Answers to Your Questions About the Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
It is essential that you move quickly when you have a personal injury case. Such cases can take time to prepare, and you don’t always have a lot of time before you may lose your chance of getting your case in front of the court. You may wonder why there is such a rush. The reason is that every legal matter, from personal injury cases to criminal cases, has a statute of limitations. As the name suggests, this puts a time limit on your case.
Not only should you move quickly to file your case, but also you need to work with an attorney as the statute of limitations can be a tricky concept that requires legal knowledge to fully understand. The last thing you need is to have a court throw out your case because of a detail involving this rule.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations is a time limit. It’s set by law and states exactly how long you have to bring a case before the court. If you file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations expires, then the court will dismiss it.
The concept may seem simple in definition, but it becomes complicated the more you learn about how it works. There are various statutes of limitations for different situations. That means you need to know the exact rule for your specific case. Even more confusing is that every state sets its own laws, so it can vary greatly from place to place.
What Are Some Examples of Personal Injury Statute of Limitations?
Every state has different rules for the time limit in which you can file a personal injury case. Some may be as low as one year after the incident, while other states’ laws may offer you six years of time.
Here are some examples of the statute of limitations for personal injury cases in some states:
- Arizona: two years
- Colorado: three years for auto accidents; two years for all other situations
- Florida: four years
- Kentucky: one year
- Maine: six years
- Missouri: five years
Please note that these examples are for cases where you are suing another individual or a company. States typically have different rules when the other party is a government entity.
Also, most states have separate statute of limitations rules for injuries and property damage. Sometimes, the time limit for bringing a property damage claim is longer than that for bringing an injury claim. So, if you missed the deadline for your injury claims, you may still have a chance to seek compensation for property damage, depending on your state’s laws.
States will also usually have different rules for medical malpractice claims, which also fall under the umbrella of personal injury. So, the type of case you have and claim you want to bring in court will play a large role in which statute of limitations rule applies to your circumstances.
What Can Complicate Personal Injury Statute of Limitations?
The main complication with the statute of limitations is when the timer starts. Many personal injury cases are fairly easy to determine because it starts on the day of the accident. However, there are other situations where it may not be so obvious.
In addition, some states do have exceptions to the statute of limitations. You may be able to get an exception and extend the time limit in which you have to file.
A common exception is the discovery rule. This is for cases where you were not aware of your injury right away or where you were unaware of the cause of the injury being negligence on the part of the other party.
Do be aware that simply saying you didn’t know you were hurt is not always going to bring about the discovery rule. If you should have known, and it’s reasonable to think you knew, the court won’t accept your claim of ignorance.
A good example of when this rule applies is for injuries that take time to show up, such as asbestos exposure. It could take decades before you suffer any type of health issue, and that is medically proven. The court would very likely accept that you were unaware of the harm to your body until years after the incident occurred.
Other exceptions may include a pause in the timer if something happens, such as:
- You are not yet 18 years old
- The other party leaves the state
- You have a mental illness
For example, if you were 16 years old when the accident occurred, you could wait until you were 18 years old to bring your lawsuit. The statute of limitations would pause until you turn 18.
Another situation where things will differ is if someone died. A wrongful death lawsuit is different from your personal injury claims. It also has a different statute of limitations that applies.
How Can an Attorney Help Me?
Because the concept of the statute of limitations is so complex, you really need an attorney to guarantee you do not end up in a bad situation. Courts are strict when it comes to this rule. If you miss it by even a day, you could lose your whole case and never have the opportunity to seek the compensation you deserve.
By working with a lawyer familiar with personal injury cases, you can better prepare your lawsuit and have it in front of the court well before there is any question about the statute of limitations. Your attorney will stay on top of the time limit, which allows you to focus on your recovery.
Work With an Experienced Local Lawyer
You have enough going on that you don’t also need to constantly worry about the clock ticking away on your personal injury case. Let your lawyer handle the situation and help you prevent unnecessary stress. He or she will know exactly how to manage your case to avoid any issues with the statute of limitations. Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!