When it comes to filing a claim for a car accident, you have to move on a specific timeline. There is a car accidents statute of limitations that applies to filing the case against the responsible party. However, they are always exceptions to the rule.
If you’re not familiar with the statute of limitations and all that it entails, don’t worry. In this guide, we’ll explain more about the statute of limitations and how you could potentially get around it.
Read on to learn more.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is a regulation restricting the time limit between filing a case or being charged. Depending on the type of situation and type of injury, the time period varies.
In the statute of limitation rules, state regulations vary. In one state a traffic crash time period could be three years and four years in another.
No lawsuit can be brought about if the car accidents statute of limitations time period has expired. This means you can not be sued, because after the date, you can no longer sue anyone either. The objective of the limitations statute is to prevent the possibility of a lawsuit from carrying on indefinitely.
The idea is that a person should know whether they need restitution by the end of that time period and understand how to obtain it.
Comprehending the car accidents statute of limitations is a bit difficult. If you need more of an explanation, follow the highlighted link for a better understanding.
Various Car Accident Statute of Limitations
While certain states have their own unique stipulations created by law or treaty, there are universal exemptions that can impact the statute of limitations and prolong the filing deadline past the legislative duration. Take a look at them below:
The defendant fled the state: If the plaintiff is not present to file a lawsuit against the defendant, it’s impossible to win the case. You can’t file when there is no one to file against. In terms of waiting for the client to come back to town, the courts understand this and they offer some leniency.
The defendant is a juvenile/legally incompetent/legally unable to face trial: Once the incompetence is eliminated or the minor meets the age of 18, the law of limitations is resumed.
The defendant is deceased or jailed: You may submit a lawsuit against the estate of the defendant if they are deceased. However, if a defendant is jailed, should wait until they are paroled.
At war/active military duty: Courts normally pause until the state is no longer struggling for the continuity of suits. Likewise, whenever a party is on active service, the statute of limitations is tolled until that individual returns.
Tolling contracts: In order to waive the statute of limitations, both parties should enter into a tolling deal. This maintains the right to file for the plaintiff and will potentially mitigate the defendant’s legal fees while the agreement’s certainty helps both parties to accurately determine their positions and conduct successful negotiations.
Equitable tolling: This scenario occurs when the plaintiff couldn’t reasonably have known the cause of the injury until after the statute of limitations timeframe had passed. For instance, an asbestos case in which the plaintiff did not discover cancer until 15 years after the fact.
This isn’t always common with car accident claims, but the injured party could have internal injuries that surface later.
The Discovery of Harm Rule: Exceptions to the Car Accidents Statute of Limitation
Although a statute of limitations declares that a personal injury case must be filed within a given amount of time after an accident or injury, the term typically does not continue to run. It starts over when the person filing the lawsuit realized that they had sustained damage, and knows the extent of that damage.
A medical malpractice lawsuit in which a surgeon accidentally left a temporary bandage in a patient’s abdomen is an example of the “discovery of harm” law. Although the mistake was not found until years after the procedure, in such a situation, the patient had no way of knowing what happened.
Given the circumstances, this lack of information should not be considered irrational. Typically, the limitations statute will not continue to operate from the day in which the patient discovered the first surgeon’s error. Rather from the date which the surgeon actually made the error.
When a Car Accidents Statute of Limitations Timeframe Is Reduced
Believe it or not, there are certain circumstances when a car accidents statute of limitations is drastically minimized. Here are a couple of examples:
Accidents Involving a Government Organization
The statute of limitations could significantly be reduced based on when an accident takes place. Often a federal official may have protection from suits. Some states only provide a six-month timeframe in which to file a lawsuit. But all states have some pre-filing conditions unique to the jurisdiction. If they are not pursued, it is possible to ban the case altogether.
Car Accidents Involving Dram Shop Law
Dram shop laws vary from state to state. However, 43 states have established regulations that hold drinking establishments accountable if they allow intoxicated customers to drive away drunk.
Some states allow for sixty days until a lawsuit is barred. Talk to a lawyer in your state as soon as possible if you have been hurt by a drunk driver.
Car Accident Statute of Limitations
Following the car accidents statute of limitations for your state is essential to having a successful claim. Unless you have a special case, you must abide by the time frame set by your jurisdiction. Otherwise, your entire case could be forfeited.
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