In Washington, the general rule is that you must bring your lawsuit within three (3) years of the date of your injury for a tort claim such as a car accident. However in some cases like intentional torts you may only have 2 years (1 year for damage caused by slander, libel). You should not wait to consult an attorney. There are many pitfalls in pursuing a claim which can only be avoided with sound legal advice. The best way to protect your legal rights is to contact an attorney as soon as possible following an injury to yourself or loved ones.