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What is a Tort Case, and What does it Involve in Washington?

Tort cases are civil lawsuits that arise from personal injury, harm, property damage, or loss. In a typical tort case, the plaintiff files a claim against the defendant for monetary compensation. Tort cases may involve individuals, organizations, government agencies, or other public authorities. Although tort cases are mostly civil, some tort types may also result in criminal charges in Washington. Persons who have attained the age of majority in Washington, which is 18 years, may file a tort case. Organizations may also file a tort case; for the lawsuit, the law will deem the organization an individual. The Washington District Courts hear tort cases in the state.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

What is Washington Tort Law?

The Rules of Civil Procedure guide tort claims processes and cases in Washington. The Washington tort law lays out the different tort definitions, the statutes of limitations, and possible remedies for torts.

What Kinds of Cases are Covered by Tort Law in Washington?

Types of tort cases or personal injury claims in Washington include:

  • Unintentional tort: a negligent or unintentional tort involves a negligent action that leads to injury or harm for another person. Washington state assigns fault using pure comparative negligence.
  • Intentional tort: this involves a deliberate action that causes harm or injury to another person. Assault and battery are examples of intentional tort.
  • Products liability: any persons involved in making or selling a product that causes injury to another person is liable.
  • Wrongful death: a personal injury accident may result in death. The person who performed or neglected to perform the act that resulted in death is liable.
  • Strict liability: strict liability tort is different from negligence or intentional tort because a person may be liable for strict liability without being at fault.
  • Medical malpractice: If a medical professional’s negligence results in personal injury for another person, the hospital or the doctor is liable
  • Maritime injuries: this happens when a maritime employee suffers an injury in the course of duty
  • Auto accidents: accidents may occur because of a driver’s negligence. The driver is liable.
  • Slip and fall: if a person slips and falls in another person’s premises or business premises, the business owner or compound owner is liable.
  • Defamation: deliberate false communication, written or oral, that can harm another person’s reputation. A written false statement is libel, while a spoken false statement is slander.

What are the Differences Between Criminal Law and Tort Law in Washington?

Criminal law works to protect society from crimes and criminal offenders by punishing offenders for wrongdoing. Tort law works to protect the victim of a claim through damages and restitution. Tort law focuses on the victim of a wrong. Although an action may result in both criminal offense and tort, criminal and tort laws provide for different aspects. Both laws identify offenders; while criminal law focuses on penalty, tort law will find the offender liable to pay damages.

What is the Purpose of Tort Law in Washington?

Washington tort law focuses on restoring injured parties by providing redress to the party. Tort law shifts the burden of the injury or loss to the liable party or the party at fault by imposing the liability of compensation on such parties. Tort law also helps deter other members of society from committing acts that may harm or injure others.

What is a Tort Claim in Washington?

A tort is a civil wrong that causes injury, harm, or loss to another person. A tort may also involve psychological, mental, financial, or property loss. The injured party may file a tort claim against the party liable for the injury or harm to get monetary compensation, restitution, or other forms of damages.

How Do You File a Tort Claim in Washington?

Interested parties may file a tort claim with the District Court. The type of form filed depends on the type of tort claim that the plaintiff wishes to file. Washington has different forms for general tort claims and claims against state agencies. Petitioners may file a tort claim in person at the courthouse, online, by fax, or by email. However, petitioning parties must contact the appropriate court or government agency to determine the correct filing process.

What Does a Tort Claim Contain in Washington?

Washington tort claims must contain:

  • The claimant’s name and address
  • Claimant’s phone number
  • The date(s) when the incident took place
  • The location of the incident
  • The parties responsible for damage or injury
  • Contact details of all who witnessed the incident
  • A detailed description of the incident
  • A description of the injury, loss, or harm the incident caused
  • The claimant’s signature

What Happens after a Tort Claim is Filed in Washington?

After a petitioner or claimant files a claim, the claimant must serve the defendant a copy of the complaint and summons. Once the defendant responds, the discovery process begins. During discovery, case parties and the parties’ attorneys obtain information about the case and collect witness testimonies. After discovery, case parties may begin negotiation. If the parties cannot resolve the claim, the next step may be arbitration or mediation. If alternative dispute resolution methods do not resolve the claim, then the case may proceed to trial.

For claims filed against the government or government agencies, the claimant must wait 60 days before filing a lawsuit. In the waiting period, the court and the state will review the claim to determine the validity. If the state denies the claim, the claimant may file a lawsuit in court.

Why Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer for a Tort Claim?

Apart from legal representation, personal injury lawyers also provide legal counsel to tort claim parties and assist with discovery, claim investigation, information gathering, negotiation, and pleadings. Personal injury lawyers also help case parties navigate state laws and court requirements. In Washington, tort claim parties may be Pro Se litigants; however, case parties may choose to be represented by an attorney.

How Can I Find a Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me?

The Washington State Bar provides a legal directory where interested parties can find personal injury lawyers. Interested parties may also contact local law firms for more information on how to find personal injury lawyers. Alternatively, interested parties may search third-party websites for information on local personal injury lawyers.

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