Filing a Claim for Damages Against the City
Q: What is a Claim for Damages?
A: A claim is a request for payment for a loss, injury, or damages that you incurred in an incident/accident.
Q: What law regulates the City's claims process?
Q: How long do I have to file a claim?
A: You must file your claim within the state statute of limitations. There are different statutes of limitation for different types of claims. See RCW 4.16.160.
Q: I filled out a report when I was involved in the accident, do I still need to file a claim?
A: Yes. You must file a claim if you feel the City of Seattle is responsible for your loss, injury, or damages.
Q: How do I file a claim against the City of Seattle?
A: You can print a claim form, call for a claim form, or pick up a claim form from the Office of the City Clerk.
Q: What information do I need to include on my form?
A: Claims must include
1. name and address of the person filing the claim,
2. the date and location of the claimed loss,
3. any alleged act or omission on the part of the City,
4. the basis upon which the City is claimed to be liable,
5. any known witnesses,
6. details of the nature and extent of the injury or damage sustained, and
7. the amount being claimed.
A claim may be signed by the person filing the claim. However, if the claimant is incapacitated from verifying, presenting, and filing the claim in the time prescribed or if the claimant is a minor, or is a nonresident of the state absent therefrom during the time within which the claim is required to be filed, the claim may be verified, presented, and filed on behalf of the claimant by any relative, attorney, or agent representing the claimant. (RCW 4.96.020 (3))
Q: Should I include any other documents?
A: It will help your claim to include any supporting records, such as receipts, estimates, and invoices, along with any additional evidence, such as photos, diagrams, etc. All documents filed with your claim become property and become public records.
Q: Where do I file my claim?
A: Claims for damages against the City must be filed with the City Clerk's Office in person or by mail.
Q: What happens after I file my claim?
A: Your claim will be sent to the City’s Risk Management Office the business day after it is filed with the City Clerk's Office. You will receive a claim acknowledgement by mail. A claims adjuster will then investigate your claim. Possible resolutions are that the City:
1. pays a sum of money,
2. transfers the claim to another party or entity, or
3. denies the claim, where there is no evidence of City negligence.
Q: When will an adjuster contact me?
A: An adjuster will generally contact you in writing within 2 to 3 business days after the assignment of your claim. Your assigned adjuster will identify the claim number and will request other documentation needed to investigate your claim.
Q: How long will the investigation take?
A: The length of time it takes to investigate to claims will vary from case to case. On average, claims take up to 60 days to resolve.
Q: What are the considerations in evaluating a claim?
A: The considerations in evaluating a claim include
1. the particular facts of the alleged loss,
2. the applicable law,
3. whether the City of Seattle has legal responsibility,
4. the claimant's role in the situation, and
5. the nature and extent of damages claimed.
Q: I was injured. Who is going to pay my medical expenses?
A: You are responsible for all medical expenses that you incur. If you believe the City of Seattle is responsible for your injuries, you must file a claim. The circumstances surrounding your injury will be investigated. If a settlement is warranted, it may include reimbursement of your medical bills. The City does not pay medical providers directly.
Q: I need a rental vehicle because my vehicle is badly damaged or unsafe to drive. How can I get a rental vehicle?
A: Before a claim is filed and investigated, the City of Seattle cannot authorize payment for a rental vehicle. If you need to rent a vehicle, it is your own decision. Please understand that the claims adjuster must complete an investigation to determine responsibility prior to any authorization of a rental vehicle. You may consider contacting your own automobile insurance company for assistance in the meantime. Should you choose to rent a vehicle prior to authorization, you may be responsible for all or part of that expense.
Q: How do I check the status of my claim?
A: Call your claims adjuster. If you do not have your adjuster's direct number, call the City's Risk Management Office at 206-684-8213.
Q: Where can I get translation help?
A: In order to obtain translation help, please call your claims adjuster. NWI Global is available to help citizens and claims adjusters communicate if translation or interpretation services are needed.