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What Factors Affect the Statute of Limitations for a Personal Injury Case?

By David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

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A question that is often posed to a Personal Injury Lawyer is a follows:

What is the statute of limitations for a personal injury case?

A statute of limitations is the time period or deadline that an injury person is provided under the law to file a lawsuit for personal injuries sustained as a result of a particular incident. If the case is not settled, a lawsuit should be filed to enforce the rights of the injured person assuming that the basic elements of the case can be proved. Furthermore, there is a practical analysis that should be performed for each case which evaluates the time involved, costs involved, and the likelihood of success in litigating a case for personal injuries.

The following factors (among others) may affect the time limit in which a lawsuit needs to be filed to comply with the statute of limitations:

*Location of the incident (State);
(Note: Each State defines its own time limits for the filing of State cases which usually include automobile accidents, slip and fall cases, and other matters.)

*Type of case;
(Note: In some States, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases is different than that for an automobile case.)

*Personal Injuries or Wrongful Death;
(Note: If the victim dies as a result of the negligence or fault of another person, business, or government entity, the statute of limitations is typically controlled by the wrongful death act in place for the State where the incident took place.)

*Age of the Person at the Time of Injury; and
(Note: Some States extend the statute of limitations to the majority age of the child and / or a certain time period after the child reaches the age of the majority. As such, the statute of limitations for a case involving a minor child may be different than the same type of case for an adult.)

Defendant – Private or Government;
The statute of limitations may also be affected if the Defendant is a private party / entity or a government entity. In addition, there may be notice requirements if the Defendant is a government entity that must be completed before the filing of the lawsuit.

*Notice or Knowledge of the Negligence or Fault of a Third Party.
(Note: Some cases, like medical malpractice cases, may be affected by date or time period in which the victim knew or should have known about the negligence or malpractice.)

Since the statute of limitations is State and case specific, the injury victim should consult with a Personal Injury Lawyer as soon as possible to find out the time limits involved. In some States like Tennessee and Louisiana, the statute of limitations may be as short as 1 year from the date of incident. Due to these and other complexities of the law, it is often helpful to hire a Personal Injury Lawyer to pursue and litigate when appropriate the case on behalf of the injury victim.

The book titled – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know – has chapters on Automobile Accidents, School Injuries, Playground Injuries, Day Care Center Injuries, Amusement Park Injuries, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.