The Clock Is Ticking: Do You Know How Much Time You Have To File A Personal Injury Lawsuit in Washington State?
The statute of limitations is the period of time during which a legal action must be started. In Washington State, the limit for starting personal injury cases is three years.
But that does not mean you should wait three years to resolve your claim or file a lawsuit. As time passes, evidence is lost or destroyed. The scene of the accident changes, records are erased or mislaid, witness memories can fade over time, or important witnesses may move and not be easy to locate. Generally, the more time that elapses, the greater the likelihood that important evidence may be lost or destroyed. Simply put, waiting too long to investigate and/or prosecute the claim in court may cause irreparable damage to the case.
WARNING: It is a dangerous practice to wait until the statute of limitations period is about to expire before filing a personal injury lawsuit. If the lawsuit is filed right before the deadline and if the defendant cannot be found, or if the wrong defendant is served, the case will be dismissed and the plaintiff gets nothing. For this reason, it is very important to hire an attorney well before the statute of limitations expires. Many attorneys will refuse to accept a case when the statute of limitations period is about to expire because there may be insufficient time to investigate the case, file the suit, and locate and personally serve the proper defendants. The lesson: do not wait until the statute of limitations is about to expire before you protect your rights.