Being injured in a car accident can be traumatic and extremely disruptive. On top of dealing with injuries and car repairs, you have to figure out how to navigate the legal minefield of filing a suit for damages. But it’s essential to understand the timeframe you’re working with; once you pass the statute of limitations, you won’t be able to move forward with your case. There isn’t a universal rule for the statute of limitations; it varies by state, type of lawsuit and a few other factors.
Type of Lawsuits
Most states have different limitations depending on the type of suit and the vehicle involved in the accident. Generally, you have two years to file a suit for injuries and up to four years to file for damages to receive money for car repairs. In general, these two limitations apply for injuries that take place when you are over 18. If the injury happened before you turned 18 then the two or four-year rules apply after you turn 18.
Types of Vehicles Involved
Another distinction is the type of vehicle involved in the suit. If the accident was between two civilians, then the typical two to your year rule applies. If one of the vehicles involved was a state vehicle, such as a squad car, then the limitation is only one year long. If the accident involved a city vehicle, like a park services vehicle, then the statute of limitations is only six months long.
The Rule of Discovery
A big caveat to statutes of limitations is that the period of time you have to file a claim is not always taken from the day your accident occurred. If, for example, you were in a minor accident and only realized a month later that your back was injured in the accident, then the two-year period to file a claim would start when you discovered your injury, instead of when the accident took place. This is called the “rule of “discovery” and is an essential part of civil law. The rule of discovery allows for the possibility that you may not discover damage or injury right away and allows victims the chance to file a claim even after the limitation would normally have passed.