If you have been injured because of someone else's negligence, you have only a certain amount of time to file a claim for damages. All states impose a statute of limitations on filing personal injury cases, with the filing deadlines ranging from 1 year in some states up to 6 years in Maine. About 24 states, at this writing, allow people who are injured up to 24 months to file a claim for damages. Once you know your own state's statute of limitations, however, you should know that there are some major exceptions to the statute of limitations rule, so it may not be too late to file if you fall into one or more of the following exceptions.
Discovery of Harm
Also sometimes referred to as the rule of discovery, this exception allows you more time to file if the full impact of harm could not have been known at the time of injury. For example, asbestos is a toxic workplace substance that may take years to show harm to the individual who inhaled the tiny fibers into their lungs. The symptoms of asbestosis and the related diseases may not appear until exposure has occurred for many years.
The time that a person became aware of the harm, or should have become aware of the harm, is considered the time of initial injury. The statute of limitations would then begin to toll from that date forward. A doctor's diagnosis often signals the date of injury, however, if it can be shown that you ignored symptoms and failed to seek medical care, the date of injury and thus your ability to file a claim could be in jeopardy.
Minors, Incapacitated and Mentally Ill
The statute of limitations clock begins to run when a minor child comes of age, usually at age 18, but this varies somewhat depending on your state of residence. Even if the minor child was injured at birth, the clock only begins to run at the age of majority.
There is no statute of limitations on personal injuries for the mentally ill. If an accident has left you incapacitated, such as in a coma, the statute of limitations does not begin to toll until you are fully recovered and have your full faculties, as certified by a doctor.
Change of Residence
Moving away from the state where the injury occurred may also allow the statute of limitations to be put off temporarily. Once you have moved back into the state where the injury occurred, the clock will start running again, with the time picking up where it left off.
These exceptions may be rare, but failing to be aware of them could mean losing the compensation for your injuries or illnesses that you are entitled to receive. Personal injury laws and state-specific statute of limitations laws vary widely by state, so consult with an accident attorney for more assistance and for help getting you the money damages that you deserve.
After you are involved in a serious car accident, you might feel confused about what to do next. In order to feel like yourself again, you might be tempted to try to go about your daily activities, only to come across loads of challenges. In addition to focusing on your own recovery, you might also be left wondering what to do about medical bills, pushy insurance adjusters, and annoying family members. However, the right lawyer can help you to find your way. My name is Dan, and I know firsthand how difficult it can be to recover from a bad injury. Read my website to learn how proper legal representation can simplify your journey.