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How long do I have to file a lawsuit after my car accident?

On Behalf of | Feb 8, 2022 | Car Accidents |

Car accidents seemingly come out of nowhere and can upend your life in an instant, especially when you’re injured. In addition to the physical pain you endure, there can be emotional trauma and financial struggles. It’s a lot to put up with and a personal injury lawsuit might be your best option. But the clock is ticking.

The statute of limitations

Every driver on the road owes everyone else a duty of care – they must drive with a reasonable amount of caution and pay attention to what they’re doing. When someone fails this duty and causes an accident, injuring another in the process, they are negligent. Washington gives the victim in this situation the right to sue the negligent party for damages, so that they can be made whole.

However, Washington also puts a time limit on the victim’s right to sue, called the statute of limitations. For the majority of car accidents, that time limit is three years, calculated from the date of the accident. The victim must file their lawsuit within that three-year limit – if they do not, they lose the right to sue forever.

Three years may sound like plenty of time but there’s a lot more preparation which must take place than you may realize. An investigation has to be done, witnesses must be interviewed and evidence collected. None of this happens overnight. Furthermore, the longer you wait the more memories fade and evidence becomes ‘stale’, potentially harming your chances of bringing a successful lawsuit. You’re entitled to your day in court and compensation for your injuries – delaying that process can easily limit your ability to get them.