes since an accident, the worse everyone’s memory will be. Other evidence can also disappear, hampering the ability to get to the truth of what happened.

For these reasons, Washington does not want injured victims to sit on their rights.

How Can a Lawyer Help with a Statute of Limitations Car Accident?

Even if you want to settle your dispute with an insurance company, you still need to pay attention to the statute of limitations. An attorney can quickly file your case in the appropriate court which will protect your rights. In the event that negotiations break down, you can go to court and ask a judge or jury for compensation for your injuries.

Without a properly filed lawsuit, an insurance company has far less incentive to actually settle your claim.

Reach out to a Washington Car Accident Attorney

At Kapuza Lighty, our attorneys help people like you every day get the compensation they need to recover from a bad accident. We are a phone call away. If you reach out, you can schedule a case evaluation with one of our lawyers.


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