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What’s the statute of limitations for Washington car accidents?

On Behalf of | Apr 14, 2024 | Car Accident

A car accident is always a chaos-inducing event in anybody’s life – and your immediate concern is making sure that you get the appropriate medical care for your injuries. 

Only once you’re medically stable may you turn your attention to the practical concerns, including how you’re going to pay for your medical care and recover fair compensation for your missing wages and other losses. So, how long do you have to file a personal injury claim after a car wreck?

You get three years – but you shouldn’t wait that long

Broadly speaking, the statute of limitations – which is the time limit within which a claim for damages must be filed – is three years from the date of the wreck. 

That seems like a pretty generous time frame – and it’s longer than what is given in many other states – but there are some compelling reasons why you don’t want to wait until the deadline approaches to get started:

  • Evidence may be lost: The sooner you make a claim, the easier it may be to lock down important pieces of evidence, such as photos of the vehicles, photos of the scene and surveillance video from dash cams, street cams and businesses near the site.
  • Memories can fade: If there were witnesses to the event, they can become harder to locate with time – and their recollection of the accident can grow increasingly fuzzy. Acting sooner can make it easier to obtain compelling witness testimony that may tilt the outcome of the case in your favor.
  • The insurance company may be extra resistant: The at-fault party’s insurer may try to exploit a delay in your claim to undermine the validity of your case. They might argue that your injuries were not as severe as claimed or were caused by something unrelated to the accident. By acting swiftly, you can better demonstrate the immediacy and severity of your injuries.

You don’t have to wait until you’re fully healed to initiate action in a claim. Learning more about your legal options can help you decide what steps to take next.