The Importance Of The Statute of Limitations
Posted On behalf of Pfeifer Morgan & Stesiak on Apr 05, 2011 in Advice
Consulting an attorney is often not the first action that people take after an accident. The common thought is that there will be plenty of time for lawyers and suits after the injuries have healed.
Unfortunately, the state of Indiana’s statute of limitations for personal injury cases places an expiration date on your case. A statute of limitation is more than just an expiration date. It is the way that families lose their right to recourse forever. Although the statute of limitations is a concrete date, there are some things to consider when putting off legal action for your case.
The statute of limitations begins when your injury took place, or in cases of negligence, when the injury was discovered. For personal injury cases, the statute of limitations is between one and three years in the state of Indiana.
Now, these laws were created to allow ample time for information gathering and litigating the case—while everything is easy to research and regurgitate. Not every state has the same rules as Indiana, however.
Before the statute of limitations, victims could come back after decades had passed, to sue for the wrongful death of a loved one. By that time, however, files were destroyed, witnesses deceased or difficult to find, and the memories of all involved rendered unreliable by the passage of time. In court, suits like this resulted in judgments that did not fit the injury, or sometimes in no judgment at all.
Thus, the statute of limitations is set to help victims receive the best form of justice available.
The best way to use the statute of limitations is to hire an attorney and file a suit. Things can be modified as the case moves along, but only if the case begins before the legal expiration date.
Simply starting some kind of case in the form of filing suit is a way to keep your case from expiring. Think of filing suit as your way to stop the legal clock that is ticking away on your personal injury case.
The limitations are flexible in certain cases. Child victims do not fall under the umbrella of the statute of limitations. The clock only starts at the child’s 18th birthday. The families of people who are disabled so severely that they are incapable of filing before the statute of limitations may also seek an exemption from the courts. Other exceptions are the discovery of an additional complication, long after the statute has elapsed.
An example is the death of a person injured in a coma. If the victim lives for many years after the initial injury, the family may have a cause for a survivorship claim at the time of the victim’s death. The children and family who survived the victim can become responsible for the medical bills, in addition to the suffering of the victim himself, and can bring the claim to court.
As a rule…
Victims of accidents, malpractice, and negligence should contact an attorney and file suit before the first year has passed since the incident. Doing so ensures that you circumvent the statutes of limitations for personal injury cases. Many legal professionals will also urge you to seek counsel sooner rather than later, as laws can change. That’s why it doesn’t hurt to simply consult with an attorney soon after the incident.