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Washington State statute of limitations explained

Washington State Capitol building in Olympia for a washington state statute of limitations blog

What is a statute of limitations?

Ah, another legal term, and you want to get to the point and know what it means, right? We get it and are here to walk you through all the legal jargon. Statute of limitations is a term that refers to a law that sets a time limit on parties involved in a dispute to take legal action. Such conflicts are typically civil or criminal alleged offenses a victim places on a suspected wrong-doer. 

As legal professionals based in Washington, we are going to focus on the Washington State statute of limitations for the remainder of the blog. Let’s get into the facts! 

Does Washington State differ from other states?

The short answer to the question above is yes. The Washington State statutes of limitation differ from other states because every state sets time limits for filing civil and criminal complaints. The statute of limitations is three years for personal injury, property damage, fraud, and trespass claims in Washington. 

However, the statute of limitations for defamation claims is just two years. There is no time limit for murder charges in Washington, although there is a two-year statute of limitations for other serious offenses.

Five key facts about statutes of limitation

  1. Lengths of time given under a statute of limitations are dictated by legislature and are generally rock-solid (unless there has been a “tolling” event that can effectively put a timeline on hold). Because of this, always confirm the amount of time you have to file. 
  2. One of the main reasons that statutes of limitation exist is because, over a long period of time, case evidence is often lost or is otherwise “spoiled.” Another reason is that the recollection of both parties and witnesses tends to be inaccurate. 
  3. Fun fact! Consumer debt may be subject to statutes of limitation; after the statute of limitations has run out, the debt is time-barred.
  4. Under international law, some cases have no statute of limitations. These cases include war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.
  5. In general, any crime involving murder will not have a statute of limitations. (This goes beyond the state of Washington.) 

Personal injury lawsuits and the statute of limitations 

As we mentioned above, personal injury cases in Washington State have a statute of limitations of three years. However, you should know a few more things if you find yourself mixed up in a personal injury case in Washington. You may be able to extend the three-year statute of limitations timeline on your personal injury case if: 

  • You were not aware of the injury at the time the event took place. Drug side effects or surgical malpractice can sometimes hide your injury’s symptoms. 
  • If you, the victim, were incapacitated after the injury for a certain period, that time may not be counted against you in the three years. 

Need a Washington State personal injury lawyer?

We know how frustrating and stressful it can be to heal from an injury and deal with legal matters. That’s why we’re so dedicated to putting aside the stereotyped “stuffy” lawyer business and humanizing the experience.

We’re down-to-earth people and genuinely enjoy helping our clients in any way we can. If you need a legal professional specializing in personal injury in Washington, Carlisle + Byers is here to help you. Click here to schedule a free consultation with us.