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An Overview of Washington State Personal Injury Laws

Like any state, Washington has specific personal injury laws you should be aware of.

Like any state, Washington has specific personal injury laws you should be aware of.

Whether you are pursuing an injury claim through a personal injury lawsuit in court or with an insurance company, you may be wondering about the process and whether the Washington state laws will affect your claim. Let’s have a look at some key personal injury laws in Washington state.

Statute of Limitations for Injury Lawsuits

The Statute of Limitations, which is applicable in each state, requires that you file your lawsuit in the state’s civil court system within a certain time limit.  You may be barred permanently from receiving any compensation for your injuries if you do not file your claim within the time limit.

The Statute of Limitations in Washington state is three years, beginning on the date of your accident or injury. It is absolutely vital to keep to this time limit, because your case will most certainly be dismissed if you try to file your lawsuit after the three-year period.

Washington’s Comparative Fault Rules

There are some cases where an injured person may be partially to blame for causing their own injuries. If this applies to your case, your claim is not entirely foreclosed because you may share a percentage of fault. A “pure comparative negligence” approach is used in Washington state. This means that the amount you recover will be reduced by your percentage of fault. In other words, if you are determined by the judge or jury to be 25% at fault you will receive 75% of the recovery amount.

In awarding damages to you, the court is required to apply this comparative negligence rule if your personal injury lawsuit goes all the way through trial.

Liability for Dog Bite or Attack Cases

Dog owners in many states have some degree of protection from injury liability the first time their dog injures someone. This is often known as a “one bite rule”. In Washington however, the owner is made “strictly liable” by a specific statute (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 16.08.040). Meaning that regardless of the animal’s past behavior, any personal injury caused by the dog is the dog owner’s responsibility.

The Statute reads:

“The owner of any dog which shall bite any person while such person is in or on a public place or lawfully in or on a private place including the property of the owner of such dog, shall be liable for such damages as may be suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of such dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.”

Liabilities of Government Entities in Washington

Special rules and limitations apply if your injury claim is against a local or state government employee or entity. A formal notice of your claim must be filed within the statute of limitations period of three years, with the state or municipality involved. A notice of claim does not get filed with a court, and differs from a complaint, which is the document that normally initiates a lawsuit.

Once you have formally put the state or local government entity on notice of your claim, you have to wait sixty days after filing your claim, before you can file a lawsuit.

What Next?

Of course, this is only a quick overview of personal injury laws in Washington State. It’s important that you discuss your situation with a qualified, expert personal injury lawyer like the ones at Cunnane Law in Edmonds, WA. Whether it’s a car crash, long-term disability, or other injury, Cunnane Law will fight for you. Call us for a consultation today.

Note: This information was provided not for any specific claim and is written in broad and general terms and may not be the right path to follow for a particular claim or case. This information is not intended to create an attorney client relationship. It is always best to receive direct legal counsel for your legal issues. It is never too early to call the attorney, but it can be too late.

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