What Is the Timeline to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Meeting the deadlines and statutes of limitations for a personal injury lawsuit is critical to the success of your case and collecting the coverage you need. If you are unable to meet the deadlines set in your state, the potential of recovering any damages for your losses and medical bills becomes very unlikely.
Each state sets its own rules regarding how long after an incident you can open a lawsuit, so there is not only one set timeline. This varies depending on how you acquired the injury or illness, the severity of your injury, and the circumstances surrounding it.
The date in which your injury occurred is often the date when your statute of limitations clock begins, and in many cases, this is at least one year. Be aware that each state sets its own laws and these deadlines can be much longer than this. States such as Kentucky, Louisiana, and Tennessee allow one year, where states including North Dakota and Maine allow six years. If you live in Oregon, they allow up to 10 years!
- Date of harm: Many timelines for car accident injuries begin the date of the accident.
- Date of discovery: In some states and certain situations, you may not be aware of your injury or illness for months or perhaps years after the event. In this case, your timeline may not begin until you have discovered the injury. A judge may set a separate date based on when they think you should have reasonably discovered the injury.
As an example, a medical malpractice case in California has a three-year deadline from injury discovery while a personal injury claim based on negligence has a two-year deadline. Speak with a lawyer to determine what your state requires based on your unique situation. It is usually best to begin pursuing a lawsuit as soon as possible to improve your odds of collecting adequate coverage.
Working with a lawyer who is familiar with the laws in your state will improve your chances of winning your lawsuit, if you file on time. It is also good to determine whether you were at fault or not, and how much of the fault the court could give to you. If you live in a state which practices shared fault, this will influence how much you collect. If the court determines that you were 5% at fault, they will calculate your total losses and subtract 5%. If they decide that you were 50% at fault, you will not collect anything from the other driver. Talk to an experienced car accident lawyer, like a car accident lawyer in Houston, TX, to start building your case.
Thanks to John K. Zaid & Associates for their insight into when you need to file a personal injury lawsuit.