Statute of Limitations in Personal Injury Claims

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Personal injury claims have what is referred to as a statute of limitations, which is something that should be explained in a way that people in the United States are able to comprehend it’s meaning before they are harmed in an incident that requires filing a personal injury lawsuit. Involvement in car, truck, motorcycle, bicycle, pedestrian or defective product accident can mean being hurt.

The same can be said for a slip and fall incident, dog bite attack, workplace event, construction injury or boating accident. Any of these types of incidents can mean create a situation where medical care is required, ongoing medical treatment and loss of wages. When any of these events occur and were either the fault of another person, party or employer, they have a basis for a personal injury claim that can be pursued through legal channels to recover financial compensation.

When a person suffers harm that could have been avoided, if it were not for the actions of another party it can result in exorbitant medical costs, rehabilitation expenses, ongoing medical treatment, loss of income from not being able to work and other damages directly related to the event. If the person was harmed by the actions of another person or entity and a personal injury claim is filed there is an enactment rule. This rule is the statute of limitations, which in plain words is a time limit.

Statute of Limitations

Dealing with the United States justice system is based on established laws and procedures, of which one is a statute of limitations that applies to personal injury lawsuits or claims. This is a time limit to file the claim with the appropriate court after being harmed. It is the maximum amount of time permitted under the law and begins running from the date of the injury.

The time limitation will depend on the entity. If the claim is against a state or government agency the statute of limitations and the way the claim is approached are different from other types of personal injury claims. This is true with medical malpractice cases also, where there may be a different statute of limitations and procedures that must be followed, since there will be different laws that apply from being harmed in a motor vehicle accident.

Personal injury claims are pursued in civil court and the reason there are statutes of limitations on this type of lawsuit are due to several reasons, including:

  • The plaintiff will be required to show good cause for pursuing the claim and do it within a reasonable amount of time.
  • The defendant has a legal right to protect their interests, by refuting the evidence and if there was no time limit on these cases it may be impossible for the defendant to prepare a defense. This could be because evidence has been degraded and other reasons of this nature.
  • Delay of a claim can mean for both parties evidence is lost, damaged or degraded and witnesses may be lost or not have a clear recall of the incident.

Standards for Statutes of Limitations

In judicial law there are standards for the statutes of limitations that are established to follow a procedural structure. This keeps the court system running smooth and to be legally fair to both the plaintiff and defendant in personal injury claims.

  • A statute of limitations applies in all civil lawsuits, claims or criminal courts and is a time limit in which the case must be acted upon.
  • The statute of limitations for an injury that would be considered a misdemeanor offense will generally have a two-year statute of limitations.
  • Injury lawsuits that that potentially would rise to a felony level often have a longer statute of limitations that could be as long as five years.

Personal injury claims or lawsuits have a statute of limitations and if the time limit expires from the date of the injury before filing a claim, then the claim will no longer be able to be filed. This is to protect the rights of the person who was hurt and the person or entity accused of negligence. Delays of personal injury cases and filing just prior to the end of the statute of limitations are generally not successful. This can be due to the time lapse for gathering evidence, witnesses and other elements of a strong case.

Points and Authorities:

California Courts Website: http://www.courts.ca.gov/9618.htm

Statute of Limitations for Filing Lawsuits in California Courts: http://tutorials.ehlinelaw.com/statute-of-limitations-for-california-courts/

CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE SECTION 335-349.4: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=ccp&group=00001-01000&file=335-349.4