What is Statute of Limitations and How Does it Affect Personal Injury Suits?
Like other lawsuits, personal injury suits have a legal time limit set by statutes of limitations. A statute of limitations is a time period after which you are unable to go to court for a specific claim. In most personal injury cases, the statute of limitations begins on the date the injury occurred.
For example, the prescriptive period for filing a slander or libel case is one year from the date the injury or offense occurred. If a victim does not come forward to commence court proceedings within the subsequent year, he or she may not do so at any future time.
While the concept of statute of limitations may sound simple, it becomes more complicated when you take into consideration that the time period varies by state and by offense. The end result is hundreds of claims that are barred based on the expiration of the statute of limitations.
For this reason, injured parties should seek the knowledge and expertise of a personal injury attorney. Personal injury lawyers are well versed in the statute of limitations for various injury cases in their state. It is important to contact them as close to the date of the injury or offense as possible to ensure that you are able to begin legal proceedings well within the timeline for your particular situation.
Personal injury attorneys also know the exceptions to the statutes of limitations, which can prove beneficial to the victim or an injury or offense. These exceptions are situation specific, but they do exist:
- Discovery Rule: If a medical injury is incurred and is not discovered up front, the late discovery of the injury may not bar the action to collect damages. The discovery rule extends the period allowed by the statute of limitations because you just discovered the injury.
- Tolling of the Statute of Limitations: When the prescriptive period is “tolled”, or stopped, it benefits the victim by allowing him or her time to prepare and strengthen his argument. Examples of extraordinary situations which would call for a “toll” include minority or being underage, mental incapacity and insolvency of the defendant.
If you discover that you have incurred an injury late or if you think you may qualify for tolling of the statute of limitations for a certain offense, you should contact a qualified personal injury attorney immediately. Their expertise with statute of limitations and the exceptions can help preserve your right to recover damages, even if it appears that your time to file for damages has lapsed.
DISCLAIMER: All information on this website is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as legal advice. The Law Offices of Malman Law shall not be liable for any errors or inaccuracies contained herein, or any actions taken in reliance thereon.