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Washington Civil Statute of Limitations Laws

Statutes of limitations impose time limits for filing a lawsuit, which are intended to preserve the integrity of the evidence (both witnesses and physical evidence), while making sure the threat of a lawsuit is limited.

What Are The Specific Time Limits For Filing A Civil Lawsuit in Washington State?

Under Washington's civil statute of limitation laws, personal injury claims have a three-year limit for filing, as do fraud, injury to property and trespassing; and debt collection has a six-year limit.

What Happens If I Miss The Deadline To File My Lawsuit?

Statutes of limitations aren't suggestions. They are mandatory time limits that state imposes on most lawsuits. If you do not bring your claim within the time limit, you may be permanently barred from recovering any compensation for your injuries. If you have specific questions about your situation, we recommend you speak to a qualified attorney in the state of Washington for more information.

Are There Any Exceptions?

Yes, in some very limited circumstances the time limits may be extended, but you should ultimately speak to an attorney to see if an exception may be available in your case.

Keep in mind, there are also special rules that apply to medical malpractice claims against governmental entities, such as public hospital districts and the University of Washington. Additionally, if you are suing the federal government, special restrictions and requirements may apply under the "Federal Tort Claims Act."

The basics of Washington's civil statutes of limitations are listed below, with links to related articles. See Time Limit Considerations in Medical Malpractice Claims to learn more.

Injury to Person 3 yrs. §4.16.100(1)
Libel/Slander 2 yrs. §4.16.100(1)
Fraud 3 yrs. §4.16.080(4)
Injury to Personal Property 3 yrs. §4.16.080(2)
Professional Malpractice Medical: 3 yrs. of injury or 1 yr. upon discovery (max. 8 yrs.) §4.16.350(3)
Trespass 3 yrs. §4.16.080(1)
Collection of Rents 6 yrs. §4.16.040(2)
Contracts Written: 6 yrs. §4.16.040(1); Oral: 3 yrs. §4.16.080(3)
Collection of Debt on Account 6 yrs. §4.16.040(3)
Judgments 10 yrs. §4.16.020(2)

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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Washington Civil Statute of Limitations Laws: Related Resources

Don't Miss a Filing Deadline: Get Help From a Washington Attorney

You've been injured and are thinking of filing a lawsuit. While this may seem like a daunting task, you don't have to go it alone. A great first step in making sure you are meeting the deadline to file in the state of Washington is to get help from a qualified attorney. Before filing your first court documents, consult with an experienced Washington attorney near you.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

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