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Washington Statute of Limitations Guide for Car Accidents

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Home Blog Auto Accident Washington Statute of Limitations Guide for Car Accidents

Information Summary

  • The statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Washington is three years.
  • The statute of limitations for Washington wrongful death claims is three years.
  • If your statute of limitations expires, you cannot collect any compensation.
  • You should report your car accident to your car insurance within 24-48 hours of the accident.

After a car accident, all victims typically want to do is focus on getting better. Unfortunately, that recovery is often interrupted by insurance companies, repair shops, doctors, police, and more. With so much happening at once while you are trying to deal with your injuries, it is easy to become overwhelmed.

With all of this on your mind, you may accidentally miss important deadlines for filing insurance claims. If you do miss a deadline, you could end up footing the bill yourself for someone else’s negligence. Do not miss out on your chance for fair compensation by missing any deadlines. Take a closer look at the statute of limitations for car accident claims in Washington State, and discover how an attorney can help you submit filings within the proper period of time.

What is the Washington Statute of Limitations for a Personal Injury Claim After a Car Accident?

In general, the statute of limitations in the state of Washington is three years from the date of the accident under the Revised Code of Washington (RCW). It is important to keep in mind that there are several exceptions to the three-year limit that may be relevant to your unique case. Additionally, the three-year limit is how long the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is. There is no specific statute of limitations for filing an insurance claim, but insurers tend to set their own limits that vary based on your policy.

When considering the statute of limitations laws, you must also consider the discovery rule. This rule dictates that the three-year statute of limitations does not begin until the injury is discovered. For adult people involved in car crash cases, this commonly occurs the same day as the accident.

Additionally, the three-year time limit does not begin until the claimant is a legal adult. If the injury victim is under the age of 18, they have until their 21st birthday to file their lawsuit, as the three-year limit does not begin until their 18th birthday. Also, people rendered mentally incompetent by an accident do not face the three-year limit until their competencies return.

Statute of Limitations on a Hit-and-Run Car Accident in Washington State

In a hit-and-run accident, if the wrongdoer cannot be identified, the case is generally regulated by the policy provisions of the claimant’s uninsured motorist coverage. Many policies require that you file a police report and inform your insurance company of the collision. The time limit for these cases can vary based on the policy, so you should seek the legal advice of a Washington car accident attorney as soon as possible.

What is the Washington Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death After a Car Accident?

Much like other kinds of auto accidents, the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is three years.

How Long Do I Have to File an Accident Report With the Police After a Washington Car Accident?

man getting accident citation for a car accident

In accordance with Washington law, if you are involved in a collision that meets the accident reporting threshold, you must file an accident report with the police within four days of the accident. If you fail to do so, you could have your driver’s license suspended, which is particularly tough for people who rely on their Class C license for work. That’s just the most direct consequence, however, as you could also experience a delay in your case evaluation by your attorney or your insurer. Plus, key information may be omitted if you wait too long to file a report.

How to File a Collision Report in Washington State

Washington State requires people involved in accidents that meet the accident reporting threshold to file a Motor Vehicle Collision Report, or MVCR, in the wake of their accident. Fortunately, you will find several different ways to submit a report. You can submit a report online at your convenience, though the web page may not be compatible with all smartphones. You may also submit a report by mail. If your collision is investigated by law enforcement, then the report is often taken care of for you. The basic collision report can usually be acquired here. The Washington State Patrol operates as a clearinghouse for collision reports, but keep in mind that the basic 3-5 page report is not all of the information that may be available or relevant to your case. A free consultation with an experienced Washington personal injury attorney can help identify other potential sources of important information.

In the report, you will need to include several details regarding your collision. These will include the date of the collision, the approximate time it occurred, and how law enforcement investigated your collision. The latter typically means stating whether you were helped by the State Patrol, city police, sheriff, or other kind of police. You may also include certain occurrences in your report, such as a hit-and-run scenario or a vehicle fire. Additionally, you will need to include where the accident took place, a description of the damage, and other relevant details about the nature of the accident.

How Long Do I Have to Report My Accident to My Insurance in Washington?

Insurance companies vary when it comes to how long you have to report an accident, but the vast majority want the report as soon as possible. Specifically, most providers will want a report within 24-48 hours of the accident. While there is no specific requirement for when you ought to seek healthcare, if you wait too long, you may face challenges proving to the insurance company that the injuries you suffered were caused by the accident.

What Happens if I File a Lawsuit After the Statute of Limitations Has Expired?

If you try to file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations has expired, you will not be able to recover any compensation for damages. That is why it is essential that you meet with a Washington personal injury lawyer and file your claim as soon as possible in the wake of an accident. Plus, getting together with a lawyer early means you can leave the legal issues to them and focus on recovery for yourself.

What to Do After an Accident With an Uninsured Motorist

man feeling upset behind the wheel of his car


Typically, accident victims make claims against the at-fault party’s insurance, but that may not be possible if they do not have any insurance. In these cases, there are several routes you can take. The first is to tap into your own personal injury protection insurance, which covers losses without considering fault. You may also utilize your own uninsured motorist policy, which is specifically designed for these kinds of situations. It is very important that you secure a certified copy of your policy after a crash. This is different than the declaration page. A certified copy of your policy will outline your rights with respect to your underinsured motorist coverage and an experienced Washington personal injury attorney can help you understand those rights.

As a disclaimer, the at-fault driver is still legally liable for damages suffered, so you could always just sue them directly with a civil action. Alternatively, you can rely on your own health care to handle your medical bills.

Why You Should Not Wait to File Your Car Accident Claim

Filing your claim as soon as possible will always be the most beneficial action for your case, provided that you talk with a Washington personal injury lawyer first. A lawyer can help you gather the proper evidence, include all the necessary documentation, and avoid missing deadlines while you focus on recovery.

Why Clients Choose McPartland Law Offices

At McPartland Law Offices, we strive to develop a trusting attorney-client relationship that prioritizes your needs. Our Offices have helped win over 3.6 million dollars in compensation for our clients. When you work with us, we do not win unless you do. Here are some testimonials from past clients.

Recent Client Testimonials

“McPartland Law Office is great! Everyone will work tirelessly to help you & accomplish whatever needs to be done! Highly recommend using McPartland Law.” — Margaret S.

“The employees & service is amazing! Brady is very helpful & professional.” — Jaylyne S.

It Is Time to Fight for What You Deserve

If you were injured in a car accident in Spokane, Moses Lake, or anywhere else in East Washington, McPartland Law Offices can help oversee that your claim does not expire with the statute of limitations. Get in touch with our team by calling 509-495-1247 or filling out our online contact form for a free consultation.