Weird Washington Laws

Like many other states, Washington State has numerous laws and statutes that may seem weird to the casual observer. In most instances, legislators passed these weird laws long ago, and the legislators who drafted and passed them likely had different intentions.

The same goes for injury claims. If another party tries to rely on an outdated or unusual law to avoid liability for your losses, you need the right legal help. Seek assistance from a Seattle personal injury lawyer in Washington State to learn about your options and get the legal guidance you need. Weird laws may affect your case when you never expect it.

For example, some states actually have laws that prohibit female sororities because of outdated laws about brothels. Likewise, despite a Supreme Court decision, other states may allow same-sex marriage but still have laws prohibiting sexual relations between members of the same sex.

Washington State, in particular, has some bizarre laws, including bans on lollipops and spitting on buses. While these laws might not play a role in many legal claims, you never know when a weird law might apply in an injury claim or civil case.

Strange Laws Still on the Books Here in Washington State

Despite subsequent Supreme Court cases and other laws, some strange laws remain on the books here in Washington State.

Some of those laws include the following:

No Harassing Bigfoot

This is perhaps one of the most well-known weird laws in Washington State. In the scenic county of Skamania, located in Washington State, an unusual law is in place to protect the legendary creature known as Bigfoot or Sasquatch, which people believe resides in the Pacific Northwest.

The statute explicitly prohibits any hunting, killing, or harassment of Bigfoot and other yet-to-be-discovered species. Despite its seemingly whimsical timing, the law holds serious consequences for those who defy it.

Individuals found guilty of wantonly slaying or harassing Bigfoot can face a hefty fine of up to $100,000 and potentially face a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. The county took these measures to preserve the elusive creature’s existence and protect it from harm. While this law may seem odd, it highlights the state’s fascination with the elusive cryptid.

Refraining From Appearing in Public if You Have the Common Cold

This law makes it a misdemeanor offense to expose anyone in public to a contagious disease, which can include the common cold. Though authorities do not usually enforce this law, it is still active, and technically, you might face a fine for heading out of your house with a cold in Washington.

Not Sleeping in Another Person’s Outhouse

While it makes sense to have laws regulating how far outhouses should be from sleeping spaces, Washington outlaws sleeping in another person’s outhouse without their consent. You must get permission before taking a nap or staying overnight in another’s outhouse on their property.

No Whaling on Sunday

According to a law originating from the 1800s, it is illegal to engage in whale hunting or whaling on Sundays in Washington State. While whale hunting is not a common activity in modern times, this law reminds us of the state’s history and maritime traditions.

No Lollipops in Cars

Washington State prohibits driving with a lollipop in your mouth. The logic behind this law may relate to the potential distraction caused by having something in your mouth while operating a vehicle.

No Buying a Mattress on Sundays

Another peculiar law in Washington State prohibits the purchase of mattresses on Sundays. This law likely stems from historical blue laws designed to promote religious observance on Sundays and restrict certain activities.

No Buying Meat on Sundays

This law stems from an attempt by old legislators to prevent commercial activities on Sundays. Meat is one commodity the law prohibits stores from selling on this day of rest, though you certainly can find meat for sale on Sunday in every grocery store across the state.

No X-Rays for Shoe Fittings

In the early 1900s, some shoe stores started advertising they used X-ray fluoroscopy devices to examine feet and fit customers for shoes better. However, because these machines exposed customers to radiation outside of a medical setting, lawmakers banned the use of X-ray technology for shoe stores.

No X-Ray Specs

It is unlawful to sell or advertise X-ray specs or any device claiming to have X-ray vision capabilities in Washington State. The state likely passed this law to protect consumers from fraudulent claims and scams.

No Racing Contests

While drag racing is generally illegal in most places, Washington State takes it a step further by explicitly prohibiting driving or racing “any vehicle in a speed contest.” The law aims to deter reckless driving and ensure road safety.

No Disguises for Teachers

In Washington State, it is illegal for teachers to wear a disguise, mask, or hood in public. This law may have been enacted to prevent teachers from inciting fear or confusion among students or the general public.

No Biting Off Another’s Leg

Unsurprisingly, it is against the law to bite off another person’s leg in Washington State or any other body part, for that matter. Like many others, this law falls under the broader category of assault and battery.

No Attaching Skis to a Car

Seattle prohibits attaching skis to the roof of a car unless you parked the vehicle. This law reflects the city’s urban setting and may have aimed to prevent damage to cars or obstructed views while driving.

No Pretending Your Parents Are Wealthy

The state has an unusual law that makes it illegal to falsely claim that one has wealthy parents. The law also prohibits exaggerating or boasting about your parents’ financial situation.

This intriguing legislation raises the question: how far can one go before attracting the attention of the law? The specific threshold remains unclear, but it’s likely best not to push the boundaries. Being honest and genuine is not only a moral virtue but also a legal necessity in Washington!

Simultaneously Dancing and Drinking

For most people, having drinks and dancing go hand in hand. However, not in Lynden, Washington! The law in that town prohibits you from engaging in these activities at the same time. You can drink in Lynden, and you can dance – just not together.

Even though judicial rulings have overridden many antiquated laws, some statutes remain on the books. In rare instances, law enforcement officers may even prosecute individuals who violate these laws.

Weird laws might seem outdated, but they can still play a possible role in any type of legal case. You never know when authorities or parties to a case will dig up and try to use a strange law for their benefit. Lawyers must challenge the use of outdated laws to ensure it does not hurt your case.

Weird Laws Are Not Necessarily Unenforceable

If you face a charge based on a law that at best seems weird, or you think law enforcement applied the law uniquely or inaccurately, you can sue. Lining up representation from an experienced attorney with experience in the field of your case will provide you with the data you need to make an informed decision about your case.

The law can confuse anyone without legal training, and certain provisions might be ambiguous or unclear. When this happens in your case, an attorney with an understanding of the law and willingness to do the research can advise you on the best possible outcome in your unique situation.

Weird Laws Might Apply to Your Injury Claim

Weird laws, while often amusing or outdated, can sometimes have unexpected implications, even in the context of injury claims. Although these laws may not directly relate to personal injury cases, they can indirectly affect the outcome or add unique elements to the legal process.

Below are only some ways that lesser-known laws might apply to an injury claim.

Unusual Statutes of Limitations

Every state has a statute of limitations, which sets a time limit for filing a personal injury claim after an accident occurs. However, some states may have unique statutes of limitations for specific types of injuries or accidents. Failure to file a claim within the prescribed time frame may result in losing the right to seek compensation.

Limitations on Damages

Some states have laws that limit the amount of compensation a plaintiff can recover in a personal injury claim. These caps on damages can affect the final settlement or verdict amount, potentially reducing the overall compensation available to the injured party.

Animal Liability Laws

Some states have specific laws governing animal liability, which may determine how much responsibility a pet owner bears in the event their animal injures someone. Depending on the state’s laws, liability may vary, and it may impact the outcome of an injury claim involving an animal attack.

For example, some states hold dog owners strictly liable for dog bites (like Washington), while others follow a one-bite rule. Some states cover damages for falls from dog attacks, while others only allow for damages from bite wounds.

Dram Shop Laws and Social Host Liability

Dram shop laws hold establishments liable for injuries caused by customers they have over-served with alcohol. These laws vary from state to state and can influence the legal strategy when pursuing a claim against a bar, restaurant, or another similar establishment.

Some states have social host liability laws, which hold individuals responsible for injuries caused by guests who received alcohol at a private gathering. In such cases, the host may be liable for allowing guests to become intoxicated and then causing an accident.

Anyone who suffers injuries in an accident should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney familiar with the specific laws of the state where the accident occurred.

A knowledgeable attorney in Washington can help navigate the legal complexities, including any unusual or unique laws that may apply to the case. They will work to protect the injured party’s rights and pursue fair compensation for their damages, ensuring that weird laws, if any, do not unduly impact the outcome of the claim.

Your Attorney Will Apply the Law to the Unique Facts of Your Case

When there is a curious law or statute in place that might leave room open for interpretation, having an experienced attorney on your side to help apply the law and case precedent to your unique facts and circumstances will be especially beneficial for your case.

It is, of course, possible for you to research cases on your own to find similar facts and circumstances to your own, then to see how the result of the case worked out. Then you can consider the unique circumstances of your case and whether they might match up in such a way that prior decisions apply to them.

This is not always simple, and it can take quite a few hours to find even one case similar to yours, let alone enough to determine an average. Your attorney has likely worked on quite a few cases and has a network of peers to reach out to for any difficult questions or odd cases.

Case precedent is the norm or standard of previous cases with similar facts or circumstances. For example, it is illegal to litter in Washington. If the police pull you over for tossing an apple out of your car window toward a field of cows, they might charge you with littering.

You might argue that you were simply trying to feed the cows and that throwing a biodegradable, consumable item into the private property of the cow pasture was not at all littering but feeding the cows.

No sign on the private property told you not to feed the cows, so there is no private cause of action. How do you know if you will win in court against the charge of littering? You contact a local attorney to discuss your case and determine your options.


August 29, 2023
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