If you have been injured in an accident and feel that someone else is to blame for the incident, then you have the right to seek compensation for your injuries. This may mean that you need to sue an individual for the money, and a personal injury attorney can help with this. However, you should know that you have a finite amount of time that you can seek out money for the injury. This is called the statute of limitations. There are some facts you should know about the statute of limitations.
Your File Date Is Limited
The statute of limitations for an injury describes the amount of time that you have to file a claim for the injury. This means that your civil lawsuit must be filed before the time period has lapsed. You do not need to settle the case before the statute of limitations is up though. This is good news, because a lawsuit can take one to two years to make it to trial. Also, the discovery phase of the proceedings and the trial itself can take six months or longer.
The amount of time that you have to file your lawsuit depends on the state you live in. Each state has its own separate statute of limitations, and the statute is usually several years. For example, New York has a statute of three years for an injury. Florida has a four year one, and you have two years in Ohio. It is wise to know the statute before moving forward with your case to make sure you are well within this time period.
In some cases, personal injuries may be the result of a criminal act. This may mean that both a criminal and civil case will be filed separately in relation to the same incident. The statute of limitations may be different for criminal and civil cases. However, two very different court systems will oversee the cases, and the two matters will proceed independently of one another.
You can and should file your civil lawsuit even if a criminal filing has not been made yet. This is true even if you feel that the conclusion of the criminal case may assist the civil matter. Civil lawsuits can take much longer to settle than criminal ones. It is likely that the criminal case will conclude well before the civil trial or settlement process begins.
The Clock Starts When the Injury Is Discovered
If you are obviously injured in some way, then the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit begins at the time of your injury. Car accidents, slips and falls, and assaults are a few things that can produce obvious injuries. If an obvious injury occurs and you become incapacitated for some time afterward, like if you slip into a coma, then the statute of limitations clock will be stopped. This is called tolling, and it occurs when there are extenuating circumstances surrounding the injury. Incapacitation as well as an age under 18 are two types of extenuating circumstances that can stop the statute of limitations clock.
Also, the statute of limitations may not begin until you are directly aware of the injury. For example, if you took a medication that caused liver damage, but the damage only became apparent within the last year or two, then the statute of limitations clock will begin when you discover the injury.
Certain types of personal injuries caused by medical malpractice, product defects, and environmental contaminants can all cause delayed injuries and the possible need for delayed lawsuit filing.
If you want to know more about personal injury lawsuits, statutes of limitation, and other factors that may affect your claim, contact a personal injury attorney.