How Will Statutes of Limitations Impact a Lawsuit?
In most states, you only have a certain period of time from the date of an accident or injury to file a lawsuit. The timeframe is referred to as the statute of limitations. The federal government and each state have different deadlines for different types of courts cases, both civil and criminal. Keep reading for more information on how statutes of limitations could impact your lawsuit.
Pay Attention to Dates
No matter what the statute of limitations is in your state, you must have your court case initiated by that deadline or risk losing the right to file a lawsuit over that specific incident. In most circumstances, the clock for statutes of limitations begins on the date that the accident occurred. However, in some cases, if you were unaware of your injury initially you may be able to start the clock from the date you became aware of your condition.
Keep Your Options Open
Lawsuits in court are subject to the statute of limitations deadlines, but insurance claims are not. In many situations, an insurance policy was held by the at-fault party that may apply to the injury you sustained. Although a large percentage of personal injury lawsuits are settled out of court, it is still beneficial to get the ball rolling on your claim within the statutory deadline. This will leave you with the option of going through the court system if necessary. It could also leave you with a bargaining tool as you negotiate with the other party about the damages you are owed.
Understand the Exceptions
Certain circumstances warrant extended statutes of limitations, depending on your state of residence. Those situations include when a minor was injured, when the defendant vacated the state after the incident or when the injured became mentally incapacitated for a certain period of time. You will need documentation showing that these extenuating circumstances applied in your case in order to take advantage of extending or altogether different statutory deadlines.
Know the Possibilities
Although statutes of limitations vary by state, they are typically between one and six years for personal injury lawsuits. This is because over time documentation can be lost and eyewitnesses can lose the ability to correctly recall events when they took place years in the past.