The law is very clear, and victims that suffered an injury from an accident caused by another’s negligence or carelessness are entitled to compensation for their injuries. However, each state also has its own statute of limitations that dictate how long a victim is entitled to seek compensation. This statute of limitations is essentially a deadline, which means that you automatically forfeit your right to seek compensation if you don’t file a lawsuit within the specified time period.
Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Lawsuits
Each state has its own laws regarding personal injury cases, which means that the exact amount of time you have to file your lawsuit depends on the laws of the state where the accident occurred. For instance, New York typically has a three-year statute of limitations for the majority of injuries resulting from negligent accidents. This includes car accidents, injuries resulting from a slip-and-fall, dog bites and most other personal injuries.
Most states treat injuries resulting from medical malpractice separately from other personal injuries, which means that there is generally a different statute of limitations applied to malpractice cases. In New York, you have exactly 2.5 years from the date of the medical procedure in question to file a malpractice lawsuit and potentially receive compensation for your injuries.
There are also a number of extenuating circumstances that can shorten the length of time a person has to file a personal injury lawsuit. For instance, amusement parks, airlines, cruise operators and other companies may require you to sign a contract or waiver that specifies that you must file an injury claim within six months or a year of the injury.
The specific location where the accident occurred and the person or agency liable for the accident can also impact the length of time you have to file a lawsuit. For instance, injuries sustained due to the negligent actions of a city, state or federal government employee or agency are generally governed by different rules than filing a standard civil injury lawsuit. When filing a claim against a government agency, victims generally must submit a written notice of their intent to file a claim within six months and then file a formal lawsuit within one year of the injury.
The fact that there are a wide number of factors that can determine exactly how long you have to file a lawsuit means you’ll want to make sure to speak with a professional personal injury law firm as soon as the accident occurs. Even if the statute of limitations states that you have three years from the date of the injury to file a claim, you will usually have a greater chance of your lawsuit being successful if you speak with an attorney as soon as possible after the accident.
Receiving Compensation for Your Injuries
Although the law states that a person or company should be held liable for injuries they cause, this doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically receive a settlement simply because you file a personal injury claim. Instead, you will first have to prove that the accident was caused as a direct result of the negligent or careless actions of another person or organization. Unfortunately, proving fault isn’t always simple or straightforward, which is why you’ll definitely want to have an experienced personal injury attorney at your side to help argue your case.
One major issue with personal injury cases is that you must prove that the property owner was aware or should have been aware of the hazardous conditions that contributed to your accident. However, proving this type of negligence tends to become far more difficult the longer you wait to hire an attorney. The key is to immediately gather evidence to support your claim, which isn’t always possible when a long time has lapsed. The property owner could easily fix the hazardous conditions before you can gather evidence of their existence, in which case it could end up coming down to your word versus theirs.
Time is of the essence in personal injury cases. Therefore, it is imperative that you don’t hesitate and instead speak with a professional personal injury attorney as soon as you can. By doing so, you will be able to ensure that you file your lawsuit in time and also give yourself a better chance of gathering the evidence necessary to prove your case.