Understanding the Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in Washington State
Why waiting to file an action is not in your best interest
The principle behind a statute of limitations is to encourage parties with disputes to resolve them in a timely manner. The law is designed to give plaintiffs enough time to:
- Discover that they have been injured
- Ascertain the extent of their injuries
- Be reasonably sure about who might be liable for those injuries
But, the law sets a time limit to protect defendants from the burden of living under a constant threat of a lawsuit brought at an opportune moment for the plaintiff, such as when a key defense witness becomes unavailable. The law also seeks to relieve courts of the burden of adjudicating old grudges or generational feuds long after memories of the events in question have faded. Therefore, the law places a limit on the amount of time a plaintiff has to bring a lawsuit. If the plaintiff does not file within the time allotted, the plaintiff forfeits forever the right to sue.
What is the statute of limitations in Washington for personal injury?
A statute of limitations is state law; throughout the country, different states set different time limits for identical causes of action. Within each state, different causes of action have different time limits. In Washington, for personal injury lawsuits, the statute of limitations is three years.
Individuals may find they have more than three years from the time of the injury causing event, because:
- At the time of the event, the injury was not apparent. Surgical malpractice or dangerous drug side effects may cause injuries that do not become obvious until years later.
- For a period of time after the injury event, the victim was incapacitated. When an injured party is incapacitated because of an injury, that period of time is not counted toward the time limit.
The statute of limitations is not an excuse to procrastinate
Waiting until the last minute is a poor habit in life, and it can be disastrous for your personal injury action. The sooner you retain an attorney, the sooner you have an experienced, qualified professional working to assemble the evidence you need to prevail. You may hope that you can settle your injury claim without filing a lawsuit, but retaining a personal injury lawyer and filing sends a strong message to the opposition that you intend to assert your rights. Often, the threat of a lawsuit is the only thing that gets an opposing party to the negotiating table. Delays in asserting your rights mean a longer wait for compensation, while your medical bills eat away at your family savings. Taking a passive approach, you can expect to be passed over. When you retain Rush, Hannula, Harkins & Kyler, L.L.P., you get aggressive representation that moves your case forward.
The clock is ticking; contact Rush, Hannula, Harkins & Kyler, L.L.P. today!
There’s truth to the old legal adage that he who sits on his rights loses them. Act today to assert your right to full, fair compensation for your injuries. Call Rush, Hannula, Harkins & Kyler, L.L.P. at 253.250.4516 or contact our Tacoma office online to arrange your free consultation.