Washington Personal Injury Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for personal injury & accidents in Washington is three (3) years (Ref: Wash. Rev. Code § 4.16.080). 


What this means is that you (or your attorney) must file a lawsuit against a defendant within three years of the date of your accident. If you do not file a lawsuit within three years, generally you forfeit any potential claim against the defendant as a matter of law - meaning there will be no opportunity for a settlement, arbitration or trial. 


Disclaimer: Although the information presented on this page is generally true there are some exceptions to this information, and the Washington Statute of Limitations (and the exceptions) may change over time. If you or a family member was involved in an accident and considering seeking compensation for your injuries it is crucial that you speak to an Washington personal injury lawyer to discuss your claim and potential recovery.

Variations on Time Limits for Filing a Lawsuit in Washington

There are some variations & exceptions to the 3 years statute of limitations on personal injury cases in Washington. Because of this, it is critical you discuss your matter with a lawyer who is highly experienced in personal injury law.


  • If the injured person, at the time of the underlying accident, is under 18 years of age or is "incompetent or disabled to such a degree that he or she cannot understand the nature of the proceedings," the injured person will be entitled to the full three years to get their personal injury lawsuit filed once reaching the age of 18 or having their competence restored.
  • If the person who is allegedly responsible for the plaintiff's injuries (the defendant) leaves the state of Washington after the underlying accident or takes steps to conceal him/herself within the state, the period of absence/concealment probably won't be counted as part of the three-year filing period (the "clock" won't run during this time, in other words).

What if You Miss the Deadline to File a Lawsuit?

If you miss the deadline to file a lawsuit and the Washington statute of limitations passes (barring any exceptions), the opposing party will almost surely move for case dismissal and it will likely be granted. This also means that nearly any hope of a settlement will also be forfeited because there is no leverage to potentially pursue a trial (since it would immediately be dismissed). 

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