It makes sense to take the time necessary to make the right decision after a car accident. However, waiting too long could damage your case or your insurance claim.
As explained on FindLaw, Washington state has an official three-year time limit for you to begin action in a personal injury case. In practical terms, you would typically want to start the process earlier rather than later.
Investigating the accident
In most cases, you would want to begin gathering information as early as possible after the accident. While your health and the injuries of others should come first, it is also usually important to gather information, such as photos and personal contact details, as soon as possible before it becomes unavailable. Eyewitness accounts, your own impressions of the event and documentation of your injuries or other examples of evidence you should probably collect and record sooner rather than later.
Preparing your arguments
It is usually advantageous to have time to perform certain steps. Starting as early as possible is usually the best way to make sure you have this time.
You would probably want to understand the statutes that apply to car accidents in Washington. Case law research could uncover a favorable precedent for some of the variations in your unique circumstances. You may also want some time to negotiate with insurance companies for a settlement.
Considering your case
Your case could have unique aspects that delayed your symptoms past the three-year mark, or else delayed your ability to recognize those symptoms. While this is more often the case with other types of injuries, such as repetitive stress injury from typing or silicosis from construction work, the law could potentially make an allowance if the circumstances were appropriate.