Understanding Personal Injury Laws in Washington State
If you have been injured in the state of Washington, you will have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit against the negligent party. It is imperative that you contact an attorney right away to ensure that you do not miss the date that you need to file your claim.
The Statute of Limitations
The time that you can file your lawsuit is called the “statute of limitations,” and it is different for various types of claims. If you fail to file your lawsuit within the statute of limitations, you forfeit your right to sue the at-fault party forever. For example, if you suffered an accident that is the fault of another, you have three years in Washington to file your claim. If you fail to file the lawsuit within the three-year period, you will never be able to take the guilty party to court in the future.
Pure Comparative Negligence
Washington law uses “pure comparative negligence” in determining who is at fault. This means that you can be assigned a portion of the blame for your injuries. The court will determine how much the plaintiff will be ordered to pay you, but it will be reduced by the amount of blame that you receive. For example, the jury may decide that the at-fault party deserves 65% of the blame for the accident and that you deserve 35%. Your award will, therefore, be reduced by 35% to account for your portion of the blame.
If the jury determines that the plaintiff truly is at fault for your injuries, the court will determine how much the guilty party must pay you in damages. Damages are the amount of money that you receive to compensate you for the accident. For example, you may have missed work because you were too injured to work, and may also have medical bills to pay for the injuries that you suffered. Your vehicle may have been damaged and must be repaired. You may need some rehabilitation to recover fully from your injuries. The damages that you are awarded can be used for all of these things.
Alternatives to Court
Some people prefer not to take their personal injury cases to court because it is so expensive and time-consuming. You do have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit in small claims court, but you will need to receive the judge’s permission to have an attorney with you. You may also avoid court in the state of Washington by having your case heard at the Washington State Dispute Resolution Center.