Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury Claims

As with all legal proceedings, there are strict guidelines that must be followed in regard to filing a personal injury claim. The plaintiff is responsible for providing proof that the defendant is the individual responsible for the injury, and must also show causation, or that the injury sustained occurred as a result of a the accident in question, caused by the defendant. Finally, the plaintiff must provide evidence of the financial loss that he or she has incurred as a result of the injuries that were sustained.

Working with an experienced personal injury attorney is one of the best ways to ensure that your claim will be handled thoroughly and that all of the state’s requirements for the proper filing of a personal injury suit are met. However, no matter how strong your personal injury case may be, it can be dismissed entirely if you do not abide by your state’s statute of limitations.

Plaintiff’s Failure to Act

Statute of limitations refers to the maximum amount of time that can elapse between the occurrence of an accident and when the plaintiff files a lawsuit.  The plaintiff must file the suit before the statute of limitations expires after the accident that resulted in the injury. The statute of limitations on personal injury claims varies from state to state, ranging from one to six years. The clock begins ticking on the statute of limitations immediately after the accident. For example, if your state has a statute of limitations of two years, you have two years from the date of your accident to file a personal injury claim. If you do not file within that specified time period, it is likely that your case will be dismissed.

Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations

While the set statue of limitations is firm, many states have one notable exception in the form of the discovery rule. Under the discovery rule, the filing deadline may be extended if the plaintiff was unaware of the injury or that the defendant’s conduct may have been the cause of the injury. For example, exposure to asbestos in the workplace that eventually results in cancer could fall under the discovery rule. The statute of limitations would begin on the day of your cancer diagnosis, not on the day that you were initially exposed to the asbestos.

Other exceptions to the statue of limitations in many states include the defendant leaving the state, if the plaintiff is under the age of 18 or if the plaintiff is mentally or physically disabled.