(1) The provisions of this section apply to claims for damages against all local governmental entities and their officers, employees, or volunteers, acting in such capacity.
Terms Used In Washington Code 4.96.020
- Attorney-in-fact: A person who, acting as an agent, is given written authorization by another person to transact business for him (her) out of court.
- Damages: Money paid by defendants to successful plaintiffs in civil cases to compensate the plaintiffs for their injuries.
- Guardian: A person legally empowered and charged with the duty of taking care of and managing the property of another person who because of age, intellect, or health, is incapable of managing his (her) own affairs.
- person: may be construed to include the United States, this state, or any state or territory, or any public or private corporation or limited liability company, as well as an individual. See Washington Code 1.16.080
- Power of attorney: A written instrument which authorizes one person to act as another's agent or attorney. The power of attorney may be for a definite, specific act, or it may be general in nature. The terms of the written power of attorney may specify when it will expire. If not, the power of attorney usually expires when the person granting it dies. Source: OCC
- Tort: A civil wrong or breach of a duty to another person, as outlined by law. A very common tort is negligent operation of a motor vehicle that results in property damage and personal injury in an automobile accident.
- Trial: A hearing that takes place when the defendant pleads "not guilty" and witnesses are required to come to court to give evidence.
(2) The governing body of each local governmental entity shall appoint an agent to receive any claim for damages made under this chapter. The identity of the agent and the address where he or she may be reached during the normal business hours of the local governmental entity are public records and shall be recorded with the auditor of the county in which the entity is located. All claims for damages against a local governmental entity, or against any local governmental entity’s officers, employees, or volunteers, acting in such capacity, shall be presented to the agent within the applicable period of limitations within which an action must be commenced. A claim is deemed presented when the claim form is delivered in person or is received by the agent by regular mail, registered mail, or certified mail, with return receipt requested, to the agent or other person designated to accept delivery at the agent’s office. The failure of a local governmental entity to comply with the requirements of this section precludes that local governmental entity from raising a defense under this chapter.
(3) For claims for damages presented after July 26, 2009, all claims for damages must be presented on the standard tort claim form that is maintained by the office of risk management in the department of enterprise services, except as allowed under (c) of this subsection. The standard tort claim form must be posted on the department of enterprise services’ web site.
(a) The standard tort claim form must, at a minimum, require the following information:
(i) The claimant’s name, date of birth, and contact information;
(ii) A description of the conduct and the circumstances that brought about the injury or damage;
(iii) A description of the injury or damage;
(iv) A statement of the time and place that the injury or damage occurred;
(v) A listing of the names of all persons involved and contact information, if known;
(vi) A statement of the amount of damages claimed; and
(vii) A statement of the actual residence of the claimant at the time of presenting the claim and at the time the claim arose.
(b) The standard tort claim form must be signed either:
(i) By the claimant, verifying the claim;
(ii) Pursuant to a written power of attorney, by the attorney-in-fact for the claimant;
(iii) By an attorney admitted to practice in Washington state on the claimant’s behalf; or
(iv) By a court-approved guardian or guardian ad litem on behalf of the claimant.
(c) Local governmental entities shall make available the standard tort claim form described in this section with instructions on how the form is to be presented and the name, address, and business hours of the agent of the local governmental entity. If a local governmental entity chooses to also make available its own tort claim form in lieu of the standard tort claim form, the form:
(i) May require additional information beyond what is specified under this section, but the local governmental entity may not deny a claim because of the claimant’s failure to provide that additional information;
(ii) Must not require the claimant’s social security number; and
(iii) Must include instructions on how the form is to be presented and the name, address, and business hours of the agent of the local governmental entity appointed to receive the claim.
(d) If any claim form provided by the local governmental entity fails to require the information specified in this section, or incorrectly lists the agent with whom the claim is to be filed, the local governmental entity is deemed to have waived any defense related to the failure to provide that specific information or to present the claim to the proper designated agent.
(e) Presenting either the standard tort claim form or the local government tort claim form satisfies the requirements of this chapter.
(f) The amount of damages stated on the claim form is not admissible at trial.
(4) No action subject to the claim filing requirements of this section shall be commenced against any local governmental entity, or against any local governmental entity’s officers, employees, or volunteers, acting in such capacity, for damages arising out of tortious conduct until sixty calendar days have elapsed after the claim has first been presented to the agent of the governing body thereof. The applicable period of limitations within which an action must be commenced shall be tolled during the sixty calendar day period. For the purposes of the applicable period of limitations, an action commenced within five court days after the sixty calendar day period has elapsed is deemed to have been presented on the first day after the sixty calendar day period elapsed.
(5) With respect to the content of claims under this section and all procedural requirements in this section, this section must be liberally construed so that substantial compliance will be deemed satisfactory.
[ 2015 c 225 § 6; 2012 c 250 § 2; 2009 c 433 § 1; 2006 c 82 § 3; 2001 c 119 § 2; 1993 c 449 § 3; 1967 c 164 § 4.]
Purpose—Severability—1993 c 449: See notes following RCW 4.96.010.