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Car Accident Claims in Seattle, WA


How Long is the Statute of Limitations on Car Accidents in Everett?

If you’ve been injured in a serious car accident on one of Everett’s many busy roadways, you should understand that time of the essence to protect your rights to a settlement. Whether you were in one of the notorious head-on collisions on Highway 2 (otherwise known as the Highway of Death) or were walking or cycling and struck by a car anywhere in Snohomish County, as soon as the motor vehicle accident happens, a clock starts ticking that you must know about.

There are three time components to be aware of when it comes to car wrecks. Each is important and must be managed properly so that you don’t miss out on compensation for your injuries. If you were seriously injured in a car accident– whether you were a driver or passenger in a car, riding in a taxi or on a bus, cycling or walking – these same time factors apply.

Here’s what you need to know…

Time Factor #1 – Statute of Limitations to Report a Car Accident

The first time element you must know about is the law regarding reporting collisions. Motor vehicle accidents should be reported right away to the police. Do not leave the scene until the authorities arrive. It is particularly important if by chance the other driver is not insured. Insurance policies may require you to report it to the police and make a police report in the first 24 hours after a collision. This is usually not so much of a concern for serious car accidents because police will be on scene. You only have to report the accident yourself if the police don’t. Any significant crash will have a police response and the report will be made by them.


If for any reason though, the police or a crash investigator are not on site, you will need to report the car wreck yourself to the Everett Police Department (or whatever city the accident happened in), the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office (or whatever county the accident happened in) or any Washington State Patrol Office. DO THIS IN THE FIRST 24 HOURS.

Time Factor #2 – Statute of Limitations to File a Car Accident Injury Claim

The second time element that’s critical to know is the statute of limitations on filing a claim for damages for your car accident injuries. Washington state law requires that the claim be filed within three years. However there are some exceptions especially if you have an injury involving the federal government. Time limits and administrative tort claims must be filed much, much sooner than three years. For these and other reasons, just because you can wait three years does not mean it’s the correct law for your case or that you should wait three years.

In fact, what’s best is if you don’t wait even three days to contact a reputable, experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible after the car wreck – even while you’re still in the hospital.

Witness statements, bystander videos and other materials are harder to locate the longer you wait after the accident and these witnesses can make the difference between a modest and a significant settlement and proving who was at fault. Police reports and medical information must be collected immediately to preserve your rights to a settlement and to preserve the evidence.

There are other exceptions to the three year statute of limitations for claims in this state. This article does not discuss them all.

Time Factor #3 – The Time from Filing a Claim to Settlement of a Claim

The third time element is one that requires not haste, but patience. An experienced car accident attorney will be able to expedite your case from filing to settlement, but it won’t be a matter of days, weeks or a few months. A settlement takes much time because no one knows how long it will take you to recover from your injuries. For more complicated cases, such as those where you were injured by a drugged or drunk driver, a texting teen or if a fatality resulted from the crash, it could be a longer than months or a year. When it’s your health and for what is best for your family, friends and loved ones, do not be in a rush to settle. The first settlement offer will not be the best and jumping at it because you don’t want to wait and you want the case done would certainly be foolish. An experienced attorney will be able to advise you on how to minimize the stress and anxiety while ensuring you that you will recover and get a fair settlement in time.

Time is of the essence…If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident, no matter who’s at fault or how the accident happened, it’s critical that you contact an attorney as soon as possible to ensure your rights to a settlement are protected. Remember, the clock is ticking.