If you’re unfortunate enough to be in a car accident, it’s important to know about Washington State car accident laws and how they affect your situation. Thankfully Washington State has a number of car accident laws on the books that protect you if you’ve been in an accident.
The statute of limitations to bring a personal injury case related to a car accident in Washington state is 3 years. That’s how much time you have to bring a lawsuit in court. RCW 4.16.080 says that “The following actions shall be commenced within three years…an action for taking, detaining, or injuring personal property.” Sometimes it takes a while to understand the full extent of the damages you've suffered. A quick conversation with one of our personal injury attorneys in Tacoma,WA, can help discover whether you have a strong case even if some time has passed since your accident.
Keep in mind that the statute of limitations on car accidents in WA doesn’t apply to reporting to your insurance carrier. Please check with your carrier to see what their reporting requirements are. Also keep in mind that if your claim involves a U.S. government claim, or happened on federal property (ie, in a park), or on tribal property, there may be a shorter statute of limitation and/or pre-litigation claim notice requirements.
While uninsured motorist coverage is not required in Washington state, it’s a good idea. If you are in a car accident and the at-fault party doesn’t have insurance (or you suffer a hit-and-run accident), uninsured motorist coverage can help pay for additional costs.
If you are wondering if Washington is a no-fault insurance state, the answer is no. The at-fault driver uses his or her liability insurance to cover injury sustained by the other party. However, Washington drivers can purchase personal injury protection (PIP) insurance to cover their own injuries following a car accident. If you don’t have PIP, you must wait for the court to determine fault before your expenses can be covered by the at-fault insurance. In the meantime, you could be racking up some serious medical bills. So it’s a good idea to carry PIP if you can.
In Washington state, auto insurance follows the car and the driver. When you purchase bodily injury liability insurance, that insurance covers you driving someone else’s car as well as any family members that you list on your insurance. If someone else drives your vehicle, your insurance should cover any damage they do or injury they cause, but it may not cover their injuries without their own insurance to supplement the costs.
According to the Washington State Patrol you must file a Motor Vehicle Collision Report in Washington state if anyone is injured or if any party’s damage meets or exceeds $1000. Typically, law enforcement will file this report for you when you call them to the scene. If law enforcement does not report the accident, you can submit a report online.
The Washington state rear end collision law assumes that the rear driver (the one in the back) causes the crash. In most cases, the driver behind the rear-ended car will be held liable for the damage and injuries caused in the accident. But, in certain situations, the rear driver might have mitigating circumstances, like when the front driver was driving in an unsafe manner, had defective equipment (broken tail lights), or did not allow for enough time to stop. Because these factors might not be immediately obvious, it’s important to check with a seasoned lawyer to see if your case has merit.