How Long Do You Have to Sue for Personal Injury?

If you suffered injuries because of another person’s negligence, you have a specific amount of time to take legal action. If you try to file a lawsuit, the defendant will file a motion to dismiss the case for being outside the statute of limitations. If you attempt settlement negotiations after the statute runs, the defendant may send a letter to “remind” you that the statute has run out. So, if you wonder how long you have to sue for a personal injury, your best step is to reach out to a personal injury lawyer in Washington to ensure you can move forward with your case, and to do so as soon as possible.

How Much Time Do You Have to Bring a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

In most cases in Washington, you will have three years to bring a personal injury lawsuit. While this may seem like a long time, personal injury cases can be complex. This is why not only should you get the help of an attorney, but you should do so quickly. A lawyer will provide you with many services to ensure you get the full compensation you deserve. An attorney will…
  • Help document your accident or incident.
  • Give you guidance to prevent you from revealing too much information to representatives of the insurer or, in the case of eventual litigation, the defendant.
  • Guide your communications with claims adjusters.
  • Advise you on posting on social media sites. Insurance companies troll social media sites to find out if you are really as injured as you say. They may also use any photos and posts to provide rationale for a lower settlement amount or in court proceedings.
  • Guide you through the complex legal procedures involved with settling or litigating an accident injury case.
  • Consult with medical experts on your behalf.
  • Communicate with the insurance companies, including conducting settlement negotiations on your behalf.
  • Gather all needed evidence associated with your injury.
Hiring an attorney quickly helps in the effort to gather evidence, as it tends to disappear. The weather could wear evidence away; authorities could inadvertently destroy evidence; and the defendant could purposefully destroy evidence. Additionally, an attorney can work with you to document all the details of how your injury happened. You are more likely to remember pertinent facts about the accident shortly after it happens. If you wonder how long you have to sue for a personal injury, the above list should help you understand that the three years can go by quickly, when you consider all the information you need to gather and that you need to go through many steps in the process. It takes some time to investigate the case – you do not want to delay taking legal action. Once the statute of limitations bars the action, you will not be able to recover damages you suffered, whether to your property or injuries to yourself.

Statute of Limitations for Most Personal Injury Cases

How long do you have to sue for personal injury in Washington State? Most personal injury cases have a three-year statute of limitations. Certain people have exceptions to the statutes of limitations, but they should file as soon as possible to avoid forgetting pertinent information and inadvertently missing the deadline.

Statute of Limitations for Minor Children and Others with Personal Disabilities

The Washington statutes allow exemptions to the statute of limitations for certain disabilities. A child under the age of 18 is a minor and is considered disabled for these purposes. Those who are not of sound mind also have a disability under the statute. Anyone with a personal disability has three years to take legal action once the disability is gone. A minor child has three years from his or her 18th birthday to take legal action. A person who is not competent cannot file a lawsuit. Thus, an incompetent person has three years from the time the court deems him or her to be competent in which they may file a lawsuit. However, the statute pauses only if the disability was in place when the injuries happened. In such cases, even if you think you can wait for the statute of limitations clock to start — whether the injured party is a minor who turns 18, or a person with a disability who is deemed capable of handling their own affairs – that could take years. During that time, evidence can be lost and memories of when the injury happened will fade. Instead, it is better that a parent or legal guardian act now and contact a personal injury attorney to start proceedings.

Death Before the Statute of Limitations Runs Out

How Long Do You Have to Sue for Personal Injury in a Wrongful Death Case?

Sometimes injuries in an accident do not immediately cause a wrongful death. If a person dies of his or her injuries within three years, and the decedent was entitled to bring a claim for damages, the decedent’s representatives can bring the action. But there is a limitation on how much time you have to bring a personal injury lawsuit. The representatives of the injured party who died have just one year from the date of the decedent’s death to bring the action. If you find yourself in this situation, consulting with a wrongful death lawyer can provide the guidance and support needed during this challenging time.

Other Ways the Time Limitation Can Be Extended

Federal law provides for the suspension of legal actions against military service members who are not able to appear for the proceedings. If a service member is a defendant, the statute of limitations tolls (pauses) until the service member is able to continue the case. If another, separate judicial proceeding stops a legal action, the duration of time in which the action is stopped does not count against the statute of limitations.

Childhood Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations

If a child was a victim of sexual abuse, a parent can bring a personal injury lawsuit against the accused, and should do so as soon as possible. A personal injury case is a civil lawsuit, and the abuser will likely also face charges in criminal court. The parent or guardian has three years to bring legal action from whichever of the following is later:
  • The time of the act that allegedly caused the condition or injury
  • The time the victim discovered or should have discovered that the injury was caused by sexual abuse
  • The time that the victim discovered that the sexual abuse caused the injury.
However, the statute of limitations covers a child until he or she turns 18 for certain actions. As stated above, it is not beneficial to the child to wait until his or her 18th birthday. If you plan to bring not only criminal charges against a perpetrator, but also civil charges, the time needed to pursue a case means you should start your personal injury lawsuit now.

How Much Time Do You Have to Pursue a Medical Malpractice Case?

A medical malpractice claim against doctors, dentists, nurses, other medical professionals and medical entities, such as hospitals, has a three-year statute of limitations. You must bring the action within three years of the actions or inactions that caused the injury or within one year of the time that you discovered the injury was caused by the actions or inactions of a medical professional or entity. However, you cannot bring an action against a medical professional or entity more than eight years after the original action or inaction unless the statute of limitations was paused because of actions that impact your case. Examples are intentional concealment or fraud on the part of those who caused you harm, or because a foreign body that does not belong inside your body was left in your body. Another exception to the three-year time period is if the patient was a child and was sexually abused by a medical professional. If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one because of another person’s negligence, always contact a Washington personal injury attorney as soon as possible. If you are not sure whether an exception applies to you because you are a service member who cannot obtain leave or you are a parent or guardian of a child or a mentally incompetent person, always contact an attorney immediately instead of risking being barred by the statute of limitations. When you need skilled help from attorneys who have deep experience in personal injury cases, you should call Montoya Hinckley.  Reach out to our team at (509) 895-7373. The initial case evaluation is always free, and if you retain us, you do not pay unless we win.

Attorney Kevan Montoya

Attorney Kevan MontoyaFor over thirty years, Mr. Montoya has successfully represented clients in litigation involving multi-million dollar cases involving wrongful death, employment and business and commercial disputes. He regularly counsels businesses in Yakima and Central Washington on employment policies and helps businesses train employees regarding employment law compliance. He regularly speaks on employment issues. [ Attorney Bio ]


Attorney Tyler Hinckley

Attorney Tyler HinckleyTyler Hinckley represents individuals and businesses in state and federal court in litigation involving personal injury, property damage, employment claims, and business and commercial disputes. He represents individuals and businesses in a variety of employment cases, including wrongful termination, wage and hour, employment discrimination, and retaliation. Additionally, he represents individuals in residential construction defect and construction contract disputes, easement and boundary line disputes, and in cases involving damage to real property. Tyler also represents clients in administrative proceedings before state administrative agencies. [ Attorney Bio ]

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