What Is the Statute of Limitations in Washington State for Car Accidents?

Statute of LimitationsIn Washington state, you have to file an action for personal injuries resulting from a car accident within three years of the wreck. (R.C.W. Section 4.16.080) If you do not meet this deadline, you may be unable to file a lawsuit to get compensation for your injuries.

An Insurance Company Cannot Change the Amount of Time You Have to File a Lawsuit

Notify the insurance company right away about an accident, but the insurer cannot change the legal deadlines for filing a lawsuit for your injuries. If an insurance company denies your claim, saying that you waited too long to file your personal injury claim, but you are within three years of the wreck, contact a Washington car accident lawyer.

Do Not Wait Until the Eleventh Hour to Talk to a Lawyer About Your Case

A great deal goes into filing a lawsuit. Some of the possible steps we might take before filing a lawsuit, depending on the facts of your case, can include:

  • Investigating the accident to determine who caused the wreck;
  • Finding out if there are multiple liable parties;
  • Working with experts in accident reconstruction to figure out how the collision happened; and
  • Obtaining police reports that identify all the parties involved in the wreck and that may describe the weather and road conditions at the scene of the accident.

All these actions take time. After we complete our investigation and identify fault and liability, we prepare the required legal documents to initiate a lawsuit.

Act Quickly to Preserve the Evidence for a Car Accident

Although you might still have time left under the statute of limitations, you can lose essential evidence we need to prove fault if you wait too long to act. Here are a few examples:

  • The insurance company declared one of the vehicles a total loss and sent it to the scrap yard, where it became a compacted hunk of metal and plastic, useless as evidence. If a defective design or part in the vehicle caused the wreck, you may have difficulty proving it without the vehicle available for inspection.
  • You suspect that one of the drivers was texting while driving. Her cell phone carrier only keeps detailed records for a short period of time, which has passed. She denies that she was inattentive, and you have no records to prove to the contrary.
  • One of the parties liable for your accident is a company, but the company has now gone out of business. You may now be unable to obtain records or documents from the company, let alone file a lawsuit to recover compensation from the now-defunct business.

Act Quickly to Obtain Eyewitness Statements

Police reports may only portray a part of the story. It might be necessary to talk with witnesses. When too much time passes, it can be difficult if not impossible to locate people. Further, eyewitness’ memories of the accident may begin to fade as time passes, so act quickly to locate and secure the testimony of eyewitnesses to the accident.

Tolling the Statute of Limitations

Under limited circumstances, you may be able to toll the statute of limitations for your car accident lawsuit.

Here are some of the scenarios where you may be able to delay the statute of limitations under RCW 4.16.190:

  • Plaintiff is under 18. In such cases, the statute of limitations tolls until the plaintiff turns 18 years old.
  • Plaintiff is incompetent or disabled. If the plaintiff is deemed incompetent or disabled and cannot understand the nature of the proceedings, the statute of limitations tolls until the person is no longer incompetent or disabled.

Tolling the statute of limitations is uncommon. If you were hurt in a car accident, act now to get help filing your lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires for your case.

Call Max Meyers Law today at 425-242-5595 today so that we can get the ball rolling for you. The consultation is free and there is no obligation.

Max Meyers
Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.