Every day, people suffer from personal injuries due to someone else’s negligence. But what happens after the injury occurs? How long do you have to take legal action against the responsible party? 

That answer lies in understanding the concept of the ‘statute of limitations.’

Statutes of limitation are laws that limit how much time has passed since an injury occurred before victims can no longer file lawsuits for compensation. This time varies by state and type of case, so it’s important to know these details if you suffered a personal injury.

To gain greater insight into this area of law, let us explore just what statute of limitation means when taking legal action for personal injuries.

Statute of Limitations in Personal Injury Cases

A statute of limitations is a deadline for filing a lawsuit related to any civil wrong – including medical malpractice, product liability, property damage, and more. The idea behind this kind of law is that if too much time passes between the event and the filing date, evidence may have been lost or destroyed, making it difficult to prove fault or negligence.

The laws differ from state to state; however, they all generally limit claimants to two years (or sometimes less) after discovering an injury before they must file suit. If the claimant does not meet the deadline, their case will be rejected regardless of its merits. 

Regarding personal injury cases specifically, other factors could affect the length of time available to file, such as age at the time of discovery and whether or not certain notices were provided correctly within specified periods following an accident.

Statute of Limitations for Minors

The statute of limitations for injuries sustained by minors typically starts when they turn 18; in some states, it can be as late as age 21 or beyond. This is because minors cannot decide about their legal rights until adulthood. Cases involving injuries to minors may also have different rules, such as extended time for claims against government entities. It’s crucial to seek legal advice from an experienced lawyer who knows the local court system to determine the exact filing deadline for your case. Every situation is unique, and it’s essential to understand the time limitations specific to your case.

Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Claims

A survivor filing a wrongful death claim typically has two years from the date of death, but state laws may vary, so consulting an experienced attorney is crucial. Timing is crucial when pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit, as surviving family members may suffer financially and emotionally. Legal action should be taken promptly to recover damages. Pursuing a wrongful death suit can be complex, and adherence to regulations is essential. Seeking the guidance of an experienced lawyer is highly recommended before taking any action, as every case is unique and requires a thorough understanding of the specific laws that apply.

Personal Injury Statute of Limitations By State

State Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury
Alabama 2 years
Alaska 2 years
Arizona 2 years
Arkansas 3 years
California 2 years
Colorado 2 years
Connecticut 2 years
Delaware 2 years
Florida 4 years
Georgia 2 years
Hawaii 2 years
Idaho 2 years
Illinois 2 years
Indiana 2 years
Iowa 2 years
Kansas 2 years
Kentucky 1 year
Louisiana 1 year
Maine 6 years
Maryland 3 years
Massachusetts 3 years
Michigan 3 years
Minnesota 2 years
Mississippi 3 years
Missouri 5 years
Montana 3 years
Nebraska 4 years
Nevada 2 years
New Hampshire 3 years
New Jersey 2 years
New Mexico 3 years
New York 3 years
North Carolina 3 years
North Dakota 6 years
Ohio 2 years
Oklahoma 2 years
Oregon 2 years
Pennsylvania 2 years
Rhode Island 3 years
South Carolina 3 years
South Dakota 3 years
Tennessee 1 year
Texas 2 years
Utah 4 years
Vermont 3 years
Virginia 2 years
Washington 3 years
West Virginia 2 years
Wisconsin 3 years
Wyoming 4 years

Please note that this chart is for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the most up-to-date laws in each state. It is always recommended to consult with a licensed attorney in your state for specific legal advice regarding your personal injury case.

Tolling the Statute of Limitations

Tolling the statute of limitations refers to extending the time limit for filing a claim due to extraordinary circumstances. The court may toll the statute of limitations when someone is declared mentally incompetent or in cases of fraudulent concealment of information necessary for advancing with a suit. 

Discovery of evidence related to a case after its deadline can also cause statutes of limitation to be extended. The policy behind tolling statutes of limitation is to ensure fairness and expedite justice while protecting vulnerable individuals. Exceptions are allowed to ensure that no one unfairly takes advantage of protection systems.

Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations in Personal Injury Cases

In personal injury cases, the statute of limitations sets a deadline for plaintiffs to file a lawsuit against the defendant. However, exceptions to this rule can extend or shorten the time limit. 

Here are some common exceptions:

  • The discovery rule: The clock starts ticking on the statute of limitations when the plaintiff knew or should have known about the injury or harm caused by the defendant’s actions. This exception is commonly applied in cases involving medical malpractice or toxic exposure.
  • Minors and mental incompetence: In some states, the statute of limitations is tolled (paused) for minors and individuals who are mentally incompetent. This means the clock does not start ticking until the person reaches a certain age or is declared mentally competent.
  • Product liability: Some states have a “statute of repose” for product liability cases, which sets a hard deadline for filing a lawsuit regardless of when the injury occurred.
  • Wrongful death: In cases of wrongful death, the statute of limitations may start on the date of the victim’s death rather than the date of the injury.

It’s important to note that the rules regarding exceptions to the statute of limitations vary by state and type of case. It’s always best to consult a qualified attorney to determine your rights and options in a personal injury case.

Negotiating a Statute of Limitations

Negotiating a statute of limitations is an option for those seeking to resolve their personal injury cases outside the court system. It can be especially beneficial because it allows both parties to come to terms with what works best for them, rather than having a judge dictate the outcome or abide by specific statutes that may not always fit the situation.

When negotiating a statute of limitations, consideration must be given to all aspects of the case and its timeline. An agreement should include clear language regarding when each party will provide information, documents, and other applicable evidence necessary to settle the claim. 

Both parties should also have time limits so as not to prolong settlement negotiations beyond reasonable. This helps ensure that neither party gets too far ahead in terms of getting something from the other without actually having to pay out anything themselves.

Seeking Legal Counsel for Statute of Limitations Questions & Concerns

If you’re unsure about the statute of limitations for your personal injury case, seeking legal counsel is essential. A personal injury lawyer can provide valuable guidance and help you understand the deadlines. 

Missing the deadline for filing a claim can result in being barred from recovery, making it crucial to get legal advice as soon as possible to protect your rights and interests.

Do you need help navigating statute of limitations issues in a personal injury case? Call Injury.io today to get the help you need.

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