Experienced Attorney Assisting Washington Residents File Accident Claims Against the State
In the state of Washington, if there is a motor vehicle accident, the state as well as local governments may waive their sovereign immunity. If they waive this immunity, an accident victim can sue the government entity for injuries and receive compensation in return. However, this only occurs when the employee of the government was negligent and caused the accident.
While the state or local government may be willing to waive their immunity, the process of filing such claims is highly complex. Therefore, it is best to consult with a local personal injury attorney who has experience in such cases. Knowing how to file a lawsuit against the state could make a significant difference in whether you win the claim or not.
How Claims Work Against the State
There is a strict process when filing a claim against the government. If you wish to successfully sue the state or local government entity, you must first file a claim with the Washington State Office of Risk Management (ORC). You or your attorney must file a tort claim with the office. The tort claim file provides specifics about the incident, and damages you are seeking in return.
The ORC pages have strict instructions, and these must be followed. If the instructions are ignored, the ORC will automatically deny the claim. Also, it is imperative that you keep your copies of anything sent to ORC, because they will not send those forms back to you.
After you file your claim form with the office, you are required to wait 60 days before you can file your lawsuit against that government entity. During the 60-day period, the ORC does an investigation into the incident. Most likely, the government will try to settle with the plaintiff after conducting an investigation before the 60-day expiration.
Once the 60-day wait period expires, the victim’s attorney may file a lawsuit against that entity. Like other personal injury lawsuits, you only have three years to file your lawsuit from the time of the incident, and the statute of limitations includes the 60-day waiting period.
How Claims Work Against Local Governments
Local governments or entities are slightly different than the state. However, you or your attorney would proceed in the same manner as you would for suing the state. You must file your claim with the government entity you intend to sue; there is also a 60-day waiting period before you can file your lawsuit.
Some local entities also use the state form through ORC, while others have their own claims process. Therefore, you must check with that government entity to see which form they use. Seattle, for example, uses their own form.
Why a 60-Day Waiting Period?
The purpose of the 60-day period is to lessen the number of lawsuits filed against local cities and the state. By requiring a 60-day wait, the governments can reach a settlement with the plaintiff and avoid the costs and time of an official suit.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident with a government employee or government-owned vehicle, you may be entitled to compensation. Because the requirements are highly complex, it is in your best interest to contact a local attorney first.