If you are injured in a car accident, slip and fall accident or dog attack, you may be able to file a personal injury claim. In order to be eligible for this, your claim must be filed before the statute of limitations expires. This is typically one to two years from the date of injury, depending on the state you live in. However, in some instances, the statute of limitations may be slightly different than what the law allows. Here are a few instances when the statute of limitations may be longer or shorter than the norm.
If the Injured Party is Under 18
If your child was involved in an accident and was injured, the statute of limitations typically does not begin until their 18th birthday. This differs from when a party 18 or older is injured, as the statute typically begins running on the date of injury. This allows a child to recoup money for their injuries in the event that their parent or legal guardian did not wish to file a claim on their behalf. The statute of limitations varies from state-to-state, so the statute tolling, or expiring, changes from state-to-state. For example, if the statute of limitations in your state is two years for personal injury claims, this statute would not expire until an injured child's 20th birthday.
If the Injured Party Did Not Know They Were Injured
In some personal injury cases, it is apparent that you are injured right away. For example, if you are in a car accident, you may have broken bones or whiplash. However, other injuries may take time to show themselves. This is very common in product liability personal injury claims. For example, if you took medication for weight loss and later developed heart problems, you may not correlate the two. But it may come out later that several people who took those pills suffered the same fate and the manufacturer knew and failed to disclose this risk. Since you were unaware of the correlation until years down the road, you didn't file a personal injury claim. In these cases, you are protected by the discovery of harm rule. The discovery of harm rule states that the statute does not begin until an injured party knows, or should reasonably know, that they were injured, and another party may be to blame for those injuries.
If the Responsible Party Moves Out of State
In many states, the statute of limitations may be placed on hold if a responsible party moves out of state. The statute remains on hold until the party moves back. This law is meant to prevent people from fleeing the state in order to protect themselves against a personal injury claim being filed. However, while the intentions behind this law are good, this exemption can be difficult to enforce. You have to be able to prove when the injured party fled the state and returned in order to show why the statute of limitations was placed on hold, rather than expiring.
If the Claim is Being Filed Against a Government Entity
In many states, the statute of limitations for a personal injury claim is shorter when a claim is being filed against a government entity, rather than a business or person. For example, the statute of limitations in Florida for a personal injury claim is four years. However, if your claim is being filed against a county, city or state agency, you only have three years to file. In California, the statute of limitations for a personal injury claim is two years. But if the claim is being filed against a government entity, you only have six months to file a claim. Filing a claim against a government entity may shorten the amount of time you have to bring the claim about, so always ensure you know what the statute is for your state.
If you were injured and another party may be responsible for the accident, you may be able to file a personal injury claim against them. However, there are deadlines for filing a personal injury case. If you fail to do so before the statute of limitations expires, you give up your right to file a claim. However, statute of limitations in these cases aren't always set in stone. If an injured party is under the age of 18, if you did not reasonably know you were injured or if the party responsible for your accident moves out of state, the statute may not expire as quickly as it normally does. If you are filing a claim against a government entity, the statute may toll sooner than it normally does. If you have any questions about when the statute expires for your personal injury claim, consult with a personal injury attorney. They can review your claim and help determine when the statute will expire, helping to prevent you from failing to file before that date.