Can You File a Personal Injury Lawsuit After the Statute of Limitations Has Run?
If you’ve been injured in an accident caused by another’s negligence, it’s crucial to keep in mind that you only have a limited amount of time to pursue a personal injury claim. In Washington State, the statute of limitations to commence a personal injury action is three years, beginning on the date the accident occurred. Any lawsuit in connection with your accident-related injuries must be filed within this time frame. If you miss the statute of limitations, you may be forever barred from recovering the compensation to which you might be entitled.
There are a few exceptions to Washington’s three-year statute of limitations for personal injury actions. You may be able to bring a claim after the statute of limitations has expired under the following circumstances:
- The “discovery rule” applies — In cases involving medical errors, an injury might not be discovered until after the statute of limitations has passed. While a medical malpractice action must be filed within three years from the date of the act that caused the injury, the “discovery rule” allows the time limit to be extended to one year after the injury is discovered, up to eight years after the act.
- You were under 18 when the accident occurred — If you were a minor at the time of the accident, the statute of limitations would be tolled until your 18th birthday. Once you reach the age of majority, you have three years to file a personal injury lawsuit.
- You were incapacitated for a period of time following the accident — The statute of limitations may be extended if you were incapacitated or disabled and could not pursue legal action.
- The defendant left the state of Washington — If the party allegedly responsible for your injuries leaves the state following the accident, or conceals themselves within the state, the clock on the statute of limitations generally won’t start running during the time of absence.
Although there are several exceptions to the standard statute of limitations, it’s essential to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can advise you as to whether one applies in your specific case as soon as possible.
Sustaining an injury in an accident can have a devastating impact on your life and livelihood. For over 20 years, Bottimore & Associates, P.L.L.C. has been helping clients throughout Washington secure the compensation they deserve. Call 253-272-5653 or contact us online to schedule a consultation at our Tacoma office.