Statute of Limitations in Personal Injury Cases

After an injury, there are many thoughts that are going through your mind. Probably the last thing you are thinking about is the time limit within which you must file a lawsuit to recover damages for injuries. This is referred to as the statute of limitations. 

What is The Statute of Limitations?

This limitation is usually established by state law and sets a strict timeline for the filing of your lawsuit. If you file after the statute of limitations has run, the court can dismiss the case and the Defendant most certainly will raise the issue. If that happens, you will lose the ability to be compensated for your injuries. This is typically referred to as being “time-barred.” In some cases, the time frame can be extended but that is the exception in almost every jurisdiction and the particulars are complex. Insurance adjusters and attorneys are well aware of these deadlines requiring you and your personal injury lawyer to also be aware of them.

Different statute of limitations apply to many different kinds of lawsuits. For example, in Ohio injury cases, the general statute is two years (although, again this can vary from state to state). Even if you decide to settle your case pre-suit, you still must be aware of the time-frame. Medical treatment and the healing process takes time and you cannot get the full scope of your damages until you are maximally improved. It’s smart to plan ahead so that when you go attempt to settle, you have plenty of time to file in court if unsuccessful. Most attorneys will not get involved in a case when too close to the statute of limitations.

When Does The Statute of Limitations Begin?

In most injury cases, the statute of limitations begins on the day you are injured but there are exceptions in some States. In a car accident, it would typically be the day of the accident contamperaneously with any injuries. Although usually two years, the time frame can be from one year to six years for various personal injury claims. The “discovery rule” can extend the statute of limitations. This occurs when you did not know till later you suffered an injury caused by someone else’s negligence. This extension, although not always, usually occurs in medical malpractice cases.

The statute of limitations can be tolled in certain circumstances. A minor is protected until they reach 18 years of age or a mental disability can toll the statute. Due to this complex area of the law, you must understand and deal with the statute of limitations. You must learn how it applies in your case. Give yourself time to explore settlement of your case and not be ambushed later on. Once involved in an accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney. Meet with them and discuss all aspects of your case including the statute of limitations. This will greatly assist your attorney as well as yourself to obtain compensation for your damages

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About the Authors: Sawan & Sawan is a multi-generational, family owned law firm practicing law in the areas of car accidents, truck accidents, and other personal injury. Our firm practices law in Ohio, Georgia, and Michigan.

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