What is a “Statute of Limitation”
Following an event such as a car accident, the amount of time a victim has to file a claim for injuries or damages suffered is referred to as the statue of limitations. Unless the case is settled, or otherwise resolved within the time allowed by the statute, then a formal complaint must be filed with the court or the victim may be forever barred from ever pursuing the claim in the future.
These time restrictions are strictly enforced in almost every situation and may require detailed legal analysis and foresight to prevent losing an otherwise valid claim. The worst thing a victim can do is to wait until a few months (or even weeks or days) before the statute of limitations expires to contact an attorney–it may already be too late.
What is the Statute of Limitation in Washington and Oregon?
Car crashes in Washington most likely fall under the negligence statute of limitations which is three years from the date of the crash. RCW 4.16.080(2). Car crashes in Oregon also fall under the negligence statute of limitations which is two years from the date of discovery but under no circumstances later than 10 years after the date of the crash. ORS 12.110; ORS 12.115(1). The situations which allow for extension beyond two years are relatively specific and unless the injury is to a minor or insane person, for all practical purposes–in Oregon auto collision personal injury cases–the statute of limitations expires two years from the date of the collision.
If the victim was killed, the statute may be extended to three years. ORS 30.020(1). Under certain circumstances, such as when the victim is under 18, when the victim has a disability, or when the party at fault is a governmental entity, the statute of limitations may be shortened or extended. For this reason, it is critically important that you consult with an attorney soon after you know you have been injured. Otherwise, you risk losing the ability to bring your claim.