Motorcycle accidents often cause life-altering injuries. Failing to hire a personal injury attorney substantially reduces the likelihood of recovering fair compensation for your injuries. After an accident in Washington, you may wonder, How long do I have to file a motorcycle crash lawsuit? Learn more about the Washington State statute of limitations for motorcycle accidents and how it can affect your case.
What Is the Motorcycle Accidents Statute of Limitations in Washington?
A statute of limitations is a state law providing different time limits for filing a cause of action. If an injured victim fails to file their lawsuit within the allotted time, the plaintiff is presumed to have forfeited their right to sue. Several different statutes of limitations may apply to your motorcycle accident claim, depending on the circumstances.
General Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
The Washington statute of limitations for motorcycle accidents is three years from the date of the accident. The Washington state statute of limitations falls under the same timeframe as any personal injury lawsuit. There are some exceptions to this statute of limitations, but they are rare, so it’s generally unwise to delay your claim even if you think one might apply to you.
You may feel overwhelmed after a motorcycle accident. However, waiting to file your lawsuit only exacerbates one’s stresses and anxieties after an accident. Retaining an attorney shortly after your accident protects your rights and gives your lawyer ample time to build a strong case on your behalf.
Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death
In the unfortunate outcome where a loved one loses their life in a motorcycle accident, surviving family members may have a claim for wrongful death. The statute of limitations for wrongful death is three years from the date of death.
Statute of Limitations for Claims Against the Government
In situations where a local or state government employee or entity may be responsible for your injury, special rules apply. You must file a form notice of claim in the state or local municipality where you suffered your injury in these situations. You must then wait 60 days before you can file a lawsuit in court.
However, the statute of limitations for these claims is the same as for claims against other individuals—three years from the date of the accident or, in the case of a wrongful death, three years from the date of death.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
Washington state recognizes certain exceptions to the statute of limitations rules that may be applicable to your motorcycle accident claim. These exceptions may pause or “toll” the statute of limitations to give you more time to file your claim.
The Discovery Rule
The discovery rule represents an exception to the regular three-year statute of limitations for wrongful death and personal injury. This exception tolls the statute of limitations until someone reasonably discovers their injury.
This exception is rarely applicable to motorcycle accidents because the injuries or death they cause is typically immediately obvious. But if you can show that you did not know and could not have reasonably known that an injury you suffered was the result of a motorcycle accident, then you may be able to extend your time to file a claim.
Defendant Can’t Be Found
If the defendant is absent from the state or in hiding. Washington law tolls the statute of limitations until they return. Once they are located, the statute of limitations begins to run.
Minors and Incapacitated Individuals
Washington law also tolls the statute of limitations for a plaintiff that cannot file a lawsuit because they are a minor, incompetent, disabled, or in prison. In that case, the person has three years from the date they turn 18 or recover from their incapacity to file a motorcycle accident claim.
Finally, the statute of limitations tolls if the plaintiff dies before the statute of limitations expires. In these situations, the right to sue survives the death of the injured victim. Their personal representative then has one year from the date of their death to bring a lawsuit to recover damages the deceased person would have been entitled to in connection with their accident.
How Can I Preserve My Right to Recover Compensation After an Accident?
The best way to preserve your right to the compensation you deserve after a motorcycle accident is to contact an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible. They can discuss all your options with you and start working on your claim right away so you can be sure to meet all important deadlines, including the all-important statute of limitations deadline.
When another driver or motorcyclist ignores the motorcycle rules of the road in Washington, tragedy can occur. If you’re the victim of negligent driving, you deserve to recover all your damages, including:
- Past and future medical expenses,
- Pain and suffering,
- Past and future lost wages,
- Disability and disfigurement, and
- Lost enjoyment of life.
Don’t add insult to injury by waiting too long to file your motorcycle accident claim. If you miss the statute of limitations deadline, the court will not consider your claim, no matter how deserving you may be.
If you’re concerned that the statute of limitations on your injury has passed, consider reaching out to an experienced lawyer anyway. They can examine your individual circumstances and help you determine whether you might benefit from an exception to the motorcycle accident statute of limitations.
The lawyers at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner possess over 40 years of legal experience representing injured victims in motorcycle accidents. Our successful record shows that we have assisted many clients in recovering the total compensation they deserve so they can work toward getting their life back. When you hire our legal team, you can stop worrying about medical bills, lost work, insurance adjusters, damaged vehicles, and future expenses—not to mention stressful deadlines.
As you concentrate on your physical and emotional recovery, we focus on your financial recovery. Contact our office today to find out how we can help you after your motorcycle accident. We provide free consultations—you have nothing to lose!