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How long after a car accident can you claim injury in Washington state?

  1. How long after a car accident can you claim injury in Washington state?
  2. There’s a massive difference between how long you can wait and how long you should wait
  3. What is the statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Washington State?
  4. Why you need to start on your personal injury claim right away
  5. So, what deadlines do I really have to worry about—and why?
  6. Did you wait too long?
  7. Herschensohn Law: fighting for auto accident victims in Kent, Washington

How long after a car accident can you claim injury in Washington state?

how long after car accident can you claim injury

It’s natural, after being in an accident, to ask how long you have before you hit the time limit to make a personal injury claim. With so much going on, some things end up going on the backburner while you figure out how to get the rest of your life in order.

It’s a good question to ask, of course, but probably not the best one. A more useful question might be: “How quickly do I need to get moving on my personal injury case before my chances of success start to dwindle?”

how long after car accident can you claim injury

There’s a massive difference between how long you can wait and how long you should wait

how long after car accident can you claim injury

Deadlines can be deceptive: Ask anyone who waited until the night before the paper was due to begin the research.

If all you know is the legal statute of limitations, you might get the mistaken impression that you have plenty of time. But the truth is that you don’t. Building a winning personal injury case, especially after a complex car crash, takes a lot of time and effort—and you have less of it to waste than you might think. The insurance company is not going to be sending you helpful reminders, either. They’re hoping you’ll run out the clock on your own and let them off the hook.

In this post, let’s talk a little bit more about why hiring a car accident attorney and getting started on your personal injury claim as soon as possible is almost always the right choice.

how long after car accident can you claim injury

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What is the statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Washington State?

how long after car accident can you claim injury

This is something we’ve written about in the past, but we’ll recap it here. The short answer is that, with very few exceptions, you have three years from the date of the car accident to file a lawsuit.

Seems simple enough, but remember this: filing a claim is not the same thing as filing a lawsuit. A claim is simply a demand for compensation from an insurance company. A lawsuit is something you file if the insurance company is stonewalling you, denying your claim, or only offering insultingly low settlement offers and you need to get the court involved.

While there are some legitimate reasons to delay making a car accident claim or filing a personal injury lawsuit—for example, because you haven’t reached maximum medical improvement yet and you’re still not sure how much your long-term care is going to cost—that doesn’t mean you can ignore your personal injury case in the meantime.

RELATED POST: What is the statute of limitations in Washington state?

how long after car accident can you claim injury

Why you need to start on your personal injury claim right away

how long after car accident can you claim injury

Getting fair compensation after a car accident isn’t always a straightforward process, no matter how cut and dried it might seem to be from your perspective.

Remember, the insurance company is not particularly interested in giving money away, and they are not going to simply take you at your word when you ask for compensation.

You will need to provide strong evidence showing that:

  • The crash was at least partially the result of someone else’s negligence (typically the other driver for most car accident claims).
  • The injuries you suffered were a direct result of that crash.
  • The amount of compensation that you’re demanding from the insurance company is reasonable based on the cost of your medical care, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages you’ve sustained.

As you might imagine, you’ll need to gather a lot of different kinds of evidence. And even if the statute of limitations is three years, that doesn’t mean that the evidence you need to prove your case is going to stick around that long.

For example, when we make a claim for financial compensation on behalf of our clients, we will typically provide things like photos of the accident scene and injuries, dash cam or security cam footage, statements from eyewitnesses, medical bills, medical records, and more.

But accident scenes get cleaned up. Injuries heal. Security footage gets wiped. If you didn’t make the effort to take photos, talk to witnesses, obtain records, and gather evidence early, you may not get another chance. And if you don’t have that evidence, convincing the insurance company (or a jury) of your version of events will be a much tougher task.

how long after car accident can you claim injury

So, what deadlines do I really have to worry about—and why?

how long after car accident can you claim injury

Here are the things you should absolutely do right away, as soon as possible after your car accident. Do not wait to do them.

Seek medical attention

Do this even if your symptoms seem mild, even tolerable. Sure, maybe it’s a minor ache that you can sleep off. But sometimes serious injuries don’t become apparent until long after a car accident occurs—days, or sometimes weeks. If you want the best possible medical treatment, the fastest recovery, and the best chance at compensation, seeking medical attention as soon as possible is critical.

Report your accident to other driver’s insurance and your own insurance

This is not the same thing as filing a claim. You are simply notifying the insurance company that an accident occurred.

Why bother? Plenty of reasons (including the fact that your contract with your auto insurance company probably requires it), but a big one is that the insurance company is going to want to conduct its own investigation in preparation for if, and when, you file a claim. If you wait too long to report, the insurance provider may argue that they were denied the opportunity to fairly investigate the car accident and deny your insurance claim on those grounds.

Also, why report to multiple insurance companies? The reality is that there’s a pretty good chance you’ll need to file multiple claims. Washington only requires drivers to carry $25,000 in liability coverage per individual (up to a maximum of $50,000 if two or more people are hurt). It doesn’t take a whole lot of medical bills or missed work to blow past that figure, after which you may need to turn to your own insurer for additional compensation under an underinsured motorist or personal injury protection policy.

Contact a personal injury attorney

By now, you’ve probably gotten the sense that getting the compensation you deserve after a car accident is no cakewalk. There’s evidence to gather, documents to file, witnesses to follow up with, deadlines to meet—and all the while, the insurance company is just waiting to pounce on any mistake, misstatement, or missing paperwork and use it against you.

Oh, and don’t forget, you’ve still got injuries to recover from and an entire life to put back together as best you can. Saying the deck is stacked against you would be an understatement.

That’s where a great car accident lawyer like Zach Herschensohn can step in to protect you—and the sooner you call, the more they can usually help. A car accident attorney like Zach (or any other member of his team) understands how to collect the evidence you need when you file a claim. He will also be extremely familiar with the tricks that insurance companies play after car accidents and can handle the negotiations on your behalf so that you steer clear of them.

Above all, your attorney allows you to take the burden off yourself and focus on healing, while they worry about getting you through the claims process successfully. As an added bonus: even after attorney fees, most car crash victims who hire car accident attorneys end up taking home more in compensation than those who choose to go unrepresented.

RELATED POST: What to expect from the personal injury claims process

how long after car accident can you claim injury

Did you wait too long?

how long after car accident can you claim injury

Over the last several years, with the explosion of information available on the internet, more and more accident victims are attempting to handle as much of claims process as possible on their own. Maybe you did too—and perhaps you’re starting to wonder if that really was such a smart choice after all.

The sad truth is that, sometimes, waiting too long can cost you a huge amount of dough, for example if you’ve missed the statute of limitations, or evidence has been irretrievably lost. But you won’t know for sure until you call a personal injury attorney for a free consultation.

Even if it’s been more than a few days since your crash, and the claims process is already in motion, don’t hesitate to reach out and call. We still may be able to help, and our initial case evaluations are always free, with no obligation to you. There is no reason not to talk with an experienced professional like Zach and get his unbiased take and advice, whatever that may be.

how long after car accident can you claim injury

Herschensohn Law: fighting for auto accident victims in Kent, Washington

Our capable team of experienced personal injury lawyers are here to fight for your best interests every step of the day, from those first few chaotic days after the accident to the moment you get your settlement check in your hands—no matter how long it takes.

We are passionate about fighting for what’s right, holding the responsible parties accountable, and helping our clients successfully recover and rebuild their lives.

You have nothing to risk by scheduling a free consultation, and even if we take you as a client, you won’t pay a dime to us unless we win. Reach out today by calling (206) 588-4344, or completing our easy online contact form.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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CONTACT HERSCHENSOHN LAW

Hurt? Let our law firm handle the details

When you request your free consultation, Kent personal injury attorney Zach Herschensohn will listen to you, answer your questions, lay out your legal options, and give you down-to-earth legal advice.

When you work with our law office, there are no obligations, hidden fees, or fine print. It’s that simple.

Request your free case evaluation

We’ll meet with you to help you understand your legal options and what to do next.

Enter your contact information:

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

We’re proud to fight—and win—for injured people in Kent, Washington. View our case results to learn more.