What Is a Statute of Limitations for Personal Injuries?

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Most people are aware that if you’re injured as a result of someone else’s actions or negligence, you may be able to sue them for personal injury compensation. What many people don’t realize is that there’s a statute of limitations for making this claim – and if you don’t file a claim before that deadline, you could forfeit your chance to do so.

What should you know about the statute of limitations and how should you navigate it?

The Short Answer: Talk to a Lawyer

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Talking to a personal injury lawyer is always your best course of action if you’re even remotely considering filing a personal injury claim. Most personal injury attorneys won’t charge you anything unless you actually win a settlement, and they certainly won’t start charging you until deeper into your arrangement. Talking to a lawyer for an initial consultation is typically free, and during this initial consultation, you can ask about the statute of limitations for personal injuries in your state.

It’s important to talk to a lawyer because they understand personal injury cases much better than the average person. They can put things in simple terms, help you understand your unique situation, and advise you on whether a personal injury claim is worth filing. If there is a case there, they can help you investigate the incident, gather evidence, and begin the process of pursuing the personal injury case.

Exploring legal options is a prudent step to take when faced with complex or ambiguous situations. While consulting with a lawyer may require some time investment, the potential benefits often outweigh the associated costs. A legal professional can offer valuable insights and guidance tailored to your specific circumstances, helping you understand your rights, obligations, and potential courses of action. Moreover, seeking legal advice early on can mitigate risks, prevent costly mistakes, and provide peace of mind. By investing time in a consultation with a lawyer, you can gain clarity and confidence in navigating legal issues effectively.

Statutes of Limitations: The Basics

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A statute of limitations is a legally defined period of time in which legal proceedings for a given event can be initiated. For example, let’s say you were injured in a car accident that was someone else’s fault. The statute of limitations for a personal injury claim in your state is two years. This means you only have two years to initiate your personal injury suit; if you allow these two years to elapse without taking action, you will forfeit the claim and no longer be able to pursue it at any point.

A crime is a crime and a personal injury is a personal injury, so why should there be an arbitrary statute of limitations in place to deter people from seeking justice?

There are three main reasons why statutes of limitations exist; these reasons motivate statutes of limitations to exist in many areas of the law and in most areas of the world.

  •  Reasonable diligence. First, the existence of a statute of limitations motivates reasonable diligence on the part of the plaintiff. Defendants are entitled to see reasonable expediency when claims are filed against them; a time limit motivates faster and more decisive action.
  •  Preservation of evidence. Statutes of limitations are also important for the preservation of evidence, especially on the part of the defendants. If you were accused of doing something 35 years ago, would it be reasonable to expect that you have definitive evidence to prove your innocence?
  • Adherence to principles of justice. Litigating a claim after many years, or even decades, could potentially lead to seeking cruelty, rather than justice. A statute of limitations ensures the principles of justice can be more precisely and satisfactorily followed.

Statutes of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims

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Each state has a different statute of limitations for personal injury claims, but most of them range from two to four years. If you’re not sure what the personal injury statute of limitations is in your state, you can talk to a lawyer to find out for sure. However, as a general principle, it’s a good idea to file your personal injury claim as soon as possible, and preferably, in the immediate aftermath of the offending action. The sooner you start working, the better.

What It Means for You

Ultimately, if you’re considering a personal injury lawsuit, there are a few major takeaways that you should leave with:

  • Be expedient. Don’t delay. If you’re seriously considering a personal injury case, you should take action sooner rather than later.
  • Talk to a lawyer ASAP. You can probably figure out the statute of limitations in your state on your own, but that’s no excuse not to talk to a lawyer. Talk to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
  • Start preserving evidence now. The more evidence you have, the better. Start gathering and preserving it now.

The statute of limitations for personal injury cases is an important pillar in the legal system that protects defendants and preserves our need for reasonable justice. However, it can also present challenges for plaintiffs. In essence, the decision to consult with a personal injury attorney is a proactive step towards protecting your rights, pursuing justice, and securing the compensation you need to recover and move forward with your life. By taking decisive action and enlisting the support of a trusted legal advocate, you can embark on the path towards achieving a sense of closure, financial restitution, and the opportunity to rebuild your life in the aftermath of a personal injury.