How the Statute of Limitations Affects Your Personal Injury Case

One of the misconceptions about personal injury law is that you can file a claim at any time.

The law does give victims time to recover, gather resources, and file a personal injury lawsuit. But once this duration is over, you lose your right to compensation, even if you fully deserve it.

In this article, we’ll be discussing what the statute of limitations is and how it can affect your chances of compensation.

Overview of the Statute of Limitation for Personal Injury Cases

The statute of limitations is a legal deadline. It can be described as a time frame within which a plaintiff must bring a case against their offender after suffering an injury. Failure to do so results in the plaintiff losing their right to compensation.

The statute of limitations varies based on the jurisdiction and the type of personal injury claim. Generally, the clock starts ticking from the date of the injury or the discovery of the injury’s cause.

The rationale behind setting deadlines for these lawsuits is to ensure a timely resolution of legal disputes. The law does not want any case to linger indefinitely. With this method, cases can be tried while the evidence is still fresh.

The Discovery Rule

Some jurisdictions also have rules known as the “discovery rule.” It is a principle that allows the statute of limitations to start when the plaintiff discovers the injury.

This rule is particularly relevant in cases where injuries are not immediately apparent or where the cause of the injury is not immediately clear. For example, in medical malpractice cases, a patient may not discover the condition until they experience symptoms or receive subsequent medical opinions.

However, this is not a universal rule, and the scope also varies. Forbes has updated the list of the statute of limitations for all the regions in the US.

Tolling the Statute of Limitations

“Tolling” refers to the suspension or pausing of the statute of limitations for a certain period. When the statute of limitations is tolled, the legal clock stops running, which means the deadline is automatically extended.

Here’s a practical example of the application of tolling: If a child is injured while they are underage, they may not be able to seek legal compensation until they reach 18. In this case, the statute of limitations will extend until they turn 20.

How It Influences A Personal Injury Claim

Here are some of the (positive and negative) means through which the statute of limitations shapes personal injury law:

Preservation of Evidence

The average statute of limitation for personal injury claims is two years. Within this timeframe, both parties can scrape whatever is left of the evidence and build a solid case. Because there is no loss of critical evidence, the case can be fairly tried and put to rest as soon as possible.

Image Credit:

Protection of Offenders

Unfortunately, several people have been let off the hook because the plaintiff wasted too much time filing a compensation claim.

The delay may be due to their inability to make up their minds or even their inability to recover from the impact of the accident before the deadline. Without anybody to take up the case on their behalf, such people lose their right to compensation.

Timely Resolution

With the statute of resolution in place, the law ensures that cases are not everlasting. These limitations play a pivotal role in shaping the overall litigation strategy. Furthermore, the timely resolution benefits both plaintiffs and defendants by fostering efficiency and preventing the accumulation of stale claims.

Wrapping Up

The statute of limitations has its pros and cons, but we can’t deny the fact that it has helped to streamline legal processes.

If you have a personal injury case you’re planning to take up, talk to your attorney about the statute of limitations as well as the possibility of extra-legal requirements that may affect your case.