How the Statute of Limitations Affects a Personal Injury Case
A victim who was involved in an accident has a lot to worry about. Seeking medical attention for their injuries, talking to eyewitnesses, cooperating with the police, and so on. In the rush of things, some victims forget that they can legally pursue the individual who caused the accident.
Filing a personal injury case may sound like a lot of work. That’s because it is. The difficulty of a personal injury case increases when the victim tackles it alone. Consulting an experienced personal injury lawyer takes a massive load off the victim’s shoulders.
A personal injury lawyer brings incomparable legal expertise when it comes to settlement claims. Their expertise in dealing with similar cases and their knowledge of the law ensure you get the compensation you seek.
Understanding legal complexities is another advantage of a personal injury lawyer. The concept of the statute of limitations always pops up when talking about complexities.
What is the Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations is a law that specifies the time a victim of an accident has to file a lawsuit. The victim loses the right to pursue the perpetrator legally once this time period runs out. There are exceptions to this, but the basic law remains the same. Also, the statute of limitations varies from state to state. The statute of limitations starts from the instant the victim suffered the injury.
The statute of limitations has three purposes.
- To ensure lawsuits are filed promptly
- To prevent cases from dragging on for extended periods. There are chances that evidence may get lost or that people may misremember the events that happened
- To prevent defendants from being harassed for the acts they committed a long time ago
How Does It Affect a Personal Injury Case?
The statute of limitations is triggered the moment an individual is involved in an accident. There are chances that the victim may lose the right to file a case if they wait too long. However, there are exceptions.
The victim will be given additional time only if they weren’t aware of the injury. An example of this is when a surgeon leaves surgical equipment at the incision site. The victim may not realize this until they have to undergo another procedure or feel discomfort. In such cases, the statute of limitations begins on the day the victim finds out about the presence of the surgical equipment, rather than the date of the first surgery.
The example above describes the discovery rule exception in the statute of limitations.
Extending the Statute of Limitations
There are ways to extend the statute of limitations. One instance is when the defendant leaves the state in which the accident happened. In this case, the statute of limitations clock will be paused. It will only resume when the defendant has returned to the state.
The statute of limitations is also paused if the defendant is a minor or suffers from a mental disability.
The statute of limitations varies for each state. However, most states give the victim up to two years to file a personal injury lawsuit. The exceptions are states like Louisiana and Tennessee, where the time period is only one year from the date of the accident. There are states like Maine, Missouri, and North Dakota that offer five years or more for the plaintiff to file a lawsuit. Knowledge about the statute of limitations will contribute to the swift processing of a personal injury case.