The Washington Statute of Limitations for civil actions sets a time limit after an injury or civil wrong occurs, during which an injured party can file a lawsuit. After that period of time expires, the injured party is no longer permitted to file a claim in a Washington state court to litigate that matter. The statute ensures that lawsuits that have merit and worthy of being heard are filed within a reasonable time or not at all.
How Does the Statute of Limitations Operate?The period of time to file a claim will vary depending upon the type of incident that occurred. A claim against a doctor for medical malpractice may be for a different length of time than against an accountant for negligence or fraud. The Washington statute of limitations can generally be found within the Revised Code of Washington, Title 4, Chapter 4.16 and covers the following rules and exceptions in greater detail.
When does the Washington Statute of Limitations Begin?Other than for specific exceptions, the Washington statute of limitations generally begins to run at the time when a "cause of action arises" - in other words, at the time when an injury occurs that would qualify for a lawsuit to be filed in a Washington state court.
What is the Discovery Rule?There are times when a person is unable to discover that they have been injured. For example, fraud that is concealed by an accountant and is not easily discoverable or a medical condition resulting from a doctor's misdiagnosis that can only be detected after the patient's health deteriorates. It wouldn't be fair or reasonable to require the injured party to file a lawsuit when they could not have detected the injury. As a result, in some instances the Washington statute of limitations begins to run from the time the injured party discovers or should have discovered that they have been injured.
Delaying or Tolling the Washington Statute of LimitationsIn certain circumstances, fairness would require that the statute of limitations be delayed for a period of time. A party may not have the ability to bring a case even though they are aware of an injury or damages. Delaying or "tolling" the statute of limitations typically occurs when the plaintiff is "disabled" - such as a minor child or a person who is mentally incompetent or bankrupt. Once the disability ends, the statute of limitations begins to run.
Calculating the length of time that a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit is complicated and involves many factors and exceptions. Parties that have suffered significant injuries or damages may wish to consult with a Washington attorney to ensure that all claims and notices are filed within the time limits set forth by law.
Personal Injury and Negligence4 years, generally.
Wrongful Death4 years.
Medical Malpractice4 years, generally.
Legal and Professional Malpractice4 years.
Products Liability4 years.
Assault and Battery2 years.
False Imprisonment2 years.
ContractsWritten contracts 6 years. Oral contracts 3 years.
Personal Property Damages3 years.
Libel / Slander / Defamation2 years from the date of publication (or the date when spoken).
Debt Collection Accounts6 years.
Collection of Rent6 years.
Judgment Enforcement10 years.
Liability of State and MunicipalitiesNo sovereign immunity applies but numerous rules, see specific statutes.
Consumer Fraud ComplaintsWashington Office of the Attorney General
Telephone: (360) 753-6200
Toll Free: (800) 551-4636 (consumer protection)
Consumer Protection: (206) 464-6684
Please Take Note: The statute of limitations laws presented are strictly provided to you “as-is”. While we believe that the legal information is accurate as of the date created, we cannot and do not provide any guarantee, analysis or conclusions. The law may have changed since this article was published. The only way to ensure that the statute of limitations law you are reading is up to date and applies to your specific issue, is to have a legal consultation with an attorney licensed to practice law in the state of Washington.
- Lawsuits, Disputes:
- Statute Of Limitations
Statute of Limitations Washington Statute of Limitations, Civil Actions
By Michael Wechsler |
To make a comment simply sign up and become a member!