When you get injured because of the negligence of another person, then that is called a personal injury. And when a personal injury occurs, the victim (aka the plaintiff) has the right to get compensation from the insurance company of the at fault party (aka the defendant). That compensation is used to pay for any expenses caused by the accident such as medical bills, repair or replacement costs for damaged property, lost wages if the victim is unable to work, pain and suffering, and more.
In order to get the compensation needed, the accident victim needs to file an injury claim against the defendant, and in some rare cases, they may have to file a lawsuit instead. If the defendant is going to file an injury claim or lawsuit, then they will need to do so before the statute of limitations expires. That is why the accident victim should get the help of a personal injury attorney if they plan to file a claim or lawsuit against the defendant. The attorney can help the defendant to file their claim before time runs out. You can read more here if you want to know all the ways that a personal injury lawyer can help you.
What is the Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations is the time limit that you have to file a lawsuit in civil court after you have experienced some kind of harm or injury. The court will not hear the case after the statute of limitations has expired. The statutes are different depending on the type of case and the state in which the case is happening. The reason is that there is no national standard for the statute of limitations so each state has their own individual statutes. For example, the statute of limitations for a personal injury case in California is two years from when the injury first occurred.
There are some cases where the signs or symptoms of certain injuries may not show until much later on. In those cases, the statute of limitations would start from when the person starts showing distinct signs or symptoms of their injury. For example, a person exposed to a harmful carcinogen may not become sick until some time after exposure. In that case, the statute of limitations would start when they first start showing signs of cancer rather than when they were first exposed to the carcinogen.
Exceptions To The Statute of Limitations
Each state has rules that can extend or pause the statute of limitations timeline under certain circumstances. If you want to know what those conditions are in your state, then you can find out online or consult a personal injury attorney. In California the following conditions can extend the timeline of the statute of limitations:
- The Delayed Discovery rule. This is when the injured person was unaware that they suffered an injury because of the negligence of another party.
- The injured person was younger than eighteen when the accident occurred.
- The injured person had a temporary or permanent mental illness when the accident happened.
- The defendant left California before the lawsuit could be filed.
You can easily find the rules governing the statute of limitations in your state online. But if you want to know how they may apply to you, then you should consult an experienced personal injury attorney to help you.