Are There Statutes of Limitations in Place with Personal Injury Suits?
Personal injury cases are very serious matters. Through no fault of his/her own, an individual suffers serious injuries or even death due to someone else’s negligence. Personal injury cases take many forms. Car accidents, slip and fall scenarios, property hazards, and many other situations may lead to bodily injury or death.

A common and, frequently, necessary response to an injury is to file a lawsuit against the negligent party. Civil suits do need to be filed in accordance with the legal code of New York state. This means the plaintiff must file the suit before the statute of limitations run out. For those wondering if a time limit exists when weighing plans to file suit, the answer is yes.

The Basic Statute of Limitations Rule

The time in which a civil suit must be filed is known as the statute of limitations. In New York, the statute of limitations for personal injury is three years from the date of the injury-causing event. In wrongful death suits, the time period is two years. With medical malpractice, the statute of limitations is 2 ½ years.

Not everyone may understand the reasoning behind the statute of limitations. Basically, trying a case many years after an event occurs makes things very difficult for all parties involved. Memories fade, evidence disappears, and so on. It would be unfair for a defendant to be required to face a civil lawsuit 15 years after an accident he or she might not even know occurred.

So, anyone who suffered an injury due to potential negligence must move quickly and contact an personal injury attorney. The proverbial clock ticks on these types of cases, which is why expediency is so critical.

Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations

Contrary to what some might believe, possible exceptions do exist in regards to the statute of limitations for personal injury in New York state. The discovery rule would be one such potential exception.

The discovery rule could set aside the statute of limitations for those who have been injured and did not realize they were injured. The statute of limitations could start when they discover the injury or should have known they were injured.

For example, someone who undergoes surgery may not realize the surgery was botched until three years and six months after the operation. In this situation, it may be possible to bring forth a lawsuit past the 2 ½ year point under the discovery rule. “May” is the key word here. The statute of limitations is automatically waived. An personal injury attorney would have to argue the rule in court in order to gain a desired waiver.

The “should have known” clause also bears noting. If someone slips and falls and suffers pain shortly after the accident, but choose not to see a doctor until more than three years pass, an attempt to waive the stature of limitations may fail. The defendant’s attorney could state the plaintiff “should have known” something was wrong due to the plaintiff knowing about the pain.

In short, no guarantees exist that the discovery rule yields a favorable judgment in favor of a plaintiff. personal injury lawyers for both the plaintiff and defendant would argue on behalf of their clients for a ruling in court.

The other exception would be tolling. Tolling reflects a scenario in which the statute of limitations is set aside.

For injured minors, the statute of limitations normally does not start running until the young person reaches his/her 18th birthday. Medical malpractice cases involving minors, however, cannot be tolled beyond ten years from the date of the act causing the injury.

Bankruptcy and mental incapacity could also contribute to the possible tolling of the statute of limitations. Hiring an personal injury attorney who knows the proper way to argue tolling the statute of limitations in court is vital to any plaintiff hoping for a successful outcome after the normal time period has expired.

Do Not Let Too Much Time Pass

Sometimes, injured parties assume they have a full three years to act. In other words, they do not see any need to rush the situation. Taking such an attitude could work against the case. A better plan would be to contact a personal injury attorney and initiate the case.

Litigation takes time. A lot of work is involved. Why delay matters? And, more importantly, why take risks with the statute of limitations?