The time limit for filing a personal injury case is determined by the statute of limitations, which varies by state. If you wait too long to file a personal injury lawsuit, you won't have the right to file, regardless of your injuries. The range is wide, from one year to file a personal injury claim in Louisiana, Kentucky and Tennessee, to a ten year statute of limits to file a claim in Oregon. Filing your claim on time will give you the opportunity to receive financial compensation for your injuries.
Injury Claims that Involve Minors
Personal injury claims that involve minors have a twist to the statute of limitations rule. Being under 18 is considered a "legal disability" in the eyes of the court, because children are not able to advocate for their own needs. While a statute of limitations exists, the time does not start running until the child is no longer legally disabled (meaning turned 18). For example, a 15-year-old is the passenger in a car hit by an at fault driver. The 15-year-old sustains significant injuries, but the statute of limitations in their state is 2 years. No one files a personal injury claim on behalf of the minor. When this teenager turns 18, they will have 2 years to file a personal injury lawsuit on their own behalf.
Discovering Harm and the Effect on the Statute of Limitations
You can't file a personal injury lawsuit if you don't know that you have been hurt. In the case of a car accident, injuries are generally discovered during the first few days of treatment, but this is not a hard and fast rule. The discovering harm rule is more effective in cases of medical negligence, when a patient discovers years later that a doctor was negligent. For example, a patient has a routine cesarean section done. The doctor accidentally left behind pieces of gauze. The patient may not have pain or discomfort from the foreign object left in their body for months or years. It is only when the patient reports the discomfort and the gauze is found that the statute of limitations begins. The discovery of harm rule extends the statute of limitations for victims who just learned that they have been injured, regardless of the time period between the accident and the discovery.
If you have been injured in a car accident and you are worried about your statute of limitations running out, contact an experienced lawyer in your area today to discuss your case. For more information, contact a firm such as Burgess & Perigard.