Why You Must Pay Attention to the Statute of Limitations in Your Personal Injury Case

By | April 12, 2016

Personal injury law, or tort law, empowers an injured person to go to civil court and get legal remedy for damages and injuries received in an incident or accident caused by someone else’s negligence. It allows the injured to get compensated financially, when he or she has been hurt by someone else’s faulty or deliberate actions.

Statute of Limitations (SOL) are an important part of any personal injury lawsuit. Statutes of Limitations are a compulsory time limit that the state or federal law imposes on a lawsuit. It must be adhered to.

If you fail to file your claim within the time limit, you may be permanently barred from recovering any compensation for the damages and injuries that you have encountered. This is the primary rationale for the Statute of Limitations. In this post, we look at the significant reasons why the Statute of Limitations is essential in a lawsuit, keeping Washington personal injury lawsuits’ SOL in focus for reference.

The Later You File the Lawsuit, the Higher the Chances of Case Dismissal

In the state of Washington, the Statute of Limitations for personal injury lawsuits is three years. This may seem like a relatively long period, but the clock starts ticking the moment when the accident or injury takes place. Time limit is everything. Don’t postpone filing your case until the last minute. When you file your case, pay very close attention to the expiry date of the Statute of Limitations. If you don’t, you will find it difficult to hire a competitive attorney. Attorneys refuse such a case, as they will have very little time to investigate the case, file a lawsuit, uncover defendants, and prepare a strong case.

In these circumstances, the chances of your case getting dismissed are very high. Add to this the numerous possibilities of the defendant being missing or the wrong defendant being served, and the injured person is left with nothing but a nullified case – with no compensation.

And, if you make the mistake of filing the lawsuit outside of the three year window, your case will definitely be dismissed.

Making Optimum Use of the Statute of Limitations to Make a Strong Case

There did exist a time when there were no Statute of Limitations for cases involving personal injury. The victim could file a lawsuit years later against the propagating party. However, this led to many complications and problems for the victim, which obstructed justice. Witnesses were deceased or would go missing, files were destroyed, and evidence was manipulated.

These examples led to misinformed judgments that did not benefit the victim in any way. The Statute of Limitations thus aid the victim in all evidence-gathering, witness summons, and all other research, in a quick and timely manner to receive justice and rightful compensation.

Statute of Limitations Lend Momentum to Your Case

Human nature is such that we procrastinate and delay matters that we do not fully understand. Knowing that there is a time limit in the form of Statute of Limitations pushes us to hire an attorney, and file a suit. It puts us into action mode and keeps the case in focus. It ensures that all important details around the case are presented, revised, and looked into thoroughly before the legal expiration date. This helps in designing a water-tight case.

Obviously, as new details emerge and new arguments are put forth by the defendant attorney, the case can be modified accordingly, but it must gain momentum and begin prior to the Statute of Limitations deadline.

Exceptions to Statute of Limitations

There are certain special circumstances under which the time limits may be extended. However, only an expert attorney can navigate you through the complications of the legal world. When it comes to Washington, there are special Statutes of Limitations for medical malpractice claims against government entities like the University of Washington or public hospitals. If you are challenging or filing a lawsuit against the federal government, special restrictions and requirements apply.

Similarly, there are specific time limits for filing different civil lawsuits in Washington. Expert personal injury lawyer from Washington elaborates, “Washington’s civil Statute of Limitations state that defamation lawsuits have a two-year limit, personal injury and fraud have a three year limit, while debt collection has a six year limit.”

In certain cases, the limitations are modified. For instance, child victims and those who are severely disabled are not subjected to the Statute of Limitations. The Statute of Limitations only come into place for child victims when they become 18 years of age. When it comes to people who are so severely disabled that they cannot file a lawsuit before the expiration of the Statute of Limitations, courts often offer exemption. Sometimes, courts also offer exemption when an additional fact or complication arises during the legal procedures.

Understanding Comparative Fault Rules in Washington

Hiring a good attorney should be the first step in a personal injury case. The Comparative Fault rules in Washington states that, if you are partially at-fault for the injuries received, then the amount you recover or are compensated with will be reduced by the percentage of fault that is attributed to you. However, your attorney will pursue this rule for you, and ensure that partial fault does not lead to the foreclosure of the case, or that through the ‘pure comparative negligence approach’, you still receive a justified amount of compensation.

However, don’t be too surprised if the insurance adjuster raises the percentage of shared fault in your case to reduce your awarded damages. Let your personal injury attorney navigate the case for you in injury settlement negotiations or in the court trial, if the case reaches the courts.


Statutes of Limitations are integral to a lawsuit. Whenever you experience injury, defamation, or fraud due to another’s intentional action or negligence, you must hire an attorney and file a personal injury claim, keeping in mind your state’s imposed Statute of Limitations.


Matt Conner is an associate attorney at Brett McCandlis Brown Law Firm that provides you the best personal injury lawyer in Washington State. Matt has undergraduate degree from from Willamette University in Salem in mathematics and economics. Matt likes playing soccer, fishing, skiing and camping.

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