Civil litigation, which includes personal injury lawsuits, is governed by laws and statutes at the state level, which means that personal injury claims filed in the state of Washington, are controlled by state legal codes. Assignment of liability, the damages which can be claimed, and the compensation that can be awarded are all determined by Washington state laws and statutes, as is the time you have to file a personal injury claim in the state. Because the state legal system dictates the procedures and reach of personal injury claims, hiring an attorney familiar with working within the state legal system is essential to success.
Washington is a “Comparative-Fault State”
Washington personal injury claims fall under a contributory negligence or comparative-fault system. In other words, you can still see damages awarded in your case even if you are partially to blame for the injuries you’ve suffered.
The degree of responsibility you hold for your injuries must be determined. How much each of the parties you name in your claim is responsible for your injuries must also be proven. Once negligence is established, you can potentially receive compensation for damages, though it is important to realize the amount of damages awarded will be reduced in proportion to your degree of responsibility. In other words, if you’re 20 percent at fault for your own injuries, you can only receive 80 percent of the total possible damages in your claim.
Potential Damages for Personal Injury in Washington
Damages awarded in a Washington personal injury claim can include direct, financial expenses which result from your injuries, as well as less easily definable damages, like compensation for the pain and suffering your experienced since your injuries occurred. Financial costs, like medical expenses, cost of household help during your recovery or on an ongoing basis, property damage, lost wages, and even loss of future earnings ability, may make up the direct expenses you seek compensation for in your lawsuit. With pain and suffering damages, your attorney and the court will try to establish a fair dollar figure to compensate you for these less easily defined losses or damages.
A personal injury attorney familiar with handling cases similar to your own under the Washington state civil litigation system will be able to help you understand and navigate the claims process. He or she will also be able to determine the type of damages you should seek and the amount of compensation you could potentially receive, if your claim is success.
Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims in Washington
Every state sets a statute of limitations for filing personal injury lawsuits. In Washington, the timeframe you have to file your claim depends on the type of personal injury you suffered. In libel and slander cases, you have just one year to file, while for all other personal injury claims, three years is the limit. Hiring an attorney as soon after your injuries as possible provides your lawyer the time required to properly investigate your claim, collect evidence, file paperwork, and ensure your case is heard.
Although the statute of limitations is a hard and fast state legal code, there are some exceptions to the rule. For instance, the clock for the statute commences only after you realize you’ve suffered harm. In most cases, injuries are immediately apparent; however, this is not always true.
In claims that involve malpractice or toxic exposure or poisoning for example, the onset of injuries can be delayed. If your claim is an exception, ensure you hire an attorney capable of arguing for the appropriate extension of the statute of limitations, and be sure to seek legal assistance just as soon as you’re aware you’ve suffered harm due to the negligence of another person or entity. This will allow your attorney the necessary time to file the suit, investigate the details, and establish a strong argument in your case.