Best Personal Injury Lawyers Seattle, WA (2024) – Forbes Advisor – Forbes

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Washington is a plaintiff-friendly state, but it still has laws that affect how your claim proceeds. Statutes of limitations, comparative fault and recovery limits may affect your claim and how much you receive as compensation.

Statute of Limitations in Seattle, WA

Washington has a three-year statute of limitations for personal injury cases. This deadline starts counting down from the date of the incident. For example, if you tripped, fell and broke an ankle on a restaurant stair on May 2, 2022, your deadline to file a lawsuit is May 2, 2025.

Know that the statute of limitations applies to lawsuits, not insurance claims. If you need to file one, do that within one to three days of the incident.

There are some cases where the statute of limitations can extend. For example, detecting an error can take months or even years in medical malpractice. In those cases, the statute of limitations can adjust to two years from the date you discovered or should have discovered the injury.

Determining Fault in Seattle

Washington is a pure comparative fault state. So, even if you were 50% at fault for your injuries, you can still recover damages. However, that award reduces by your percentage of fault–50%. So, if you sustained $50,000 of damages in a car and pedestrian accident, but the jury found you were half at fault, that award decreases by 50% to $25,000.

However, pure comparative fault doesn’t apply if a party was intoxicated. If a defendant can show the plaintiff’s intoxication was the proximate cause of their injury and they were more than 50% at fault, the court can deny recovery to the plaintiff.

Dog Bite Liability

Dog bites assign strict liability to the dog owner. They are always liable for dog bites, even if the dog never behaved aggressively before the incident. Dog owners are also responsible for damages if a dog injures or kills another companion animal.

Exceptions to this rule include police dogs acting in the line of duty and if the owner proves the plaintiff trespassed on private property or provoked their dog. It always depends on the facts of the case.

Washington Limits on Personal Injury Damages

There are no limits on personal injury damages. The legislature attempted to enact one, but the state Supreme Court struck it down as unconstitutional. Now, damages arising from pain and suffering are a jury’s decision and are not subject to limitation.

If the potential defendant is a minor still living at home, plaintiffs cannot collect more than $5,000 in damages from them, no matter their actual damages. This cap does not limit the liability of the parents and guardians if they were also negligent.

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