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How Long do I Have to File a Car Accident Claim & Lawsuit in Washington?

After you have been in a car accident, you may feel overwhelmed with the sheer number of tasks that you need to accomplish while trying to live your life and keep working. This can seem especially daunting if you are injured from the accident.

However, to ensure that you receive just compensation for your property damage and personal injuries, it is important that you know the timeline for filing a claim and a lawsuit in Washington.

A “claim” is different from a lawsuit. A claim is a request to an insurance company for them to provide coverage or compensation for the accident. A lawsuit is a process where a court determines the outcome of the legal dispute that arises from the accident.

Washington State Car Accident Lawsuit Statute of Limitations

A personal injury lawsuit in Washington state against a third party (the person who hit and injured you) for a car accident must be filed no later than three years from the date of the accident, per RCW § 4.16.080. After this date passes, you will have no legal recourse to recover any damages incurred from the crash.

In the event of a death, loved ones can file a car accident wrongful death lawsuit. These must be filed within the same three-year period, but the “clock” starts on the date of the victim’s death rather than the date of the accident.

It is important that you file a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible so that you will have time to file a lawsuit if negotiations take a long time or fail altogether. If you file the claim right away, it increases the chances that you will get paid sooner.

Reporting the Accident to Your Insurance Company

After you have been in an accident, it is your responsibility to report it to your insurance company. Your individual insurance company may have their own claim reporting deadline written into your policy. Always check with your own insurance company for this information.

Even if your insurance company does not have a stated deadline, it is recommended that you report your accident to them promptly or within a reasonable time. Typically, this means that you should call them or report the accident online or through their app as soon as is practical for you.

If you are injured and in the hospital, it is understandable that you will not call them right away. However, you should contact them as soon as you are able. The sooner you contact them, the sooner you will receive your settlement.

How Can an Attorney Help?

Dealing with insurance companies can be difficult and frustrating. An attorney who is experienced in Washington personal injury claims can deal with them for you. If you are injured in an accident and retain an attorney to assist with your claim, you can move on with your life and work while the attorney handles negotiations with the insurance company.

Remember that insurance companies are for-profit companies that will attempt to issue you the lowest settlement possible for your claim. The assistance of an attorney can be the difference between receiving low compensation and just compensation.

Experienced attorneys such as those at Van Law Firm in Washington are here to help you every step of the way in your case. If a settlement cannot be reached, our attorneys will be right beside you through the litigation process fighting for you.  Call us today or contact us online for a FREE consultation.