Written By: Josh Lowell ~
Washington laws should be easy to read and understand, especially when it comes to important deadlines like the statute of limitations. While the standard rules might be easy to understand, there are always exceptions that create uncertainty. The statute of limitations in Washington is different depending on the type of personal injury claim you are making. Hiring an attorney is the first step to ensuring you meet all the deadlines required for your case.
The three main personal injury categories have three different deadlines:
- Two Year Statute – Cases involving intentional torts are subject to a two-year deadline. Most commonly this includes cases for assault and battery along with defamation cases including libel and slander. Look to RCW 4.16.100 for more information.
- Three Year Statute – The vast majority of personal injury cases mandating a three-year statute of limitations are those for car accident injuries. This deadline applies to any tort cases including claims for negligence – such as dog bites and slip and fall matters. RCW 4.16.080 also describes cases for trespass or property damage cases as well.
- Medical Malpractice – RCW 4.16.350 specifically describes injuries resulting from health care services. These cases must be commenced within three years of the act or omission, or one year from the time the patient or representative discovered or reasonably should have discovered the injury was caused by said act or omission. The case cannot be brought more than eight years after the fact.
While most cases will be brought within two to three years, there are a few exceptions that are important to note.
- RCW 4.16.350 – In medical malpractice cases, the statute doesn’t begin if the malpractice was concealed by fraud or the case involves a foreign body hidden within the patient’s body.
- RCW 7.70.110 – In medical malpractice cases, the statute is tolled for one year if a written, good faith request for mediation is made to the medical provider.
- RCW 4.16.170 – For any case, if you file your case, the statute of limitations is tolled for 90-days to allow for service on a defendant. The opposite applies, as well. If you fail to make such service or filing within 90-days, the law acts as if you had never filed or served in the first place.
The rules regarding the statute of limitations in Washington can be confusing. After your car accident (or any other personal injury matter), consulting with an attorney may be your safest bet to ensure compliance with the law. Failure to abide by the applicable statute of limitations may lead to the inability to bring your case to court. The skilled litigators at the law offices of Magnuson Lowell, PS know the law and are happy to share their experience. Call today for a free case evaluation!