A statute of limitations is a law that prevents claimants from pursuing cases after a certain amount of time. This means you might not be able to file a claim if a particular date has passed. Take a look at how these statutes apply in personal injury law and what you need to do to avoid having trouble with them.
How Long Do You Have to File a Claim?
Most states generally apply a statute of limitations of between two and three years. The clock usually starts from the time of an incident. Even if you're not sure you're going to file a claim, you should ask a personal injury attorney for a consultation so you can learn what the statute is where the accident happened.
Notably, some states also have laws that shorten the statute when the defendant is a government agency, employee, contractor, or designee. Yes, the government gives you less time to file a claim against it so you'll probably have to hurry up.
Many states also carve out some exceptions, and these often involve cases that only emerge over time. For example, it's normal for the clock to start once you identify repetitive motion injuries. A similar attitude is common in cases involving chemical, biological, or radiological exposure. Child sexual abuse survivors are also frequently afforded longer or unlimited statutes that only kick in once they reach adulthood.
Should You File Right Away?
You should have a discussion about your case with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. However, filing quickly runs some risks. In particular, there's a risk that you might settle the case before everything is known. For example, you might learn that the back trouble you've been experiencing is due to spinal or nerve damage rather than just a muscle injury. It's close to impossible to seek additional compensation once you've accepted an injury settlement. Consequently, you want to know as much as possible about your injuries and how well you're recovering before you sue.
Stopping the Clock
Under personal injury law, the clock on the statute stops once you've provided formal notice to the defendant that you intend to seek a claim or sue. You don't have to get everything wrapped up by then, but you should have an idea of what your monetary demand is going to be. It's also a good idea to be sure that you're going after the right defendant because this risks letting the statutory limit expire if you have to file again against someone else.
Learn more by contacting legal services like Shaevitz Shaevitz & Kotzamanis.