Understand Personal Injury Statute of Limitations

Statute of limitations is a general term that is used for all legal matters that have deadlines, usually insurance claims and lawsuits. The reasons states have statute of limitations is so that anyone who may need to go to court knows the general timeline that they may be summoned, and so that evidence remains relatively fresh. Every state has its own specific statute of limitations that you should look up, but here are general guidelines to understanding how they can impact your claim.

Varying Deadlines

The statute of limitations for filing your personal injury claim or lawsuit depends on the state you live in. On average, most states require that you make your claim within two years. However, other states allow you up to six to get your affairs in order. Other states only have a single year for you to file.

Start of the Deadline 

All injury deadlines begin at the time that the injury occurs. For example, if you slip and fall on someone’s property and they were negligent in preventing the circumstances that caused the fall, you have two years from the time you fell to file. There are some exceptions to this rule, but they frequently don’t occur and you shouldn’t rely on them.

The Discovery Rule

The discovery rule is one such exception to the statute of limitations. In the event that you don’t know you have an injury, your deadline begins as soon as you’ve discovered it. An example of this would be someone who has been exposed to asbestos in their house for years, but doesn’t know it until they are diagnosed with mesothelioma. A judge can rule that their deadline starts at the time of the diagnosis. This rule only applies in states that have it in their laws.

Passed Deadlines 

If you’ve gotten caught up in other affairs and simply haven’t filed your claim yet, you’re probably out of luck. Unless you discover an injury later, you cannot file your claim after the deadline has passed. This is why it is so important to check your state’s laws shortly after getting your injury.

If you think you might be able to extend your deadline, call a lawyer to discuss the situation with them. Their knowledge of state laws and personal injury cases can guide you toward a successful claim if there is one.